Slidegenius, Inc.

Prepare Your Defenses: Battling Noise in Sales Presentations

As we’ve seen in stories, zombies are drawn to loud noises. This lets them swarm you and prevent you from reaching whatever goal you have set. Applying this in our line of work as presenters, there’s no better way to infect the audience with zombie-like expressions than letting noise interfere with your own pitch.

It’s impossible to get your message across if the crowd can’t hear you properly, but this isn’t limited to sounds that your audience can hear. Noise can also come in the form of unnecessary interruptions that get in the way of your business presentation. Technical glitches, distracting colors, inappropriate pictures, unreadable fonts, even a malfunctioning air conditioner can all count as noise.

Simply put, anything that makes your listeners uncomfortable is a potential hazard. These can prevent you from convincing them to invest in your proposal, which means lost partners and potential profits. Fortunately, there are two types of noise and three ways to immunize your clients from it.

In a post written on Public Speaking Tips, professional speaker and author, Lenny Laskowski, states that noise comes in two forms: external and internal.

External Noise

extermal noise in a presentation: walking dead themeThe first type may come from your surroundings, disrupting effective communication with your listeners. An unsilenced phone going off, a tall person blocking the view of another behind him, or an unexpected update notification flashing in the middle of your presentation can get in the way of delivering a successful performance.

Parts of your audio-visual aid might even unintentionally distract your audience. For example, if the speaker volume isn’t high enough, any narration that might be embedded won’t be heard. The same thing applies to your visuals if the screen is too bright or too dark.

Using colors can also be a distraction. If the setting or topic requires formality, using bright colors isn’t ideal to complement a formal presentation. The same goes for times when you need to put on an energetic personality and fire up your audience but end up using dark colors in your slides.

The venue itself is also a factor. If it’s too hot, too dark, or uncomfortable because there aren’t enough seats, people may have trouble listening to you. That’s why you should always check out the area beforehand.

Internal Noiseinternal noise in a presentation: walking dead theme

The second type, internal distractions, are worse because these come from within and may include your own negative thoughts and feelings.

You might be emotionally distracted by being too enthusiastic or possibly tired, which can affect the energy you have for your presentation. A lack of energy or sounding too serious can give the impression that you just want to get your speech over with. It may be fine to sound enthusiastic, but too much of it, like in an investor’s presentation, might make you sound too biased if you make promises without backing them up with hard facts. Alternatively, if you become too serious in an event that needs a more casual and friendly setting, this can send the wrong impression to your clients and infect them with that same lack of interest.

On the other hand, the audience might also be biased or have misgivings about your topic, especially if you present any new unproven products that have yet to enter the market. While skepticism may be unavoidable, you need to prepare for possible contrasting opinions during your Q&A section if you have one.

Here are three things to consider when combatting both types of noise to safeguard your presentation’s success:

1. Detect the Source of Noise detect noise and proceed to your presentation: walking dead theme

Damon Verial, a professional writer and contributor for various Web sites, including eHow, tackles the importance of finding the source of noise. He explains that depending on the importance of the situation, noise should be eliminated through various means.

Careful preparation is what helps you avoid unwanted interruptions, but despite your best efforts, some unexpected circumstances are still hard to prepare for. For example, your laptop might randomly shut off, or your slides could suddenly freeze while presenting. In times like these, you need to have backup devices that have copies of your presentation, if possible, so you can pick up where you left off immediately.

Before striking back, identify the root of the problem to find an immediate solution. Was it lack of preparation that disgruntled you? Or was it a problem with the venue that disturbed your presentation? The former can be taken as a lesson for what to prepare for next time. The latter can be resolved with some help. In this case, ask for the organizer’s help to take control of the situation and minimize any disruptions.

For technical problems, politely ask the coordinator to help you fix any issues so you can continue your presentation. This will help you handle the situation and put everything in place. Lighting problems, sound systems, microphones, and even power cables are things that they should be ready for.

2. Sharpen Your Listening Skills

sharpen listening skills for better presentation: walking dead themeYour job isn’t limited to speaking; listening is also vital to dealing with your audience. With the end goal of delivering a message, improving your listening skills is an essential part of the process. You need to know what concerns your clients will have when you bring your proposal to the table. These aren’t limited to prices. Timelines, implementation costs, and possible benefits are also factors to determining how feasible your proposal can be.

However, passive listening isn’t enough. To be an effective listener, actively seek out and attend to people’s concerns. This lets you better understand what they mean when they ask questions about your topic. After all, noise works both ways too: you need to ask for clarifications if clients voice out their concerns in order to prevent any misunderstanding and give appropriate responses.

By being an attentive listener, you get to answer in a constructive and engaging manner while showing your audience respect. This gives the impression that you genuinely want to know what others need, as opposed to simply pushing your products out and hoping someone will be willing to invest in them.

Aside from convincing them to voice out their opinions, give your viewers a chance to help you clarify anything that needs to be addressed. This prevents any possible misunderstandings that can divert their attention.

3. Harness the Power of Repetition

stress relevant info in your presentation: walking dead theme

Never underestimate the power of repetition when combatting unwanted noise. People remembering your pitch after it’s over can make the difference between success and failure. If your prospects remember what you want them to, and you give them the means to contact you afterwards, you’re halfway to converting more leads to sales.

Simply having excellent speaking skills isn’t enough. You also want your listeners to remember the best parts of your performance. That’s why audience recall is important in any presentation. Keep your points simple enough to repeat them for emphasis but not so much that you endlessly reiterate each one. Are there aspects of your proposal that you can reduce into one to three words? Use these to reinforce your speech and support your facts so that the audience will remember exactly what you stand for.

A simple way to improve recall is to repeat your main points during vital breaks or at the end of your pitch. This highlights important takeaways for the audience, emphasizing your thoughts and stressing relevant information for your listeners to make your pitch memorable.

Done right, it makes your pitch sound more entertaining and convincing.

The Takeaway: Always Stay Alertstay alert: walking dead theme

Always anticipate an onslaught of diversions. These can come from the venue, your equipment, your slides, or even yourself or the audience. Consider the appropriate tools to use and have backups in place when technical breakdowns happen. It won’t hurt to coordinate with your organizers for any contingencies you can use in worst-case scenarios, too. This lets you stay focused to avoid further distracting your listeners.

Instead of immediately going on the offensive, strengthen your defenses against disturbing noises that can ruin your performance. At the same time, maintain a solid feedback line for communicating with your audience. They may not always understand you, but if you take efforts to understand their side of things, you’ll be able to find out exactly what causes the noise on their end. You’ll also come across as someone who wants to build better business partnerships with other people rather than a typical salesman who simply talks about their own products without considering if it’s the right fit for his customers.

Don’t let negative thoughts or circumstances overwhelm you. Combat them by detecting the unnecessary noise, enhancing your listening skills, and reiterating your ideas to make sure everyone gets the point. Once you’ve got unnecessary noise under control, you’ll have the audience focusing on the most important things: the benefits that you can give them, and why they should choose you over the competition. This’ll prevent spreading blank stares to the audience and help you convert more leads for your business.

 

References:

Laskowski, Lenny. “Aspect 6 – The Noise.” Public Speaking Tips, May 22, 2015. www.ljlseminars.blogspot.com
Verial, Damon. “How to Overcome Noise Barriers in Communication.” eHow, n.d. www.ehow.com/how_8031308_overcome-noise-barriers-communication.html

Relate to Your Audience with a Universal PowerPoint

With all of the functions available to PowerPoint, the one main challenge of showing original content to your audience becomes more and more difficult. At a time when it’s become possible for any presenter to embed live Web sites and real-time social media feeds to illustrate their points clearly, what exactly will surprise your audience enough to help your own presentation stand out and move people to action?

The good news is innovation doesn’t always equate to originality. Instead of going for the avant-garde, why not make your pitch resonate with your listeners? If your audience has heard it all, go the other way and work with classic presentation techniques that still prove to be effective to their tastes.

Creating a universal PowerPoint everyone can relate to guarantees a more attentive audience. Here’s how you can produce an attractive and interesting presentation:

Stick to the Time Limit
Running out of time: Stick to the Time Limit

Corporate pitches are notorious for boring people after a certain number of slides. Preventing this depends on how well you can memorize your pitch and keep the audience interested. However, for those following business guru Guy Kawasaki’s famous 10-20-30 rule, this limit falls on the 20-minute mark.

