Wednesday, August 26

Teaching Conversations: Richard Becker


Ten years ago, when I asked my longtime friend and mentor Keith Sheldon, ABC, APR, if he had any advice before I taught my first class at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he chuckled and suggested I might offer him advice instead. Very funny, I had said, before refusing to accept his non-answer and asking him to reflect a bit more on the open-ended question.

"Never teach the same class twice."

I knew what he meant. After considerable years as a student, most people begin to develop a sense about various teachers, instructors, and speakers. And whereas some present material that is tried, true, and tired, the most engaging education is not all that different than social media. It's situational, adaptive, and conversational.

For all the speaking engagements that include G2E (World Gaming Expo), U.S. Small Business SCORE, Leadership Las Vegas (Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce), International Association of Business Communicators, and Regis University, I recall presenting a few common truisms with the remaining 98 percent of the class dedicated to new and adaptive content. It seems to make a difference for the audience whether they are students, working professionals, or executives, which is particularly more useful for me because I teach with the pretense that I will likely be taught something too.

"The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be." — Isaac Asimov

While the quote's conceptual construct can be attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, Asimov was right. While most businesses employ people who seem to be experts on the now with 'strategies" based on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social networks, they ought to be considering people who are prepared to guide them into the world that will be. Thinking in terms of what might be changes the entire dynamic of the questions to ask.

One of the better examples of this came from my service on the IABC Research Foundation Think Tank when some of my colleagues had proposed researching policies and procedures related to instant messages via Blackberry. I thought the idea of investing one or two years of research into Blackberry communication was pretty funny stuff (even more funny today, as social networks have since changed the entire dynamic). I suggested researching the increasing immediacy of situational communication ought to produce a more beneficial study, instead.

At the same time, the conversation taught me something. Most communicators were not prepared, and I do not believe they are prepared, for where communication will be five years from now, two years from now, or perhaps even six months from now.

Think I'm wrong? If so, don't hesitate to teach me something here or during several upcoming sessions scheduled this fall. Because the way I see it, in addition to Sheldon's truism about great teachers never teaching the same class twice, I believe another to be that good teachers always remain good students.

Nonprofit Engagement — Richard Becker

Nevada Association of Nonprofit Organizations — 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15

This session will be unique in that, rather than providing a presentation, NANO has asked for it to be developed much more like social media — as a conversation inside the Cafe by Wolfgang Puck at the Springs Preserve. The format will provide an opportunity to demonstrate a long-standing theory at Copywrite, Ink.: social media mirrors real life in how people travel, connect, and interact with each other.

The Nevada Association of Nonprofit Organizations (NANO), which is part of the National Council of Nonprofits, is dedicated to supporting area executive directors and their executive board leadership by providing education, networking, and resources.

UNLV Class Schedule — Richard Becker

Editing and Proofreading Your Work — 9 a.m. to noon, Oct. 17

The half-day session presents a revised presentation that focuses on improving clarity, consistency, and correct usage in personal and business correspondence. It includes essentials such as language, mechanics of style, spelling, and punctuation. It also includes an in-class exercise and several take-home exercises to help students refresh their writing and editing skills.

The revised session provides basics, including definitions that help distinguish proofreading from editing.

Social Media For Communication Strategy — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 6

The full-day class presents a new format and extended session with the latest case studies and applications to create a new understanding of social media as it fits within an organization's communication strategy. While the session begins with a presentation on increasing the use of online technologies to share content, opinion, insight, and experience, the full-day format allows for extended discussion and live demonstration, as it applies to public relations and human resources.

Collectively, social media shapes more opinion than all other media and has changed the communication landscape. (CEUs: .6)

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