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4 Ways to Promote Your Business in a Trade Show

If you’ve been to the more mainstream conventions of recent years, like Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Mobile World Congress, and The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), then you know what the experience is like. Right off the gate, you have long lines of participants waiting to get in. Upon entering, you’re greeted with any of the following: booths filled to the brim with products and memorabilia, guests carrying freebies and whatnot from other exhibits, etc. You can hear multiple voices and gimmicks coming from everywhere. There are too many sights ahead and overhead.

Mind you, these are major events, with conglomerates from all over the world sending their representatives for the chance to present in one the industry’s biggest stages. If you’re in a relatively smaller fair, though, do you need to be well-advertised?

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Yes—or at least emulate how the big names draw people to their booths. A primary benefit of this type of gathering is that you can interact with your potential customers face to face—arguably the best way to engage them—instead of through different schemes, screens, and means.

Before that, however, you must get their attention. How? By employing the following.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Demo vs Actual Games

Demos

When you have a working model of your product or service, you’re in a prime position to show potential consumers a demonstration of how it works: its strengths and unique traits that make it different from competitors’ offers. The best thing is that they get to see it firsthand and up close, if not outright experience the quality-of-life improvement.

Alternatively, you could let them try it themselves. A free trial can give potential customers a taste of how to handle your item and immediately experience the help you’re offering. When you leave them wanting for more, you’ve got them hooked.

Games

Small activities that get the blood pumping and let participants win are good icebreakers for you. The point is enjoying their presence. The more you let them feel that they’re important to your booth—and by extension your company—the more you pique their interest and start and deepen bonds. Even new relationships can go deeper than usual when customers have fun with you.

That’s the main point of this activity. You seek to leave a very good first impression upon your booth visitors. When that release of dopamine, serotonin, and possibly adrenaline hits them, that triggers a connection that they remember from your exhibit and your brand.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Desktop Presentation vs Projector Presentation

Photo Opportunities

When people visit your booth and have fun, you want to have a record of that. And they will too. Taking photographs is a good way of providing yourself with a good reminder of each customer, but you can take it one step further. Share those pictures on your social media platforms (don’t forget your hashtags) and tag them.

Better yet, ask if they can upload it on their own pages. And lucky you if they do. It’s like a visual representation of word of mouth: the more their personal connections see your stuff and how the poster enjoyed your booth, the more curious they become. They can also become leads given time and the proper attention.

Live Social Media Updates

People usually tweet and post updates about everything, especially when in a state of euphoria. What follows is a long series of statements about how great the event is and how nice the people are, which are often accompanied by pictures to hype everything up.

You could do the same. By giving your online audience a sneak peek, you not only update those who couldn’t come but also give an idea, or at least some level of expectation, on what future participants can experience the next time you’re going to a trade show.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Trade Show Presentation

Your Afterparty

At the end of the day, you’re going to look back on how and why those people went up to your booth and listened to what you have said. If you’re wondering why so many visited your spot, then think no more. Your attention grabbers worked beautifully. You may soon see more visitors because other attendees saw how fun your booth is. Isn’t that your end goal? To have people know about your venture?

Will traditional means of promotion cut it? Don’t expect your competitors to skimp on the basics—since they don’t expect you to cut corners on the same. When you’re all on equal footing, the deciding factor becomes the extra mile you’re willing to take to hook people in, to show them and let them experience something memorable, and to make them come back.

Are you willing to do it?

 

Resources:

Biala, Susan. “How to Boost Your ‘Happy Hormones’.” Best Health Magazine. October 2014. www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/mental-health/how-to-boost-your-happy-hormones

Fusion, Jennn. “Trade Show Promotional Ideas.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/trade-show-promotional-ideas-1444.html

Hovde, Kristin. “5 Trade Show Promotion Ideas for More Engagement.” TSNN. August 24, 2014. www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/5-trade-show-promotion-ideas-more-engagement

James, Geoffrey. “Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules.” Inc. May 24, 2012. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/give-a-great-product-demo-5-rules.html

Kaufenberg, Jackie. “19 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Next Tradeshow or Event.” Vivid Image. August 13, 2014. www.vimm.com/social-media-tradeshow

Thimmesch, Mike. “10 Top Tips for Trade Show Promotions.” Skyline. November 16, 2011. www.skylinetradeshowtips.com/10-top-tips-for-trade-show-promotions

Wyse, Susan E. “7 Tips to Market Your Business Effectively at Trade Shows.” Snap Surveys. April 10, 2012. www.snapsurveys.com/blog/7-tips-market-business-effectively-trade-shows

“12 Trade Show and Event Promotion Mistakes to Avoid.” Skyline E3. February 7, 2017. www.skylinee3.com/blog/12-trade-show-and-event-promotion-mistakes-to-avoid

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The Most Effective TED Talks and What You Can Learn from Them

Public speaking is not an innate talent that people are born with. It’s a skill that takes patience and constant practice to master. Many would agree that TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), an organization dedicated to spreading powerful ideas, is a pacesetter in producing the best presentations in the world. TED talks have been translated to more than a hundred languages, and TED events have been held in over 145 countries. Undoubtedly, the organization sets the bar higher in organized presentations.

This massive success begs the question: What does TED do differently that it manages to blow people’s minds over and over again? The answer lies in the speakers and the ideas they spread. TED speakers come onstage armed not only with powerful concepts and inspiring words but also with effective methods to get their message across. Here are eight lessons you can learn from the most successful TED talks ever held.

