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Moneyball’s Moneyball’s for a Game-Winning Call-to-Action

“Managers tend to pick a strategy that is the least likely to fail, rather then to pick a strategy that is most efficient,” Said Palmer. ” The pain of looking bad is worse than the gain of making the best move.”

― Michael Lewis, Moneyball : The Art of Winning an Unfair Game


Baseball statistics are boring. Plain and simple. Sure they may get some people’s attention, but statistically speaking, they are seen as a mind-numbing subject to talk about. Now maybe I say this with such conviction because I’m not an avid baseball aficionado, but what does get my attention is how Moneyball, a movie about baseball stats, proved to be so fascinating and successful (even to me!). I think it’s because the film is not really about numbers, and it’s not really a movie about baseball, either. The movie is about about what drives people to take risks and how public perception plays a role in our work. My favorite and most absorbed line of the movie is when Brad Pitt (Oakland A’s general manager) tells Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Oakland A’s Head Coach) that though his last year’s team made it to semifinals,   “If you don’t win the last game of the series, nobody gives a shit.” This really resonated with me and even dragged itself into my world of corporate presentation design and delivery. Think about what the “last game of the series” would equate to in your presentation. Three words: Call-to-Action (CTA). If your CTA isn’t strong, it will result in a meaningless presentation. Your presentation can be filled from start to finish with incredible charts, min-blowing stats, or powerful images, but if at the end of it all, you leave your audience with “and that it” then you have lost your “last game of the series” and failed at your presentation. With that, let’s look at what a successful and “last-game-of-the-series-winning” CTA consists of:

Keeping it simple

Like all successful company commercials, its gotta’ be catchy. The point of a CTA is to gather all the info and data you have already presented, and bundle it up into a “next step.” Redbull says it will “give you wings.” Coca-Cola claims you’ll “open happiness.” 15 minutes from Geico will “save you 15% or more on car insurance.” Three mogul-like businesses, one theme; simplicity. Being simple is what led these campaigns to be so incredibly successful. Applying CTA to modern times, I’ll put it in as plain language as I can think of; your CTA has to “tweetable,” “facebook-statusable,” and “textable.” Working with that goal in mind will make you be more creative and effective.

Use active and urgent language

Donate, buy, register, subscribe, call, text, order; these are all words that invoke a sense of command. These words should clearly tell your audience what you want them to do. Follow your command with the urgency. Offer ends, for a short time only, order now and receive; these invoke urgency. Urgency reels in emotion. Emotion sells.

Knowing size matters!

Make it big! Along with active and urgent language, one must make the CTA sound like earth-shattering news. It needs to be big enough that hearing it once will be memorable. A favorite example of mine is the HeadOn campaign from a few years back. It was essentially a 30 second commercial for a migraine relief chapstick-like product that said six words, “HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead.” It repeated the same six words over and over again until the 30 seconds were up. I must admit, it was pretty ridiculous and annoying, but guess what; I still remember it, and it’s been about 5 years since I’ve seen it. That says something.

Give it some space

Contrast, color, space, shape, and text; these are all characteristics of the design and layout of the text that you should thoroughly take into account. Just as the words themselves are crucial to the CTA’s success, so is the digital delivery. Make the CTA shine and impress. Think of the CTA as a star in your very own Broadway show. You want the spotlight on it at all times! Know the value of a great CTA and give it the time and effort it deserves. Soon enough, you’ll see results. 

I’ll end with my favorite scene from Moneyball, where you can enjoy here.

 
Work Cited: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/416305-moneyball-the-art-of-winning-an-unfair-game

Our Five Favorite Books on Presenting with PowerPoint

1. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy DuarteBook_Slideology

Nancy Duarte is a graphic designer, writer, and head of the presentation design firm Duarte Design. The firm is most notable for designing the award-winning Al Gore presentation-turned-movie, An Inconvenient Truth. In Slide:ology, she provides a great resource for getting inside the mind of a presentation designer and seeing how they think; conceptually and technically. The book breaks down the problems that people experience with PowerPoint, such as defaulting to bullet points or using clip art. This is a great read if you want to learn how to think about PowerPoint in a new, creative way.

2. Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinsonbbp

BBP hits on many of the subjects we’ve emphasized in our blog, and it’s a very good general how-to for good PowerPoint design. Naturally, a big point it makes is to avoid the use of bullet points in PowerPoint. Atkinson aptly observes that while bullet points are very easy to make, they’re difficult for the audience to comprehend and relate to. The book then hits on many other important themes in PowerPoint, such as the importance of storyboarding and the classic story arch.

 

 

3. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynoldszen-book1-x

Supreme overlord of the popular presentation blog presentationzen.com, Garr Reynolds has a lot to say on the art of presenting, and he’s compiled a good many of his thoughts in this book. A must read for any PowerPoint enthusiast or public speaker.

 

 

 

 

4. Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business by Bruce Gabrielspeaking powerpoint

Compared to the more conceptual, creative ideas taught in the aforementioned books, this is more of a basic how-to. That’s not to say that Bruce Gabriel’s book on stolid PowerPoint design isn’t very useful. This book, written to be used by business people in boardroom presentations, is easy to comprehend and has a ton of practical application.
 

 

5. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine GalloSteve_Jobs_Cover[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss’s Five Rules for Fantastic Presentations

At some point in his senior year at Dartmouth College, Theodor Seuss Geisel and nine of his friends were caught drinking gin in his room. This was in 1925, during the era of the Prohibition and because of this, the dean put them all on probation.

He was also removed Geisel of his editorship of Jack-O-Lantern, the college’s humor magazine where Geisel published his cartoons. To escape punishment, Geisel began publishing cartoons under pseudonyms including: L. Pasteur, D.G. Rossetti ’25, and Seuss.

Those cartoons were the first time he signed his work under the name, “Seuss.” A couple of years later, Geisel began signing his work under the mock-scholarly title of “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss.”He soon shortened that to  Dr. Seuss. In acquiring his professional pseudonym, he also gained a new pronunciation. Most Americans pronounce the name “Soose,” and not “Zoice” (as it is supposed to be pronounced) and that is how Dr. Seuss came to life.

Arguably, one the most celebrated American author of children’s books, Dr. Seuss published 46 children’s books each with lessons still applicable to working adults today. This is also prevalent in the world of professional PowerPoint presentations. Here are my five favorite Seussian lessons for anyone working on their next professional PowerPoint design:

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” >

In short, be yourself. Your presentation should be where you identify and represent yourself in your truest and simplest form. Know what your company does, how it does it, and why. If a child can’t understand your explanation of what you do then you don’t know yourself well enough. Even Einstein agrees with this by saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Your presentation is where you need to highlight your particular uniqueness and diversity- show how you stand out!  What do you do that is different or better than your competition? Why should I hire or buy from you? These questions are what your audience will be asking themselves as you present. It is better to anticipate them and have them answered in your presentation instead of having them come up as questions. This will show your audience how confident and prepared you are as a presenter.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

After reading just one of Seuss’s books, one will find that simplicity plays a huge role in a majority of his writing. Given his audience did consist of mostly children, Seuss had to match his stories to a lower reading level, but this did not take away from the fact that he managed to engage, inspire, and educate his readers. With only 236 different words, Seuss managed to make his most famous and influential piece of literature, The Cat in the Hat (1957).

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

It is crucial to be direct in what you say while presenting, chose your words and phrases wisely. Being vague or ambiguous will inevitably hurt you in the long run. Being clear with your audience is the best route to getting long-term and recurring customers and partners.

“Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.”

Working by this motto led Seuss to disregard anything but perfection in his writing. He would sometimes spend up to a year on a book, even though they consisted of less than 1000 words. It was common for him to throw out 95% of his material until he settled on a permanent theme. For a writer, he was unusual in that he preferred to only be paid after he finished his work rather than in advance. He did this to motivate himself to work towards perfection—which has has become Seuss’ legacy. Think of what and how you want to be remembered, and let that come across in your presentation.