Aside from the fact that people’s attention spans have notably grown shorter, they’ve probably heard hundreds of pitches before. Yours is no different from all the others, but you have a chance to make an impression by condensing the meat of your presentation into a short but sweet delivery.

Keeping a set time limit in mind prevents you from going off tangent with your discussion. It helps you develop an awareness to organize your content in such a way that delivers all the important points without exhausting your audience. Remember that you don’t have to overwhelm your listeners with all the details you’ve gathered from your research. If you have anything that you can’t include in your pitch, distribute handouts or other materials during or after your pitch as supplements.

Tell a Storytell a story - powerpoint presentation tips

Eliminate the difficulty of attracting listeners by crafting a story around your brand. Think of it as a way to give your pitch a solid structure with a beginning, middle, and end. Stories can draw more attention than hard facts and difficult data. Make your slide deck more palatable by supplementing it with a story everyone can relate to.

Don’t saturate your slides with text. Add relevant images that illustrate your words, coupled with brief phrases or words to further expound on them. Straightforwardly handing all the heavy data to people might result in information overload after a while, so making use of speech metaphors is a good break for them. It’s been observed that because metaphors, like narratives, activate the creative right side of the brain, it puts people more at ease and lowers their skepticism towards sales pitches and other marketing efforts.

For instance, you can show a baseball player how to hit a home run as a metaphor to illustrate hitting the so-called sweet spot. At the same time, keep your story simple. It’s important to hook your audience’s interest, but exaggeration makes you lose your credibility as a speaker.

Use Relatable Themesred thumbsup

A good story only works if it uses relatable themes at its very core. Use topics your audience are familiar with. One of the most effective examples incorporated in a brand’s story is Steve Jobs’ pitch for Mac. In this instance, Jobs’ use of well-known tropes such as heroes and villains impressed itself on people’s minds and got Mac out into the market successfully.

Leverage your brand in the same way by citing something that’s relevant to everyone. This can include current trends. Better yet, research what timeless concepts still ring true with people’s sensibilities at present. Tropes like providing for your family or even excelling in sports contain the underlying themes of love and teamwork, which are just two of the positive messages that people appreciate hearing.

Utilizing these keeps your story from being too obscure for your audience to understand and retains an entertaining structure to base your pitch on. Even the most complex topics can be broken down into digestible and interesting narratives that everyone, or mostly everyone, can get.

Appeal to Emotions

Appeal to Emotions: different emotionsThere are different ways to subtly appeal to your audience’s emotions. You can do this in your speech by using Pathos, one of the public speaking pillars established by the ancient Greeks. This involves getting people to sympathize with your points until they’re eventually convinced of their validity.

Generate the reactions you want by applying the same principle on your deck. Consider experimenting with color to complement your story. Certain colors can also evoke emotional response from people when used at the right time. Warm colors like red and yellow elicit alertness, while cool colors like blue and green ease tension. Incorporating your brand’s colors in your deck will help viewers associate your business with your presentation.

But don’t just make your pitch about emotional appeal. Having too little actual substance in your presentation will tune out the more scrutinizing audiences and leave everyone else confused about your points. Use the emotional hook to reel in the crowd, and once they’ve invested their interest in what you have to say, bring out the facts and data to support your claims.

Go Visual

public speaking skills: overall satisfying presentation

Content, delivery, and design should always work hand in hand for an overall satisfying presentation. This means that while you sharpen your public speaking skills, you should also apply the same tips on your PowerPoint or any other visual aid you have at hand.

Don’t be deceived by the presentation tool’s user-friendliness. Plenty of presenters have fallen into the trap of either overly embellished or sparse decks that have failed to pique audience interest despite the speaker’s enthusiastic pitch.

The key to effective visuals is to find a balance between text and images. Saturating your slides with an entire script will invalidate your physical presence since viewers will assume they can just read everything on the screen. Similarly, using inappropriate images that have only the vaguest relation to your pitch will confuse them. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have leeway to use visual metaphors. Just make sure you can establish a clear connection between your point and your picture of choice.

Support your images with text, but use only keywords. Long sentences and paragraphs should be used sparingly and only if necessary.

The TakeawayRelate to Your Audience with a Universal PowerPoint: the end

You don’t need a flashy pitch and deck to get people to listen. Here’s a quick review of how to make your PowerPoint more interesting to audiences:

1. Stick to the time limit. Condense your points to fit people’s attentions without compromising quality by organizing and preparing your content effectively.
2. Deliver your message with a simple but universal presentation. Tell a story everyone can relate to with your speech and your visuals.
3. Use images that convey your story while keeping your text minimal to leave room for elaboration. Appeal to people’s emotions with the right color combination and a pitch that gets people’s sympathy.
4. A distracting deck can only get you attention for so long. Bank on slides that people will remember for a longer time.
5. Craft a PowerPoint to complement your winning pitch. Put only the necessary images and text that will support your ideas to drive your points home.

Need help creating a memorable deck? Contact our SlideGenius experts today for a free quote!

 

References

Henneke. “How to Use the Persuasive Power of Metaphors.” Enchanting Marketing. 2013. n.d. www.enchantingmarketing.com/how-to-use-metaphors
Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule
Watson, Leon. “Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones.” The Telegraph. May 15, 2015. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11607315/Humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smartphones.html

 

[Podcast] SlideGenius CEO Rick Enrico’s Interview with Stephen Woessner from Onward Nation

Stephen Woessner bounced off ten questions to Rick Enrico, CEO of SlideGenius, Inc. These questions got right down to discussing where his company came about and his secret to on how to keep everything running smoothly. Rick discusses his success and failures and shares valuable and actionable advice that entrepreneurs need to hear to get on the path to success. He shares that when running a company, it’s all about the people.

Listen to Rick Enrico’s complete interview at Onward Nation.

Interview Questions:

  1. What’s your secret time-saving technique?
  2. Do you have one or two daily habits you strongly believe contributes to your success?
  3. Tell us about that challenging time that could’ve ruined your business but now serves as an invaluable learning experience?
  4. What do you think is the most critical skill business owners need to master in order to thrive today?
  5. Would you agree that a leader himself can become the only constraint to his business, and him getting out of the way can help the company grow?
  6. What’s the most influential lesson you learned from one of your mentors?
  7. What systems would you go back and put into place sooner rather than later and why?
  8. What one strategy or “recipe” would compound into big wins for business owners?
  9. Imagine the people you hired today exceeded your highest expectations. What recipe or strategy did they consistently apply to deliver the most value to your business?
  10. What would be 2 or 3 strategies you would recommend entrepreneurs and new business owners to focus on to ensure success?

Full transcript of the interview after introductions:

—————–

Stephen Woessner: Rick, is there a secret? Maybe a time-saving technique that you can share with us right off that bat that helps you focus and prepare to tackle your most vital priorities each day?

Rick Enrico: Yeah. So one of the things I found is telephone efficiency. We’re in San Diego, California, and I also have an office in the Philippines as well. My assistant isn’t located in our San Diego office. She’s actually working the night shift in our office in the Philippines. And on any given day, we all have 15-20 scheduled phone calls, so she’ll call them for an appointment first, and once she’s connected, she’ll then patch me through the call.

And why this is important is this allows me to work right up to the scheduled call and saves time if the caller needs to reschedule, or she gets a voicemail and cannot be reached, and she’ll handle all that rescheduling so it prevents the back and forths, and it optimizes my time throughout the day.

———————–

Stephen Woessner: Do you have one or two daily habits you strongly believe contributes to your success?

Rick Enrico: Yeah, there’s two and they’re recent. They’re not something that I’ve had for the past 10-15 years. They’ve come about in the last couple of years, and one of them’s breathing.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve developed a habit of stopping midday to pause and focus on my breath. It can even be for 5 minutes. But this has not only helped me level out, but it’s provided me with making better decisions. The second is a daily meditation routine that’s all focused on breathing. Getting up in the morning and just clearing your mind for 20 minutes. I made that a routine that I follow daily.

———————–

Stephen Woessner: The deliberateness in the way that you schedule your day, everything, the initial answer you gave us working right up to that appointment and then if somebody’s not there, the efficiency, the rescheduling so you can continue focusing on your vital priorities, and then again being deliberate with taking a pause to focus on breath.

