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Brainstorming Techniques for Every Situation

“Brainstorming is the nexus of ideas.” – Asa Don Brown, Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace, Finding Solutions that Work

Brainstorming, developed in the early 1940s by advertising executive Alex Osborn, became a tool with staying power.

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Conducting a brainstorming session of your own? Remember that for it to work and not feel like a total waste of time, everybody must be open and respectful to everyone’s ideas and opinions. Problems arise when there are people that think they need to filter good ideas from the bad because of the fear of judgment.

How does it work? In a nutshell, brainstorming consists of three steps:

  • Pose a problem or opportunity.
  • Ask the team to pitch their ideas, no matter how unusual these may seem—there is no right or wrong idea.
  • Review and select the most interesting ideas and then discuss how these can be implemented.

For example, working with marketing presentation consultants require brainstorming so they can translate your specifications and their design into an effective and engaging PowerPoint. If you’re having difficulties in generating ideas on the top of your head, then why not try one of these interesting techniques instead?

Mind Mapping

Conceptualized by Tony Buzan in the 1960s, this visual tool enhances the brainstorming process. This organizes thoughts by showing how these can be connected, encouraging the continuous flow of ideas and associations.

SWOT Analysis

This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and what this type of brainstorming does is that it helps flesh out ideas in an objective manner. It specifies the goals of the project or business venture, identifying the internal and external factors that may affect its success or failure in the long run.

Starbursting

Usually, people brainstorm to find answers—with starbursting, it focuses on forming questions. It starts with a star, which has product, service, or concept to be discussed, and expands as more questions are asked. The should answer who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Brain-Netting

This involves brainstorming on the Internet, which means team members will share their ideas over a private channel and then discuss it in person. They may also choose to generate and discuss concepts online.

Round Robin

This method of brainstorming gives everybody in the group an opportunity to speak their minds. Once gathered in a circle, members of the group are encouraged to pitch in and contribute, as there are times that one or two people in the group may be too shy to voice their opinion on the subject. Plus, this is a way to keep dominant personalities from taking over the session.

Once everyone has shared their ideas, this is the only time that other members may suggest a second concept.

Brainstorming combines lateral thinking with an informal approach to problem solving. It promotes collaboration among teammates, encouraging each person to be as creative and original as they can. With this tool, it helps companies generate radical solutions to problems.

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References:

Tucker, Robert. “Seven Brainstorming Techniques for Your Next Ideation Session.” Forbes. November 16, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertbtucker/2017/11/16/seven-brainstorming-techniques-for-your-next-ideation-session/#18a15bb66d5d

“Brainstorming and Mind Mapping.” Monash University. https://www.monash.edu/rlo/research-writing-assignments/understanding-the-assignment/brainstorming#Mindmapping

Madsen, Dag Øivind. “SWOT Analysis: A Management Fashion Perspective.” International Journal of Business Research. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dag_Madsen/publication/299278178_SWOT_Analysis_A_Management_Fashion_Perspective/links/56f05fee08ae70bdd6c94a74/SWOT-Analysis-A-Management-Fashion-Perspective.pdf

3 Ways to Improve Public Relations for Your Business

A good product stays just that – a good product – unless it gets a boost that enhances its marketability.

Don’t let the fruits of your labor slip into anonymity.

Access your target market through a strategic marketing plan and effective public relations effort.

Increased publicity will give your business the boost it needs.

Networking

One of the most instinctive ways to build your public relations is through networking.

Whether consciously or not, you form a network with individuals you encounter as you build up your business.

These can come in the form of long-time customers or corporate partners.

Even your employees and personal friends are part of your network.

If you’re still starting out, it’s time to prioritize these relationships.

Take care of your employees by giving benefits and convincing them your vision is worth believing.

Individuals whose beliefs are aligned with yours will be ready to support your enterprise.

Similarly, customers who follow your work and favor your product can recommend you to their own friends and family.

Aside from these person-to-person cases, you can also expand your network the old-fashioned way.

Forge partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations relevant to your field.

You’ll be able to help each other out when it comes to resources and promotion.

Build Your Reputation

To impress people enough to convince them to invest requires plenty of self-exposure.

Showcase your product – and make it appealing.

Strategize your marketing plan and assess your product’s strengths and weaknesses.

Develop your product’s strong points and emphasize your advantages over the competition.

You can start small by relying on your personal network to endorse you.

But once you’re ready, you can present yourself to prospective clients.

This may come in the form of press releases or public presentations.

If you’re pitching to a journalist, make sure you craft the right message.

You can tease them with a preliminary pitch that will get them interested enough to ask for more details.

For public presentations, make sure to strike a balance between content and delivery.

Prepare an outline of all your main ideas with a professionally-made PowerPoint to boot.

This keeps your audience’s attention while getting all the important points across.