Fielding the Tough Questions in Presentations

The Q&A session has become a staple for almost any subject you will illuminate with a PowerPoint presentation. Oftentimes, this is a warmly welcomed opportunity for the presenter to clear up any points where the audience might be a bit fuzzy while going into more detail where audience members are interested.

However, as we all know or will eventually find out, presentations don’t always go exactly how we want them to, and sometimes we might face some tricky questions that catch us a little off guard, or intentionally antagonistic questions meant to incite an argument.

As the presenter–the person at the front of the room–you, by default, become the situation’s moderator. It’s up to you to keep the order in the room and the conversation civil and on topic. Most importantly, no matter how hard it may sometimes be, you should always strive to be the most mature, level-headed person in the room when you have the audience’s attention.

Stay on Topic

First off, don’t let audience questions derail your presentation. If appropriate for the topic and allotted time, set aside 5 to 15 minutes at the end of your presentation for a Q&A session. If audience members chime in during your presentation, politely ask them to wait until the end of your presentation.

If your audience refuses to listen to reason and grows unruly, we address that here.

 

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Topic

There may be a million other things you and your audience want to discuss, and they will likely make that apparent when given the opportunity to ask questions, but remember, you’re the one tasked with controlling the flow of the conversation.

Whenever engaging with an audience member, always be working the conversation (as naturally as possible) back toward the main point of your presentation. This way, you’re not wasting the time you’ve allotted to conveying your message.

 

ALWAYS take the high ground

keep-calm-and-keep-your-coolGetting visibly upset, agitated, or annoyed can strip any credibility you might have built up with your otherwise excellent presentation.

Similarly, even if an audience member really lobs one over the plate for you, don’t embarrass them for asking a stupid question. This may sound like your elementary school guidance counselor here, but although you may get a few laughs, anyone to be taken seriously will see your bullying as a sign of immaturity.

 

Take a deep breath before answering each question.

It’s common knowledge that our talking pace speeds up significantly when our adrenaline starts flowing, which happens often when we’re speaking in front of a crowd and our nerves are running high. breathe

Because of this, it’s easy for us to begin rambling when asked to speak off the cuff answering questions, so when you’re asked a question, even if it seems as simple as salt, pause, take a deep breath, and allow yourself a brief moment to formulate your response. You’ll find that this short pause will make your responses much more natural and articulate.

References:

“Keith Alexander Can Teach Us About Presenting to a Crowd.” SlideGenius. July 31, 2013.

Aflac Uses SlideGenius to Present a New Data-Heavy Sales Strategy to Its Team

Recently, Aflac, the largest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States, utilized our PowerPoint prowess to create a presentation deck for internal use to promote a new sales strategy for their team. aflac2

Aflac has approximately 76,900 licensed sales associates in the U.S. and covers more than 50 million people worldwide, so internal training can be a daunting task for them.

An Aflac Insurance Agent needed to convey his effective new strategy to other sales associates. Insurance sales is drenched in statistics and probabilities, thus his presentation deck had a lot of data to incorporate in order to present his message effectively.

aflac1As we’ve said in the past, data and statistics can be very difficult to incorporate into a presentation in an engaging way, but when the prosperity of your company depends on getting these complex figures across clearly, this salesperson saw that he needed a professional PowerPoint designer to help visualize his data effectively.

 

 

 

Analyzing the Attention Span of Your Audience

Now that our lives have been swallowed whole by the constantly updating online world, keeping anyone’s constant, undivided attention can be a near-impossible task. Turning one’s phone off is an extreme measure reserved only for plane rides and funerals. Email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts demand more nurturing and attention than a 3-month old child. So when you’re tasked with keeping an audience’s undivided attention in a professional setting for over ten minutes, it’s no exaggeration when we say, you’ll have to work hard at it.

yl-short-attention-span

British bank Lloyds TSB did a study earlier this year on the cause of careless household accidents, and they discovered something that has some broad implications that reach far beyond house chores. According to the study, the average adult attention span has plunged from 12 minutes in 1998 to a measly 5 minutes in 2008. Participants attributed this mostly to stress and decision overload, but I suspect that our rapid-fire, Internet-driven society has exacerbated this trend.