8 Public Speaking Lessons from the Most Viewed TED Talks

1. Hook the audience with one big idea

Everything, no matter how great, starts with a tiny spark of idea. Even the most elaborate TED talks begin with a simple concept that holds promise. As Jeremy Donovan, a TEdx organizer, said, “If you had to say there was one magical element to the best TED talks, it’s that those speakers picked one really, really big idea.” When giving a presentation, you don’t want to bombard your audience with a flurry of information. Choose one specific and interesting topic, then work around it. Attack it from a unique angle and give your audience something to think about. 

2. Start with an interesting opener

Don’t go onstage thinking that it’s the audience’s job to listen. You must earn the audience’s attention every time you take the limelight. The best TED speakers know this so they make their talks interesting from the moment they drop the first word.

  • Begin with an anecdote. Brene Brown opened her talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” with a story that was relevant to her point. This helped the audience understand Brown and her message.
  • State an incredible fact. Dan Gilbert is no stranger to the TED stage. One of the reasons why he captivates the audience every time he speaks is that he begins with an interesting statistic that turns heads.
  • Pause for ten seconds. Seth Godin advises public speakers to pause not for two, three or five seconds but for ten whole seconds to get everyone’s attention. And Godin should know since he’s one of America’s most respected marketing gurus.

8 Public Speaking Lessons from the Most Viewed TED Talks | Group of audience

3. Share a story that resonates with the audience

Everybody loves stories, especially those that appeal to the emotions. When you tell a story, make sure to not only relay the events but also the emotions you experienced. When you share genuine feelings, you establish a connection with the audience. This is exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert did in her inspiring TED talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.”

4. Establish rapport using humor

To establish a connection with the audience, the speaker should lower his defenses and let the audience into his personal bubble. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use humor. In the most viewed TED talk of all time, “Do Schools Kill Creativity,” Sir Ken Robinson used self-deprecating humor to make the audience feel more comfortable around him. You can apply the same principle to endear yourself to the audience and make them want to listen to your message. 

5. Design your slides with care

Good speakers use pictures instead of texts to reinforce their message. Just look at Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk entitled, “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” Observe how she effectively used images to strengthen her claims. If you plan to accompany your talk with a PowerPoint presentation, make sure to do away with large chunks of text and instead focus on the audience’s visual experience. Remember, you’re already overwhelming your audience with words by simply talking; don’t tire them out by forcing them to read your slides.

8 Public Speaking Lessons from the Most Viewed TED Talks | the winner

6. Reinforce your point throughout the talk

Contrary to popular opinion, you should consistently repeat yourself throughout the presentation. If you establish your point over and over, your audience will eventually catch on to what you’re trying to say. This is what Richard St. John did in his short TED talk about success. He gave away the eight secrets to success while staying true to one core message: Success doesn’t come easy. You need to have the passion, the courage and the resilience to pursue it.

7. Leave your audience a gift before you go

The audience always sit in anticipation of something new to bring home. They lend their ears because they expect to be entertained or blown away by a novel idea or a fresh perspective they’ve never thought of before. Remember, although the presentation is your moment, it’s not entirely about you. You stand onstage not to bask under the spotlight but to share something that is worth your audience’s time.

The words of Robert Ballard, the explorer who discovered Titanic, are very fitting in this case. He said, “Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.” Take for example Susan Cain’s “The Power of Introverts.” Cain dared to look at introversion from a different light, and the response she got was positively overwhelming. 

8. Waste no one’s time

It’s common courtesy among public speakers to end their talk before the time limit. TED talks run for an average of eighteen minutes, which TED curator Chris Anderson finds “long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.” So if you’re given thirty minutes, prepare for a presentation that runs for twenty-five minutes or less. You can allot the extra time for unforeseen events or unsolicited questions from the audience.

Public speaking is not easy, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be a few steps closer to delivering an electrifying TED-like presentation that you’ll cherish for life. 

 

Resources:

Gallo, Carmine. “9 Public Speaking Lessons from the World’s Greatest TED Talks.” Forbes. March 4, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/03/04/9-public-speaking-lessons-from-the-worlds-greatest-ted-talks/#3e8ca62212ea

Haden, Jeff. “20 Public Speaking Tips of the Best TED Talks.” Inc. www.inc.com/ss/jeff-haden/20-public-speaking-tips-best-ted-talks

James, Geoffrey. “11 Public Speaking Tips from the Best TED Talks Speakers.” Inc. July 26, 2016. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/11-public-speaking-tips-from-the-best-ted-talks-speakers.html

May, Kate Torgovnick & Ludolph, Emily. “A TED Speaker Coach Shares 11 Tips for Right Before You Go Onstage.” TED Blog. February 14, 2016. blog.ted.com/a-ted-speaker-coach-shares-11-tips-for-right-before-you-go-on-stage

Stillman, Jessica. “5 Secrets of Public Speaking from the Best TED Presenters.” Inc. November 8, 2013. www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/ted-speakers-on-presenting-public-speaking.html

 

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Key Lessons from Cliff Atkinson’s First Five Slides

In 2005, presentation pitch deck consultant Cliff Atkinson published his bestselling book, Beyond Bullet Points, which revolutionized the way people used PowerPoint. Atkinson was one of the first presentation gurus to displace the bulleted list by introducing a more viable alternative. It’s a principle called “the first five slides.”

