Blog Posts


Claiming Your Identity

Picture of the mainstage with a picture of a map of the Caribbean Sea with male speaker

Claiming Your Identity I recently spoke at an international convention in San Diego, hosted by PCMA, the Professional Conference Management…...more


Do you remember having roommates at conferences?

Do you remember having roommates at conferences? Ah, the good old days of conference roommates – those were the times,…...more


Moderating Runaway Talkers: 8 Reasons to Hone Your Skills for Equitable Discussions

3 women on a zoom call


In this 5-minute video, three moderators take center stage for a lively role-playing session:

  • Discussion on managing excessive talking or off-topic discussions in a group setting.
  • Watch as Linda and Charity role-play scenarios featuring individuals who tend to dominate discussions during meetings.
  • Strategies suggested include gently redirecting, setting time limits, and acknowledging the speaker.
  • Emphasis is placed on maintaining equal speaking time for each participant to ensure a fair and productive discussion.
  • Jolene recommends practicing different approaches in small groups to develop effective moderation skills.

In group discussions, steering the ship of moderation can be a powerful skill that not only keeps conversations on track but also ensures everyone gets to join in.  Skillful moderation, executed with finesse and respect, can redirect conversations that veer off track or become dominated by a single voice. This skill is crucial for cultivating equitable group dynamics.

Moderating isn’t about stifling voices; it’s about striking a balance that allows every participant a chance to contribute meaningfully. With practice, one can develop confidence in using moderation techniques to guide discussions back to their intended direction. This article gives you eight compelling reasons why practicing moderation is worth it. From skill development and confidence building to time management and conflict prevention, each aspect contributes to fostering an environment where discussions are not only productive but also respectful of everyone’s time and input.

Phrases to Interrupt and Redirect 

  • “You’ve gone over time, so I’ll have to cut you off there.”
  • “One of our rules for the group is that each person takes the same amount of time, so I have to stop you there.”
  • “Unfortunately, you’ve gone over the allotted time; we have to go ahead and move on.”
  • “You’ve made it hard for me this time; we have to go ahead and move on.”

These phrases are polite yet firm interruptions, emphasizing the importance of adhering to time constraints in a group discussion.

Reasons to Hone Your Skills for Equitable Discussions

1. Skill Development: Mastering moderation while maintaining a positive and respectful tone is a skill honed through practice, allowing individuals to adeptly steer discussions.

2.Confidence Building: Practicing moderation techniques helps individuals gain confidence in addressing challenging situations assertively yet diplomatically.

3. Adaptability: Different discussions may call for variations in moderation approaches. Practice enables individuals to adapt their techniques based on the context, the personalities involved, and the overall dynamics of the group.

4. Effective Facilitation: Facilitators play a crucial role in ensuring discussions remain focused and productive. Practicing moderation techniques enables facilitators to navigate disruptions smoothly, guiding the conversation back to its intended direction.

5. Time Management: Encouraging equal speaking time is essential for maintaining a balanced and inclusive discussion. Practicing moderation phrases related to time management reinforces the importance of respecting allocated time for each participant.

6. Group Dynamics: Understanding how to handle interruptions contributes to positive group dynamics, preventing frustration among participants and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

7. Conflict Prevention: Skillful moderation can prevent conflicts that may arise if discussions become unstructured or if certain individuals dominate the conversation. Practicing moderation techniques aids in conflict prevention and resolution.

8. Professionalism: Using well-crafted moderation techniques demonstrates professionalism. It shows that the facilitator or participant is considerate of everyone’s time and committed to maintaining a focused and efficient discussion.

In summary, practicing moderation techniques is a proactive way to enhance communication and facilitation skills, fostering a more productive and respectful group dynamic. I have witnessed many times where the moderator did not have these skills, and it is excruciating painful to sit through a meeting such as this. Get practicing. It is tough and it is possible.


The differences of speaking to Asian American Audiences

3 asian american women faces promoted on a pink background

The differences of speaking to Asian American Audiences

In my line of work, the majority of my presentations are geared towards predominantly White audiences, where I share personal stories to provide insight into the challenges faced by Americans of Asian descent. The struggle to understand experiences of marginalized communities without proximity to them underscores the importance of storytelling.