Whatever the cause may be, it undoubtedly poses a new challenge to presenters.

Television commercials rapidly shrunk over the last decade, the average commercial condensing from 1 minute to between 15 and 30 seconds. This is something those of us giving presentations shouldn’t ignore, but the subject matter we’re presenting only allows us to condense so far, and sometimes we may not have a way around giving a 30+ minute presentation. In that case, here are a few strategies that must be used in order to retain the dwindled attention span of your audience.

Condense your slides

This doesn’t mean you should cut out information, but try to present more information orally, and reduce overloading your slides with information. Spend more time articulating your information aloud and less time forcing your audience to read slide after slide packed with information.

Break Up Your Presentation

Especially for a presentation that passes the 30-minute mark, a short break can make the all the difference between life and death by PowerPoint. The most natural way to go about this is often by posing a question to the audience or incorporating them in some other way, but if the setting allows for it, think of a creative activity that can illustrate your point while mixing things up for your audience. If possible, get your audience up and moving around a bit.

Lastly, and this is requires a bit of work on your part, so I won’t classify it as a “quick tip”–your presentation needs to be a story. It needs to have an arch.

Sure, the visual capabilities in Hollywood movies help encapsulate us, but there's another reason why movies hold our attention so easily.
Sure, the visual capabilities in Hollywood movies help encapsulate us, but there’s another reason why movies hold our attention so easily.

There’s a reason why we can sit motionless in a dark movie theater for two hours and our eyes are never tempted to waver from the movie screen, but when we’re in a dull corporate presentation for more than 10 minutes we feel like our brains are melting. These movies have a great story arch. They build suspense and anticipation then release it, and this keeps us looking forward to what comes next.

Craft your presentation in a way that presents a problem (or, “what is”) then shows them the solution (“what could be”), then keep building and releasing tension this way. In this manner, you can have the audience eagerly awaiting for you to move to the next slide, not because it means you’re one slide closer to the presentation’s end, but because they are genuinely eager in what information you will present next.

References:

How To Incorporate Your Audience Into Your Presentation.SlideGenius. July 26, 2013.

How to Humanize Your Virtual Presentations

In an age where advances in Internet technology allow us to communicate from nearly anywhere at any time, virtual presentations are naturally becoming more and more prevalent.

We’ve previously pointed out that things like body language, movement, and eye contact are vital in establishing trust with your audience during a powerpoint presentation, but what happens when you’re no longer visible to the people you’re presenting to? When presenting online, whether it’s through Skype or a Webinar, there are a few things that must be done in order to keep your audience captivated in the online world.

Body Language?

Wait, didn’t we just decide that body language isn’t a factor? Well, sort of.

Although unseen, poor body language can have a serious indirect effect on your presentation.
Although unseen, poor body language can have a serious indirect effect on your presentation.

Just because your audience can’t see you, doesn’t mean that there aren’t some indirect effects from your body movement. Rather than slouch in your chair for your entire presentation, stand-up and move around a little. This will open up your diaphragm and amplify your energy, which will be apparent to your audience through the enthusiasm conveyed by the tone of your voice.

Prepare Your Environment

Don’t make the embarrassing age-old mistake of having an alarm or ring go off during your presentation. Close all your windows on your computer that might make a noise, and set your cell phone on silent. We know you probably know better, but this happens far too often not to mention. And if you’re giving your presentation at your desk, remove all distractions your prone to fiddling with while distracted, especially the ones that tend to make noise.

Don't let this be you during your virtual presentation. Err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst.
Don’t let this be you during your virtual presentation. Err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst.

Not that technological mishaps are ever desirable, but they’re especially problematic with a virtual presentation. Make sure you allot twenty to thirty minutes prior to the start of your presentation to make sure all systems are go before crunch time. It’s also a good idea to find a moderator to assist you in managing your presentation in the background and fielding questions from your audience online. You don’t want to have to multitask while keeping the conversation going.