Then meditation taking a break in the day so you can fight that overwhelm and just be consistent with the priorities. Really great lessons, Rick.

Rick Enrico: Sure, and I’d like to add to that. I have a business coach. It’s not just me manifesting this myself. I definitely would give credit to Eric Kaufmann at Sagatica.

And so doing these exercises, and then also trying to get my staff and directors in the company to be in that same type of mindset and feeling, if you will, has allowed us­ to pause when businesses can be stressful.

And if we can take time to pause during the day, and realize no one’s going to die here and that we can come up with a solution, it can create a better working environment. It’s created a better calm, if you will. And that’s something that I would recommend to any entrepreneur, is trying to instill that in your organization.

——————–Stephen Woessner from Onward Nation interviewed Rick Enrico CEO of SlideGeniusStephen Woessner: So let’s actually go down this path a little bit of the image of the stress to peace to business. Let’s go down the path of overcoming obstacles, and you mentioned stories. You tell stories visually.

I know that you’re an expert storyteller, and everybody loves stories. It’s part of our DNA. So, Rick, tell us about that challenging time, that situation that could’ve devastated, maybe even ruined your business, but wherein you persisted with the tough decision.

But now, that once painful memory serves more as an invaluable learning experience. Tell us that story.

Rick Enrico: Sure, I’m gonna go back to 2008. I think a lot of businesses went out of business during that time period. And that was by far the most challenging time of my life in that I was heavily leveraged with my own personal capital, and the company and the markets just didn’t look favorably upon the success of the company.

And now, while I was on my knees trying to figure everything out, sometimes the world shifts and the universe has its ways of giving back. And that shift was someone telling me to open a presentation agency.

And so, that challenge and that failure turned to what we’re talking about today. And I think if you’re struggling to find the next thing, or your business is failing, be aware that one call, one door can open and it can change your trajectory. And the eternal optimist in entrepreneurism is always expecting that one door will open.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Well, we have to have the clarity of mind. We have to have the presence of mind to hear it and see it when it actually opens, right, Rick?

Rick Enrico: Absolutely, absolutely.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: It’s such a great conversation. You’re doing such a great job illustrating all of these lessons, so let’s now transition into critical skills.

So for your perspective, what do you think is the most critical skill business owners need to master in order to thrive today?

Rick Enrico: Everything requires effort and energy. And too often, business owners and entrepreneurs say yes too often or too soon as they fear losing out on a perceived opportunity. And I think by learning to pause and sometimes say no, the space is created for potentially more rewarding endeavors that that same energy can be applied to.

And this is also something that happened to me in the past couple of years, where opportunities come up for new businesses 4 or 5 years ago and I would just say, “Yeah, let’s go!” And now I’m more methodical about it. I take time to really evaluate all the angles of that opportunity, and it’s allowed for better decisions to be made on what is best not only for myself, but the company.

And that goes downline as well, so I’m now bringing in my directors and asking them, “What is your opinion of this? How does it feel?” And I go with what they say. And that’s turning it over to your employees to allow them to be making the decision controlling the trajectory of the company.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: So was that hard for you? Was there a personal struggle that you had to resist the temptation to maybe pursue these other things? But was that really hard for you to recondition yourself to be able to do that well?

Rick Enrico: Absolutely. I was not always this way. I was a control freak. I was very closed. As I started to become more open, the momentum shifted. The momentum for growth happened by just changing a few things, and allowing the “we” instead of “I” within this particular company.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: It sounds like you would validate this. But I wanna ask you: I’ve heard so many successful people that have built a small organization, made them large organizations, and that they themselves as the leader of the business, were the only constraint. And as soon as they got out of the way, the business grew. Would you agree with that?

Rick Enrico: Haha! Absolutely. And now when I look at the business, it’s like a train on a moving track, right? And that’s the corporation.

Now I am just a passenger on that train. I may get off at some point, and people will get on and off, but the train will keep going. And so if the business owner, the leader, identifies themselves with the company, I think that’s a mistake. I think putting those people in the train and letting it go and letting it flow, and knowing that the train and its people are more important than I, I think that’s an important piece.

Stephen Woessner: I’m grateful for this really valuable mentorship during this conversation.

So now, let me ask you to think about the most influential lesson you ever learned from one of your mentors. And, Rick, how that lesson helped you become the business owner you are today.

Rick Enrico: Sure, it’s all gonna come full circle. I have two if you don’t mind me sharing.

——————–Rick Enrico interviewed in Onward Nation

Stephen Woessner: Of course.

Rick Enrico: First, my father’s a serial entrepreneur. He started 23 businesses in his career. And he has a saying that it’s all about the people. It’s all about the people. And this couldn’t be truer in any business.

Sure, the CEO may be the conductor of the train making all the press, but behind every great CEO is tens, hundreds, or thousands of good people. And without good people, you won’t have a good business. So I try to bring that to my organization and look at people first and think: it’s all about the people because that’s gonna create the growth. That’s gonna get you the train moving down the tracks at a faster rate, and I really subscribe to that.

Secondly, I played Hockey at the University of Wisconsin and one of my coaches was Mark Johnson. Mark infamously scored two goals against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid, Miracle on Ice, right? And every day I’d prepare, playing hockey there, and pay all my attention to my hockey stick, ever so meticulously, as if the stick was the only path to my success.

And Mark had a saying he would tell me over and over again, he’d say, “Rick, it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian. It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.” And I’ve carried that with me throughout life when myself or people around me blame focus outside and not within.

And even with SlideGenius, we hear “Death by PowerPoint” and how PowerPoint is such a terrible tool. Well, the same metaphor:not the arrow, it’s the Indian,” can be used for the PowerPoint user. Of what we learn, 84% is done visually, so of course, people are going to give terrible presentations. But that’s not PowerPoint’s fault.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Thank you for sharing two really, really powerful lessons with us. I suspect that Onward Nation’s reeling a little bit just like I am. I love your coach, go Badgers by the way, shared with you.

That was fantastic, great visual examples. And as you were telling that story I was actually seeing the arrow and the Indian, and it just really cemented that into place. Did you say 84% visual learners?

Rick Enrico: Yeah, of what we learn, 84% is done visually.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Wow, I didn’t know that. That’s a powerful statistic. Okay, so I have four more questions for you.

So if there was a magic reset button, as a way to restart your business, what systems would you go back and put into place sooner rather than later, and why?

Rick Enrico: There’s too many to detail, right?

——————–

Stephen Woessner: *Laughs*

Rick Enrico: But to start, I wish I would’ve pursued SlideGenius full-time in 2008 and we hadn’t waited until 2012 to put forward the focused energy in the business. And the first couple of years of SlideGenius, you know businesses and entrepreneurs have ups and downs, right? And we’ve had base hits and we’ve had failures and I was so much of a control freak for fear of failure.

And it really wasn’t until this mid-2014 when I started to let go and hire and promote within to take that divisional delegation off my plate which we talked about earlier. And for example, I personally sold the first 500 clients as our only sales person.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Wow.

Rick Enrico: I was also our accountant and our only marketing person. And once I replaced myself, the company’s growth soon followed, and freed up my time to coach and grow our managers.

So this year, we’re on pace for an annualized growth of 70%. By just being able to let go and focus on each individual step within our process and documenting that process so that we can measure and improve upon.

So we’re very much a metric-focused company, especially within our marketing and our client interactions. And we look at that daily, and we have benchmarks to hit, and we’re focused on those metrics, and those KPIs so that we always keep the metrics first, and we always look to measure and improve upon that.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: So let me make sure I’m tracking you correctly. So you gritted it out, you sold the first 500 clients yourself, right? You were the person for sales.

Rick Enrico: Correct.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Okay. And then it sounds like as soon as you either recognized constraints or the process that needed to be improved, maybe just improving your own quality of life and what you’re doing in the business.

It sounds like you have since extracted yourself out of the sales process, am I tracking with you?

Rick Enrico: To some degree, so let’s just say we’re a 100% inbound marketing firm. We have 20 people in marketing. We’re writing content, we’re designing internet-based marketing programs, we’re designing landing pages, and we’re constantly looking at marketing first.

That’s what I would tell any business owner, you know you have to market, or you’ll die. And we put focus on that and the leads that are generated. We have persona-based tricks that we look at when the lead comes in.

