This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Megan Petersen, a Trailhead Evangelist based in Sydney Australia. We’ll learn about Trailhead News, a new way to keep up with everything going on with the Trailhead platform.

Join us as we talk about how Megan started Trailhead News, her tips for creating a great online event, and what’s coming up with Trailhead events.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Megan Petersen.

Trailhead News

With the changes that have come in 2020, Megan came up with an idea to do a news show to take advantage of the new Trailhead Live platform. “We’ve got our Trailhead Newsletter that goes out, but we don’t really have a way to tell everyone everything that Trailhead does,” she says. So every two weeks, she puts out a new episode to keep everyone in the loop.

Trailhead has so much going on beneath the surface, and Trailhead News is here to help you make sure you don’t miss anything. Megan talks to people behind the scenes to get the full story, and you can get started with a simple Trailmix that gives you links to everything mentioned on the show.

How to get started with online events

Organizing something new in a changed landscape has taught Megan some important lessons about what works and what doesn’t in a digital format. “I think people get a little stuck on trying to make what would’ve been a face-to-face event a virtual event, but trying to do it the same way,” she says, “shake that off and think about why you’re doing this event. What’s different about it?”

Megan recommends taking the time to picture what your online event will look like, and start from there. Make sure you have a niche: some kind of unique audience or reason for what you’re doing. And, of course, there are the practical considerations: how are you going to record it? How are you going to edit it? Where are you going to share it?

Why you don’t need a big budget to make a great event

One big difference between digital and in-person is that you need to change it up frequently. “We would’ve sat through a 20 or 30-minute presentation from a single person in the Admin Theater,” Megan says, “the propensity to sit and listen for a long amount of time is getting shorter and shorter.”

It might be changing your voice, having another person come in, or even just giving your viewers a quick visual break. “You can do this on a zero budget, and if you’ve got budget you can make it a little bit more polished,” Megan says, “but there is definitely ways you can make it creative, different, interesting, and natural for yourself.” And one thing she’s seen time and again with guests is that you’re better than you think you are—be yourself and trust that if what you have to say is important to you, it’ll be engaging to an audience.

Listen to the full episode for some more great tips from Megan about online events, and don’t miss the ANZ Salesforce Live event coming up on March 24th.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you be an awesome admin. This week, we are diving into the very important world of Trailhead and Trailhead News with Megan Petersen, Trailhead evangelist based in Sydney, Australia. One of my favorite people from down under.
In this episode, you’ll hear all about Trailhead News and get some tips and advice for your content delivery in this virtual world. So without further ado, let’s welcome Megan to the podcast. Megan, welcome to the podcast.

Megan Petersen: Woowoo. I’m so excited to be back on the Admin podcast with you, Gillian. Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, it’s always great to have your voice on the awesome Admin airwaves here. I wanted to check in with you. It’s been a while. I know you’ve been up to a lot of amazing things and one of the things I wanted to start with is Trailhead News. Can you talk to us a little bit about what Trailhead News is?

Megan Petersen: I sure can. So I came up with this idea to do this fun little news show back in 2020, when we were all unable to leave our houses. I thought, why not take advantage of this great platform in Trailhead Live that had just been announced at the Dreamforce just before.
And we’ve got our Trailhead newsletter that goes out, but we don’t really have a way to tell everyone everything that Trailhead does. I don’t think people understand that Trailhead’s beyond trailhead.com. It’s our Trailhead Academy, all the certifications, all our wonderful classes, all our instructors. It’s admins, it’s devs.
There’s so much that goes into the word Trailhead when you say it. So, the idea behind starting Trailhead News was giving us a way to talk about end-to-end what we’re doing with Trailhead and keeping it fun and topical. There’s so much that we’re talking about all the time.
At first, I thought, “I hope we have enough to talk about on every show,” but I soon found out that every two weeks or so, I could definitely have some top Trailhead News. Came up with some fun segments. A fond memory is the Behind the Hoodies that we did with Steve Molis and Nana Gregg. That was a fun little segment taking a, this is your life look at their Salesforce careers. And then we always do an interview as well and pepper a lot of fun in between.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you’ve got some star-studded cameos that happen. I think you’ve done some with Parker Harris, our co-founder. As you mentioned, some of our rock MVPs in the community. And it’s a really fun way to get a taste of how we like to keep Trailhead weird. But also as you said, the incredible amount of things that are involved with the idea of Trailhead, it’s not just the Trailhead product, but it’s the community, it’s all the activities around it. And it’s pretty awesome.

Megan Petersen: Yeah. Talking to Parker, I do have a lot of admiration for Parker. So that was an amazing moment to be able to interview him on the last episode last year. And we had the wonderful Sarah Franklin is now our CMO. Heather Conklin. Yeah.
If you haven’t checked out Trailhead News, there’s a very simple little trail mix where you can find links to everything that’s mentioned on the show and all the previous episodes as well. And Gillian can share that in all the notes.

