A Lawyerist article reports on judges who are using Star Trek references to make their decisions more accessible:
Justice Don Willett of the Supreme Court of Texas once observed: “A lot of legal writing, including judicial writing, is clunky and soul-crushingly dull. In my view, legal humor is not an oxymoron. The law, in fact, sometimes can be fun.”
Ethics training can also be fun. Further, fun training can be better training. We’ll be elaborating on this theme in future posts.
An IEC Journal post summarizes some serious conflict of interest problems reported in some Washington Post articles (including 1 & 2):
The government alleged that shortly before [Chief Financial Officer] Ostermeyer retired from USAID, he helped the agency draft a contract solicitation for a senior advisor – a position that Ostermeyer intended to apply for after he retired. In an effort to ensure he would be awarded the position, Ostermeyer allegedly tailored the solicitation to his specific skills and experiences.
Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit executive branch employees from participating personally and substantially in matters in which they have a financial interest. Since Ostermeyer had a financial interest in the contract solicitation, the government alleged that he could not participate in drafting it and, therefore, violated 18 U.S.C. § 208(a).
This type of news story can make a fantastic lead-in for training, showing the audience the relevance of the topic and inducing a “There but for the grace of God go I” feeling that makes it more likely they will give your presentation the attention it deserves.
Questions: Your Answer to Great Presentations, an article by law librarian Marie Wallace archived at the LLRX.com website has some good ideas on effective Q&A sessions, including:
[S]tart weaving questions throughout your presentations. Learn to use them in the analysis, objectives, design, delivery and evaluation phases of your presentation design (see A Model for Training and Improving Performance). Questions are versatile and can serve many functions – get attention, stimulate interest, prompt feedback, make issues memorable, foster audience interaction, provoke thought.
Presentations Magazine is a great source of information on presentation techniques. Its primary focus is on commercial presenters, like salesmen, but most of the advice applies just as well to federal ethics trainers.
Are you considering moving some training online? An OGE slide show entitled Essential Skills for Training Online
(must register for access) may smooth adaptation to the new medium. Here is a sample tip:
- Limit class size to 50-75% of the class size you would teach in a classroom
- Maximum effective class size is near 20
- Common error: Creating huge classes because the Web conferencing platform allows it