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What Great Ideas Have in Common

A big idea is only the first step to achieving success in the world of business. The real challenge lies in convincing others to consider your plans and take you up on your offer. In other words, “ideas are a dime a dozen.” If you really want to make a difference, what matters is your execution.

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How do you plan to take your idea to the next level?

In 1962, sociologist Everett Rodgers conducted a large-scale research on how and why certain ideas spread. The results, published in a book called Diffusion of Innovations, were gathered from hundreds of case studies showing why some ideas are successful while others fail and fall into obscurity. In particular, Rodgers outlined particular factors that influence people’s decision to accept or reject ideas. If you want to see your big idea turn into a success story, ponder on these five important questions:

1.) Does your idea have relative advantage?

How does your idea compare to what is currently available in today’s market? To have relative advantage, your new product should be perceived as a step above existing standards. Think of how the iPhone completely changed how we use smartphones in 2007. In the same way, the idea you’re introducing should also push beyond the boundaries.

2.) Does it evoke a sense of familiarity?

Apart from innovation, people are also looking for ideas they can easily relate to. They’re wondering if they can use past ideas and experiences to understand your proposal.

Psychologists have long determined people tend to prefer things that are already familiar with them. Even as you push the boundaries, you also have to consider what the target audiences have become accustomed to.

3.) How simple is your new idea?

Another factor that comes into play is simplicity. To achieve success, a new idea should be easy to understand. The people you’re hoping to convince should easily make out the logic and system behind. They should also be able to tell how it would benefit their lives. An idea that’s too complex can be intimidating, and therefore harder to sell.

4.) Can your target audience easily try it out?

Something else you should consider is how effortless the target audience can interact with the new concept or product that you’re introducing. Will they be able to try it out easily?  The more individuals can test the new idea, the more likely they’ll adopt to it. As an example, think of how most musicians publish their music on YouTube for free. The video sharing platform allows users to trial their material. If the viewers happen to like what they hear, they can opt to buy the entire album. In other words, the more people can try out your idea, the more certain they’ll feel about committing to it.

5.) Can they easily observe and share it with others?

Another factor that helps an idea succeed is its observability or the noticeable results that come from trying out an idea. The more users are able to observe your product or concept, the more noticeable it becomes. This will increase the likelihood that people will share your idea to others, introducing it to a wider audience. Set your idea up in avenues that are popular and highly visible.

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Featured Image: Adam Troman via Flickr

PowerPoint Karaoke: Have Fun and Improve Your Presentation Skills

I’m sure you’ve tried karaoke to wind down with colleagues after a long day of work. But have you ever thought to give PowerPoint Karaoke a try?

In PowerPoint Karaoke, participants are challenged to take the stage and deliver a presentation based on slides they’ve never seen before. The rules are pretty simple. Instead of singing power ballads, participants will need to make sense of random slides, and connect it to an assigned theme. They will also be restricted by a time limit. The results are usually pretty crazy and absurd. To give you a clue, here are some slides from a PowerPoint Karaoke event held in Seattle last 2012:

 

As you can probably imagine, PowerPoint Karaoke can lead to some pretty hilarious situations. The best speakers are those who are willing to step out of their comfort zone, ready to have fun while practicing their improvisation skills. It’s the perfect game for anyone looking to deliver better and more engaging presentations.

Getting started:

If you’re ready to throw your own PowerPoint Karaoke party, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Build your PowerPoint decks beforehand. Be creative and go for slides that will challenge the participants. If you want, you can find presentations online and edit them for your use. Five to seven slides per deck will do.
  • At the event, let the participants draw for their speaking order and assigned theme. This will give everyone an even playing field, and prevent people settling for topics they’re familiar with.
  • You can decide whether you want speakers to control their own deck, or have the slides auto advance.
  • Set a time limit that’s no more than 5 minutes.
  • Decide on a winner by letting the audience vote. You can prepare forms, or just ask them to choose their favorites by show of hands.
PowerPoint Karaoke is a great activity to try with your colleagues. Gather a small group in a room and start having fun. Urge everyone to test their improvisation abilities and improve their presentation skills.

 

Featured Image: Simon Law via Flickr

Maintaining Audience Attention in Your Presentations

The British bank Lloyds TSB conducted a study on the cause of careless household accidents, and the results they gathered have some pretty broad implications. As quoted by Fortune.com, the average adult attention span has plunged from 12 minutes in 1998 to 5 minutes in 2008. Participants attributed their short attention span to stress and decision overload, both unavoidable in our fast-paced lifestyles.

With the advent of technology and the distraction of multiple screens — from our work laptops to our smartphones — holding one’s attention for longer than the usual is nearly impossible. That is, if you’re bored by the topic.