Gillian Bruce: It will be in the show notes. Absolutely. And you forgot to mention the fun themes and costumes that sometimes you and your guests don on Trailhead News, which make it even more exciting and surprising.

Megan Petersen: I think I just try and put myself in the shoes of someone that is choosing to spend some time looking at more screen. And I think, “What could make this just a little bit more entertaining than just sitting and talking to someone?”
So yes, we had our awesome 80s themed episode. We had our Halloween spooktacular. I think I went well overboard on the spooky puns in that one, but it was very fun. Had a lot of community faces in that episode as well.
It’s just, if I’m going to sit there for 20, 30 minutes and watch an episode, I want to find a reason to smile and there’s always good little hidden Easter eggs in every episode to make sure that you get a laugh. And information.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. You want to be entertained and informed at the same time. And there you go.

Megan Petersen: Indeed. Indeed.

Gillian Bruce: So, speaking of that, I would love to hear a little bit more about some of the things you’ve learned doing Trailhead News. Now, while you are in Australia and you have at least somewhat of a normal life that has returned.

Megan Petersen: We’re very lucky. Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Not everybody else, especially I’m thinking of me here in San Francisco. We’re still on lockdown. I think I’ve been on lockdown for a year now, it feels like. But a lot of us admins and otherwise, we’re still trying to figure out how to engage virtually. Right.
We’re all stuck at screens, as you mentioned, the last thing a lot of people want to do is watch something else on the screen. So, what are some things that you’ve learned from doing Trailhead News and doing other virtual experiences over the past year, that might be useful for admins as they’re trying to figure out how to either engage with their users or engage with other people in the community?

Megan Petersen: Yeah. Lots actually. It’s been a really good learning experience to try and… So I actually do write, produce, film, edit, the whole thing by myself. So there is a lot that goes into doing that. So if you are looking to create your own virtual event, you’re going to have to dust off a few possible new skills.
So, it’s been a learning curve. When I look at some of the earlier episodes, I go, “Oh, you hadn’t learned how to do that then, yet. I see you do that better now with your editing.” Or even I had to get a nice microphone. At first, I was like, “It’s fine. They can hear my voice.” And now I had to get a special Yeti microphone, which makes me sound a little bit better. So you hone the craft.
But luckily enough, I’m actually in the process of writing a badge, that’s coming out onto Trailhead, talking about this virtual event production. Hopefully it’ll come out in the next few months, but it’ll be all around virtual events.
And one of the first things that I do is sit there. If you’re trying to replicate something that would have been something in-person for example. So we’re going back two years, let’s say, when face-to-face events were normal.

Gillian Bruce: The olden days.

Megan Petersen: The olden days. Yes. Back before 2020. And I think people get a little stuck in thinking about trying to make what would have been a face-to-face event, a virtual event, but trying to do it the same way. So I want to say, shake that off and think about why you’re doing this event. So what’s different about it?
So when I said Trailhead News, it was about talking about everything that Trailhead is doing at that point in time and bringing a bit of fun. No one else was doing that. So that’s my little niche reason to be creating it. So think about why you’re doing this event. What is the hole you’re plugging? What’s the message you’re trying to deliver?
And then I always say, if you could just shut your eyes, you need to see it. So try and see what you think this event is going to look like visually in your head. It might not be super clear, but usually I get some early idea. I’ve got a document where, in the middle of the day, I’ll suddenly get some random idea.
I’ve always wanted to do a slow motion walk. And so I was like, I’m going to do that one day on Trailhead News. So watch out for that one day, I’ll do a slow motion walk because I’ve seen the movies. I’m like, “God, it’d be so cool. Do a slow motion walk.” And I can do that on Trailhead News. It’s one of the fun little nuggets I’ll weave in.
But close your eyes, visualize what you see on the screen and start from there. And there’s a lot of things that are going to go into crafting that vision. But you want to make sure you have some kind of niche, some kind of unique audience, or reason, or message that you’re bringing to the listeners, to the watchers.
And then there’s a lot of factors, like how are you going to record it? How are you going to edit it if you need to edit it? Where are you going to let people see it? Where are you going to share it? So there’s those kind of logistical, operational elements. But then if you’re the one person that’s bringing it all together, you also have to make it creative.
And if I’ve learnt anything, you need to change it up really frequently. So, I think whereas we would have sat through a 20 minute, 30 minute presentation of a single person, if we’re sitting say at the admin theater or the admin meadow back at Dreamforce. Sitting there and listening in-person, that was fine. But doing that in a visual digital way, is just not the same these days.
And I think the propensity to sit and listen for a long amount of time, is getting shorter and shorter. So, think of ways to change it up. Sometimes that might be changing even just your voice, changing a quick visual break, having another person’s voice come in. There’s little things that you just want to keep it interesting. Keep it engaging. And there’s a lot of planning that does need to go into it as well, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Yes. Well, yes. I have been privy to the planning, at least part of the planning that you go through to put Trailhead News together. And it’s quite impressive.

