A delegation method that actually works

When I reflect on my leadership style, many things come to mind. While I try to coach and delegate, I tend to be more on the directive side. I try to lead by example, walk the talk etc., and often go further than the extra mile. I tend to be very practical and I prefer to stay at the higher level rather than get bogged down in the detail.

All of that being said, I’ve been challenged recently to look at how I delegate and how I empower the people around me. As a trained facilitator, I know that on many occasions, I will simply step into the facilitator role when I want to coach. I’ll ask questions and be supportive, rather than telling people what to do. It comes very naturally to me having spent many years facilitating workshops. But when asked what methodology have I found to be the most effective, I had to stop and think.

Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few tools for coaching and empowering teams. Some are obviously more complicated than others; some are only effective under certain conditions. Is there even one tool that I would say was the best, the most useful, the easiest? Not an easy question to answer.

After much contemplation, I whittled my potential answers down to a shortlist of three. How did I do it? I asked myself the following questions…

  • Which tool(s) were easy to learn and implement?
  • Which tool(s) could be adapted to the different leadership styles?
  • Which tool(s) worked regardless of the person being coached?
  • Which tool(s) had the best results?
  • Which tool(s) were I most comfortable with?

Once I’d done that, how to choose from the top 3? Well, when in doubt, keep it simple. Therefore, I give to you, The GROW model by Sir John Whitmore. If you already know the method, you’ll note I’ve added to it in the picture below. It’s how I connected to it, so it’s how I deliver it… You can also find more information from the founders here: https://www.performanceconsultants.com/grow-model

When I think about the various people I’ve mentored over the years, I’ve noticed one very important thing. The best workers tend to love to solve problems – and they hate being micromanaged. If I gave someone a task, they would do the task and no more. If I gave them a problem, they would solve it. I think that’s why I like the GROW model. It lends itself to problem solving.

Of course, when you’re in execution mode, you naturally think in terms of critical tasks, but good delegation requires you to think in terms of outcomes. What is the GOAL? Please note, when empowering teams, your goal might not be the one your team would choose. So you have to be willing to debate the problem and what it would look like when fixed. As an example, let’s imagine that a customer needs a delivery expedited. Some would say the goal would be to expedite the delivery as much as possible. You could argue though, that the goal would be to manufacture and deliver the product to the customer without additional costs being incurred. You could also argue that as long as the customer gets what they need before the crunch date, then that is the goal. The difference between them is perspective. Exploring the different perspectives and establishing the expected goal is crucial to ensuring that everyone gets what they need and that the end result is what you are expecting.

Of course, sometimes you can’t define the goal without truly understanding the current REALITY. Depending on the person you are delegating to this can take many different forms. Some need to reflect and consider, diving in the detail of the problem before feeling comfortable discussing goals. Others might need a more social approach, debating and questioning the different aspects of the current situation together. Either way, making sure that the person you’re delegating to truly understands the issue and all of its ramifications is key!

Options, Options, OPTIONS. I’m going to be honest and say this is the part that I like. If your team member is struggling with this, then questions really do help. Remember all options are acceptable. There are no wrong ideas!

  • What else could you do?
  • What are the options?
  • What has already been tried?
  • Have you encountered something similar and how did it work out?

Finally, you need to get commitment. This is the WILL to take the problem to the finish line. You can even help them to map out the action plan, or ask them to show you the plan. Again, questions can help here.

  • What resources do you need
  • How will you know it is complete?
  • What is your first step?
  • What is the timeframe we are looking at?

So, what do you think? Sounds easy, right? Without empowered teams, you have a bunch of robots who don’t know what to do when you aren’t there. You’ll end up doing the lion’s share of the work and you will be unable to scale up or grow your business. Obviously there are other methods for delegating, and you may not agree with my favorite, but at the very lest, I hope this blog has made you stop and think on how you delegate and on how you and your teams are going to be successful.

Hope this helps!

Alesandra Blakeston

Non-linear training using Action buttons and Tabs in PowerPoint

So I saw a great post last week on eLearningDesigner.com showing images of a Tabbed Training presentation they made for a client.  Put simply, it inspired me to create my own!  It turns out it’s actually pretty simple.  I just needed some action buttons (graphics with actions / hyperlinks on them) and then to set up the presentation as a Kiosk presentation.