Considering this information, it seems that presenting to a huge audience has never been more difficult. Five minutes is barely enough time to make a positive impression. This is a huge challenge that presenters need to over come. Here are 3 key strategies to keep in mind:

Condense your slides

Try to present more information orally to reduce overloading your slides with too much text and data. The people in your audience can read much faster than they can listen to you talking. As we’ve discussed time and again, an effective PowerPoint deck acts as a visual aid. It doesn’t contain every sentence you want to share. Instead, it perfectly illustrates your main points through the use of images and other multimedia elements. Instead of packing your slides with a bunch of facts and figures, spend more time illustrating and articulating your points.

An emotional and physical connection might be more effective in capturing the audience’s imagination. This bond calls the attention of people whose minds were wandering off in the crowd, and engages those who are beginning to invest in what you’re saying.

Follow an intriguing narrative structure

Structure your presentation in a way that will surely engage your audience. There’s a reason why we can sit motionless in a movie theater for two hours, completely enamored by what we’re watching. Movies follow a great story arc that build suspense and intrigue. Effective storytellers know how to create anticipation that keeps viewers looking forward to what happens next. Following their example, your presentation can also work the same way.

Craft your presentation in a way that presents a problem (“what is), and slowly build your way towards a solution (“what could be”). The problem-tension-solution pattern roughly mimics the structure of classical Greek dramas, which research has found to be effective in eliciting powerful emotional response.

Create “soft breaks” 

According to presentation expert Carmine Gallo, the best way to re-engage the short attention spans of your audience is by creating “soft breaks” within your presentation. After every 10 minutes or so, give your audience some moments to pause by incorporating videos, activities, and demonstrations. You can also encourage audience participation by posing a question they can answer through a show of hands. If your presentation allows it, you can also call up other speakers from your team to offer the audience a fresh new perspective.

The Final Word

Capturing people’s attention can be a bit of a challenge, especially during a time when attention spans are beginning to drop, and people are constantly busy. But that doesn’t mean you have to make a plain, uninteresting presentation.

Engage people’s senses by keeping your pitch short and sweet, weaving a narrative around your presentation, and giving soft breaks in between. Follow these tips and you might just win new business!

 

Featured Image: Oliver Tacke via Flickr

Lost Impact: 4 Words to Avoid in Presentation Delivery

Remember the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me?”

It might be true for the playground, but not for your presentations.

As powerful as language is, there are certain words that seem to have lost their impact through constant use. We’ve been using them far too much in our everyday, casual conversations that they lose power once delivered on stage. Here are 4 low-impact words that you should avoid when you’re delivering your next presentation:

1. Really

We commonly use the word “really” to emphasize certain points. Casually, we might say something like, “I saw this really good movie the other day”.

But in formal settings such as business presentations, there’s often a lot at stake. If you want to emphasize something, it’s better to offer an accurate description.

Instead of saying “our new product is really revolutionary,” you can share a concrete example or supporting evidence instead. “Our new product has proven results and made plenty of sales in the past year” would sound more impressive than giving a vague suggestion of how good your product really is.

2. Amazing

You often hear the word “amazing” when describing something high-quality. For example, you might have heard it casually used in sentences like, “the new iPhone 6 is amazing.”

Again, it’s better to offer your audience something more descriptive. Let them deduce that what you’re presenting is amazing for themselves. Help them come to that realization by showing them specific details and examples. In our given instance, you could give the features of an iPhone that other phones wouldn’t be able to compare with. This would certainly be more impressing than simply saying it’s amazing.

3. Maybe

You don’t want to seem uncertain in front of your audience. To deliver a memorable presentation, you need to exude knowledge and confidence.

Words like “perhaps” and “maybe” leave the opposite impression, making you seem completely unsure and unprepared. Stop hedging and go straight to the point with active and urgent language.

4. Stuff

This word offers no real description. It’s a vague way to refer to something that’s crucial to your presentation. Instead of using this, look for a word that actively describes what you’re trying to say. If you can’t think of one, go for a descriptive phrase. Be specific with everything you say to allow your audience the opportunity to recall and internalize your main points.

Get rid of the “fluff” and make your presentations stronger. Achieve that goal by making use of words that are tangible and concrete. Avoid these 4 words and give your audience information that’s more meaningful and memorable.

 

Featured Image: marc falardeau via Flickr

3 Steps to Simplify Your Complex Technology PowerPoint

Delivering a presentation about technology-related topics can be quite challenging. For one, you will have to simplify various concepts for the benefit of your audience and to maximize your allotted presentation time. You’ll also need to organize your ideas into concise and easy-to-understand PowerPoint slides.

