Obama inspires delegates on the first day of the ATD Expo & Conference

8 May, 2018 in News

The ATD Expo & Conference is the world’s largest event that centres on adult education and skills development. More than 10,500 visitors are here to see 400 exhibitors demonstrate the latest trends in learning. Tictac is naturally here to meet the leading gurus and experts in the industry, who will be sharing their knowledge.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Association for Talent Development, which ATD stands for. But that fact is almost forgotten, as everyone is talking instead about the opening speech of the fair, which was given by the 44th US President, Barack Obama. It’s hard to describe how emotionally charged the atmosphere was when President Obama walked on to the stage – the auditorium almost exploded with cheers. Many people had been queuing since three o’clock in the morning to get a good place.

In his speech, Obama talked about how education and opportunities for growth shaped his own family, in the US and in Kenya. He then talked about his own practical experiences as president, both as a leader and a mentor. Recurring themes were values ​​and the importance of investing in young people – how young people who worked on his campaigns gained opportunities to develop their skills through practical experience and taking responsibility.

Being the accomplished speaker he is, Obama seamlessly interwove stories about his experience of quitting smoking to how they managed to find Osama bin Laden. It was an incredibly charming and fascinating insight into what it is like to have the toughest job in the world!

The rest of the day was extremely busy and TicTac attended lectures on adaptive learning, micro-learning and acting techniques for improving employees’ skills – in other words a mix of the old and the new. One session that was especially interesting was when Mohammed Bagat talked about a model for creating experiences with deep learning and strong emotional attachment.

One interesting trend we noticed at the fair is that fewer people are doing the usual PowerPoint presentations, which no one really feels are particularly fun or engaging. More and more seem to be trying out the idea of getting visitors to sit at round tables and work on tasks together, while the speaker acts more as a facilitator or activity leader. The same topics are covered as in a PowerPoint presentation, but this approach also gives participants a chance to actively contribute, which reinforces learning and lets them get to know each other. I met a lot of exciting new companies here, as well as some American cousins ​​of our existing customers!

At the end of the day we needed to sit back and take a deep breath. Tomorrow we start early by immersing ourselves in podcasting and gamification!


Would you like to know more about Obama’s visit to the conference? Read more here!


Christian Stenevi, script writer at TicTac, is on location to monitor the conference and will be sharing the latest trends and news from the conference.

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