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Arlene is the President & Co-Owner of Technical Resource Solutions, LLC. She is an Excel power user and is your contact for Website Design and Development Services.

What Does Your Website Say About You?

When someone meets you for the first time, it's likely that they are making a lot of assumptions about you based on your appearance: the clothes you wear, how you style your hair, the car you drive. Whether they choose to do business with you often is based on their first impression, even before you say a word.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Training

It can be difficult to reserve the time necessary to attend a training session, whether you train online, or leave your office and go to a classroom.

Sometimes by the time that training session comes around it is for a skill that you truly want and need to master. Here are some tips to help make sure the new information sinks into your brain.

• Take notes. This may seem counter intuitive in our high technology culture, but taking notes, either by hand, or by typing them into a document is a great way to help you remember key points.
• Review your notes during a break. This technique is especially helpful if your training class is spread over several days. After you've had a few minutes away during a prolonged break or when the class is done for the day, take five minutes to review your notes and jot down questions you may have.
• Ask Questions. Sometimes engaging your instructor provides more than clarity. It gives you that extra kernel of information that will help the information stay with you.
• Relate the new information to something familiar. Our brains automatically look for patterns as we learn. Taking time to figure out how new information can be used in your day-to-day life gets you more excited about the knowledge – and helps it stick in your mind.

The way we learn as adults is very different from the way we learned as children. Adults master new skills when they can apply them to knowledge they already have. When you're trying to hook new information into your mind, consider everything you know – don't limit yourself to only work skills or personal skills. Figuring out how new information can be applied to everything you know will help you gain comprehension faster and may just make you more efficient in several areas. Benefitting in more than one part of your life will give you huge returns on the time you invested and may just motivate you to learn more.

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How to Use Slides in Your Training Presentation

Most people think that when they are putting together a training presentation they must put every word they plan to say on a slide. While this might make it easier for a trainer to remember a script, it is counter intuitive to giving a good presentation. Why? As soon as a slide goes up, people are more inclined to focus on the slide than the speaker.

Here are some tips to help you create slides that will get you more engagement, rather than less.

1. Only hit the highlights. Use your slides to sum up your points. Only show them once you've made the point, not before. This lets students know what the most important elements of the training session are.
2. Use images. Images are a great way to both illustrate your point and give you a memory jog as to what you will discuss next. Screenshots are great images to include when you can. Just make sure the screen shot you use is focused on the area you are talking about and can be seen clearly from the back of the room.
3. Include references. If you plan to hand out your slides, including sources and references can make turn them into a great guide for your students to hang on to.
4. Don't use animations. There was a time when people thought putting animations in their presentations would make them more entertaining. In reality they are more distracting. If you have a short video that further demonstrates what you are teaching, that is great. But a car zooming across the page or a character popping up in a random place takes attention off of the material you are teaching.

One other point to consider as you create your slides: what if your presentation space has some kind of technical issue? Creating slides that work as a supplement to your presentation, rather than holding the entire presentation ensures that even without the slides, you still have a useful training session.

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What to look for in a Trainer

Today there is a wealth information on the internet that shows people how to do all kinds of things; but sometimes it takes one person talking to another person to make that information click.

How do you find the person who can help you get to that "aha!" moment you need? You may think you have to go away to a high dollar education program, but sometimes asking a few questions up front can help you find that person in your own neighborhood.

A great place to start is at local training centers. Find out what they offer for your area of interest and then review the trainer bios. Check out their credentials, but then look for "soft" skills – that is their people skills. You'll find this information in reviews and testimonials.

Here are some of the traits you should look for:

• A trainer who is collaborative. Trainers very often enjoy working with other people and get inspired by trying to solve problems together, even if they already have the answer. Look for someone who is open to having back-and-forth conversations.
• Someone who is detail oriented. Sometimes skipping a little detail can frustrate someone learning something new. Trainers are familiar with all of those details and steer students back on track.
• A good listener. We all picture the teacher in front of the classroom or the person behind the podium talking. Trainers do a lot of that, too. But they also listen. A lot. Answering questions is a key component -- and it benefits both the trainer and the students. Trainers learn from the types of questions their students ask.

Finding a trainer who is skilled in both the subject you want to learn and working with students can make the difference in truly understanding something, or just gaining enough skills to get by. Asking a few key questions before enrolling in a class can make the difference for you.

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You Can Be a Trainer

Are you the go-to person among your friends, family and peers on certain subjects? Do you like talking with people and showing them how to do things? Are you out going and comfortable speaking in front of groups?