You need to keep your technology PowerPoint deck from being looking too complex. On top of it all, you have to make a connection with the audience. It becomes even more challenging when you’re presenting to people who are not familiar with the topic or technology you’re discussing.

If you’re in a similar situation, here are three key pointers to keep in mind when working on a technology PowerPoint presentation:

1. Focus on the core message

Avoid over-explaining the concepts in your slides by zeroing in on the key points you want to share. Before you open PowerPoint, start by creating an outline. What is the main takeaway of your presentation? Is it really necessary to explain particular concepts? If it is, which part of your explanation is the most crucial? Keep editing and trimming down your points until you arrive at the main ideas you want to share.

2. Explain with images and illustrations

As we know, research has shown that visual elements can better engage the attention of an audience. Instead of piling paragraphs of text onto your technology PowerPoint, you can make use of images to expound on key points. You can also make use of flowcharts or SmartArt graphics to illustrate concepts that might be harder to understand.

3. Don’t forget the story

Knowing that you’ll be presenting about technology, you might want to simply focus on answering the “how-to’s”. But other than that, you should also remember to tell your story. At the heart of all the tech-speak, what is the narrative behind the topic you’re presenting? A story is a great way to make an emotional connection with your audience. As an example, consider this ad run by Apple for the iPhone 5s.

Conclusion

Creating an engaging technology PowerPoint is challenging, but it isn’t impossible. All you need to do is create a solid plan and focus on making a valuable connection with your audience.

While interesting stories may temporarily engage, don’t forget to link it all back to your core message. Text can be effective in getting straight to the point, but illustrating your point may be even better in catching people’s attention. Make use of diagrams and other images to relate to your pitch.

Giving people hard facts can tire people out. Structure your presentation like a story with a convincing hook, line, and sinker. Don’t forget to tie it all in with a powerful conclusion and call to action.

Need a nudge in the right direction? Here at SlideGenius, we create different types of presentations and technology PowerPoint is one of our specialties. Contact us for a free consultation today.

 

Featured Image: crabchick via Flickr

Quick Reminders for the PowerPoint Decks in Your Event

You were given the opportunity to organize and host an event that would gather the brightest minds in your industry. The speakers you invited will share innovative ideas with an audience eager to gain new insights. As always, they’ll be using presentation decks to illustrate their key points. To ensure that their presentations end successfully, it won’t be a bad idea to set up some reminders on how they should prepare their slides. Here are just a few tips you can share with them, via experts interviewed by Forbes:

From Jonathon Colman:

Use Big Text for a Big Impact

Guy Kawasaki’s famous 10/20/30 rule of presentation design tells us not to use any text that’s smaller than 30 points. That’s great advice, but when you need your text to pop, make it big—really big! Use type that’s over 100 points or even larger, depending on your typeface. See how I use different type sizes to make my messages stand out in this presentation.

Find a Theme, Carry it Through

A lot of speakers use photography to illustrate their ideas. So when everyone uses great photos, how can you make yours stand out and have an impact on your audience? I recommend choosing photos that all use a similar style, subject, or other theme in common. See how I made a presentation using only photos of apples—really!

From Rick Altman:

Avoid Death by PowerPoint by doing these three things

When you witness Death by PowerPoint, most of the time it is because a presenter makes these three things all the same. He wants to use his slides as handouts, he writes speeches on his slides, he reads them word for word…say+show+give = all the same.

But when presenter think about these three tenets separately, they begin to distinguish themselves from 99% of those giving presentations today. It becomes more work – you must speak without slide scripts, you must create slides and then separate handouts – but you will become so much better at each of the three tasks and your work will become more rewarding. And you give yourself an opportunity to create something extraordinary.

From Eddie Rice:

Your slides should be the supporting cast of your talk

Plan out what you will say before you create your slides and master that material before you start designing your slides. Your slides should be the “supporting cast” of your talk–not its main focus. The payoff comes in two ways: First, if something goes wrong with your presentation, you will still have a speech ready to give, and second, you be more confident as you give your talk because you will have already mastered its focus.

As we talked about in the past, a simple PowerPoint deck is the best way to give a memorable presentation. Encourage your speakers to move away from the text-heavy slides by telling them to keep their decks to roughly 10 slides. You can also suggest that they make use of different multimedia elements to emphasize key points. This will allow them to focus on their key points.

 

Reference

Fidelman, Mark. “20 World-Class Presentation Experts Share Their Top Tips.” Forbes. Accessed September 23, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung via Flickr

GIFDeck: Turn Your SlideShare Presentation into a GIF Animation

As we know, presentations can make great content marketing materials. And thanks to SlideShare, you can easily upload your decks online and gain a wider audience.