However, when addressing an audience comprising Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, my focus shifts to listening, validating, empowering, and motivating them to take action. Recent years, marked by the emergence of derogatory terms like “Kung Flu” and the “China Virus,” have deepened my understanding of the extensive discrimination against all Asians.

Avoiding Stereotypes

Yesterday, I spoke alongside Amanda Ma, a Chinese American event planner. We spoke for a global organization’s Asian ERG. The start of this ERG stemmed from my inquiry to this White Male leader about the absence of an Asian ERG group, prompting him to create the Asian ERG. Voila.

We were posed with the question of how we avoid playing into stereotypes. This proves to be a considerable challenge for many Americans of Asian descent, given the influence of “Pride and Shame” cultures, which advocate for collectivism over individualism, emphasizing teamwork and community spirit.

Navigating away from stereotypes presents a unique challenge due to the cultural nuances of “Pride and Shame” among Americans of Asian descent. My mixed heritage as a fourth-generation American, with roots in Japanese, Chinese, and Swedish ancestry, significantly influences my American identity. Notably, I don’t speak Japanese or Chinese, but recent efforts have been made to delve deeper into my Asian background.

Reflecting on my mother’s experiences as a Japanese American in Seattle underscores the extreme measures taken to survive discrimination. Burning anything that hinted at Japanese origins, including pictures of relatives and letters, was a desperate tactic to ensure that my American grandparents’ generation was perceived as true Americans. Unfortunately, this strategy proved ineffective.

However, my mother was fortunate not to be born in the harsh conditions of an incarceration camp. Instead, she came into the world in a hospital in an unfamiliar town far away from their home in Seattle. Given that my grandparents were American-born and some White Americans carried “Kill a Jap licenses” in their wallets, the survival instinct drove my family to downplay their Asian heritage and embrace their American identity. This anecdote provides just a glimpse into the complexities of our journey.

Asian American American Moderator

Rebecca Smith, a Filipina American, skillfully orchestrated a smooth and flowing conversation during a panel discussion. Her relatability as an Asian moderator assured me that I wouldn’t be left out of the conversation. Rebecca’s ability to validate, explain, and provide her perspective bridged the information gap for the audience, a skill not everyone possesses. Also, if she were White she likely would not be able to bridge and connect.

When consulting on moderating panels, I emphasize the importance of ensuring equal or equitable speaking time for Asian professionals. Instances where others dominate the discussion often result in Asians being overshadowed, reinforcing stereotypes. Clear communication with the host and moderator is key to avoiding such pitfalls, with specific planning to allow Asian professionals the opportunity to contribute.

In terms of audience participation, engaging an Asian American audience requires intentional formatting due to the prevalent “collectivism” mindset ingrained in our culture. Politeness and the desire to give credit to others are fundamental aspects, making any attention-grabbing measures appear rude and selfish. To encourage participation, it’s crucial to prearrange and set expectations, prompting individuals who have agreed to participate ahead of time.

Aren’t Asians All Alike?

No. Take the time to learn how we are different

Understanding these differences is vital, and I invite you to hire me to speak or consult with your group for a deeper exploration. For insights into why Asian inclusivity matters in your company, you can also tune into my guest podcasts and interviews.


Why does Asian Inclusivity matter? 

Listen to #podcast episode with me talking about Inclusive #TrainingDesign in the latest episode of Train Like You Listen. We’re shedding light on the power of intentional inclusivity for #Trainers and #InstructionalDesigners.

🌐 Why does it matter? Because as workplace educators, we’re shaping the future workforce. Let’s be conscious of the often-overlooked groups, like Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and make our training truly inclusive.

🌐 Stay ahead of the curve! In a changing US demographic landscape, inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a business necessity. Tune in for insights on sustaining your company by embracing diversity in both customers and employees.

Learn about the Top 3 Inclusion Fails in Instructional Design 

  • Inclusion should encompass more than black and white
  • Without personal stories, learners can’t relate
  • Trainer not being vulnerable, so the participants don’t take risks

Jolene explains these ideas

  • Without Personal Stories, Learners Can’t Relate
  • Participants need to be brave
  • Using Inclusive Language in Training and Instructional Design
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong and Make Mistakes
  • Budget-Friendly Ways to Design Inclusive Training Programs

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Can I call you “X”?