Social Media

The Internet plays an undeniably huge role in our lives.

Use it to promote your business by tapping into social media.

Make a site where you can advertise your product or service.

You can see how well you’ve drawn your target market in by monitoring site traffic.

The more people follow your page, share your tweets, or visit your website, the more likely that you’ve caught their attention.

It also makes your profile available to interested investors.

Keep an eye out for influencers online who can help promote you to virtual audiences.

These influencers will also require pitches that are relevant to their own interests.

This is best for making sure you contact the right individual or organization.

As much as social media can give you a leverage, always keep yourself grounded in your original objectives.

Don’t overstep personal boundaries to get undue exposure.

You need to maintain your credibility to keep your clients.

Conclusion

Building your public relations is important for promoting your product.

This can be achieved in a number of ways.

Reach out to your personal network, or expose yourself to a wider audience through presentations and social media.

A combination of the two is even better.

This ensures more feedback from a greater number of people.

 

References

Honeysett, Alex. “4 Steps to Pitching a Guest Post (and Getting a “Yes!”).” How to Pitch a Guest Blog. Accessed October 21, 2015.
Measuring and Improving Your PR”. Queensland Government Business and Industry Portal. October 9, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2015.
Raposo, Kevin “How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Journalists.” BuzzStream. May 13, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “PR” by Niuton may on flickr.com

Presenting Your Business Pitch with Confidence

Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There’s a wide set of skills and traits you have to possess in order to become an effective business leader. Among those traits is self-confidence, a natural magnet that can draw people to you and make them want to listen to what you have to say. As such, it’s an invaluable skill during a business pitch.

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To entice potential investors, you need to appear and sound confident while pitching your idea. Investors are naturally drawn to leaders with high self-esteem because it signifies strength of character, another trait necessary to lead a business venture forward. As Larina Kase, a psychologist and author, said, “True confidence is not thinking that you’ll get a great result. It’s knowing that you can handle any result.” When the path towards success is dark and murky, confidence can carry a strong business leader through.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

How to Boost Your Confidence for a Business Pitch

There are things you can do to pump up your spirits before facing investors and presenting them your business model. Here are seven of them:

1. Look and sound the part

The thing about confidence is that you don’t need to have it to look the part. You can carry yourself with poise even if you’re feeling intimidated or scared inside. There are a few things you can do to package yourself for success: dressing well, correcting your posture, minding the pacing of your speech, using precise language, and smiling. In other words, by making a conscious effort to look confident, you can make a good impression.

2. Exude conviction from every pore

To sell a business idea, you should be able to show investors how passionate and committed you are. They’ll try to gauge whether you really know what you’re doing, so make sure that you remain composed but enthusiastic throughout your business pitch. Make the investors believe in your potential to succeed. To achieve this effect, you have to communicate a certain aura that tells investors how confident you are about your product. This means avoiding uptalk and articulating a statement with a declarative—not an inquisitive—tone.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

3. Know your key differentiator

To identify your business’s primary selling point, ask yourself what your edge is as opposed to competitors. Why should investors choose you over businesses similar to yours? You must have something unique to offer to make your business pitch stand out. Apart from this, you should also be able to explain what your worth is to investors. How can they benefit from your business? What gains can they expect, and when?

4. Find an external manifestation of success

Perhaps the best way to gain self-confidence is to find an external manifestation of your business’s capability to survive and succeed. It’s easier to sell a business idea if you have something tangible to back it up. An example of an external validation of success is a solid customer base that raves about your product. A sizable social media following that has positive things to say about your company is also a good proof that you’re breaking ground. Determining your niche is crucial during the first stages of business development because if you sell to the wrong customers, your business is bound to flop. On the other hand, with the right audience, you can improve your revenue and boost your credibility, which will ultimately attract investors towards your business.

5. Solve problems before they appear

Amateur entrepreneurs who only want to impress investors often make the mistake of acting like they’re immune to disasters. They’re hiding behind the assumption that their business model is so perfect, it can’t possibly be taken down by any future problem. As a general rule, before you present your business pitch to an investor, you should think through the possible challenges that you may encounter along the way. If possible, look for various solutions for each issue so that if one fails, you’ll have a backup to fall on. Set up contingency plans for when things don’t go as planned. By making sure that you’re prepared for the ugly as well as the good, you’ll be able to present yourself as a competent leader who can weather the storm when the worse comes to the worst.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

6. Rehearse and refine your business pitch

Preparation is key to any speech. As with any other field, achieving a certain level of self-confidence takes time and an immense amount of effort. Research also plays a major role on how competent and confident you will appear in front of a panel. Make sure that your presentation has no loopholes and that everything goes as planned.