You can download my sample here.

Set up the PowerPoint as a Kiosk presentation

First create your training presentation, remembering that you are going to create tabs.  Add images for each of the different tabs, with one page for each tab as shown in the pictures above.  The image relating to the current page should be one colour, the others a different colour.  You can use PowerPoint’s picture color correction tools to adjust the colour based on your color scheme.  The image relating to the current page in my template is white, on the other pages, it is grey.

picture color correction tool

Incidentally, to save time only add the pictures to one page first, copy and paste the images to the other pages once you’ve added the actions / hyperlinks.

To add the actions, simply click on an image and then click on Insert > Action. Check the Hyperlink to checkbutton in the action settings pop menu box.

action settings

Click the drop down menu box, select slide… and then navigate to the slide you wish the user to navigate to when they click the image.  Repeat for the other images and then copy and paste the images to the other slides, adjusting the colour as necessary.

Once your presentation is ready, you need to remove other methods of navigation. To do this, click on Slide Show > Set Up Slide Show.  The pop up menu box as shown below will appear.

set up slide show

Ensure that Browsed at a kiosk (full screen) is selected and then click on the OK button.  Finally, save your file.

Now when someone starts the presentation, they can:

  • Click on hyperlinks or action buttons to navigate through the presentation ONLY – they cannot use the keyboard or the mouse!
  • Press the ESC key to end the presentation

And that’s it!  You can download my sample here.

+Alesandra Blakeston

Tips for presenters – How I met your mother style

A very stylish presentation by esPrezo aimed at helping you to grab your audiences attention in the first 60 seconds of your presentation.  The SlideShare gives you 6 tips:

  1. Personal story opener
  2. The energy opener
  3. Humour opener
  4. Question opener
  5. Situational opener
  6. Tricky opener

Which is your preferred way to start a presentation?

Hi, guys! I’m Barney. Barney Stinson. Stand up and look down at your feet, because I’m going to drop a little bit of wisdom on how to open up your presentations.

So just try it out it’s going to be legen…


+Alesandra Blakeston

Blurs and image effects

For those blessed few who have access to Adobe Photoshop – you are probably already aware of gaussian blurs and motion blurs.  In fact, you probably use them regularly!  For those of us who don’t, instagram and other mobile apps have now granted us access and a few of us have been having fun.

My post today though, isn’t how to generate these kinds of blurs, but instead, how these blurs can help you to make effective presentations.  I give the 2 examples below:

quote quote 2

What I was trying to do was to illustrate the following quote: “We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.”  I searched for appropriate pictures that would match the essence of the quote, I changed fonts, and I repositioned the text, all to no avail!  No matter what I did, I couldn’t make it work.  So I blurred the image.

Slide8 Slide3

I leave it to you to decide which you prefer.  The first image has a motion blur applied.  It gives a sense of adventure.  The second image has a gaussian blur.  You can still vaguely see the image behind it, though I will probably tweak that blur a little and reposition the text some more before finalizing the presentation.  The idea though is that you get the idea of travelling to a tropical island.

There are probably hundreds of different blurs out there now and you can alter the settings of most to get the most out of the blur effect.  If you don’t have access to photo editing apps with blurs, then I suggest you visit this site: cellsea.com.  There are five basic blurs in there along with a lot of other tools.  It may not be the best site, but it’s free and I like it!  You can see the blur, gaussian, and motion blurs effects on each picture in this presentation.


+Alesandra Blakeston

What are your presentation fears

Do you create great PowerPoint or Keynote slides?  If not, why not?  This SlideShare by Esprezo looks at 5 of the main fears people have when making presentations that lead them to creating just awful slides.  What’s your greatest presentation fear?

  1. Fear of short content
  2. Fear of simplistic design and whitespace
  3. Fear of experimenting
  4. Fear of stealing from others
  5. Fear of feedback

Hope it helps!