There is a scoring that happens automatically within the organization and we also eyeball it right away. But it drops into a category. And we know based on that persona, from a marketing perspective we have 11 personas within the client base that make up 95% of our clients. We know what the potential lifetime value will be within minutes of that lead coming in. So then we assign it accordingly.

If it is a tier 1 type of lead, it will get funneled to me.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: That’s perfect. Thank you for illustrating it that way and at that depth. Onward Nation, Rick just gave you the blueprint for inbound marketing and how you can make that an effective tool within your business. That was outstanding, Rick.

Rick Enrico: It takes time too. I would add that we focused on this earlier this year, so when we put forth a huge effort into content. And we have 6 content writers on staff full-time and they’re pushing articles.

We have a full-time PR person on staff, our digital marketing team, and they’re all about trying to drive growth and internet and visits. In the past, I’d say 4 months, we’ve seen even our organic search is growing at 5% per week.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Wow. And when you compound that, Onward Nation, did you say 4 months, Rick?

Rick Enrico: Yup.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: That becomes a big snowball in a hurry. Congratulations.

Rick Enrico: Mmhm. Thank you.

——————–1-04

 

Stephen Woessner: It is a lot of hard work. Rick just actually gave you the blueprint and what’s inside his company and the core competencies, the vital functions his team is working on.

And you could literally map that and put into your business in those same functions, those same KPI’s, the same vital priorities, the same rhythm, and experience similar results.

Now, very strategic that they’ve gone down this path, but, wow, kudos, Rick. It is a lot of hard work but obviously the result outcome can be very valuable.

So, Rick, what one strategy, or here in Onward Nation we call them recipes, but what one strategy or recipe that in your opinion if business owners and their teams could consistently apply every day will compound into big wins for them?

——————–

Rick Enrico: Sure, number one, we have what we call the 4×4 manifesto that has our core values surrounded by subsequent ancillary values. And in the centerpiece, it’s to have fun. And I think that is something that is these businesses, if you create an environment where your employees are in a fear-based environment, you’re not gonna win.

So if you can create an environment where your employees are appreciated, they’re rewarded, and they can be themselves in a feel-good culture? You’re gonna create the momentum. I mean, who doesn’t wanna feel good at work? And we’ve all been in environments where it’s not the greatest place to be and you can feel that energy. And I guarantee it, you walk into SlideGenius and it’s a fun place to be, it’s creative. Every visitor that comes in goes, “Wow, this is cool.”

And we specifically designed our offices that way so that it’s putting the employee first. It’s not like we have a tremendous amount of people coming into our offices, but it’s all about the employees. Like my father said, it’s all about the people. And that centerpiece of having fun, and having that positive attitude, you’re gonna be able to manifest the growth that you’re seeking.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Great strategy. So let’s take this people topic deeper because it’s such a valuable and critical topic to all of us as business owners.

So let me ask you to fast-forward one year, Rick—and you’re looking back on the higher decisions you’re considering making now, and imagine the people you hired today exceeded your highest expectations—what recipe or strategy did they consistently apply to deliver the most value to your business?

Rick Enrico: Sure. So persistence with hyperfocus on attention to detail. As we scale, our processes are evolving, and like I mentioned earlier, we’re continuously refining these so that we can build supporting technology around presentation design project collaboration.

Our next phase, fast-forward one year from now, is we’re taking our processes and building cloud-based software to actually manage the entire project lifecycle.

Because our business is all about projects, and so, if we can look and identify where the holes are, and how we’re continuously refining those processes, then looking how technology can impact. And we have 9 engineers on staff full time working on these problems.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: So what I’m learning from you here too is that not only are you growing methodically and strategically in looking at how to really remain focused on the core of what you do. There also is this outward look at new opportunities. But you have the guts and courage to actually look for holes.

You have guts and courage to look for blind spots in the organization or new opportunities that could currently be gaps, and then how can you fill those and add value to clients in the process.

Would that be correct?

Rick Enrico: Absolutely, and putting clients first. The irony is one of our global clients in 24 countries, and really nice people, they came to us 18 months ago, and they said, “Hey, we know you have a software development background and marketing. Would you be willing to explore developing a product that would help us? We’ll be your first client.”

Now, I have to build it, of course, and I said, “Yeah, let’s talk it through.”

They flew in from Seattle, flew in from London, and we sat for two days and whiteboarded what the product would be. And it was a tremendous creative collaborative experience. And so that product is manifesting called SlideSuite. And SlideSuite is this online library for managing all slides and presentations within your organization globally, and it’s on-demand.

So hopefully, without metrics against us, it’s going to reduce the actual slide design process by 70% because visually, our clients will be able to see all the slides and pop them into decks and go. And, of course, if they need a designer on demand, we’ll be here to help them too. And so that scale and that vision of looking at our client problems and saying, “Hey, how can we help you?”

And that is something we’re constantly looking for in our clients, to provide us that feedback so that we can turn around and not only help them in the presentation design projects which what we do, but help them in other ways around presentations.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: That is just brilliant. So there again, Onward Nation: Rick just gave you the blueprint, the recipe for how to ask for feedback, you have to have the guts to ask for feedback and then once your client or clients are willing to give you the feedback, that you actually then follow the roadmap that Rick and his team used to do something with it, to solve a problem but then turn it into a brand new opportunity within the business.

Masterful, masterful. So, Rick, Here’s my last question for you:

Imagine you’re standing in front of a room with brand new business owners, people just like you when you were starting out, so they’re battling their way through the fears, the worries, and the doubts, and the struggles to find their footing.

So what would be 2 or 3 strategies you would recommend that they focus on the best to ensure success?

Rick Enrico: Sure, number one: I should say, carve out a specific niche that your company can excel in, and don’t try to be everything to everybody. For example, of course, we design Web sites, we’re a team of designers, but that’s a commodity. So we stay hyperfocused on our core offering of presentation design so we can be the best at what we do.

Number two: I’d say—and we talked about this earlier—it’s know your customer, or know your target customer. And as I mentioned, in SlideGenius, we have 11 buyer personas. These make up 95% of our client base. So when those leads, or when that prospect comes in, we can immediately score it internally for that delegation. And if you know your customer, you’re gonna be better equipped and able to offer a better service to them when they come through the door, or even if you’re going outward to meet to try to target customers.

Number three: I’d say for any business, I’d say market first, and scale sales second, meaning that the CEO really should be the sales person. Now, this can be a little different if you’re an engineer, and you’re in a technology startup, you’re gonna be focused on the product. But you really gotta find someone with a solid marketing strategy or your business will suffer. That entrepreneur should own marketing, and own sales, and then build out those processes so that they master that skillset in their specific company and then they hire those people to take lead on that.

Too often you’ll see a CEO who has a good skillset and he’ll say, “Oh, I need to hire salespeople” and not put that effort and that money into marketing when it should be the opposite. That CEO, “I’m too busy, or I’m crazy busy.” You’re not crazy busy. You wanna get your business up off the ground? You gotta market, and you gotta sell. Get out and sell, and that’s what I see from.

I know I see a lot of startups obviously that come through the door as well. You gotta have a marketing budget to get out there and to be heard in today’s market place.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: When the reality is, Onward Nation, if you hear a CEO or business owner say “I’m too busy. I don’t have time for the sales function” that Rick is explaining to us right now. What that really is, is that’s code for I’m afraid. Right?

Rick Enrico: Yeah! Absolutely.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: I’m scared to be out there like Rick is. Right, Rick?

Rick Enrico: Or if they don’t have the confidence, and so a lot of companies that come through the door are trying to raise capital so we do their presentation decks to go out and these guys raising 500,000 dollars. We have clients that are raising 30, 40, 50 million dollars and they’re all in different phases. And it’s all about the confidence in that CEO and that entrepreneur and especially at the early stage these guys, these angel investors are betting on the jockey, not the horse.

Marketing and sales are so important to a young company and it should be. It’s a 24-hour job for that CEO because the momentum to try and go to zero to a million is incredibly difficult. It’s about the same as going from a million to 10 million and then you’re gonna have the same challenges that you do going from ten million to a 100 million and beyond.

Companies will morph and excel, but always put sales and marketing as a targeted focus upfront.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Onward Nation, this was off the charts amazing. And, Rick, what I really loved about these lessons and how you mentored us through each of them is it you gave us really great concrete examples to reinforce and cement into place the lesson.