7. Worry less and just do your part

Fussing over the aspects of your business pitch that you can’t control will only stress you out. Instead of worrying over the negative aspects of your situation, just focus on the positive. Don’t zero in on your weaknesses as that will only distract and discourage you. Instead, strive to turn your weak spots around and let go of the things you can’t change. Optimism can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence, so try to appreciate the good parts as much as you can.

Above all else, smile even if you don’t feel like it. As Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at George Washington University, said, “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to; it also conveys confidence…. You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” That reason alone should be enough for you to flash a smile during a business pitch.

If you follow the aforementioned tips, you’ll be closer to improving your self-esteem. Just be patient and remember that confidence is built over time. With determination, you can stand in front of a panel of investors and present your business in the best light possible.

 

 

 

Resources:

Connick, Wendy. “How to Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).” The Balance. June 19, 2017. www.thebalance.com/how-to-find-your-unique-selling-proposition-usp-2917402

Landrum, Sarah. “10 Secrets to Sounding Confident.” Fast Company. July 20, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048748/10-secrets-to-sounding-confident

Lobb, Jennifer. “How to Pitch Your Business Like the Pros on Shark Tank.” Nav. December 28, 2016. www.nav.com/blog/how-to-pitch-your-business-like-the-shark-tank-pros-15102

Whitmore, Jacqueline. “9 Ways to Show More Confidence in Business.” Entrepreneur. September 30, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/237634

“How to Give Investors Confidence in Your Business Idea.” Virgin Startup. n.d. www.virginstartup.org/how-to/how-give-investors-confidence-your-business-idea

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The Real Cost of a Poor Presentation

The truth may be more prevalent than you would like to admit, but it’s unhealthy to ignore the fact that there are good presentations, and there are also bad ones. If you could give an estimate, how many from the total number of existing presentations are poorly made? Around 50 percent? That’s a big number. Assume for a second that, around the world, there are over a billion PowerPoint files today. That’s 500 million at the very least.

With all the design and content tips littered all over the Internet about making the best pitch deck, you’d think that by now, everyone can create decent slides. But let’s not get too idealistic. PowerPoint is tricky to master, especially when you consider how people have different reactions to presentations in general.

Should you cater to their wants then? “Yes” would be a short answer, but it has serious implications for your succeeding attempts at presentation. For example, when you’re creating a pitch deck. You can’t make a one-fits-all since it’s practically impossible to create slides according to the preferences of every executive you’re looking to impress. It’ll be a mishmash of different styles, and that can be distracting.

Does it mean that this is a hopeless case? Of course not. The best you could do is minimize the negative effects of a bad pitch deck presentation, like death by PowerPoint. Other suggestions are doing your best to create the most visually appealing deck people will ever see or hiring a good team of presentation specialists to make awesome slides—as long as you avoid using poorly designed presentations. Why? Because you stand to lose more than just cash by crafting pitch decks or sales presentations sloppily. The infographic below will help you see that you shouldn’t be worried with just your profit margins because you put at risk something bigger than money.

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Resources:

Griffith, Eric. “17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint.” PC Mag. October 14, 2014. www.pcmag.com/feature/328357/17-tricks-to-master-microsoft-powerpoint

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Closing a Deal Without Assuming a Salesperson’s Role

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with hard selling. If you know you have a wonderful product that should see the light of day, then by all means go and sell it hard. However, you need to be wary of the caveats and repercussions that you may encounter along the way. Make sure that when convincing a prospect of the value of your business, you remain honest and true. Also, before going around and trying to talk people into investing in your product, make sure that you’re adept enough to communicate and empathize with them.

The problem with most salespeople today is that all they care about is closing the deal. They don’t bother about being honest with the consumer. They hardly go out of their way to find out what the consumer really needs. This is exactly why sales agents have developed a notoriety so ill that people recoil when they see a salesperson trying desperately to catch their eye. The harsh truth is that being a salesperson today is synonymous to being pushy and annoying. If the economic landscape is to reach a higher bar, this stigma has to end.

The Logic Behind Using a No-Pitch Promotion

No one can change the salespeople’s reputation but the salespeople themselves. Many companies have already figured out the right ways to reach consumers without distressing them. Surely, a lot more would follow if only they knew how. If you still haven’t employed the right techniques in selling without coming off as obnoxious, here are two of the main reasons why you should change your ways now:

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

  • To take the pressure off the audience

What seems to be the salespeople’s role today is to serve themselves and their company. However, there should be a shift in perspective. Instead of thinking of their own good, salesmen should serve customers and see how they can help alleviate their concerns. Instead of inconveniencing prospects, salespeople should strive to make matters easier and more convenient for them.

The last thing you want as a salesperson is to give the impression that you’re trying to squeeze every penny out of your customers. Shoving the product down the customers’ throat won’t make them pay for it. Put them at ease and let them be comfortable so that they can make that decision for themselves.