+Alesandra Blakeston

Hover over events in PowerPoint

I’m not a big fan of animations and transitions in PowerPoint.  That being said, I do like interactivity!  So I thought I would post a quick tip on adding Mouse Hover Over Events / Actions in PowerPoint.  You can download a finished version here

Step 1: Create your content

Note: I’m using an older template Green Theme, which I uploaded a while back.  You can use any template you wish!

Let’s imagine that you want to create 4 interactions.  This means 4 objects on one slide that you want the user to interact with.  I’ve created four hexagons, but you can use text fields as well. Don’t forget to add some text explaining how the user should interact with the slides

4 interactions

Then create one slide each for each of your user interactions.  Add a back button onto slide 2: Insert > Shapes > Action Buttons > Back

Slide2Once you’ve got your presentation ready, it’s time to add the interaction

Step 2: Remove the navigation

Go back to your first slide.  Click on Transitions on the ribbon and deselect both options to advance the slide.  Repeat for slides 2 – 5

advance slide

Then in normal view, select slides 2 – 4 and hide them.  This will ensure that the user cannot accidentally use the navigation

 Step 3: Add the interaction on slide 1

Click on the first shape you wish to add the interaction to.  As mentioned earlier, I have used the four hexagons on slide 1

With the shape selected (note, you cannot do this to groups!), click on Insert >Action

insert action

In the menu box that appears, click on the “Mouse Over” tab.  Select “Hyperlink to:”

mouse overClick on the drop down menu box, and choose “Slide” and then in the menu pop-up menu that appears choose the slide you wish to navigate to. Then press the OK button on both menu boxes

slideRepeat this for each interaction

Step 4: Add the return interaction

Go to slide 2 and click on the Action button you added.  Insert an action as before, only this time make sure that “Mouse Click” is chosen rather than “Mouse Over”.  Again, choose slide and this time pick the first slide.  To save time, you can then copy and paste this button onto slides 3 – 5

Put your presentation into slideshow mode and test!

And that’s it!  Hope you find it useful!

+Alesandra Blakeston



7 Sites For Free and Beautiful Public Domain Photos

Great SlideShare by Kapost detailing several sites that I didn’t know with public domain photos!


+Alesandra Blakeston


Better PowerPoint – quick and dirty tips

Found this in my SlideShare feed this morning and loved it so much I had to share it!  Which is your favourite tip?

Personally – I always tweak existing decks to make new ones.  Why start from scratch if you don’t have to?

Great presentation deck!

+Alesandra Blakeston

Embedding YouTube videos in PowerPoint 2010

If you’ve ever tried to embed a YouTube video in PowerPoint 2010, you’ve probably come across a snag or two.  Depending on which update you’ve had, the embed procedure directly from microsoft may or may not work.  If it doesn’t here is my step by step method on how to do it!

Find your video on You Tube

For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8npy2oAmyU

Go to the video and then click on the Share tab


Then click on the Embed Tab


Make sure that “Use old embed code” is highlighted.  You can also uncheck the “Show suggested videos when the video finishes” – it looks more professional at the end of the video.  Change the video size etc and then use Ctrl+C to copy the embed code highlighted in blue in the picture above.

Open PowerPoint

Open PowerPoint and go to the slide where you want to embed the video.

Click on the “Insert” tab of the ribbon and then click on the small down arrow beneath “Video”.

insert video

Choose the option “Video from Web Site.”  A new menu box will appear.

paste code

Click inside the menu box and press Ctrl+V to paste the embed code.  The code will look similar to the following:code

You’ll see in the picture above that I have highlighted in blue some parts of the code.  This is because for PowerPoint to embed the video, these parts need to be changed.

  • The quote marks before the address need to be changed to http:
  • The version number 3 needs to be changed to 2

Once you’ve pasted the code and made the amendments, you can press the Insert button.

Check the video

This version of the player doesn’t automatically show a play bar, so press F5 to view the slide, then wait for PowerPoint to contact YouTube and set up the player.  A play button should eventually appear.  When it does, press the button to check the video plays correctly.  Note: You can also click on the video, and go to the Playback tab in the Video Tools menu and press play.  This will add the bar so you can test it outside of slideshow mode.

And that’s it.  Hope it helps!

+Alesandra Blakeston