Atkinson claimed that a presenter only needs the first five slides of a pitch deck to hook the audience. But the real question is, “What exactly do these slides contain, and what effects do they have on potential clients?” Let’s find out.

The Only Five Slides You Need in Your Pitch Deck | Cliff Atkinson

A Story Only Slides Can Tell

The premise of Atkinson’s book is the ability of the first five slides of a deck to tell a good story. Stories are easily relatable, and they’re more effective in evoking emotions compared to plain facts. A good narrative can help you create an emotional bond that will get your audience to empathize with you and see things from your perspective.

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To lay out your deck in a narrative form, make sure that the order of your slides fall within a good story arc. You can do this by establishing the setting and the protagonist in the first two slides of your presentation. The setting should clearly define the business environment you find yourself in, and the protagonist, naturally, should point to your audience.

In the third slide, establish the imbalance that your protagonist encounters in the setting. What problem is your audience experiencing? What incident is weighing them down? You may outline an existing dilemma that your business aims to solve. Before you can present the solution, however, you need to establish a sense of balance in your fourth slide. What’s the ideal situation that your audience should aspire for? How good should the state of affairs be for them to achieve a sense of fulfillment?

The Only Five Slides You Need in Your Pitch Deck | Cliff Atkinson: Solution

Once you’ve successfully presented these four elements, it’s time for the most important part: the solution. The fifth and last slide should contain your proposal to the audience. What can you do to alleviate their discomfort? How can your business help in addressing their concerns?

Your business pitch should always focus on your audience. Customers are interested in what you can do for them, so bank on that.

The Supplemental Nature of Slides

A common misconception presenters have about PowerPoint is that it can replace their presence during a live pitch. However, because your deck’s main purpose is to serve as a visual aid, loading each slide with too much information can burn out your viewers. People aren’t wired to process information in bulk, so break things down into bite-sized pieces to help them remember your points better.

Divide your hook into five brief statements that focus on specific aspects of your pitch. Establish your credibility by forming a personal connection with your audience. Each slide should have one topic that you can expound on. In terms of design, place only keywords and powerful images related to your message, and leave the rest for your verbal explanation. After all, your audience went to hear your pitch, and not to see your deck.

Cliff Atkinson: Supplemental Slides

The Ultimate Investment

Although the first five slides might be the most important in attracting your audience’s attention, they only serve as the first act of an elaborate performance, as your fifth slide acts as the end of your opening credits. The next step is to convince your listeners to invest in you.

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After drawing people in, give them a good reason to stay. Walk your audience through the succeeding chapters of your pitch. Refer to your earlier slides, particularly the existing conflict in which you have a unique solution to. This is your opportunity to present your products and services, your business strategy, and your current standing in the market. While emotional appeal works in hooking your listeners, giving actual facts and data will help strengthen your pitch.

The Power of Five Slides

Every good presentation has a clear structure with an effective hook, line, and sinker. Take inspiration from Cliff Atkinson’s best-selling book and drop the bullet points. Focus on your first five slides to draw in prospects.

Your pitch deck is a story waiting to be told. Make sure it’s worth every minute of your audience’s time. Keep in mind that your job doesn’t end in hooking your audience—it’s still a long stretch from there. Your first five slides are only the beginning of your winning pitch deck.

Marketing Through LinkedIn: Tips and Tricks

When professionals gather in one spot of the Internet, you can bet that there will be discussions between experts of their respective fields. If you let them discuss, it will seem like everyone’s ideas are over the place. But out the seeming disorder are the fusions of ideas—even industries—that otherwise wouldn’t be created.

This is the beauty of the professional social media network LinkedIn. Other than feeling safe in a space dedicated to professionals who are mindful about their own careers, you’re also seeing and being seen by like-minded individuals, specifically those coming from your own industry.

The site is not a bad place to start networking and marketing. If anything, it’s one of the best social media platforms out there—at least for B2Bs. Sure, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram still reign supreme as far as connecting people is concerned, but when using these three, you’re bound to encounter more personal posts than professional ones. In LinkedIn, the former is kept to a minimum—or none at all—and almost everything is a stepping stone toward betterment of work, career, and mindset, among others.

So when you’re on the social media website, what must you do to maximize your marketing efforts? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you connect and expand.

Marketing Tip #1: Post High-Quality Content

Post High-Quality Content

Great content leads to more connections. The more quality posts you have, the more visible you are to your niche audience and the public in general. How else do you expand if people can’t see what you have in store for them?

A big no is saturating your profile with mediocre content just to say that you’re posting regularly. It’s more about quality than quantity—but it’s also beneficial if you cater to both. If you have the insight to back your posts up, then people will flock to your profile.

Connect with Personalized Invites

Automation has its pros and cons. It’s highly efficient, but it does sacrifice a humanizing component (more on that later). Just look at the template LinkedIn provides when you’re about to send an invite to a person you want to connect with. It’s generic and, although quite formal in its own right, tiresome to read over and over.

Personalize your requests to connect. It shows that you took the time to compose a message. You can say how you genuinely liked their post or their work or say that you found their content inspiring—things a default email cannot express. People appreciate sincerity.

Marketing Tip #3: Take Advantage of Customized URLs

Take Advantage of Customized URLs

If you took the time to spice up your profile—which you must—then you might as well go all the way. Personalizing your LinkedIn web address gives your own space on the platform, makes you stand out from the other 467 million users, and serves as an easier resource for people who want to discover you via Google search. Not to mention your profile’s ranking in Google’s search results page.