  • To differentiate yourself from corporate players

One of the advantages that a small business holds over a goliath is that it has an option to personalize the customer experience. Customers like it when they’re treated in a special way. This is why even big players in the business field should try to mimic the small-business model of sales. As a salesman, you should be more personable. Take your time in easing the prospect into your business. Instead of rushing to pocket the money, let the sales process unfold. If you focus on attending to your client’s needs before anything else, the deal will close itself.

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

Four Proven Ways to Sell Without Being Aggressive

Most salesmen are torn between hard selling and using alternative sales techniques that are subtler and less aggressive. On the one hand, hard selling makes a salesperson feel like s/he has done everything in his or her power to gain a new customer. On the other hand, it is usually a turn-off to customers, and therefore, a big no-no. Fortunately, there are easy and effective ways to sell without sounding like a salesperson. Here are some of them:

1. Be transparent about your business processes

Make your business processes open for the public to see. Share every thought and effort that went into creating your product or developing your service. Tell your prospects what went wrong and what worked out in the end. In other words, lay your brand bare before them.

By doing this, you’re essentially inviting people to trust you and see you not as a business without a face but as a familiar friend whose struggles and successes they had the privilege of knowing. By being vulnerable and letting them into your business’s personal bubble, you’re giving them an invitation that they can’t turn down. The bottom line? Genuine stories sell.

2. Demonstrate what your product does

Merely talking about the product won’t cut it. To persuade a crowd of skeptic consumers, you need to let the product speak for itself. Show your prospects exactly how your product works so that they can judge for themselves whether it’s good enough to satisfy their needs. A product demonstration is a quick and effective way to tell someone just how great your offers are without actually telling them.

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

3. Pitch at the right time and in the right place

Timing is key in every field, and it’s not surprising that it’s just as important in sales. A good salesperson can tell when it’s appropriate to approach a customer with a product offer or when it’s best to just drop it and focus on addressing the customer’s immediate concerns instead. Watch for external cues that will give you hints on whether or not a customer is open to a sales pitch. If you insist on troubling a prospect, you might end up losing a potential client for good.

4. Focus on addressing the consumer’s pain points

It only makes sense that if you let your prospects do the talking, you can’t possibly annoy or offend them. In fact, if you assume the role of a listener from the start, it’s likely for them to relax and feel comfortable around you. That said, before you make a pitch, make sure to hear out your customers’ side of the story first. Let them spill out their concerns so that you can thoroughly assess the situation. Only talk when you know that you have something useful to offer. Your proposed resolutions should revolve around their problems. Remember, the goal is to help the customers, not to take their money.

The approach to sales described here isn’t new or farfetched. In fact, it has been used by top marketers for many years now. However, until every salesperson learns how to use the methods of soft selling to better attract and gain customers, the reputation of the sales world will be stuck in the dead zone.

 

Resources:

Charles, Jeff. “5 Easy Ways to Sell Without Being Pushy or Obnoxious.” Small Biz Trends. August 31, 2015. smallbiztrends.com/2015/08/easy-ways-to-sell.html

Flynn, Pat. “How to Sell Without Selling: The Art of No-Pitch Promotion.” Smart Passive Income. May 20, 2014. www.smartpassiveincome.com/how-to-sell-without-selling-the-art-of-no-pitch-promotion

Gregory, Alyssa. “12 Tips for Using a Soft Approach to Make the Sale.” Sitepoint. June 22, 2010. www.sitepoint.com/using-a-soft-sales-approach

Iannarino, Anthony. “Don’t Mistake Selling for the Hard Sell.” The Sales Blog. May 28, 2010. thesalesblog.com/2010/05/28/don%E2%80%99t-mistake-selling-for-the-hard-sell

Nornberg, Vanessa M. “3 Ways to Tell When a Customer Is Ready to Be Sold.” Inc. August 8, 2014. www.inc.com/vanessa-merit-nornberg-nornberg/3-ways-to-tell-when-a-customer-is-ready-to-be-sold.html

Verrill, Ashley. “How to Sell Without Sounding Like a Salesman.” Scott’s Marketplace. July 17, 2013. blog.scottsmarketplace.com/how-to-sell

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Tour of California 2017 and the Seven Stages of the Business Cycle

The Tour of California is a professional cycling race that has been dubbed as America’s Tour de France. Debuting in 2006, the event is considered as one of the most important cycling races in the United States. Although it’s now held every year in May, it was originally a February affair. The change was made back in 2010 when organizers wanted to make the race a preparatory event for the Tour de France. The Tour of California typically covers 700 miles through the U.S. state of California.

This year, the cycling race will start on May 14 and cap off on May 21. It’s only a few days before the event officially starts, and excitement is already building around the cycling community. Kristin Klein said, “As the sport of cycling continues to bloom in America, the Amgen Tour of California men’s and women’s events are both part of the UCI World Tour for the first time, a privilege and designation reserved for the world’s premier’s races. This means the competition will reach an all-time high, with the best racers and best teams in the world lining up to take part.”

