Sharing Skills plus 7 Top Tips on Blogging

This blog is about “sharing skills”.

I’m not talking about the sharing skills of children – “you’ve got to learn to share” -“be nice to your little sister, give her some as well” – although to be fair my own children did develop a good sharing methodology based around two crude methods:

  1. Rock, Paper, Scissors
  2. “You divide in two, I’ll choose which one is mine”

I’m actually talking about the sharing of learning, which is the kind of sharing where the more you pass on to others, the more you get for yourself.

So why don’t we do it more often?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a great culture of generating learning, and of sharing it locally, usually to people within a 500-metre radius.

We’re weaker at sharing this learning globally.  Why?

By “learning” I don’t mean formal, set-piece learning.  I’m talking about lunchtime talks, masterclasses, workshops.  The sort of things that people volunteer to do.  The sort of things that live at the edge of a job description.  The sort of things that make an organisation worth working for.

Global sharing does happen.  Dial-ins are set up, live questions are sent in by Instant Messenger, transcripts arranged.  Recently, we’ve experimented with turning talks into podcasts, and with interviewing speakers for quick video clips.

But these is still good practice rather than normal practice.  Can we make global sharing the rule?  Having a Friday lunchtime speaker in London is great for those that can make it, but less good for Tokyo.  And less good for those who were too busy in London, or who don’t work Fridays.

It also works the other way round: London doesn’t see much of the local learning generated overseas, either.

Obstacle #1 is technical skills.  In the Diplomatic Academy, we’ll be running some internal workshops to get better at:

  • video skills (smartphone and video camera)
  • podcast skills
  • using blogs, tweets, Storify and other apps to capture learning.

Obstacle #2 is a lack of templates and platforms.  So we’ll also use the workshops to get people familiar with:

  • a simple template to capture an event as a bite-sized “package” for sharing
  • options for hosting and curating material: eg through DropBox or our new LMS.

Obstacle #3 is confidence.  After some skills practice, the exercise at the end of these workshops will be to capture and share a piece of learning.

If this works, we’ll share what we did globally – maybe even packaged as “sharing skills workshops” for teams to use for their own benefit.  In fact part of the intended learning is about how to design workshops for colleagues.

This blog is my first contribution.  I’m demonstrating that you can use WordPress (free) to muse in public about your work challenges (“Working Out Loud” or #wol).  You can then tweet the link, share it on social media, or share it internally via email or the intranet (People Finder).

It doesn’t have to be private musings.  You can also blog about events, talks and conferences you’ve been to – like this blog from the CIPD conference last month.

My 7 top tips on blogging:

  • Keep it short, and don’t faff around with introductions.  Get straight into it.
  • Find a catchy title, but don’t get too cute or obscure; we still need the packet to bear some relation to the contents.
  • People love lists, for some reason.  And odd numbers. Hence “My 7 Top Tips on Blogging”.
  • Always add a photo.  This is crucial for sharing on Twitter, where tweets with photos get many more views, and for some “themes” on WordPress. The photo for this blog has a touch of the dread “stock photo” about it, but I’ve just discovered the captioning app Wordswag and wanted to show it off (thank you Ian Pettigrew..)
  • If you’re in a country with a Mon-Fri working week, don’t share your beautiful blog on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  Peak time for getting noticed is Mon-Thurs 9am-3pm.
  • If you’re using WordPress, enjoy the free stats, which are a sort of “gamification” of blogging to keep you interested.  (My Personal Best: 115 views in a day)
  • Respond to comments, and link to others’ blogs – it helps to be sociable.  Try these blogging tips from Blogher.

On that note, comments welcome – what has helped you to share? – and as this is a blog about blogging, how about a comment about commenting?

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