More than that, customizing your URL makes it easier for people to remember your web address. Instead of complicated numbers and slashes and whatever symbols are there, having your brand—or name, even—on the address bar gives a sense of familiarity that doesn’t come with the generic address LinkedIn provides.

Be Human

All in all, your marketing comes down to what your style is and how you approach your prospects. Giving your brand a face, a name, and a persona that people will recognize goes a long way toward top-of-mind awareness, which is one of the goals of your marketing efforts. And being your customers’ first option is proof that your marketing strategies are effective.

Knowing that someone is behind the brand reinforces the idea of a business entity connecting to and relating with its customers. The more you tug at and win their hearts, the stronger your bond with them becomes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a niche audience or not. When you have dedicated people who think of you first, it means they trust your brand; it shows they have confidence in you.

Social media websites are no longer just for personal connections. Business entities also use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for marketing purposes. But they usually contend with and compete for attention against personal posts, updates, photos, check-ins, etc. For a dedicated space like LinkedIn, though, the opportunities are endless. The better the strategy, the sweeter the marketing success.

Bear one mantra in mind. Aim to help instead of sell. Don’t be part of the noise that people avoid. Instead, cater to their needs and wants. Build a rapport, and they will come to you. 

 

Resources:

DeMers, Jayson. “The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business on LinkedIn.” Forbes. September 18, 2015. www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/09/18/the-definitive-guide-to-marketing-your-business-on-linkedin/#44658ad6a3d6

Duermyer, Randy. “How to Create a Custom LinkedIn Profile URL.” The Balance. November 2, 2016. www.thebalance.com/how-to-create-a-custom-linkedin-profile-url-1794576

Mustapha, Zak. “45 Experts Share Their Biggest Linkedin Marketing Strategy.” The Huffington Post. June 29, 2016. www.huffingtonpost.com/zak-mustapha/45-experts-share-their-bi_b_10375374.html

Nemo, John. “5 of the Most Effective LinkedIn Marketing Methods – According to Science.” Social Media Today. February 13, 2017. www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/5-most-effective-linkedin-marketing-methods-according-science

Newberry, Christina. “LinkedIn for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide.” Hootsuite. September 20, 2016. blog.hootsuite.com/linkedin-for-business

Patel, Neil. “7 Advanced LinkedIn Strategies for B2B Marketing.” Kissmetrics Blog. n.d. blog.kissmetrics.com/linkedin-strategies-b2b-marketing

Pirouz, Alex. “How to Master Content Marketing on LinkedIn.” HubSpot. July 20, 2015. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/linkedin-content-marketing#sm.0001frknxr3k3dlkqq22lsqtd9h7a

Segal, Sapir. “4 Effective LinkedIn Strategies to Master B2B Marketing.” Oktopost. n.d. www.oktopost.com/blog/4-effective-linkedin-strategies-for-b2b-marketing

Smith, Craig. “13 Amazing LinkedIn Statistics and Facts (February 2017).” DMR. March 22, 2017. www.expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats

Van Yoder, Steven. “Stop Selling and (Instead) Help Your Customers Buy.” MarketingProfs. December 14, 2010. www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2010/4104/stop-selling-and-instead-help-your-customers-buy

“15 LinkedIn Marketing Hacks to Grow Your Business.” Business News Daily. September 29, 2014. www.businessnewsdaily.com/7206-linkedin-marketing-business.html

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Attaining Business Goals with the Help of Social Media Marketing

Social media is a staple in the digital platform. It’s used for communication, expression, and creating or sharing information. Its very nature calls for it to be leveraged by brands as a marketing tool. But in spite of this seemingly obvious fact, some entrepreneurs still hesitate to invest in social media campaigns. They argue that return on investment (ROI) is harder to measure in the digital scene. They have no way of knowing whether social media marketing pays off or not.

While there’s some truth to that claim, the perks of social media far overshadow the downsides. Social media is a medium that paves the way for a culture of openness and transparency between brands and customers. It’s a great place to produce and share content such as images and infographics. You can engage your audience, drive website traffic, and find new prospects here—and you can do all this while building a loyal community in the process. It’s a win-win situation.

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Defining Social Media Success

Social media success varies per company. The way you view your progress will depend on the goals you set. What does your brand consider important? Are you after sales and market share? Sales leads and conversion rates? Brand awareness and customer loyalty? Decide on what you want from the outset, so you can clearly define your progress. From your set goals, you can tailor a strategy that works for your business.

Implementing a Social Media Strategy

Implementing a Social Media Strategy

For your social media marketing campaign to be successful, you should lay out a carefully developed plan. Avoid posting random content, hoping that some of them will resonate with your audience. Outline clearly what you should do and how you’ll do it. This way, you can make sense of your every move, plus your audience can enjoy relevant and valuable content.

When planning a marketing strategy, keep your brand image in mind. What’s your business’s social voice and style? What personality do you want to project? Your social media campaign should be a reflection of your brand’s existing image in the public eye. You should also take note of the status of your business in certain aspects. Analyze your existing business efforts, and pinpoint which areas you need to improve.

Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can choose which social media platforms to use. Does Pinterest fit your message best? Is YouTube your social media? Of course, you can only find the ideal platform if you know your business and your target demographic well.