All this hype will surely attract the public’s eye. Indeed, as Klein noted, “The Amgen Tour of California is America’s greatest race, and this year more than ever, the world will be watching.” Cycling enthusiasts, athletes, health junkies, and casual fans alike will all be there to support the cause. But there should be one more group that ought to jump on the bandwagon: businessmen. That’s right—men in suits may seem like the odd-ones-out in a crowd of Lycra-shorts-wearing people, but they’re not far removed from the spirit of this occasion. In fact, the Tour of California cycling race may just be the new business metaphor that entrepreneurs, like you, need.

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Resources:

Chen, Sheen. “What Are the Stages of a Business Lifecycle and Its Challenges?” Business 2 Community. March 4, 2014. www.business2community.com/strategy/stages-business-lifecycle-challenges-0798879#osr2aRkspuuKlDE5.97

Griffiths, Andrew. “If You Want a Solid Future You Need to Know Where You Are in the Business Life Cycle.” Inc. April 19, 2016. www.inc.com/andrew-griffiths/which-part-of-the-7-stage-business-life-cycle-are-you-in.html

Janssen, Thierry. “The 7 Stages of Business Life Cycle.” Just in Time Management. n.d. www.justintimemanagement.com/en/The-7-stages-of-business-life-cycle

Schilken, Chuck. “Amgen Tour of California Announces Routes for 2017 Race.” LA Times. January 31, 2017. www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-tour-of-california-route-20170130-story.html

“2017 Tour of California Routes Announced.” Cycling News. January 31, 2017. www.cyclingnews.com/news/2017-tour-of-california-routes-announced

“Where Are You in the Seven-Stage Cycle?” Addison and Company. n.d. www.addisonandco.co.uk/the-7-stages-of-business

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What Leaders Need to Know About Mindfulness

The best leaders work resolutely to unite their team to achieve their goals. Working hard is a given for them, and so is playing hard. They can channel their energy towards any challenge, and they can rest their minds despite the many responsibilities that await them. In other words, the best leaders know the secrets of mindfulness.

Before delving into what mindfulness is, let’s first clarify what it’s not. Mindfulness is not a religious activity—although it is, to some extent, transcendental in nature. It’s not about putting your thoughts to a pause, nor is it a way of escaping from reality. Most importantly, it’s not a one-time fix for your problems.

Mindfulness is a basic ability that you can harness if you put your mind to it. It involves focusing on the present, detaching your judgment from your reactions, and practicing self-observation. Its utmost goal is to rouse the inner workings of your mind so you can perform at your best. By training to be mindful, you can remodel your brain structure and mental composition.

Mindfulness for Business Leadership

Mindfulness for Business Leadership

Mindfulness presents many positive implications for business. In fact, it’s believed to be the one solution to the world’s illnesses. But as underlined before, this state of consciousness is not really a panacea. What’s more, there’s no substantial data relating to its impact on contemporary leadership.

If there’s no solid research about how this practice can “cure” the industry, then where does the overwhelming enthusiasm for it come from? Incidentally, it’s all based on personal observations and experiences. Take Bill George, for example. George, a Harvard professor and former Medtronic CEO, shared how meditative practices had helped him cope with his struggles at the top of the business chain. Another business tycoon who leveraged the power of mind training to become an effective leader was Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs practiced Zen meditation techniques to gain better business clarity.

Apart from the influence of these people, another reason why mindfulness is gaining a wider audience is the growing need of business leaders to find a timeout from their busy careers. They need a way to stop the world on command, and mindfulness can help with that.

Becoming a Mindful Leader

How to Be a Mindful Leader

Proper training can enhance your leadership abilities and improve your resilience. The following seven mini-habits are a good place to start.

1. Make time for introspective practice.

You need a proper space and enough time to carry out a mindful, introspective exercise that will awaken your mental mechanisms. The said exercise can come in many forms: journaling, praying, taking long walks, hiking, jogging, doing yoga, and meditating, among others. Any activity that lets you center into yourself will help open your inner sense of well-being. By developing simple habits like these, you’ll gain clarity to make sound decisions and become more aware of your impact to the world.

2. Pay attention to the present moment.

Mindful leaders know how to dwell in the moment and live life as it happens. After all, one of the aims of mindfulness is to quiet the mind and see everything as it is. Train your mind to pay attention to what’s immediately happening before you. You may occasionally find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions, but that’s alright, as long as you always return to the present.

3. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them roll by.

One of the important skills that come with mindfulness is metacognition, the ability to let your judgments roll by after making a mental note of them. Metacognition allows you to observe each moment and participate in it. It’s like going into the riverbank of your stream of consciousness to see what’s going on inside your head. You’ll find your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and impulses laid open before you. As a leader, you’ll find this helpful as it will keep you from being overly reactive or overwhelmed. You’ll be able to take broader perspectives into account before making crucial decisions.