But then you also told great stories that really illustrated and just gave us a different dynamic or layer to the lesson itself and really helped us visualize. And, Onward Nation, I hope that you’re taking notes. And that you’ll go back and re-listen to these words of wisdom about business building strategies and how to tell effective stories to get your point across because that’s exactly what Rick did here today.

And Rick you’ve given us a ton already, but before we go, before we say goodbye and close out, is there any final advice that you wanna share?

Anything you think we might’ve missed and then please tell the best way to connect with you, my friend.

Rick Enrico: Yeah, I would just say for any entrepreneur out there, don’t ever give up. When fear of failure sets in, and you think you’re failing, just be optimistic. And always know that when you’re running down the corridor, there’s gonna be a ton of doors to open.

And if you stay persistent, you’re gonna open the right door. And something’s gonna emerge and you’re gonna be taking your company and yourself to a whole new level. To get a hold of me, you can visit SlideGenius.com.

——————–

Stephen Woessner: Fantastic. And Onward Nation, no matter many notes you took, and I know I encourage you to do that in every single episode, or how often you go back and re-listen to these words of wisdom that Rick so generously shared with you, the key is you have to take action. You have to be proactive and take these valuable lessons and apply them into your business in order to accelerate your results.

And, Rick, we all have the same 86,400 seconds a day, and I am honored and grateful that you would take time out of your compressed schedule to join us here on Onward Nation and to share with Onward Nation these recipes, these strategies for success and moving our businesses onward with gusto.

Thank you so much, my friend.

Rick Enrico: Thank you, Stephen, for having me.

——————–

References

“Episode 128: It’s All about the People, with Rick Enrico.” Onward Nation. December 9, 2015. Accessed January 13, 2016. www.onwardnation.com/rick-enrico

3 Ways to Overcome Presentation Failures [Infographic]

Nobody wants to make decisions that’ll endanger not only their lives but also others’. Similarly, no presenter wants to come short of an audience’s expectations. Still, we’ve all made poor choices in the past, encountered unexpected stumbling blocks, or messed up our performances. These incidents may be humiliating, but nevertheless, the journey continues.

When faced with a difficult and life-altering decision, how do you respond? Will you look backward, or will you choose to move forward?

Presentation trainer Ellen Finklestein identifies decision-making as an important factor in presentations. You won’t be able to achieve your objectives and reach a conclusive decision without assessing the situation. So before you act, you need to analyze the current circumstances to figure out your next move.

Picture the ProblemPicture the Problem, walking dead: scared

Failures are like zombies that eat up your courage, draining your energy, and sapping away all hope. They may end up killing you from the inside out, but you shouldn’t give in to panic. You should view danger from a different perspective and overcome your nerves.

If your previous pitch has left you disappointed, it’s for you to decide whether you want to look at it positively or negatively. Problems may continue to arise if you let panic and anxiety take over. This is why you need to identify these possible challenges before you set out. With preparation, you’ll devise a solution that’ll lead you to fulfilling your goals decisively.

Once you’ve made the decision to continue, don’t get distracted by your surroundings and start focusing on what lies ahead. Drive out the negative emotions and motivate yourself with these three tips: Start psyching yourself up for your pitch minutes before you start. Do some breathing exercises and other warm-ups that will calm you down and let you collect your thoughts.

1. Gather Your Couragewalking dead: Show courage

Thinking or speaking negatively about yourself isn’t helpful. This sabotages not only your own self-esteem but also your audience’s perception of you. Positive self-talk reveals your worth and boosts your confidence. A positive outlook gives you the strength to come up with the best results despite all of the challenges you’re facing. Boost your self-esteem through positive self-talk and awareness. Redirect your attention from internal fears to your outer responsibilities. Doing so will distract you from presentation anxiety.

Remind yourself constantly that you can do all things you set your mind on.

2. Keep Movingsetting your goal

There will always be some audience members that won’t agree with your sales presentation. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from going out there and gutting it out with grit and determination. Remember, once you’re in, there’s no turning back.

Instead of thinking about where you would go wrong, focus on organizing your content’s points from the most to the least important. Then convince yourself that you can pull off a better pitch this time around. Also consider the possibility that even if you present your ideas well, disagreement between you and some of your audience will happen. Don’t shut out your critics entirely and deflect feedback that goes against your own opinions. Encourage comments, whether good or bad, to identify what areas you’re doing well in and what you need to work on. Answer any inappropriate remarks calmly without losing your cool. Ask them to expound and clarify their questions so you can come up with a better response. As the speaker, it’s your job to keep a professional and credible image throughout your presentation.

As a professional speaker, you need to stay focused to survive your pitch and avoid delaying your success. Drop what’s holding you back and face everything with courage.

3. Focus on Your Goalwalking dead: braveness, eagerness self motivated

Shake off any doubt you may still have and start concentrating on what you want to achieve. Plan ahead to avoid distracting the crowd with unnecessary and unrelated ideas during your pitch. Aside from prompting audience feedback, establish your credibility by sticking to your main points. Avoid telling unrelated anecdotes or elaborating on unnecessary information.

Failure isn’t an option. When you stumble, stand up and keep moving forward. Exert even more effort to improve your chances and excel at what you do best. Concentrate on the key reasons why you went onstage in the first place to stay on topic.

Never Give Up!walking dead: fight back

These points explain why it’s important to prepare before your presentation. Finish your deck and content a few days early so you can practice how you’ll be presenting them.

A presentation mishap can take a toll on your confidence, but don’t let it eat you up forever. Bounce back from past errors and handle yourself gracefully when facing a new pitch. Mistakes are there to help you grow, so don’t be too bent on being perfect. Even the best speakers had their slip-ups.

Your future as a presenter depends on the seed of decisions that you choose to plant now. Make a decisive effort to gather your courage,  keep moving, and focus on your goal to guide you along the way.

When failures haunt you, overpower them with positive thoughts, telling them that you’re a great and professional presenter.

Failure is a frame of mind. Don’t let it get the best of you. Check out our infographic to overcome and combat these presentation failures.

Check out and share our infographic about moving on from presentation failures!

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References

Finkelstein, Ellen. “Using Presentations for Decision-Making.” Ellen Finkelstein, July 11, 2011. www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/using-presentations-for-decision-making
“The Four Keys to Overcoming Negative Thinking…For Good.” Mrs. Mindfulness. 2013. www.mrsmindfulness.com/the-four-keys-to-overcoming-negative-thinkingfor-good

3 Ways to Make People Fall in Love With Your Presentation

It’s the most romantic time of the year, with Valentine’s Day personified by Cupid, who has long played a role in the celebrations of love. It was believed that if Cupid’s arrow struck your heart, you would fall in love with the next person you meet.

What if there was a way you could make people fall in love with you and your presentation without having to shoot any love arrows at anybody’s heart?

In present times, you don’t have to learn archery to aim at and win someone’s heart, but there are countless ways to make the person you love notice you. Most of them are based on desirable characteristics, such as physical appearance, perceived behavior, and social skills, a lot of which have to do with being kind and charming.

After all, Valentines is that time of the year when everyone expresses their love and appreciation for the special people in their lives by gifting them with flowers, greeting cards, chocolates, and other sweet surprises. Does this mean that you have to shower your existing and prospective clients with gifts, printed collaterals, and other merchandise?

Well, not exactly.

What Makes People Fall in Love with Presenters?

The variables that influence the feeling of attraction aren’t limited to love per se. They’re also essential to making fruitful relationships that go beyond intimacy. This means you can use the same tactics to get professionals to fall in love with you and agree to start a business partnership with you.

So the question is: What sort of gifts would you give as a presenter?

Instead of focusing on the material aspects of gifts, we recommend delving deep and bringing out the best parts of your personality instead. In this post, we’ll discuss how to make people fall in love with you on a professional level by making the most out of your body language, communication skills, and your personality. Check out these specific tips to grab your audience’s attention and make them want more:

1. Seduce Them with Gestures

Make people fall in love like a cupid

As a presenter, you may feel a lot of pressure to offer some grand and amazing benefits to woo the audience over to your side. While having a strong brand and offering always helps in convincing your listeners to close a business deal with you, sometimes all you need are sweet romantic gestures to show deep affection for the love of your life.

As what many people would say, “Actions are incomparably more attractive, effective, and valuable than words.”