Why Pronouncing Names Matters

Ever been in a situation where you’re unsure how to say a co-worker’s name? It happens. So, you might’ve asked, “Can I just call you something easier, like X?” Seems harmless, right?

But here’s the thing: by suggesting a different name, you unintentionally put your comfort before theirs. It’s not about disrespect; it’s more about avoiding the embarrassment of saying their name wrong.

Imagine this: Your co-worker’s name feels like a tongue-twister, and you’re worried about messing it up. So, you offer a simpler name, thinking it’s no big deal. But it is a big deal.

Consider this: Names are more than just words; they’re a piece of who someone is. Your co-worker’s name isn’t just a label; it’s tied to their culture and identity. By sidestepping the challenge of saying their name, you are not showing them respect. I know this hard to understand, so I have resources to illustrate the importance.

So, before you default to a nickname for this other person, think about the person behind it. Instead of shying away from the challenge, attempt to say  their name. Sure, you might stumble a bit, but your effort shows that you respect them.

In the grand scheme of things, choosing authenticity over ease is a small but powerful way to embrace diversity. Your attempt to say their name, even if it’s not perfect, shows respect.

I too am guilty of using someone’s nickname, but I know better now. My friend, who is Taiwanese American and she offered her nick name JC and I took it. With all the education I am learning about Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, I will make a big effort to say practice and remember their name and spell it right.

Name Significance

Proctor and Gamble have a campaign to address this simple solution with awareness. This 1 minute video is a powerful video illustrating the importance our names in the Korean Culture. This video makes me cry every time because I have listened to so many Asian Americans who have felt insignificant starting with not being able to have their own name. 

Creating Belonging, Starting With A Name

Everyone has a name — and from birth through a lifetime of introductions, it becomes the cornerstone of our identity. For many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), their given names carry an even deeper history and significance. But bias, indifference, and unintentional mistakes can lead to misidentification and mispronunciation. This film hopes to elevate the importance of a name, and how meaningful gestures — like pronunciation and understanding its meaning — can create a greater sense of belonging for us all. Join us in celebrating AAPI names, together, and opening the door to belonging.” P&G

Just because people don’t complain, doesn’t mean they like it.

I can tell you countless stories across cultures of how disrespected they feel for people to not even try to say their name. Here is a comment from Thai and White American. Think about the pop culture stars and star athletes that have non-anglo names that people learn to say their names.

I’m tired of people not making an effort to get my ‘difficult’ name right

“I’m sorry you ‘didn’t quite catch’ my name but no, it’s not okay for you to give me a different, ‘easier’ one instead. My issue is not with those who mispronounce my name – I’ve come to expect that now and it isn’t like I don’t also mispronounce names. No, my issue is with people who don’t even make the effort to get my name right after being told the correct way to say it. Or worse, those who go one step further and decide that instead of learning to pronounce my name properly, they will instead rename me to something easier – usually an ‘English’ name.

I have had to battle to get my name pronounced properly all my life, with some luck but a lot more defeats along the way. Some of the major defeats came in my teenage years, where life is awkward enough as it is without being publicly embarrassed by teachers and students butchering your name daily. I heard pretty much every kind of variation of my name, and with some people (especially teachers), no matter how hard I tried, they would never get my name right. Even those that knew or taught me for years. I will never know if it was ignorance, maliciousness, or simply teachers having to remember a lot of students and their names.

A name being mispronounced may seem like a small thing, but when that mispronunciation is extended to a large number of people on a regular basis, it is exhausting. It also exacerbated my already-present feelings of difference and ‘otherness’ – not an easy thing to deal with when you’re a teenager. Teenage life is already riddled with enough angst and awkwardness, and my teenage life was made that much more difficult having to also navigate two opposing cultures. On the one hand I had my traditional Arab culture that didn’t always allow me to do the same things as my friends. And on the other hand, I had a British culture that encourages young people to go out there and ‘live life!’ and make mistakes. Shahed Ezaydi from the Huffington Post

Renaming others is a microaggression

For more information about Proctor and Gamble’s campaign, click here.

For full article from Shahed Ezaydi from the Huffington Post


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