Acknowledge Your Thoughts

4. Let your mind wander but only for a while.

While you’re in the middle of an exercise—practicing introspection, staying anchored to the present, observing metacognition—your mind may wander off. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, just recognize where your mind has wandered into and gently bring it back.

5. Marry your head with your heart.

For you to become a mindful leader, you have to let your heart and mind become one. This may sound easy, but it’s not. As Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The longest journey you will ever take is the eighteen inches from your head to your heart.” To be a mindful leader, you must have the courage and the passion to be better. You should be able to exhibit intentionality in every action you take.

6. Disconnect from the world.

To be truly mindful, you must reduce the unnecessary chatter in your head. You can’t focus on yourself if you’re always bombarded with distractions. You need an opportunity to de-stress and gather your thoughts. Do this by disconnecting from the world. Unplug everything that can distract you—people, gadgets, and noisy objects that keep you from centering on important things.

7. Take interest in the world around you.

You can only put yourself in the present if you take an interest in the world inside your head and the universe around you. Curiosity is the ingredient that will truly open your mind to its full capacity. Without it, you’ll have no motivation to explore the extraordinary capabilities of your mind.

The pursuit of mindful leadership will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your bearing to others. Mindfulness will drive away trivial and noisy thoughts to help you focus on what’s paramount. Ultimately, it will allow you to become an authentic leader in your field.

 

Resources:

Comaford, Christine. “Beyond the Brain: Mindfulness for Leaders.” Forbes. September 17, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2016/09/17/why-leaders-need-to-stop-their-thoughts/#1d1c771c22f2

George, Bill. “Mindfulness Helps You Become a Better Leader.” Harvard Business Review. October 26, 2012. hbr.org/2012/10/mindfulness-helps-you-become-a

George, Bill. “Mindfulness Is Transforming Leaders.” Huffington Post. November 11, 2015. www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-george/mindfulness-is-transformi_b_8539894.html

George, Bill. “The Power of Mindful Leadership.” Huffington Post. July 27, 2016. www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-george/the-power-of-mindful-lead_b_7878482.html

Reitz, Megan. “How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Company’s Leadership.” Harvard Business Review. December 1, 2016. hbr.org/2016/12/how-to-bring-mindfulness-to-your-companys-leadership

Was, Chris. “A Mindfulness Perspective on Metacognition.” Improve with Metacognition. October 31, 2014. www.improvewithmetacognition.com/a-mindfulness-perspective-on-metacognition

Yorkovich, Scott. “Intentional Leadership.” LeadStrategic. September 2, 2011. leadstrategic.com/2011/09/02/intentional-leadership

“Getting Started with Mindfulness.” Mindful. n.d. www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started

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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.

Exporting PowerPoint to Paper: Tips for Enticing Printout Content

Every presenter has been requested the same thing at one point or another: being asked if they have—or if members of the audience can have—printouts of their PowerPoint presentations. This is not a bad thing, per se, especially if you have a great deck with a superb design and an enlightening message that people will want to go back and review everything they learned from your talk.

However, the issue is that slides were designed to be seen through a projector… unless you had the foresight to create your deck specifically for printing. Well then, good for you.

Going from digital to printout isn’t as easy as it looks. Specifically now, in the modern age, there are humongous monitors and projectors that display every pixel perfectly despite their sizes. Ah, the wonders of technology. But transitioning from the old to the new isn’t seamless, and paper sizes can’t compare to digital visual outlets.

To do that, you first need to do a bit of tinkering and adjusting to get your desired quality on paper. Here are a few pointers to consider first.

Exporting PowerPoint to Paper: Check Your Printer

Check Your Printer

As with any competition, you can expect that manufacturers follow different formats with their products. If there’s one constant as far as printers are concerned, it’s that they don’t typically reach the paper’s edge. Printouts will always have margins. However, this is not a printer limitation; it’s rather the software—the printer driver—that causes this.

To remedy this, you can manually adjust it, and this is where the tinkering comes in. You can set custom margins on your printouts and potentially include an additional slide or two. There are different customizations you can do from this screen and in the next, which is…

Exporting PowerPoint to Paper: Print Preview

Print Preview

Print Preview is your friend. Let it guide, help, and aid you. If you’re not sure about the whole format of your printout, you should check it out before you waste ink.

There, you can set and customize different options for your final product: how many slides per page, the spaces in between each slide, the margins (see previous subheading), etc. There are also other settings for whether you want to print on both sides of the paper, the printing sequence (Collated), and whether black and white or grayscale (see next subheading).

This window is basically your last chance to fix how you want your handouts to come out, so appropriating everything according to your preference will make your task easier.