The same thing can be said for presentations. Your speech isn’t enough to get someone’s eye on you—after all, they aren’t just listening to you through a phone or speaker. They’re engaging all of their senses as they watch you, especially their sense of sight. That’s why you need to take all aspects of public speaking seriously and do it as if you’re wooing the person you like or, in this case, a person you want to convert into a lead.

Spice up your talking points with enticing yet subtle gestures and body language to win people over. In fact, research by Toastmaster International has found that purposeful body movements can benefit you in three ways: support what you say, attract audience’s attention, and relieve physical tension. In particular, smiling at your listeners makes you look more appealing and engaging. This friendly physical cue ensures good rapport and improves your chances of sealing a business partnership.

According to a study by researchers Kellerman, Lewis, and Laird, you can also make a person fall in love with you by looking into their eyes. This comes in handy during presentations when you want to build a fruitful relationship with your audience. Make sure to hold your viewer’s gaze, but you don’t have to look at them 100% of the time. It’s okay to take a quick peek at your notes or pick up a prop to make your speech more natural.

Express these body movements as naturally as possible so that you can stand out and win over the competition.

2. Communicate with Kindness

Romantic gestures to make people fall in love

Whether they’re of the personal or professional sort, all relationships can benefit from clear communication. It allows people to voice out their interests, share their concerns, and influence others’ decisions. On the other hand, not having clear communication lines can lead to misunderstandings, split-ups, poor sales, and lost deals.

In the same way that you wouldn’t be able to read your love interest’s mind, you can’t exactly use special powers to figure out exactly what’s going on inside your audience’s head. That’s why you should work on improving your communication skills to foster a healthier and stronger business relationship.

As a presenter, you need to communicate with gentleness to keep people listening because addressing them aggressively will result in unwanted confrontation that might turn them off. Consider your audience’s needs to get everyone on the same page. Ask questions to get a better grasp of what they really want. When you’re more aware of their needs, you’ll be able to map out a more specific strategy that will appeal to their interests. You’ll have more control of your overall presentation flow.

Active listening also makes people feel more loved and appreciated. Respond with neutral phrases like “I see” and “Yes” to show that you’re taking an interest in them. These responses express your high level of respect for your audience’s ideas, encouraging them to participate more in the discussion.

Make sure not to look away from the person who’s speaking, or else, you might make them feel like you’re not paying attention to them at all. At the same time, staring too long at them might make them feel uncomfortable. To combat this, try nodding occasionally at certain points to show that you’re still listening and that you understand what they’re trying to say.

Besides asking questions and listening to their side of things, telling funny yet appropriate jokes is another way to boost your likability. Make some witty and humorous remarks to hook them in more with your pitch. Just make sure your jokes are appropriate and relevant to the discussion; having too many jokes makes you seem like you’re not taking the discussion seriously, while offensive jokes can stain your professional image.

All it takes is a little act of kindness to make people feel like they’re floating on air.

3. Charm Them with Your PersonalityCharm people with loveable personality

Acceptance and love must come from within. It’s hard to build loving relations with others if you don’t start with loving yourself. The same idea goes for presentations. With that in mind, work on maintaining a positive attitude and let your personality shine through to nurture fruitful business relationships.

Don’t point out your weak skills when courting someone. It’s usually not the right time or venue for it and may even permanently change people’s perspective of how capable you are. Instead, focus on further improving your strengths and consider your weaknesses as points for improvement. Building upon your strong points and working around your weak points are about seeing these things as opportunities rather than problems. Manage them both to improve your overall performance and charm the crowd.

If the odds aren’t in your favor, maintain your composure and face presentation errors with confidence. Instead of apologizing excessively, recover quickly without showing that you’re physically bothered by the mishaps. Be mindful of your facial expression and body language; looking angry can make the audience feel like you don’t want to accept criticism, while looking sad makes you look like you’re not ready to hear negative feedback.

Apologize only when necessary—just once is enough. More importantly, take full accountability for the mistake and act quickly to fix it. Unexpected moments like this show your vulnerability and communicate your humanness, giving your audience the authentic you. At the same time, you also display your ability to troubleshoot and resolve issues in a short period of time.

Adding a personal touch to your pitch also hypes up the discussion. Share experiences and stories related to the subject matter to impress your audience more. Be honest with them to get the credit that you deserve.

It’s Time to Make Your Move!Cupid made two people fall in love

You won’t get anything done by just staring at your audience like you’re lovestruck, but there’s a lot you can do to appear more relatable and appealing. Here’s a quick review of the tips we’ve shared to make the audience gaze in awe at you instead:

1. Seduce them with subtle gestures like smiling and making eye contact to exude friendliness.
2. Try communicating effectively by asking questions, actively listening, and telling jokes to keep the flame of an effective pitch burning, as well as keep the engaging conversation going.
3. Take accountability for any mistakes. Be genuine and express your true self to create a positive impression on you and your pitch.

There’s no standard formula for making people fall in love you. Some tips work for others but don’t work for the rest. This idea also applies to public speaking, so you need to be willing and able to put yourself out there for guaranteed audience attention.

With this advice in mind, put on your best business attire, get out, and woo the audience over to your side!

 

References:

Kellerman, J., Lewis, J., & Laird, J. D. (1989). Looking and loving: The effect of mutual gaze on feelings of romantic love. Journal of Research in Personality, 23, 145-161.
“Gestures: Your Body Speaks.” Toastmasters International, 2011.
DiResta, Diane. “How to Make Your Audience Fall in Love With You.” DiResta Communications Inc. February 14, 2014. www.diresta.com/how-to-make-your-audience-fall-in-love-with-you
Nicholson, Jeremy. “Loving Eye Contact: How Mutual Staring Can Create Passion.” Psychology Today. March 31, 2015. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201503/loving-eye-contact-how-mutual-staring-can-create-passion
Schumm, Laura. “Who is Cupid?” HISTORY.com. February 14, 2014. www.history.com/news/ask-history/who-is-cupid

 

Open PowerPoint 2013 in Safe Mode on Windows 10

More and more people are relying on PowerPoint for crafting interactive and engaging presentations. However, common issues like application crashes and file corruption are still inevitable disasters waiting to happen. That’s why it’s a good idea to launch a presentation safely to avoid technical issues that can worsen start-up and add-in problems.

Let’s learn how to run Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 in Safe Mode using three different methods:

Using the Command Prompt Window

1. Click Windows + R on your keyboard to launch the command prompt box named Run.PowerPoint 2013 in safe mode using command prompt

2. Once the dialog box appears, type powerpnt /safe. Remember to include a space between powerpnt and the forward slash (/) or the command won’t run.

3. Hit Enter on your keyboard or press OK to open the program in safe mode.

Using the Ctrl Key

1. Hold down the Ctrl key for a few seconds, then click on your PowerPoint shortcut on the desktop or the Windows taskbar.

2. A confirmation dialog will appear. Click Yes to enter safe mode.

Using PowerPoint 2013 in safe mode3. You’ll know you’ve entered safe mode when you can read (Safe Mode) on the title bar of the application.

Using the Windows Taskbar

1. Click on Cortana to expand the search box in the taskbar.windows 10: PowerPoint 2013 in safe mode

2. In the Search option, type powerpnt /safe, then press Enter. Don’t forget to include the space between powerpnt and the forward slash (/).

3. PowerPoint should open in Safe Mode.

Safe Mode Limitations

While the User-Initiated Safe Mode fixes or isolates the problems, you should also know that it has certain restrictions. Below are notable limitations when starting a program in safe mode:

  • Templates can’t be saved.

  • Toolbar or command bar customizations are not loaded, and customizations can’t be saved.

  • The AutoCorrect list is not loaded, and changes aren’t saved.

  • Recovered documents aren’t automatically opened.

  • Files can’t be saved to the Alternate Startup Directory.

  • Preferences can’t be saved.

  • Additional features and programs aren’t automatically loaded.

  • Documents with restricted permissions can’t be created or opened.

Still having trouble launching your presentation in safe mode? Check out this video tutorial to see how to do it step by step:

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Now you know how to run PowerPoint in Safe Mode!

Opening your PPT file in safe mode is a highly effective way to fix corrupted or damaged presentations. These simple hacks are good for fighting back the panic when things go wrong. Try these three different methods in case your next presentation runs into some rough waters.