Megan Petersen: Well, you were my first interview on Trailhead News.

Gillian Bruce: I know. It was amazing. You helped me learn things about Zoom I didn’t even know I could do. It was great. But I think one of the things that you touched on that I think is really relevant is, this is a one woman production, so to speak. And so, a lot of the things that you’ve learned… I mean, hey, not everyone is going to probably beef up the editing skills quite as much as you have. But if you’re recording a video or something that you’re trying to maybe just deliver a training to your users, I think a lot of the tips and the things that you have learned are very helpful.
I mean, you mentioned things like just changing up your voice, changing up the visuals. Hey, instead of thinking of it as a 30 minute meeting or a 30 minute presentation, how do you mix it up and keep it engaging? And I think that’s one of the things that I have noticed quite a bit in our screen fatigue. There are industries completely devoted to entertainment that have cracked the code on some of this. But there’s some easy things that we can take from that to help create content that is more engaging, albeit still on a screen.
I think for any, hey, maybe you’ve got a video you want to send to your five users for them to watch, you can still take a lot of these tips. I mean, like you said, even just adjusting the microphone, maybe you don’t have to buy a fancy microphone.

Megan Petersen: No. You do not have to. You can do this on a zero budget and if you’ve got budget, then it’s just going to make it that little bit more polished. But start small, like you say, if this is about sharing some training with your users.
And humor might not be your strong suit, but you can still make it engaging. I obviously like to put puns in there and put jokes in there and that feels natural to me. But humor’s not everybody’s strong suit, but there is definitely ways you can still make it creative, different, interesting, and natural for yourself.
And I do just want to say, I’ve had to record with a lot of people and I’ve asked a lot of people to do videos for me. And often I’ll ask someone and they’ll email me and they’ll go, “This is just terrible. I hope there’s something usable. I’m sorry. I tried. I hate looking at myself on camera.”
This happened yesterday to me, someone sent me a video. And I watched it for five seconds and they looked happy, engaged, connected with the camera. They were talking with confidence. And I have no idea what they were thinking in their mind when they said that to me.
So, I think it’s that, if you think you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail. But if you go in as confident as you can, make connection with the camera, try not to read a script. We used to be able to do that when we’re up on stage.
Making eye contact with the camera is a simple… If you do nothing else, looking at the camera is going to connect with your audience better than you looking down constantly or reading off a screen. So just talk from the heart, talk from experience, connect with the camera and be confident. Trust me. You’re better than you think you are if you’re doubting yourself, for sure.

Gillian Bruce: I think that’s a great message. Basically, what you’re saying is be authentic.

Megan Petersen: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: And I think any viewer can always tell if the person on the screen is being authentic or not.

Megan Petersen: 100%.

Gillian Bruce: I know a lot of admins, we may struggle with feeling like maybe a little imposter syndrome or whatnot, but hey, if you’ve got something that you think is important enough to share, you got it.

Megan Petersen: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: You know it.

Megan Petersen: That’s what I always say. I’m like, “I want to tell your story, but if I don’t know your story, I can’t tell someone that you have an awesome story.” We had some Aussies on the podcast at the end of last year, which was fantastic because I’ve seen them at our Trailblazer community group meetings, or I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they’re doing an amazing presentation at their companies.
So, speak up. Even if you come to us directly in a little moment of confidence, let us know. We’d love to showcase anything amazing that our whole ecosystem is doing.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, absolutely. Well, speaking of that, this is a great segue. Thank you for that.

Megan Petersen: Cool. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: We’ve got a little… Speaking of virtual events, we have one coming up pretty soon here. It’s the ANZ Salesforce Live event.

Megan Petersen: Correct.

Gillian Bruce: Can you talk to us a little bit more about that?

Megan Petersen: I can, it’s going to be amazing. So this is our first big event here in ANZ. If you don’t know what ANZ means, it stands for Australia and New Zealand. Where I am from, I’m in Sydney, Australia. And it’s going to be on March 24th, which is a Wednesday here, which would be a Tuesday, Pacific Time.
You’re more than welcome to join in if you’re anywhere in the world. Just because it’s in Australia, New Zealand doesn’t mean that you can’t tune in and hear what we’re going to put together. And there’s going to be some amazing Trailhead content coming to that event.
We’re going to do a special Trailhead News actually, coming to you live from Salesforce Live ANZ, which is a first for me. So, figuring out how that’s going to work and look, and sound, and be entertaining for those that are watching. And we might even have some admin and developer sessions coming down for our audiences. Maybe a bit of community involvement, would you say Gillian?