These are all qualities of great trainers. While many trainers have gone to special classes to learn how to teach a topic, sometimes your natural affinity for a particular skill or technique, plus an outgoing personality is all you need to get in front of a class.

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

• Establish your credentials. Do you have a degree or certification in the subject you plan to teach? Have you used the program or skill for a number of years? Did you help develop a program? Let your prospective students know. These accomplishments give you credibility and can help you get students.
• Create your curriculum. Start with an outline of the core points that you will teach and then fill in the details. The outline is useful for advertising the course. The details can help you determine how long the course will be and how much to charge. You can also use this document to help you create hand-outs and other reference material for your students.
• Find a place to teach. Some training can be done one-on-one, but when you have a group of people finding a great room is important. If you are teaching a computer course, make sure your location has a projector along with accommodations for computers, that means power outlets, Wi-Fi, and maybe even actual computers. A quiet environment with bathrooms and parking are also important. Finally, make sure the room can fit all of your students.

Lots of information and instructions can be found on the internet to do all kinds of things, but sometimes it takes one person talking to another person to make that information click. With a little bit of planning you can put together a course to help people truly master a new skill or program.

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Don't Let a Commute Delay Training

It seems like when people are ready to improve their skill set or gain a new skill all together, they drive an hour or more to go to a training facility – that is, if there is not an online equivalent.

Hands-on training is a great way to learn. It helps students get a better grasp of the material faster. Plus, training outside of the usual office environment provides an opportunity to really focus.

But what if a student puts off training because they don't have the time, or perhaps the desire, to make the trek to the city? Don't put off essential training because of a long commute. Try a local training center!

Looking locally for training provides many benefits along with saving time and fuel on a long drive.

• Using a local training center gives students a more efficient way to follow up. In addition to email and telephone support, a student could drop in to the local center for additional face-to-face support as they need it.
• Training in the same town where people work provides great networking opportunities – everyone in the room can be a potential business connection, not just a classmate for a day or two.
• Local training centers are more likely to have a better variety of classes and offer them more frequently than nationally run centers. Sometimes it can be as easy as asking the training coordinator if there are more classes available then what is currently shown on the schedule.

Are you looking for a class on a national product or brand, but can't find it in your neighborhood? Ask for it! Big companies want their customers to get the training and information they need to continue to use their products. If they get a request from a specific area, they are likely come to the area to fill the need. If you have a training center in your community, ask them for the program you are looking for. Many times they have the resources to provide the class; they just need students to fill it.

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Are Your Passwords Secure?

This spring we learned about the Heartbleed bug and that in light of the bug, reminded that we should change our passwords. All of them. Immediately, if not sooner.

Changing a password can be overwhelming because we all want to make sure it is something we can remember. Changing *all* of our passwords is even more daunting.

You may have created a system to help you remember them, or even used the same password with a different number or character on the end for each site. Even without the Heartbleed bug, creating passwords like that is not secure.

Here are some tips to help you create strong passwords:

• Make sure your password is more than 8 characters. The longer your password is, the harder it is to crack.
• Do not use your name or user name as your password.
• Include upper case and lower case letters.
• Include at least one number, but shy away from the obvious 0 for the letter o replacement. Hackers are on to that.
• Include a special character like ~!@#$%^&*, etc.
• Do not use words that can be found in the dictionary.
• Use unusual capitalization.

Once you've created new passwords using these guidelines, how do you remember them? A mnemonic phrase can be a huge help. We learned a lot of them in elementary school. For example: My Very Educated Mother Just Said Uh-oh No Pluto. This is a modern variation of the phrase that many of us learned in school to help us memorize the names and order of the planets in our solar system. Creating a little rhyme or story like this can help you to remember each of your passwords.

If you'd rather not recite something every time you are logging into a website or service, another way to keep track of your passwords is to use a service like LastPass. These types of services create a "vault" to store your passwords. As you change or update passwords the service keeps a record of them, which will help to ensure that you do not fall into a rut of using Pa$$word1 and then changing it to Pa$$word2 a few months later.

Changing passwords is necessary to keep your information secure. While nothing is failsafe, adopting a few tricks will help ensure that not only will you have good, secure passwords, but that you will hopefully remember them, too.

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Need a Spa Day? Try a Training Class!

Equating a training class with a spa day may seem like apples and oranges, but the two have more in common than you may think.

For most people a trip to the spa is a special break from the usual and often comes after a period of high stress. People take the day to unwind and not think about anything other than the task at hand, whether that task is getting a massage, a mud bath or something else. Training offers a similar escape, especially if it occurs outside of the office.