 

References

“Work with Office Safe Modes.” Office. n.d. www.support.office.com/en-us/article/Work-with-Office-safe-modes-dedf944a-5f4b-4afb-a453-528af4f7ac72
“How to Open Microsoft Office 2013 In Safe Mode.” Into Windows. www.intowindows.com/how-to-open-microsoft-office-2013-in-safe-mode

[Chinese New Year] Presentation Lessons from the Chinese Zodiac: The Monkey

In the Chinese lunar calendar, each year is represented by a Chinese zodiac animal sign. It’s believed that people born under each sign possess certain personal characteristics. This is a cycle that takes twelve years to repeat itself.

This 2016, we enter the Year of the Fire Monkey. According to San Francisco astrologist Susan Levitt, it’s the ninth animal sign in the Chinese zodiac. Characterized by traits such as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness, the monkey is a lively animal that’s known as a smart trickster.

At first, these may not sound like positive traits for an experienced and composed presenter. After all, monkeys may seem too hyperactive and troublesome for their own good. If we dig beneath the surface, however, there are quite a few things to learn from our roguish simian friends.

Let’s look at some Year of the Monkey tips that can help you dominate the presentation stage.

Communicate CuriosityCurious monkey hanging from a tree

People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be curious and ambitious. They’re seen to have a great thirst for knowledge and often feel the need to try everything at once. However, this doesn’t mean you should start asking your audience personal questions, crossing the line from being professional to poking your nose into other people’s private lives.

Simply expressing curiosity towards your listeners can improve audience connection for business people and casual listeners alike. This can come in the form of challenging possibilities, displaying interest, and offering opinions. Give your audience the impression that you’re eager to know what problems are currently affecting them. Words like “I’d be very interested to know,” “How do you feel about,” and “From my point of view” are a few of the magic phrases that can put you and your audience on the same page.

Persuade them by showing them how curious and welcoming you are about taking their sides into consideration. By sharing your client’s concerns related to things like costs and implementation dates, you show that you’re willing to work with them as partners.

Expressing interest in your audience’s wants and needs makes them feel more valued. This makes it easier to connect with them for a more persuasive and engaging pitch.

Practice PlayfulnessMonkey playing while holding a banana

Our simian friends are also known for being mischievous. They love to play around and enjoy practical jokes, traits that are reflected in people born during the Year of the Monkey. However, said traits can be both good and bad, depending on how you approach them.

A little mischief can add a dose of fun to your presentation as long as you don’t overdo it. With people born under this sign, high energy can be a key to success but can likewise distract from main ideas during a presentation. It can be easy to enjoy yourself so much and accidentally go overboard with your delivery, causing your audience to forget about your main points.

Like with our previous tip, however, a restrained approach to playfulness can make for a more powerful delivery.

Sprinkling some humor onto your speech effectively engages and entertains people. It can also bring people back from the clutches of boredom, especially during highly technical discussions. With so much information consumed every day, an icebreaker can definitely make everyone chuckle or at least smile, giving them a quick breather from an otherwise straightforward and serious discussion.

One way to create a more cheerful atmosphere is to tell them a simple joke that can connect to your topic. Another way to break the ice is to quote a comical but appropriate line from a movie that fits your subject to lighten up the discussion and break the monotony. Just be wary of potentially offensive material that could undermine your credibility and tune out your listeners.

Play around with your use of language to vary up your speech and sound more interesting, such as by using metaphors, exaggerations, puns, and other figures of speech. A controlled approach to humor can help counterbalance the dull moments while still properly communicating your message, making your pitch even more memorable.

Convey ClevernessMonkey cleverly picked a banana from a tree

Aside from being charismatic and energetic, people born during the Year of the Monkey are also seen as inherently intellectual and creative. This isn’t all that surprising given that apes are our closest genetic relative in the animal kingdom, according to scientists.

To astrologers, people born under this zodiac are the most likely to be eccentric geniuses among the 12 animal signs. Their sparkling wit and sharp minds are the key qualities that make them a good leader. They know how to listen closely and work out solutions at the same time.

These attributes are hallmarks of successful people but also make for an effective speaker.

Be strong-willed, quick-witted, and opportunistic. Never make a move without an established plan. Instead, always come in prepared with a strategy to conquer. Prepare for your speech with the right amount of practice in front of close friends and confidants.

Don’t forget to double check your presentation deck for possible errors that may undermine your credibility. Also, be ready to spot and take advantage of opportunities that may come your way. Don’t rely too much on a preplanned structure and stay on your feet to improvise when needed.

Monkey Marketing MagicMonkey swinging in the tree with a banana on his hand

People born during the Year of the Monkey are believed to be curious, playful, and intelligent, but these positive traits aren’t exclusively theirs for acing that next speech. Here’s a quick wrap-up of the tips and tricks we’ve enumerated in this post:

1. Make your discussion open for everyone so you can gauge their expectations by expressing interest in their wants or needs. Share what you have in store for them and predict what they have in mind.

2. Sprinkle a little bit of fun in your speech. Using a lighthearted approach can equally increase engagement while complementing your message. Recite a funny line or a short joke to help with entertaining your audience.

3. A clever approach to all aspects of your presentation can increase your credibility, making you sound more knowledgeable and convincing in your field. Remain focused and prepared to be able to pounce on any opportunity that can arise from your speech.

Monkeys get a bad reputation, mostly seen by the public as badly behaved creatures, but some of their qualities can be harnessed into positive and productive skills that can bring success in the boardroom. It’s time to take some astrological cues and take this year by the reins with our matching presentation tips.

This 2016, use these monkey-inspired cues to imbue some extra marketing magic for your next pitch.

 

References:

Clark, Eugene. “Lessons for business in the Year of the Monkey.” China.org.cn. December 31, 2015. www.china.org.cn/opinion/2015-12/31/content_37424803.htm
Febrilian, Dio. “Asking about Possibilities, Expressing Curiosity and Desire, Expressing Views.” Dio Febrilian. n.d. www.diofebrilian.info/2012/12/asking-about-possibilities-expressing.html
Levitt, Susan. “2016 Fire Monkey Year.” Susan Levitt. October 1, 2013. www.susanlevitt.com/astrology/monkey-year-2016/
“Chinese Horoscope: The Monkey Sign (猴).” Scientific Psychic. n.d. www.scientificpsychic.com/fun/monkey-astrology.html

[Super Bowl 50] Land a Presentation Touchdown with Teamwork [Infographic]

Sports and presentations may seem like two unrelated things, but they’re not as different as you think. Both are geared towards scoring the ultimate goal—a touchdown that satisfies your supporters. However, before you reach that field goal, you need to tackle audience expectations with a solid presentation outline that contains your key points. Much like a football game, your skills and your tools have to be at their best to reach your performance’s peak.

You don’t have to do all of this alone. Presenters under the spotlight still need a team to back them up and help them polish their presentation.

Evaluate the Situation

coaching: evaluate the situation

Assess what the most crucial parts of your pitch will be. These are the most noticeable elements in your presentation, such as your PowerPoint visuals and the key points you’ll choose to discuss. Tailoring these according to your audience’s preferences require plenty of observation and investigation on current market demands.

Because of this, you may need plenty of help with refining your topic. Since content research and deck design are two of the common aspects presenters have trouble with, see which departments from your company are best suited for each of these tasks.

Build Your Dream Team

Don’t let data-gathering intimidate you. There are plenty of sources in your company that you can tap into for reliable information. You can find these in the sales and marketing teams in your company or from teaming up with outside agencies that provide the services you need.

Delegating the responsibilities accordingly helps you avoid making mistakes as much as possible. Let others watch your back when you fall, so it’s always easier to get back up. On that note, have someone double check the finished output before you present them to the audience. This includes your facts, design, and even your speech itself.

Grow from Feedback

NFL coaching: feedback

Efficient tasking and teamwork will give you enough time to polish your delivery. Take advantage of this to get objective feedback from others. You’ll easily miss a few blind spots when you’re alone because you already thoroughly know what you’re talking about. However, since your audience might be unfamiliar with your topic, having an observer comment on vague points can give you insight on how to revise your words. Let them help you grow and improve your pitch.

There’s No “I” in Team

Assigning tasks to others doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It simply means you want to perfect your overall presentation—from deck to delivery.

Check out and share our infographic about football and presentations!

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References:

Root, George N., III. “Importance of Teamwork at Work.” Small Business Chron. www.smallbusiness.chron.com

5 Types of Web Content to Boost Your Business Presentations

Are you more of a fan of visually presented information? Just scroll down all the way to the bottom for an infographic version of this post!