Exporting PowerPoint to Paper: Check Your Design

Check Your Design

Less on the printer, more on your slides now.

The rules are basically the same when creating slides. You’ve got your design basics: colors, background, typography, etc. You’ve also got your image: powerful and meaningful. Lastly, your text as the meat of your talk. Then you’re out to print it.

The question is: “Do your slides look the same on screen and on paper?”

If you are printing your PowerPoint file out, you always have to consider how your slides will look on your handouts—plus the limitations on your printer, vis-à-vis ink levels—and prepare for it. If you’ve got too many images, either beef up your ink supply or delete some. Another option is to print in grayscale or black and white (which, as you would imagine, comes with another set of adjustments).

The bottom line here is that you should tailor your deck to be readable on both mediums. If you need to reduce elements, then do so.

Exporting PowerPoint to Paper: Convert powerpoint into .pdf file

Don’t Print Your Slides

Don’t worry. It’s not what it means; rather, it’s a small technicality that involves converting your PowerPoint file into a type that is considered more universal: PDF

One reason why PDF files are more commonly used is the general ease with printing using Acrobat or Adobe (or other software that can read this file type). There may be more or less the same options, but Acrobat is more in depth than PowerPoint, so it’ll usually take care of problems before your printouts even reach the printer. With such ease, you’re more likely choosing this same route yourself.

Another issue solved is transferring to another computer, for, say, printing purposes since you don’t have a printer. You don’t assume that your PowerPoint settings are the same as everyone’s (unless you’re not customizing your software). Therefore, you’re more likely to meet different formatting altogether when opening your file on a computer that doesn’t adhere to the same settings. This goes especially when you use many customized backgrounds, images, and fonts.

Converting to PDF makes your task—and life—easier by making the file more printable and readable on any computer.

There are multiple considerations to make when shifting from digital to print. With the almost complete independence of technology from traditional media, there’s still the wide gap between the two. Of course, with sufficient study and preparation, the divide is not as big as it seems.

Take the following options to heart. Soon, you’ll be asked to have printouts of your presentation. Take it easy and plan ahead. You’ll do yourself some good that way.

 

Resources:

Temple, Cooper. “Adjusting Paper Margins in PowerPoint.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/adjusting-paper-margins-powerpoint-29281.html

Terberg, Julie. “Gain Control over PowerPoint Handouts by Exploring the Print Options.” Training Magazine. November 1, 2002. ip-50-63-221-144.ip.secureserver.net/article/gain-control-over-powerpoint-handouts-exploring-print-options

Wood, James T. “Why Does PowerPoint Print Out the Wrong Margins?” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/powerpoint-print-out-wrong-margins-26575.html

Woods, Paul. “Create PowerPoint Slides Designed Specifically for A4 or Letter Printing.” The New Paperclip. May 26, 2010. www.thenewpaperclip.com/2010/05/26/create-powerpoint-slides-designed-specifically-for-a4-or-letter-printing/#

“How to Create PDF Handouts in PowerPoint 2010.” Cometdocs. November 7, 2011. blog.cometdocs.com/how-to-create-pdf-handouts-in-powerpoint-2010

“Printing PowerPoint: Slide Size v. Printer Page Size.” PPTools. June 7, 2011. www.pptfaq.com/FAQ00774_Printing_PowerPoint-_Slide_size_v-_Printer_Page_size.htm

“Saving Paper and Increasing Readability of PowerPoint Handouts.” Pittsburgh Technical College. n.d. www.ptcollege.edu/uploads/HS-teachers/Saving-Paper-and-Increasing-Readability-of-PowerPoint-Handouts.pdf

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6 Ways to Effectively Communicate Ideas at Work

That brilliant idea you have which can affect positive change in the workplace is largely useless until you communicate it to someone who can bring it to life. However, pitching an idea to a colleague is easier said than done. It’s not easy to explain a concept to someone who has a different background. You’ll need to bridge a knowledge chasm that separates you from your intended recipient. You also have to watch your manner of speaking since you can’t afford to insult your recipient with the faintest hint of condescension. In the same way, you can’t be too naïve to assume that the other person is on the same page as you.

Presenting an idea to a coworker, whether it be a superior or an equal, is always a risk. There’s a possibility of your proposal getting turned down, or worse, ignored. This is why you need to be fully prepared before making your business pitch. Make sure you possess not only flair and poise but also valuable content—a worthwhile idea that can sell itself. Keep in mind what Dorothy Tannahill Moran from Next Chapter New Life, said: “There is a difference between a great idea and an idea that will truly advance the cause of business.”