Once you understand your brand personality, acknowledge your business standing, and know your social media platform, it’s time to keep tabs on the new trends you can leverage. You need to be constantly up-to-date in order to reach your audience and relate with them. The other things you need to be concerned about are your budget and team. Your campaign should match your financial capacity, and your team should be able to carry out your marketing plans.

Leveraging Cross Social Media Channel Promotion

Leveraging Cross-Channel Promotion

One social media strategy you can employ is cross-channel promotion, or the use of various marketing channels to achieve desired results. It’s an integrated campaign in which you can reach different audiences at varying times and through a number of touchpoints. Cross-channel promotion is an effective way of reminding your audience about your brand. You’re likely to get more engagement through this strategy since you’re operating across multiple channels.

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Tracking Your Social Media Progress

Many are still under the impression that social media is not an effective marketing tool since it’s unquantifiable, but they’re mistaken for the large part. You can actually measure the different types of interactions you have with your audience. There are certain tools and apps built for this purpose.

Before you can track your social media progress, you should identify the different metrics that will come in handy in measuring your campaign’s ROI. This way, you can successfully benchmark your progress against your starting point. Some of the metrics you can use are the following:

  • Likes and shares.

    This is a fast and foolproof way to gauge how a post is doing and how much engagement you’re getting out of it. 

  • Number of followers.

    This is also another quick and easy way to look at how effective your marketing strategy is. Just take note of your follower/following ratio, especially on Twitter. It’s better if you have more followers than the other way around. If this isn’t feasible, at least strike a balance between the two.

  • Rate of audience growth.

    Pay close attention to the number of followers you gain and the rate you’re gaining them. Slow audience acquisition is a sign that something’s amiss.

    Rate of Audience Growth

  • Social mentions.

    Listen to what’s being said about you. This will help you maintain a good brand image and strike great customer relationships.

  • Clicks per post.

    You should know how many unique clicks your links receive. This will help determine how much traffic you attract, and what kinds of links appeal to your target demographic. 

  • Audience activity.

    Not all customers are equal. Some engage with you more than others. Keep interacting with active fans to avoid losing them.

  • Organic and paid results.

    Organic traffic refers to your solid social community, or the customers you gain through free advertising. Paid traffic is the opposite of that. Use the data you gather from these two to determine your next business move.

  • Lead generation.

    Social media can provide you with new business prospects. Research on different techniques and methods you can use to attract leads. 

Hopefully, all this information helped you understand the importance of social media to business. Commit to creating and implementing a marketing campaign that will drive results and will send your brand to the top.

6 Things to Watch Out for During Presentation Q&As

“By doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth,” said Peter Abelard. The French philosopher and theologian certainly knew what he was talking about.

At the end of any presentation comes the ever-present Q&A session. It’s never not present. You don’t just present and walk away. There will always be members of the audience who will ask for clarifications and/or just want to understand more.

And it’s your job to answer them. You’re already there onstage, presumably with a great visual aid you or an awesome PowerPoint design agency created, and you’re the one they’re addressing their questions to. Not to mention that your presentation made them think of these queries. If you don’t respond, apart from not getting the answers the audience wanted, it also makes you look unprofessional. Let’s set the difference though: purposefully not answering is not the same as not knowing the answer.

So what mistakes should you avoid during Q&As? Or at least keep in check? Here are some of them:

Presentation Matters: Question and answer

Silence

This can come from both sides: presenter and audience. It’s either they have no or no more questions or the presenter takes a long time to answer. Either way, silence can make the whole mood awkward.

If you’re having a mental block after the question is given, take a moment and pause. If you still don’t have an answer after a few seconds, you can always say, “Excuse me, but let me gather my thoughts for a few more seconds.” This honest move shows that you took the time to really think about your answer—which, in all fairness, you really did.

Tone of Voice

Be conscious of how you talk—not just how you pronounce your words but also how you say, in general, your speech. It’s not just about your intonation or where you place stresses and pauses (you know, for dramatic effect). It’s also how you make your message heard and felt.

The same goes for answering questions. If you come off too strong, the gesture may be seen as defensive; come off too weak and risk being thought of as a weak answerer. A friendly tone is the best tone to use and is also the most welcoming.

Presentation Matters: Long Answer

Long Answers

When faced with a long question, it doesn’t mean you need to respond with an answer of the same length; besides, long questions don’t warrant that. Instead, give your answer as straight and concise as you can.

You risk losing the attention of your audience the more you dwell on an answer—worse, you may even repeat points over and over again, putting into question your expertise on the subject. You’ve already got limited time as it is.

Fillers

Speaking of diminishing subject-matter expertise, “Um,” “Well,” “You know,” and “Uh” will not help establish that. Repeating these filler words over and over will only serve to annoy your audience and damage your credibility, not to mention that they will also eat time.

Granted, no one can speak fluently without practice, especially with impromptu answers, but the best you could do is lessen these fillers. It’s always a good idea to take a pause and gather your thoughts, then speak.

Presentation Matters: Composure

Composure

Keeping your cool is already a given, especially if you’re onstage. If you’re thrown off by awkward questions, dissenting opinions, or even hecklers, that’s going to reflect on your general demeanor. Don’t let these situations—and many more—faze you.

Keep calm, and stay polite throughout the entire session. Once you lose your composure and try to pick a fight with a member of your audience, especially with hecklers, your night will just be ruined… and that’s the best you end up with. Don’t bring more harm to your credibility.