However, if you’ve been a longtime SlideShare user, you may have run into a small problem. While it’s easy to embed your entire presentation into a blog post or a web page, it’s harder to share them through Twitter or email without losing its visual quality. If you want to send an interesting SlideShare presentation to your friend via email, you’ll have to copy the link and they’ll have to open it themselves.

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That’s why it’s important to translate your deck into a GIF, where it can self-present to an audience that doesn’t have your physical presence to get information from. Here’s how you can create a presentation GIF:

This is where GIFDeck Comes in.

This new Internet tool allows you to turn any SlideShare presentation into a GIF animation. You can attach your GIF to emails, or post it directly on Twitter. Best of all, the website is pretty straightforward. You don’t have to go through several complicated steps in order to achieve the results you want.

To do this, simply paste the SlideShare URL of your choice and hit Submit.


Here’s one of the presentations on our SlideShare profile converted into GIF:


Looks cool? Visit GIFDeck and give it a try!

Some Helpful Tips

  • Click on the icon beside the Submit button to customize your GIF. But be wary that any adjustments you make can affect the size and quality of your animation.
  • For more readable slides, change the interval at around 2000 milliseconds or more. Again, keep in mind that doing this will give you a larger GIF file size. Try to find the perfect balance between readability and an optimal file size for sharing.
  • If your presentation is particularly long, convert only the first 10 or so slides. Use it as a little “teaser” to encourage readers to click and visit your link.

Conclusion

A program like GIFDeck can prove efficient when you don’t have the time to present your PowerPoint to your audience. However, this can also be a test of how well you can create a compact, self-presenting deck. At the same time, remember that a GIF may not always be the best vessel for  your presentation.

Your deck isn’t there to speak for you, but when the occasion calls for it, you may need a deck that presents your key points without need for further explanation.

Need the guidance of a professional in the field to help you out? Our SlideGenius experts are ready to cater to your presentation dilemma.

Contact us today for a free quote!

 

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Featured Image: Screencap from the GIFDeck website 

3 Presentation Delivery Tips that Will Easily Improve Your Skills

Because a lot of us are used to seeing subpar presentations, we tend to resign ourselves to delivering bad presentations as well. Luckily, there are three simple things that you can do to markedly improve your skills. These may seem obvious, but they can turn your lackluster presentations into engaging discussions.

Change your outlook towards presentation delivery by giving these three tips a try:

Talk to—not at—your audience

If your presentations aren’t turning out as you’ve imagined, it’s probably because you’re not engaging with your audience enough. They’ll listen to what you have to say if you make them feel like you’re both on the same level. These days, audiences appreciate being part of a conversation, as opposed to being lectured at.

Give your audience an opportunity to speak their mind by making use of some interactive presentation tools, and don’t underestimate the power of making eye contact.

Keep your points brief and exciting

No one wants to hear a litany of details that could very well be told in a brief summary. Your presentations can be 10 times more engaging if  you keep your points brief and straight to the point.

Not only will it make your points easier to follow and understand, a simple presentation can also leave you more room for to address specific questions coming from your audience.

Use your nerves to improve your skills

Feeling nervous about delivering a presentation is normal. But did you know that you can use your feelings of anxiety as fuel to improve your skills? The best way to rid yourself of presentation anxiety is by practicing your presentation as much as you can.

The more you practice, the more you have the chance to examine your performance and improve on parts where you feel like you could do better. Embrace your anxiety and use it to motivate yourself further.

The Takeaway

No one ever has a smooth-sailing presentation. Sometimes it takes some time to master your skills as a public speaker. But don’t give up. Even the best presentation experts have had their share of bad turns. Constantly strive to improve yourself and your skills, and you’ll get to the level you want to achieve.

What other presentation delivery tips would you share? What do you do to improve your performance? Give us a shout out through our social media profiles!

 

Featured Image: Ryan Dickey via Flickr

About SlideGenius

SlideGenius.com is your business PowerPoint guru. Based in San Diego, California, SlideGenius has enhanced the presentations of more than 500 clients all over the world, including J.P. Morgan, Harley-Davidson, Pfizer, Verizon, and Reebok. Let SlideGenius help you with your presentation needs! Call us at 1.858.217.5144 today.

Suit Up: A Definitive Guide to Presentation Wear

As a presenter, it’s important to always look your best. You want to come off as respectable, professional, and trustworthy. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, these things can be interpreted from the way you dress.

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Of course, preparing great content and design is crucial to your success, but you should also take the time to consider your presentation wear.