You are Your Slides

Wait, what?

By this, we mean that you won’t get a chance to show off your dazzling smile or your killer wardrobe when presenting through the web. Your presentation deck is the only first impression you’ll be able to make, so you better make sure it’s a good one.

Your slides can tell audiences that you’re a competent, creative, and upbeat person, or they can say that you’re sloppy and uncaring. Your personal appearance wont be there, so added emphasis on your slides is a must.

You likely won't be seen during a virtual presentation, so you'll have to let your slides do the talking.
You likely won’t be seen during a virtual presentation, so you’ll have to let your slides do the talking.

This leads to a common problem with virtual presentations: keeping your audience’s attention. Audience members may click around on the web while you’re speaking, minimize your window and tune out, because as cynical as it sounds, you likely won’t be able to tell the difference.

A captivating presentation deck is the first step toward solving this problem. The second is to stay proactive about directing your audience’s attention back to your slides. This differs from an in-person presentation where you usually remain the center of attention. By constantly referring to your slides, your online audience will have to focus their eyes and ears on your presentation to retain your information.

While you must consider the different senses that your audience will be focusing on in a virtual presentation, the tenants of good presenting remain the same. Do your research, rehearse thoroughly, and show up with a killer presentation deck–you’ll do just fine.

Ums, Likes, and You-Knows: Avoiding Fillers in Your Presentations

Old habits die hard. Many of us have been “um”-ing and “you know”-ing our way through public speaking encounters our entire lives, sometimes without even realizing it. It’s something most of us do naturally when formulating our thoughts while speaking, but when the nerves run high during a presentation, our um’s and like’s have the potential to become a potent distraction.

First, do you even have a “filler” problem?

Most people use fillers in their presentations without even consciously being aware of it. It’s something that kicks in automatically when we’re recalling information to speak aloud. While we all dread the sound of our voice, a good exercise is to record yourself giving your presentation, then listen to the recording. You might surprise yourself by what you subconsciously utter when formulating your next statement. Becoming aware of your habit is the first step toward addressing it.

Don’t be afraid of the sound of silence.

No, I’m not talking about the memorable Simon & Garfunkel song, I’m talking about the process of accepting that it’s okay to have a presentation where you’re not constantly speaking. Doing this is the most important step in alleviating your filler problem.

A dramatic pause will give the words that follow it more gravity. If you watch any competition TV show (Like American Idol for example. Yes, I watched it. Lets move on.), then you almost certainly had your nerves wracked by the ridiculously long dramatic pauses of the hosts before announcing the winners and losers at the end of each show.

Take a tip from the master of dramatic pauses and use silence to your advantage.
Take a tip from the master of dramatic pauses and use silence to your advantage.

While a 10-second pause in your presentation will probably seem contrived in your professional presentation, there’s a lesson to take away from the way Ryan Seacrest uses drawn-out pauses to make us cling to the edge of our seats. Unprovoked silence can heighten the awareness of your audience, ensuring that they’ll pay significantly closer attention to whatever follows. So rather than filling your rapid pace talking with fillers, slow down, take deliberate pauses, and deliver your words with added weight.

Lastly, take a deep breath and relax.

When we start each sentence with “um” and begin talking at the speed of light, it’s usually the result of nervousness. When we’re already stressing about the fact that we’re giving a presentation, it’s hard to focus on the little nuances that make for good presenting. So before you step on stage, stop, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of the key things to focus on in order to ensure success in front of your audience.

References:

Putting Your Presentation before Your PowerPoint.SlideGenius. December 9, 2013.

Turning Your PowerPoint into a Video (Part II): Marketing Your Video

In the previous post, I talked about the benefits of turning your PowerPoint presentation into a video and how SlideGenius can do this in the most professional, financially viable way. This post will cover what happens after you get said video into your virtual hands.

As mentioned before, the greatest benefit of having your PowerPoint presentation in a stand-alone, video format is the ability to leverage it by vastly increasing its exposure. The only trick is, how do you reach these new online audiences?