Arguments

Closely linked to the last point, arguments, especially heated ones, will only end up wasting everybody’s time. It will also show that you’re defensive, combative, and hostile, three things (among others) you don’t want your audience thinking of you.

Instead, lead questions to the right track. If someone offers an opposing opinion, acknowledge the difference (because there’s really not much you can do after), and, if possible, offer a middle ground. Or just end with the acknowledgment and move on to the next question.

It’s not easy having a question and answer portion to end your presentation. Being a moderator comes with its own duties, responsibilities, and rules completely different from being a speaker. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be acing both in no time.

Of course, preparation is a must. You’ve already prepared for the presentation; what’s stopping you from doing the same for the Q&A? You’re already the subject-matter expert, so it makes sense that you’re the one they’ll be asking questions from. Allay their fears and satisfy their curiosity. Answer them in the best way possible: your own.

 

Resources:

Decker, Ben. “Avoid These Don’ts During Presentation Q&A Sessions.” PresentationXpert. n.d. www.presentationxpert.com/avoid-these-donts-during-qa-sessions

Greene, Charles III. “Presentation Skills: 5 Tips to Improve Your Q&A.” CharlesGreene.com. August 27, 2012. www.charlesgreene.com/2012/08/5-tips-to-improve-your-qa-sessions

Holtzclaw, Eric. “9 Tips for Handling a Q&A Session.” Inc. February 5, 2013. www.inc.com/eric-v-holtzclaw/9-tips-for-handling-a-qa-session.html

Posey, Cheryl. “The Importance of Using the Correct Tone of Voice.” SpeakingYouBestOnline.com. April 18, 2012. www.speakingyourbestonline.com/blog/the-importance-of-using-the-correct-tone-of-voice

Watts, Rich. “The Complete Guide to Handling Q&A Sessions.” LinkedIn Pulse. June 13, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140613151624-131038283-the-complete-guide-to-handling-q-a-sessions

Windingland, Diane. “13 Tips for Handling a Question and Answer Session.” VirtualSpeechCoach.com. May 2, 2012. www.virtualspeechcoach.com/2012/05/02/12-tips-for-handling-a-question-and-answer-session

“Top Tips on Handling a Question and Answer Session.” University of Bedfordshire. December 2009. www.beds.ac.uk/knowledgehub/events/toptips/questionandanswer

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A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Knowing the Audience

PowerPoint has become the main weapon of choice for creating presentations.

As of 2013, it’s estimated that more than 120 million people use it both for business and educational purposes worldwide. It’s for this reason that, as a presentation expert, your first hurdle is to deliver an effective pitch.

Getting your clients’ approval may be tricky for some. After all, clients have the power to accept or reject your proposal. To get a positive result, you have to know your audience before you even begin to draft a presentation for them.

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Never Underestimate Your Client’s Expectations

Effective speakers know what their audiences expect from them. With this information in hand, they can adjust their presentation strategies accordingly.

A classic example is one of Dr. Robert Schuller’s speeches in his book, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do! (1983). Just before he appeared onstage, Schuller was informed that the people he was about to speak to were farmers, some of whom were on the verge of losing their businesses.

What these people needed was someone who could give solid encouragement, not just a simple pat on the back and a hollow assurance that the situation would get better. Using this new information, Schuller was quickly able to revise his speech. He related his similar struggles with his family’s own farm, as well as how he succeeded.

The end result? He was able to establish a common ground with them. By sharing his story, he was able to inspire others by leaving them with the impression that if he pulled it off, so could they.

Now, consider this: what would have happened if he continued with his original plan? Would the result be the same? Probably not.

This principle holds true for PowerPoint presentations. Each client has expectations that need to be fulfilled whenever you show them a new proposal or a simple report. Being able to correctly identify what these are can give you an edge when planning your slides’ content and designs.

Use the Right Tactics to Make a Difference

A relevant example from brand communication coach Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, was when he was helping a CEO prepare for an analyst presentation.

In this scenario, Gallo suggested that the CEO simply state the relevance of his company’s technological services to the audience, as opposed to his originally lengthy, technical explanation.

What that person did was ask his audience to hold their cellphones out. Then, he elaborated on how his company, from behind the scenes, made those devices more efficient for its users.

Let’s think on this for a moment: his audience may have been mostly tech-savvy people.

Some could probably keep up with his explanations, but at the end of the day, they still need to know why that speaker’s topic matters to them. With this information in mind, this person was able to keep his presentation simple and relevant, with an engaging delivery about what his company can offer for them.

Use Information to Your Advantage

Once you have a thorough understanding of your audience, you can even use this information to challenge their beliefs.

Gallo recounted such a tactic in his book wherein Steve Jobs was trying to recruit then-PepsiCo President John Sculley in 1983. In that instance, Sculley was captivated with how Apple worked.

However, joining that company meant relocating his family a considerable distance and getting a lower salary. While initially dejected, Jobs then issued this challenge: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Sculley was already impressed with Apple, but since he was focused on what it would cost him, he was unable to leave PepsiCo.

What Jobs did in the end was to challenge his current situation and offer a chance to change that. If you know enough about your audience to give them a relevant but challenging idea, this can be your best bet to keep them interested.

While not everyone can have a similar story or benefit to share, there is still one important thing you should know: information about your audience matters.

Knowing as much as you can about them can only benefit your presentation by helping you make your message as specific as possible, as you’ve seen with Schuller’s and Gallo’s examples.