Gillian Bruce: I would say, yes. I think we’ve got some community faces that will be a welcome addition to the event. And I think will be really fun. It’s one of the things I think we all missed a lot last year, was we did the best we could to pivot and deliver great content to the global Salesforce community.
One thing that was missing that we typically have at every single in-person event, was the chance for Trailblazer community members to present and share. Hey, we’re figuring out a way to do it this time. So it’s very exciting.

Megan Petersen: It’s exciting. It was very important. It’s what we did last year, actually for a world tour Sydney last year. This is when everything was starting to lockdown. If you go back a year ago, we had very short notice to turn around this huge digital event a year ago.
And that’s where the idea for Trailhead News actually originally came from, because we did the whole thing like a news program back then. So we definitely want to bring some of those vibes into this year. We won’t do eight and a half hours of content like we did last year. I won’t do that to you. It’ll be a little bit less.

Gillian Bruce: That was a lot of content. It was a lot of content.

Megan Petersen: You tell me now that I had to turn around eight and a half hours of content in 10 days. I still don’t quite know how that happened, but it’s amazing. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: I don’t think you slept. Right.

Megan Petersen: No, not really. Not really.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that’s really… So it’s March 24th. And as you said, anyone can tune in, but it is intended for the… I love saying ANZ because we don’t say Zed here in the United States, we say Z. So it sounds more authentic.

Megan Petersen: Ah. Oh, Zed. Right. I got you.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Megan Petersen: We can bust out the old Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, if you want to, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Do it, do it. I love it.

Megan Petersen: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Then you say, “Oi, Oi, Oi.”

Gillian Bruce: Oi, Oi, Oi. Yeah. I remember. Come on. I’ve been there a couple of times.

Megan Petersen: Yes. Okay. Okay. All right. Yeah, there’s a whole chant. I won’t take up too much time doing the whole chant. Aussies know what we’re doing here.

Gillian Bruce: This has been awesome. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I will keep the Trailhead News awesomeness going. And I’m looking forward to sharing that great virtual event preparation badge that you’re working on at Trailhead with the admin community. So, as soon as you’ve got it ready, I will happily share it out. And reminder to everyone to check out the event of March 24th, to tune in. Yeah. Any other parting words of advice you’d love to share with our admin community?

Megan Petersen: Be awesome. Keep putting yourself out there. Be positive and be authentic.

Gillian Bruce: Love it. Thank you so much for joining us and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Megan Petersen: Bye.

Gillian Bruce: Always wonderful to catch up with one of my favorite Aussies. Thanks so much, Megan, for joining us on the podcast. Now, for some of my takeaways from our conversation to help you as an awesome admin. Number one, when you are thinking about creating content to deliver in this virtual environment, really think about how to keep your users engaged. Take a minute and envision what will keep your viewers wanting to look at what you’re doing.
So mix it up, have some new visuals, bring in some other voices. And you don’t have to spend a bunch of money on fancy equipment. You can use the equipment that you have. Some tips that I’ve even just learned from podcasting is just make sure you got a microphone that’s close to your mouth. So don’t just use the microphone that’s on your laptop or your computer. If you’ve got headphones that have a little mic attached to them, plugging them into your phone, that will even just make a big enough difference.
And be authentic. Megan really pointed out how you can tell if someone’s just reading to a camera and not connecting. And that is not engaging. We’ve all watched those. So, look at the camera. Speak from your heart and your mind. You know this content. Whatever you’re presenting, clearly you know it enough to feel that it’s important. So, just trust yourself. Have a conversation with the camera. It’s much easier to keep people engaged by doing that than otherwise.
Also, stay tuned for Trailhead News. We’ve got the next is coming out on February 23rd. So just next week after this podcast drops. And you can find all of the Trailhead News episodes at the link in the show notes. And tune in for the March 24th ANZ Australia, New Zealand Salesforce Live event. The link again, is in the show notes so that you can register for that. You don’t want to miss it. It will be really, really awesome.
So, if you want to learn about all things Salesforce Admin, as always, you can go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And a reminder, if you love what you hear, be sure to pop on over to iTunes and give us a review. We promise, we definitely read them all. Mike and I love reading them. Well, most of them. No, I’m kidding. We love reading all of them. So please continue to give us some reviews.
You can also stay up to date with us on all things Admins on social, @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. You can find our guest today, Megan Petersen on Twitter, @MeganPTweets. I’m on Twitter, @gilliankbruce. And my cohost, the amazing Mike Gerholdt, is @MikeGerholdt. With that, we hope you have a great day and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.

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