Here are some pointers on what you should wear to your next presentation:

Presentation wear tips and tricks
When in doubt, go for your favorite classic pieces. (Source)

1. Dress better than your audience would

To learn the appropriate attire for your presentation, find out what your audience is likely to wear. As a general rule, it’s always better to dress better than them. If you’re presenting to a more casual and creative group, you can throw a blazer over your shirt to pull your look together.

For a business formal crowd, go with your best suit. Classic colors like black, gray, and navy blue are a safe bet. Make sure your suit is a perfect fit.

For women, keep your jewelry choices conservative. A modest pearl necklace can add some feminine touch to your pantsuit.

2. When in doubt, go for business casual

Only about 9% of American companies require employees to be in business formal clothes. Business casual is usually the way to go. For men, opt for slacks or corduroy pants paired with a button down shirt. You can also put on a blazer, sport coat, or sweater.

For shoes, go with something that’s “relaxed but elegant” in the same conservative colors mentioned above. On the other hand, tailored trousers do the trick for women. Pair them with an interesting but modest top. You may also go with a conservative dress or skirt. Wear heels that aren’t too high (more on this later), or sleek-looking flats.

3. Dress in something that will allow you to move

Body language is important to presentation delivery, so make sure the clothes you wear has room for movement. Don’t wear anything that’s too tight. For women, keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet the entire time. While heels are an elegant touch, you want to make sure you’re comfortable standing for a long period of time.

4. Don’t wear anything that will distract you or your audience

Following on the previous point, make sure your clothes don’t distract you from delivering your presentation. Don’t wear something that you need to adjust every few seconds. It’s also important that your clothes won’t distract your audience from the message you’re delivering. For women, avoid wearing jewelry that are too large or will make noise when you move. For men, don’t wear ties that have loud prints or colors.

5. Be mindful of details

Lastly, it’s important that your presentation wear is polished to the very last detail. Make sure your clothes are well-pressed. Don’t wear something that has a tear or is missing a button.

Presentation wear depends on the context of the event you’re speaking at. It will depend on who you’re addressing, and what your subject matter is. The culture of your industry or company will also come into play.

If, for example, your workplace has a strict dress code, you’d want to be in formal business wear when you deliver a report to executives.

The case will be different if you’re in the creative industry, set to present in front of copywriters and graphic designers.

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Featured Image: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

Trade Show Tips: Things to Remember On the Exhibit Floor

Exhibiting at a trade show? Industry events can turn into a great business opportunity if you know how to do to it right. According to Chief Marketer‘s Ruth Stevens, the terrifying possibility of customer rejection can be tempered by some measures. Here’s our take on these trade show do’s and don’t’s.

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Apart from networking with potential clients, you’ll be able to show off your latest offers and learn more about the trends in your field. In order to get the best outcome from your endeavor, make sure to follow these trade show tips when you’re on the exhibit floor.

Trade Show Tip #1: Train your team to work together for a common goal

Trade shows can be tricky because you’ll be sharing the stage with other people. In order to make sure everyone is on the same page, you need to plan and prepare with your entire team. You want everyone in your booth to work together for a common goal.

You want everyone to be in sync, instead of competing with each other. Hold meetings where you and your team can discuss what you want to achieve during the trade show. Allow them to contribute to making plans. Most importantly, include periodic training sessions to make sure your staff is well-prepped for the big day.

Trade Show Tip #2: Watch the crowd for potential clients

I think part of being a good entrepreneur involves being a keen observer. As you explore the different booths on the exhibit floor, keep an eye out for potential clients.

If you find someone that could make a good prospect, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and make polite conversation. Train your team to do the same thing while they’re manning your booth.

Trade Show Tip #3: Learn to take no for an answer

Conversing with prospects is important. In fact, trade shows are a great venue for it. But if they turn down your pitch, be courteous and respect their decision. That person was probably looking for something else and your solution wasn’t it.

Again, learn to be sensitive to the people you’re networking with. If they’re not interested, don’t work to change their mind. Instead, work hard to engage the people who might be.

Trade Show Tip #4: Always share your contact information

To nurture the relationships you’ve made during the event, don’t forget to hand out business cards or flyers with your contact information.

Similarly, you should compile all the business cards you were able to connect and reach out to prospects as soon as you can.

Trade Show Tip #5: Be friendly but professional

It’s important to keep a warm atmosphere during a trade show. The people who approach your booth should always feel welcome.

Always be friendly and approachable, but keep in mind that this is still a professional event.

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Reference:

Stevens, Ruth. “Trade Show Marketing Do’s & Don’ts: Ways to Annoy Your Prospects.Chiefmarketer. 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Sam Galison via Flickr