Similar to spa policies, most instructors require students to turn off their cell phones. That means the usual distractions don't crop up and students can focus on what is happening in the class room. Even if the training class is advanced, not being tethered to a cell phone or email can go a long way to reduce stress.

A training class that comes after a major deadline or project has been completed can be seen as a reward for employees. They get out of the office and get to learn something new. Not only can this be a reward after a big assignment, employers can benefit, too. Learning a new skill or advancing a current one can spark an idea for an improvement or new project.

Having an employee returning to work excited to put new skills into action is a contagious benefit. Those employees can motivate the co-workers who held down the fort while they were out. Plus, they can develop leadership skills while at work as they pass along their new skills or spearhead the projects they proposed.

A day of training may not look like a day at the spa, but when employees return refreshed and inspired, any manager will be glad they sent their employees out for a day or two.

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Invest Your Tax Refund – In Yourself!

Financial advisors often recommend that you put your tax refund in a retirement account or other investment. This is sound advice, but there are other ways to invest that money. Career training is a great investment to consider.

Taking a class is a safe way to help you determine if you should move into a career where you don't have a lot of first-hand knowledge.

People who want to further their current career can use their refund dollars to take classes to get them a new a certification or credential that will make them more appealing to potential employers or clients.

Training classes can even be relaxing if you take classes to support your hobbies.

Regardless of your reason for taking a class, make sure you take a few things into consideration before you sign up:

• How long is the class?
Can you block out a few hours or a full day? Will it require a longer commitment?

• Do you need to bring your own supplies?
Many classes have everything you need waiting when you walk through the door, or will ship the materials to you. However, some classes require you to bring a laptop or tablet. Other classes may require students to purchase specific textbooks.

• Do you need to have specific skills in order to take the class?
For example, if you are taking an advanced Excel class, make sure you have used Excel and are comfortable with the basics.

• Will you receive a certification when class is over?

If you are taking the class to fulfill a work requirement, make sure the training company or instructor is prepared to provide you with a receipt, certificate, or other proof that you completed the coursework.
Whether you take a class to advance your work, your hobbies or just to satisfy your curiosity, by asking a few questions up front you can make sure that you get the best investment possible when you hand over those tuition dollars.

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Do You Learn Better Outside of the Office?

Over the last ten years technology has made it possible to learn many different things from the comfort of your own desk. Whether it's having better access to training documents, streaming video from an archive, or joining a webinar or online class we have the ability to pick up new skills left and right.

This instant access to so much knowledge is great, but do you have the time to access it and gain the mastery you need? Most of us do, however constant interruptions can make it difficult to get the total sum of time you may need to complete a webinar or online class. Sure, you can block out time on your calendar to participate in an online class; you won't have other appointments or obligations scheduled in that window. But will you get an unexpected call or email? That is very likely.

When you're trying to learn a new skill, especially one in an area that you don't normally practice in everyday, it may help you learn more effectively if you leave your desk or office and go to a classroom. Opting to gain knowledge away from your day-to-day life gives you room to focus without the normal interruptions that cross your desk.

Make sure you get the most out of your time away from your desk by turning off your cell phone or putting it on silent. If your class is using computers with web access, resist the urge to log into your email to check-in. Wait until the class' allotted break time to check your phone or email. Not only will these things allow you to focus on your class, it may even clear your mind to come up with new ideas or find a solution to an issue that has been eluding you.

With your new understanding you will return to your desk refreshed and with a mastery of the skill that would have taken much longer to gain if you had been fielding phone calls and emails while trying to learn.

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Get the Most Out of Training by Scheduling in Advance

Many jobs require continuing education to remain licensed. Doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, engineers and even teachers all have to prove that they are keeping their skills sharp.

Unfortunately, due to busy schedules a lot of us put off that training until the end of the year – a time that is already busy with holidays and deadlines. Scheduling your continuing education classes in advance can give you a number of advantages.

1. Best choices for classes and locations. Certain professions require a specific number of course credits every year, but don't require the course work to happen in specific niches. This means if you work primarily in a niche there may not be a tremendous amount of courses available for you. Registering for those courses early guarantees you a spot in a class that will be both useful and go toward you credit requirement. Some classes are offered at multiple locations. Signing up early gives you the best chance at a class near your home or office, rather than having to travel an hour more.

2. Lower Registration Fees. Many training classes offer an "early bird" savings that can sometimes be as much as 50% off the registration fees. For expensive classes this can be a huge savings. Take it when you can!