Once you have this information, every slide’s design, every line of text, even the delivery must match or exceed what they expect from you. Otherwise, you could run the risk of presenting a handful of facts that seem disconnected, or an unclear proposal that seems too questionable for a decent investment.

Otherwise, you could run the risk of presenting a handful of facts that seem disconnected, or an unclear proposal that seems too questionable for a decent investment.

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References

Infographic: PowerPoint Software Usage and Market Share.” PowerPoint Info. Accessed April 28, 2015.
Schuller, R. Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do. New York: Inspirational Press, 1983.
Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.

Be a Presentation Virtuoso with Deliberate Practice

Delivering an effective presentation requires skills that you need to work on and develop. While some might seem to have a natural knack for it, no one is immediately born a great presenter. Your colleague might be more inclined to it than yourself, but excellent presentation skills still come from constantly exerting effort to improve. Just like musicians playing in concert halls and orchestras, you can’t skip steps if you really want to improve presentation skills.

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There are no shortcuts to becoming a better presenter, but there’s a way you can hone your skills and become an expert. Andrew Ng, a professor from Stanford University, wrote about this in LinkedIn Pulse. He borrowed a term called “deliberate practice,” from the field of music and sports, and elaborated how you can do the same to improve your presentation techniques.

What is deliberate practice? 

Have you seen a pianist or gymnast in practice to improve their skills? When preparing for a big rehearsal, a pianist would focus on perfecting challenging passages from his score. He will play these parts repeatedly until he can play the entire piece perfectly. A gymnast will practice her routine the same way. She will repeat specific parts of her routine until she can do the whole thing flawlessly. This is deliberate practice. You focus on the most difficult and challenging parts.

As Ng had put it in his brief article, “[deliberate practice is] hard work—you focus in every attempt, try to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and tweak your performance to make it better.”

For professionals looking to improve their public speaking, deliberate practice means setting aside time to rehearse presentations and focusing on areas that they need to improve. It could be your body language or your ability to project your voice and speak clearly. Whatever these pain points might be, you should spend at least 30 minutes in rehearsal to iron out the kinks. Do it even if you’re not preparing for a big presentation. After all, these skills play a vital role in the professional world. Whether you’re in sales, marketing, or looking for investors, improving your ability to communicate and share a message will help you go a long way. All you have to do is dedicate a few minutes of your day.

Improve your presentation skills with deliberate practice

Now that you’re familiar with deliberate practice, it’s time to put it into action. Take note of the following steps to make sure your next presentation comes out flawlessly. Repeat this process over a course of several days until you see results and are satisfied with your improvement.

Step One: Select a portion in a presentation you had difficulty with

Go over the presentation you just finished preparing or review an old you made recently. Select a short, 60-second portion that you’re having trouble with. It can be a part where you just can’t pronounce the words right, or hold yourself right on stage. It can also be a part where you’re having a hard time expounding some points eloquently.

Step Two: Record your practice

After you’ve decided, record yourself rehearsing the particular portion you chose. You can use the webcam on your laptop or the camera on your phone. Just make sure the set-up is arranged in a way that you can see and hear much of yourself in the recording.

Step Three: Take down notes

After you finish rehearsing the 60-second portion, watch your recording and take note of the parts you’d like to change. List down comments about how you would want to change how you say certain words or move in a certain way. If you think you look awkward in the recording, try to figure out why that’s so and think of ways you can improve.

Step Four: Adjust your performance

Review the notes you made and adjust your performance accordingly. Repeat your performance with the feedback you gave yourself and record the whole thing again.

Step Five: Repeat steps until you see results

Keep rehearsing the 60-second portion of your presentation until you’ve improved on all the points you took note of. Once you’re satisfied with the results, move on to a different 60-second portion that you think also needs work. Stick to this routine until you’ve covered the entire length of your presentation. If it’s possible, you can enlist the help of a friend or family member so you can receive feedback from them. This will make the whole process go a lot faster.

You can be a virtuoso in the field of presentations with some deliberate practice. Just set aside a few minutes in a day to fix the pain points you encounter when facing an audience. Follow this routine and see a marked improvement in your delivery and performance. All it takes is some hard work and determination.

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Reference:

Ng, Andrew. “Learn to Speak or Teach Better in 30 Minutes.” LinkedIn Pulse. March 20, 2014.

 

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Preparing a ‘TED Talk’ Inspired Presentation: A 3-Step Plan

TED Talks only last for about 20 minutes. In that time, speakers are able to share interesting stories and make compelling arguments. TED Talks prove that insight doesn’t come from the amount of time spent in front of an audience. The success of a presentation rests on the quality of the message you’re delivering.

In a blog published on PresentationXpert, communications coach Nick Morgan makes an argument for the importance of concise speeches. As he puts it, the “impatience of the times” and our “shrinking attention spans” compel us to make sure presentations are short and sweet.

If your pitch looks like it will stretch on for an hour, it’s time to take on a new presentation plan. You don’t have to limit yourself to 20 short minutes, but it’s still important that you trim everything down to the most basic points.

Take inspiration from the success of TED Talks by following this new presentation plan. According to Morgan, all you need are three particular things: a single idea, a story, and one good question.

1.) Idea 

No matter how complex the topic, a presentation can be simplified if it’s unified by a single idea. That idea is the message at the core of your presentation. Speeches can try to make several points, but there should always be one common idea acting as the linchpin.