Know the Recipient's Hot Buttons

Know the Recipient’s Hot Buttons

People have different ways of processing information. Some learn best with visuals while others prefer one-on-one talks. Others are still more comfortable with written exchanges. Conduct a research that will allow you to learn what’s best for your audience. You should possess a heightened sense of contextual awareness if you are to thoroughly understand your recipients. Be astute in sensing their moods, values, and attitudes. Develop a contingency plan that will allow you to align your objectives with theirs. After all, the pitch is not for you but for the company as a whole. 

Direct and Concise Pitch

Make Your Pitch Direct and Concise

Trim the fat from your pitch and go straight to the point. Don’t bore your recipient with unnecessary details. Instead, stick to what your idea will do for them and the organization. “Managers want solutions to the problems that are keeping them awake at night,” said Leigh Steere from Managing People Better. He couldn’t have said a truer statement. When delivering your pitch, make sure to keep the buzz words out. Cut to the chase before your recipient tunes out from your smooth talking. Remember, substance should always come before form.  

Gain the Recipient's Trust and Confidence

Gain the Recipient’s Trust and Confidence

People don’t usually open up to those they don’t trust, so you should try to gain your audience’s confidence before asking them to accept your idea. You can gain your recipient’s trust by displaying a level of authenticity and transparency. Be relatable when delivering your pitch by telling stories, using examples, and applying humor in appropriate situations. Speak to your recipient’s emotions, and let your message take deep root with them. Engage in a meaningful conversation by encouraging a dialogue. Surely, you can learn from them as much as they can learn from you. 

Assert Yourself and Speak With Tenacity

Assert Yourself and Speak with Tenacity

When speaking with superiors and senior colleagues, you should talk and act like they do. Treating them like peers will encourage them to do the same to you. Respect their authority and position, but don’t be deferential and submissive. Show them that you’re thinking in the same level as they are. This will give them the impression that you can stand by your idea and defend it when the need arises.

Prepare and Practice Diligently

Prepare and Practice Diligently

No matter how great your idea is, if you don’t practice how to deliver it, your pitch will likely prove unsuccessful. To maximize your chances, have someone to practice your pitch on. This person should have a total lack of knowledge regarding your idea. He or she should also be willing to provide you with honest feedback. You can practice your pitch on more than one person to take more perspectives. Presenting your pitch to a test audience will help you pinpoint the aspects of your presentation that need improvement. If the test audience understands and approves of your idea and the manner by which you present it, you’ll know that you’re starting off on the right foot. 

Find the Right Time to Make Your Pitch

Find the Right Time to Make Your Pitch

Let’s say you’re ready with your pitch. You have a cutting-edge idea and an innovative way of presenting it. The only concern that remains now is, when is the right time to deliver your pitch? There isn’t one answer to this question since every circumstance is different. You’re on your own to assess whether your recipient is ready to participate in your presentation. Perhaps Tannahill Moran’s words can help you. She said, “If the house is on fire, a new idea tossed into the mix may not go over well unless the idea helps the immediate crisis. You want to present an idea when the ability to focus and plan exists.”

The Aftermath: How to Brace Yourself for Responses

The Aftermath: How to Brace Yourself for Responses

Prepare yourself for the many kinds of responses you may receive. There’s a high possibility that your recipient will pepper you with questions to test your thinking. Think two steps ahead and formulate a response to every possible concern. When you’re faced with antagonism, keep an open mind. A dissenting opinion can help you improve on your idea. If, however, your pitch is ignored, follow up until you get an answer—just do so in a non-imposing way. After all, your audience don’t owe you their participation. It’s up to you to get them engaged.

You might only have one shot at presenting your newfangled idea. Make sure you put your best foot forward and deliver a pitch that is worthy of your recipient’s time.

 

Resources:

Baxter, Susan. “Learning Styles: Three Ways to Process Information.” Top Ten Reviews. n.d. www.toptenreviews.com/software/articles/learning-styles-three-ways-to-process-information

Boitnott, John. “How to Pitch Your Brilliant Idea Without Making the People You Need Feel Stupid.” Entrepreneur. October 10, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/238176

Bonilla, Christina. “Want to Be Taken Seriously? Communicate Like a Boss.” Smart Like How. October 13, 2015. www.smartlikehow.com/blog-native/2015/10/12/l0d6fzogavxj6p72p0yucsuzvdpd9w

Cohan, Peter. “5 Ways to Communicate More Clearly.” Inc. December 4, 2012. www.inc.com/peter-cohan/five-ways-to-improve-your-communication-success.html

Edinger, Scott. “If You Want to Communicate Better, Read This.” Forbes. March 20, 2013. www.forbes.com/sites/scottedinger/2013/03/20/if-you-want-to-communicate-better-read-this/#59a3132b2281

Groth, Aimee & Lockhart, Jhaneel. “7 Smart Ways to Come Up with More Ideas at Work.” Business Insider. January 21, 2012. www.businessinsider.com/7-smart-ways-to-come-up-with-more-ideas-at-work-2012-1

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