3. Take Pressure Off of Yourself. If you are required to complete a specific number of hours annually, planning them throughout the year takes the pressure off you. You can plan your workload and meetings with plenty of notice so that you can focus and get the most out of your class.

4. Leave Room for Re-scheduling. It happens to all of us. Sometimes even the best laid plans develop a kink. Scheduling your classes earlier in the year gives you flexibility in case something comes up. You will have time to reschedule the class, or even retake it if need be.
Putting a little bit of foresight into scheduling your continuing education can reduce stress and save you money. That helps make for a successful training experience.

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What to Look for in a Training Class or Seminar

Here are some tips to help you decide whether a seminar or training class is right for you:

• Timing: Is it an all day event? A breakfast or lunch learning session? A cocktail hour? If a growling stomach can distract your focus, make sure you select a session that either provides food, or is at a time of day when you can make sure you have already eaten. If the event is on a week day, make sure the time is conducive to your schedule, or book it far enough in advance to take a day off or make other arrangements to free up your time.
• Location: Is the session being held in a location that is convenient to you? Is there parking nearby? If the location is not close to home or work, that may be another reason to consider taking a day off. Do you like to dive in and get your hands dirty in a training class? Ask if the location has Wi-Fi so you can bring your own computer. Even better, do they have computers you can use?
• Materials: Will you get hand-outs or workbooks at the session? Should you bring business cards? Most course descriptions will tell you if you have to bring something to successfully complete the course as well as what materials the course includes.

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Getting Organized in 2013 with Microsoft OneNote

New Year's Resolutions

Most of us make New Year's resolutions and typically they include something about starting the new year out by getting organized. That thought usually includes going paperless because as we start the process of getting organized, we find the paper notes we have taken throughout the previous year(s) and are overwhelmed. Microsoft has a product available called OneNote and if you have ever used a spiral notebook, you can use this.

With Microsoft OneNote you can have multiple notebooks, dividers within the notebooks and pages within the dividers - sound familiar? Within your notebook(s) you can gather and organize text, digital handwriting, pictures, audio and video recordings - just to name a few. How many times have you misplaced that scrap of paper you made a note on, or searched for that website you can't remember the name of that had something really interesting on it? I know, I sound like a commercial, but honestly I'm not getting paid for this! I just cannot believe how much more organized I am since I started using this software.

Let me give you some examples. When you are on the Internet and come across something interesting that you want to refer back to, you can snip the item into your notebook for easy retrieval at a later time. Maybe you are pulling together some research for business, or accumulating ideas for a vacation. Have you ever been in a meeting or class, tried to take notes but fallen behind? With OneNote you can record the meeting and it keeps up with the notes you are typing in sync with the recording. This allows you to go back and fill in where needed. There are also templates you can apply to your notebook pages. Legal practice notebook, Student notebook, Wedding Planner notebook - just to name a few! You can watch a DEMO and try OneNote 60 days for free at this Microsoft website: Try Microsoft Office 2010.

Get organized in 2013! It couldn't be easier. If you need help, please contact us. We have workshops in our training center regularly, or we will provide one-on-one training.



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Split Screen in Excel 2010

When dealing with large amounts of data in an Excel worksheet, you often need to use the Split Screen item on the ribbon or menu. This option divides your screen into 4 sections and allows you to scroll through these sections while keeping other sections of your worksheet visible.

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Freeze Panes in Excel 2010

When dealing with large amounts of data in an Excel workbook, you often need to use the Freeze Panes item on the ribbon. This option allows you to keep a certain area visible as you scroll to other parts of your worksheet. You can freeze rows, columns or both rows and columns.

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Why should you take Training Classes?

For my first blog, I wanted to open a general discussion of why you should continue your education by taking training classes. Of course you can look on-line and find many statistcs and formal studies on the topic, but what does common sense dictate?

The first thing that seems obvious to me is so you can stay competitive in the job market. Things around us are changing very rapidly and though we cannot keep up with everything that is out there, we can educate ourselves on the things that are directly related, or that compliment, our career path and interests.  By dong this, you may have that extra something an employer is looking for that will set you above the other candidates either for a new position or a promotion within your current organization.  The second thing to consider would be how training can keep you motivated. To learn new things keeps your mind engaged. If you are engaged in what you are doing you will be motivated to complete it effectively, especially if you have a new innovative way to do it. Keeping the brain active is healthy! Finally, I would say that you should take training classes to learn. You may take a class on something you thought you would love and find that you don't really care for it. You've still learned something and when someone you want to interact with talks about it, you will be able to have a decent conversation with them. On the other hand, you may branch out and find a new interest; wouldn't that be great?

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