Contrary to popular misconceptions, corporate pitches aren’t just cold, blank, and straightforward. When it comes to presentations, content and design should work together to supplement your pitch.

Whether you’re talking to a customer or an investor, all parts of your deck should aid you in engaging and grabbing the audience’s interest. To do that, you need relevant visuals that add to your ideas. This may mean images and animation, but it can also come in the form of live Web pages. Not only can embedded content give proof of your company’s achievements, but they also encourage clients to contact you.

Embedding Web Content into Your Business Presentations

For users familiar with the 2010 version of Microsoft Office, LiveWeb is a useful add-on for embedding Web content on your slides. It can also enhance your credibility in a pitch by providing a concrete look of your offerings. This gives you an opportunity to leverage them for your business.

The direct LiveWeb feature has been discontinued in recent versions of PowerPoint, but you can download a third party add-in to bring it back. There are also other add-ins which are available for PowerPoint 2013 onward that have the same functions as LiveWeb. One of these is PowerPoint’s Office Mix, which allows users to insert Web pages, apps, and even interactive quizzes into their slides.

Let’s take a look at which Web sites are ideal for embedding and how the content you use from them can contribute to your pitch:

1. YouTube

YouTube Web Content

Compared to other learning styles, visual learning is the most common among a large group of people. Engage your audience visually to keep them hooked onto your pitch. Broadening the range of media you offer further supports and visualizes your main points, making it easier for viewers to digest.

For instance, videos can transform the way customers perceive your product. In an article on the effect of videos on its viewers, Invodo’s Claire Queally shows that buyers who view company videos are two to three times more likely to purchase something from the brand.

Take this marketing strategy from the Web to your own presentation by embedding YouTube videos into selected slides. Whether they’re product demos or AVPs about your company, this gives you an opportunity to both inform and impress them. Just make sure that your videos are relevant to your pitch and people’s current interests. At the very least, they should reflect the benefits your clients will be gaining from your products, as well as your advantages over the competition.

If you’re planning to deviate from the usual company video and simply insert a supplementary clip to entertain viewers, don’t stray too far from your core message. For example, a recorded speech from a keynote speaker related to your topic is acceptable, but a random cat video might miss your target audience and your point entirely, especially in a formal business setup.

2. Twitter

Twitter Web Content

In the age of social media, influencers are more accessible than before. Most of these prominent figures are found on the net, where their followers can easily see them. However, keynote speaker Jay Baer differentiates influencers, who simply raise brand awareness, and brand advocates, who actually convince others to invest in you. These online reviews on brands can impact people’s perception of you, especially for millennials who are often tuned into digital media.

To gain a wider audience and increase the probability of lead conversion, show your tech-savvy prospects what others think about your brand. Display a live Twitter feed on your deck to access customer opinions in real-time. Doing this gives your clients the latest updates about your company. Convincing people to invest in you will be easier if you can show positive impressions from past clients and customers. At the same time, you won’t be able to show a Twitter feed without enough mentions.

Encourage customers who support your product to use hashtags and other social mentions on Twitter. Ride on the wave of trending topics and launch a marketing campaign or site content that users are currently into. The more positive feedback your brand receives, the better its image becomes in the market.

3. Facebook

Engine Facebook Web Content

This social media giant offers one of the best chances for generating leads with casual interactions. Like Twitter, Facebook is a place where users and influencers can interact and trade recommendations of their preferred brands. Boost your image even further by tapping into this established social media platform.

If you plan to show how popular or active you are with your online market, Facebook is your best bet. Being the most widely used social network, it contributes greatly to showing consumer opinions about your brand. Highlight your marketing efforts through Facebook’s built-in analytics tracker, which shows the number of likes, mentions, and even followers of your page. Outside your presentation, you can use the tracker to keep track of how many leads have interacted with your page.

As an embedded live page on your deck, showcase how actively you engage your consumer base. It will encourage past customers to repeat interaction with your page and inspire leads to start a transaction with you. Making use of Facebook analytics can establish your market dominance when you pitch to other clients because it’s an impressive aid for those who might want to see the statistics behind your claims.
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4. LinkedIn

exhaust LinkedIn Web Content

In a study conducted by public relations firm Weber Shandwick, the future of large corporations seems to be geared towards going digital. As we’ve already reiterated in the previous points, social media is a fast growing arena for customer and business interaction. It’s no wonder CEOs are turning to it for increased exposure.

Among all social media sites, LinkedIn remains the most popular for networking with other companies. In fact, it’s used by nearly 28% of CEOs from Fortune 500 companies in 2014 alone. If Twitter and Facebook can show proof of how effective you are with customers, LinkedIn operates within your circle and instead displays how well-connected your network is. Your business partnerships, as well as the people you’ve worked with, are essential in communicating how well you can swim with the big fish.

At the very least, an effective LinkedIn profile should contain relevant samples of your portfolio. It should also feature important connections with people and companies related to your line of work. All these can prove decisive in showing your effectiveness as a business partner. In addition to expanding your customer relations, make sure you take note of your company’s relationship with other businesses, too, because being associated with other trusted brands also improves your image.

As the old adage says: “Birds of the same feather flock together.”

5. Company Web Site

Company wheel Website

Some presenters will settle with screen caps of their company site, if they include it at all in their business presentation. Since most don’t, details about their Web site often simply remain as a tiny contact detail in their slides. However, that can easily be missed. Less meticulous audience members might not pay attention to the fine print and only retain the highlights of your pitch.

Let your prospects form their initial impression of your company site during your presentation itself by including it as one of the Web pages on your slides. Embedding your site as a live Web page shows your audience how to navigate around it, so walk your viewers through your page in real time by including it in your presentation. In case the previous platforms in the points above don’t work out well for you, you can always show the same statistics, testimonials, and even videos available on your site.

Aside from social media profiles, being active on your own site is important information for prospects. Other client interactions will come from your company’s page, so letting people know how consistent your online presence shows how dedicated you are as a business partner. As mPower Consulting founder Brian Hamlett states in his article, building up your site once isn’t enough to keep people interested. Show them that there’s something to look forward to every time they visit your page to ensure closing and repeating a transaction.

One Last Thing: Facts Establish Reputation

red car with social media icons

Credibility is crucial to presentations. Investors need to put their money into someone they can trust in order to grow their business. To establish this, improve your deck with various kinds of Web content. As with socialization, networking is now going digital, so catch up with the times to avoid being left behind.

With a large number of the population leaning towards visual, make your slides more interesting with images, but don’t stop there. Embed YouTube videos to inform them about how your company does business or how your products can help your clients.

Enumerating your advantages over the competition and showing these at work are great ways to sell yourself. You can also prove how popular you can be with customers and businesses through positive testimonials from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. According to creativity mentor Luke Sullivan’s book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, these types of feedback serve as solid proof of your achievements. They can go a long way to convince both customers and partners that you’re the company they want to invest in.

Work your online presence into your deck for more convincing business presentations!

Check out and share this infographic!

 

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References:

Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This a Guide to Creating Great Ads. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
Baer, Jay. “Social Media Influencers versus Brand Advocates Infographic.” Convince&Convert. www.convinceandconvert.com
Gross, Liz. “How to Add a Live Twitter Feed to Your PowerPoint Presentation.” Social Media Today. June 6, 2013. www.socialmediatoday.com
Hamlett, Brian. “The Importance of Consistently Updating Your Website.” MPower Consulting. www.mpoweringu.com
Knarr, Cat. “8 Secrets to Building a Stunning LinkedIn Profile.” The Huffington Post. February 3, 2014. www.huffingtonpost.com
Kushner, Daniel. “Best Practices for Successful Lead Generation Through Social Media.” Business 2 Community. June 29, 2015. www.business2community.com
Parsons, James. “How Do I Get Tracking on My Facebook Page?” Boostlikes. May 8, 2015. www.boostlikes.com
Queally, Claire “Top 5 Things to Know About eCommerce Video Viewers.” Invodo. November 17, 2015. Accessed August 27, 2015. www.invodo.com
“80% of CEOs from the World’s Top Companies Take to Social Media.” Weber and Shandwick. May 18, 2015. www.webershandwick.com
Office Mix. Accessed August 28, 2015. mix.office.com