To trim down your presentation, look at your draft and look for the thread that connects one point to another. Focus on this thread and cut out anything that doesn’t help move your main idea forward. Then, sum everything up in an elevator pitch.

As an example, Morgan cites “My stroke of insight“, the TED talk by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor on the mysteries of the human brain. Taylor’s talk can be summed up in the following statement:

As a neuranatomist, I study the difference between normal brains and the brains of the mentally ill. One morning, I suffered a stroke, and experienced a mental disorder of my own. I was fascinated to learn from the experience. Here’s what I learned while I was dying, especially about the differences between the right and left hemisphere’s experiences of reality.

2.) Story

As you already know, stories are at the heart of every TED Talk. To keep your presentation substantial, make sure you also have a story to share. This helps keep your idea afloat and make your presentation more relatable.

In Morgan’s earlier example, we see that Taylor’s presented narrative revolves around “drama surrounding the moment of the stroke, and what follows from that”. From it, she helps the audience derive a valuable lesson about life.

While your own speech doesn’t have to be particularly dramatic, it’s important to deliver a powerful story. Sharing an honest, emotional story will help you create a much-need human connection between you and your listeners.

3.) Question 

A memorable TED Talk always poses a thought-provoking question. It doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to answer. However, it does need to engage the audience and get them thinking. This helps eradicate the doubts they may have. It also lets them see that the stakes that you’re about tackle are relevant to their own lives.

If you want to stick to a traditional pitch, start with a question and build up its answer. To add a playful twist, you can also end with a question as a final note to encourage discussion even after your presentation is over. Whatever the case, make sure you have something that encourages audience interaction.

The best TED Talks offer refreshing viewpoints and interesting ideas. Your presentation can do the same for your audience by following this 3-step plan.

 

References

Morgan, Nick. “How to Prepare a 20-Minute TED-Like Talk.” Presentation Xpert. Accessed January 27, 2015.
My Stroke of InsightJill Bolte Taylor. TED, 2008.
Presentation Tips: 3 Lessons from the TED Stage.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 6, 2014. Accessed January 27, 2015.

 

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How to Face Unexpected Presentation Scenarios

While communication, nonverbal cues, and PowerPoint design are all very crucial, there’s one thing that will help you survive any scenario when in front of an audience. That’s to expect the unexpected, especially when you think you’ve got everything planned out.

Even as you prepare for your presentation, there are certain scenarios you won’t be able to foresee. There are things that could happen beyond your control. When that happens, most people get stuck and feel like they failed.

This doesn’t have to be the case if you can adapt to your predicament. When the worst happens, it’s better to face it head on. If you can’t be flexible in front of an audience, you run the risk of stumbling and falling.

Improv actors have mastered this skill with their spontaneous skits and quick thinking. To keep your own performance sharp, here are important improvisation tips to keep in mind:

Focus on the meaning behind your script 

Obsessing too much on what you plan to say point per point can hurt you in the long run. In cases of unexpected blunders and interruptions, sticking to your script can make you feel even more lost than before.

While it’s okay to plan what you want to say, you shouldn’t focus too much on exact delivery. Instead, you should shift your focus on what each point you prepared is trying to say.

Your presentation will be a lot more flexible if you know your core message well. At the end of the day, this is what truly matters.

It doesn’t matter if you miss a few steps along the way. Your main objective is to make sure that the audience understands the main point of your presentation.

In the same light, it’s also important that you don’t focus on your slide deck as much. PowerPoint is only there to enhance the message you want to deliver, but you can’t rely on it to do all of the work.

What if the equipment fails? What if the power goes out? You need to be able to stand on your own feet without using your slides as a crutch.

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Observe your audience 

Take your cue from the people you’re communicating with. Presentations are a two-way street.

You can try to create captivating design and content, but you won’t be able to tell how the audience will receive it until you’re in front of them. As such, it’s important to watch the room for their reactions to learn how you can adjust.

Does the audience look bored? Try to mix it up by engaging them with a quick anecdote. Or maybe your discussion is dragging out too long. If that’s the case, skip some of the parts you planned and deliver all the basics. Do they seem disengaged and uninterested? Maybe you can try to reel them back in by encouraging interaction.

Shoot a question their way or ask a few of them to share their thoughts on the discussion so far.

Let your obstacles empower you 

The best way to be flexible is to make the most of the situation that’s in front of you. Instead of trying to cover up the unexpected derailment, use it as a springboard to jump back on the discussion.

All you have to do is make sure you don’t get stuck on your blunders.

Turn around a sudden interruption from the audience by saying, “thank you for that observation. I’ll get back on that once I finish the whole presentation.” If you can make light of it and add humor, you can do that too. The important thing is that you don’t let the scenario take hold of the rest of your presentation.

You can never tell how well-prepared you are until you get in front of the audience. Even then, you can end up facing something you weren’t exactly planned for.

In that case, it’s better to not let your anxiety get to you and improvise instead. You’ll be surprised that this could even lead you to a better outcome. Improve your presentation skill with these three tips.

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Reference

5 Presentation Tools to Encourage Audience Interaction.” SlideGenius, Inc. January 12, 2015. Accessed January 22, 2015.
Fine-tuning Your Presentation’s Core Message.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 11, 2014. Accessed January 22, 2015.
What Is Improv?Austin Improv Comedy Shows Classes The Hideout Theatre . Accessed January 22, 2015.

 

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