Most of these mediums we recommend pushing your video through will hopefully sound familiar, but having an all-encompassing social media strategy is imperative in order to be effective.

YouTube and Vimeo

Uploading your video to both of these sites is a good first step to ensure your video is easily viewable. Not only does this make your video accessible with an easily sharable link, YouTube and Vimeo have become surprisingly socially active sites.

Especially if you’re new to video sharing, and your YouTube and Vimeo channels don’t have a lot of activity, your videos won’t get many (if any) organic hits from these sites, but like almost any social medium, staying active with these channels will have a rolling effect of attracting audiences to your content over time.

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

I lump these three commonly used social mediums together because, from a business standpoint, content on each is pushed in a very similar manner. The goal here, with all three of these, is to be mindful of how you present the content, since you’ll be more than likely posting the content as a general status to all your fans, followers, connections, etc., and not to anyone in particular.

Being proactive with social media will help draw traffic to your video presentation.
Being proactive with social media will help draw traffic to your video presentation.

Not to start a lecture on the basics of social media, but sites like Hubspot and Hootsuite are great for synchronizing your content across these sites. Coordinating and scheduling consistent content across your different social mediums can help to avoid redundancy when pushing your video presentation.

Email Outreach

Plug your video at every chance you get. Interaction with potential or existing clients through email presents a lot of opportunities for you to tag on the video near the bottom of your message. And if you have an automatic reply programmed to go out for potential leads on your website, a link to your professionally made video can’t hurt!

Get Creative

Whatever you do, don’t spend resources on a top-of-the-line video presentation, use it once, then leave it in the corner to collect digital dust. Keep it in the back of your mind, look for openings in online conversations with clients to work it in, post it on an appropriate landing page on your website, or incorporate parts of it into your next presentation.

Carmine Gallo’s Rule of Three: Incorporating the Most Persuasive Number in Communications

When we take a look at how information is presented to us, we can see that the number three is everywhere. The “Rule of Three” is an age-old public speaking technique commonly used by politicians to give their arguments and oration more gravity, but it’s also a great lesson in presenting information in a professional setting.

2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain made use of the "Rule of Three" in his hyper-simplified 9-9-9 plan.
2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain made use of the “Rule of Three” in his hyper-simplified 9-9-9 plan.

Communications expert, speech coach, and regular Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo asserts that three is “the most persuasive number in communications.” In his post, he cites several historic examples, such as the famous credo of our founding fathers, “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Simplicity is key if we want our audience to retain the information we present; our audience will likely only remember a handful of points we make in our presentation (somewhere between 3 and 9 things).

If you want your message to be both impactful and memorable, keep all details to their most simplified form. For this, “The Rule of 3” is an effective guideline for an easy-to-comprehend presentation.

Though useful, bullet points should be condensed as much as possible, and aren't exactly a beacon of creativity.
Though useful, bullet points should be condensed as much as possible, and aren’t exactly a beacon of creativity.

When presenting, a common technique is to list out our thoughts or arguments as bullet points. There’s nothing inherently wrong with presenting information in this manner–although it’s by no means innovative It’s easy to get carried away when doing so because when your bullet point list grows too long, it will cause your audience to tune out.

“The Rule of Three” is more than just a way to impact your audience; it’s a cautionary reminder to not overload your audience. If you have a slide with a long list of bullet points, it is most likely time to condense this information into separate slides. Our brains have a tendency to automatically tune out when facing a daunting amount of information.


Below is an intriguing example of “The Rule of Three” used in a presentation. Apple visionary and business world demigod Steve Jobs cleverly introduced the iPhone as three separate devices before revealing all to be one device, all while using well-orchestrated repetition to hammer his point home.

In this manner, Jobs shows how “The Rule of Three” is more than just a reminder to not overload your audience with information; it’s a way to produce an aesthetic harmony within a presentation.

“The Rule of Three” is also a concept that it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. So even though you’ve done your research and you’ve become an expert on the topic you’re presenting, you’ve still only fought half the battle.