What is this?

Mentor in a Box is an education project to develop a video web library, teaching competent leadership skills to mentees of I'll Drink to That Toastmasters.

Inspired by the OpenCourseWare (OCW) Movement, the library will prepare mentees for the basics of competent leadership so they are more engaged during the weekly meetings. Mentees can search for a subject through the blog archive; play, pause and rewind tutorials; and stay up to date of new videos and postings by email.

This is certainly a work in process. So please feel free to subscribe to stay current! If you have questions, comments or would like to contribute to Mentor in a Box, email me @ mentorinabox@gmail.com. Mentor can also be found on YouTube here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

YouTube Videos: Rubbish or Resource?

YouTube Videos: Rubbish or Resource?

Use online video tutorials to enhance your Toastmaster members’ experience and attract new members
By Michael J. Ramirez

Do you think YouTube has been used for evil? After all, it’s the birthing place of numerous egomaniacs, the ramblings of an annoying orange, and Rebecca Black songs about Friday. I challenge you to consider YouTube to be a source for good, and not just in the way we market our clubs. OpenCourseWare sites, the Khan Academy, and an organization known as TED have used this medium to distribute free, world-class education. Even Toastmasters International has developed a video web series of time-tested, communication tips on YouTube.  Let’s use these vanguards as examples of how to use web videos and add value to our members and clubs. Web videos can be a phenomenal resource to help mentor our current membership and provide a unique perspective on what it means to be a Toastmaster.

Swedish Psychologist Dr. K Anders Ericcson, a leading expert in the psychology of expertise, believes that a mastery of a skill is developed with at least 10,000 hours of practice. In the book Outliers, author and writer for the New Yorker, Malcom Gladwell, reviewed the same 10,000 hour concept, noting that it took that long for many industry superstars like the Beatles, Tiger Woods, and Bill Gates to become masters. If we want to develop a skill, we need to put in the time!

A Toastmaster meeting provides a safe environment to practice public speaking and leadership skills. Web videos are a time tested, yet innovative way to extend this safe environment by helping members review additional concepts and practice skills with additional time at home.

Never been the toastmaster of a meeting? No sweat! Your club can use an online video for members to review and learn more. How about learning how to evaluate or learning how to practice speech timing? There are plenty of opportunities for your club to mentor the basics of communication and leadership skills between meetings.

As a new member of “I’ll Drink to That” Toastmasters (idtt.toastmastersclubs.org), Matthew Haynes faced questions all too familiar to anyone who has prepared for an icebreaker speech.  What do I talk about? Will they like my speech? Will I stay within the time limit? Fortunately, the club had developed an online video library of tutorials, which also included practice timers for speeches.   Matt could easily practice his speech time at home by accessing the club’s web site and loading the Icebreaker Timer Video.

“The video used color prompts just like our electronic timer uses during a meeting,” remembers Haynes, “It helped me feel more at ease [with the lights] because I could focus more on hand gestures and content rather than needing to look down at a cell phone for time.”  On the day of his ice breaker speech, Matt knew from experience he’d remain within the time limit.

We live in a fantastic time when there are many examples of online videos being used to teach. Your club can develop online video tutorials to truly enrich the learning process of your members by following these 3 basic rules.

Rule 1: Content, Content, Content…

Just like writing a speech, you must start with solid content. You can’t be a great storyteller if you have no stories to tell; and you can’t create worthwhile video tutorials if you don’t have content to teach.

In 1999, the University of Tübingen of Germany (timms.uni-tuebingen.de) published recorded lectures on their web site. This allowed students from all over the world to learn subjects from actual classroom sessions at the University. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (youtube.com/mit) developed a similar program in October 2002 (ocw.mit.edu), and soon enough universities from all around world developed their own online video libraries creating what is known today as the OpenCourseWare movement. With a computer, education from a world class university is readily available at any time and location.

What makes OpenCourseWare so popular is not simply the mode of transporting the information online. Instead, the education provided in the videos is what makes the movement an international success.

Don’t just publish videos. Think about what will serve your members’ needs. Come up with helpful content first, and then, create the videos so your members can flourish.

Rule 2: Make it Unique.

There are many different ways to give a speech, and there are many different ways to create a video tutorial. Because the Internet and television are flooded with specialists standing in front of a camera spewing out facts, figures and other data, developing a unique delivery will get your point across and aid you in standing out from all the garble.

In 2006, graduate of MIT, Salman Khan, developed a nonprofit organization known as the Khan Academy (youtube.com/khanacademy). What started as a project of uploading videos to YouTube to help family and friends learn mathematics, is now a vast library of over 3,000 microlectures on subjects ranging from physics and finance to computer science. One of the features that makes the videos unique is that, rather than a traditional view of a person in front of a white board working out problems, Khan never shows his face. With simply a voice over, Khan works out problems and concepts in the video through doodles on a black screen.

"If you're watching a guy do a problem [while] thinking out loud, I think people find that more valuable and not as daunting," says Khan.  Since its creation, the Khan Academy’s YouTube channel has been viewed over 100 million times.

Making your videos unique and fun helps members and other viewers learn as well as giving them a reason to come back.

Rule 3: Make it Free

Free samples of education can actually work to market your club. Consider how the American Company Baskin Robbins sells a rainbow assortment of ice cream. If a customer is unsure of a certain flavor, an employee offers a free sample. If the customer likes the taste, they buy more. In Toastmasters, there is a rainbow assortment of clubs, with varying themes (or “flavors” in this case), times and locations. The “free sample” of information learned from an online video could be another reason for guests to “buy more” and join your club.

TED Conferences LLC, better known as just TED, (youtube.com/tedtalksdirector) is an organizer of academic conferences held around the world. At each conference, leaders of industry from Technology, Entertainment and Design (i.e. TED), or from related fields of business, science and medicine, come to share insightful speeches to a small, invitation-only audience. In June of 2006, TED opened these conferences to millions of potential new customers for free by uploading videos of conference speakers to their website (ted.com). 5 years later, the videos have been viewed over 500 million times.

In a 2007 article in the New York Times, June Cohen, director of TED media, stated “Conventional business logic would tell you that…you have to keep your commodity scarce and expensive to retain brand value, but the same year we started releasing most of our content for free … we [still] sold out in 12 days.”

Offering web videos for free is like opening the door to the world.  Viewers instantly become a guest at your meeting. If you focus on a quality product, people learn from it and those on the fence have a reason to come and join your club.

Your club meeting is a superlative library filled with knowledge, history and imagination! As Toastmasters, we have outstanding tools and valuable resources to enable our members to get their 10,000 hours of practice. Empower your members to become masters of communication and leadership. Utilize free web videos with unique and solid content as a resource to be taken home by members of your club, attract guests and help make YouTube a better place for everyone.


Want to create web videos for your club, but don’t have video editing software?  You can create online video tutorials using Microsoft PowerPoint 2010.  This video tutorial from Howcast can show you how.