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10 Gimmicks to Start Your Presentation Strong

Your first few minutes onstage is an opportunity to capture your audience’s attention. If you want your listeners to be all ears when you start talking, prove from the outset that your presentation is worth their time. Your opening remarks will set the tone of your talk, so you should make them as gripping as possible.

Don’t waste your introduction on platitudes and pleasantries. There are better ways to form first impressions and establish a connection with the audience.

1. Kick off with a dramatic pause.

Silence makes people apprehensive. That’s why it’s a powerful tool to start a presentation. Before you deliver your speech, take a moment to pause and amble around the stage while keeping a confident stance. Even the audience members who are busy with their gadgets won’t be able to resist the dramatic pull of the moment you’ve created. A whole minute or two of silence will draw all eyes on you.

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2. Appeal to the audience’s imagination.

Take your audience to a different space and time. Introduce a “what if” scenario that they can delve into and explore. The power of imagination will reel them in and make them a willing audience to your presentation.

For better effects, use props and visual aids such as videos or an informational design Try a gimmick that has never been done before. Take one of Bill Gates’s TED Talks, for example. While introducing his talk about malaria, he released a scourge of mosquitoes from a jar. The mosquitoes were, of course, malaria-free, but Gates didn’t tell the audience that until after a minute or so.

Appeal to the Audience's Imagination

3. Drop a series of rhetorical questions.

If you want your audience to participate in your presentation, ask rhetorical questions that stimulate the mind. They may not engage with you physically, but they’ll be with you mentally, pondering over your questions and framing their own answers.

4. Relay your message through storytelling.

The human brain is hardwired to love stories. If you have an interesting narrative to tell, share it. You’ll establish a stronger connection with your audience if you do so. The vulnerability is a powerful tool if you use it to communicate a message.

5. Turn heads with a contrarian statement.

One of the easiest ways to grab an audience’s attention is by contradicting a universally accepted concept. Whether your listeners agree with you or not, they’ll be at the edge of their seats to hear what you have to say, no matter how unconventional it may be. Just make sure that the statement you make offends nobody.

Turn Heads With a Contrarian Statement

6. Underline a shared pain point.

If there’s a common problem you share with the audience, express it. You can win their sympathy and make yourself relatable by doing so. Your presentation will be more relevant if you can address something that the audience is concerned about.

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For example, everyone can relate to the frustration of creating website passwords. There seems to be no end to the list of requirements needed: the number of characters, the types of characters, the capitalization of letters, the inclusion of numbers, and so on. Discussing a topic like this captures your audience’s interest because you’re shedding light to a common issue they think is unique to them. You’re uniting the audience and bringing them to a common ground where your sentiments and theirs are one.

7. Promise something irresistible.

What do great presentations have in common? They all leave something for the audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s an idea, a tangible object, a lingering feeling, or a solution to a pressing issue. As long as it’s something that the audience finds useful, it can increase the value of your presentation.

8. Use multimedia to catch attention.

Words can make an impact, but videos and graphics often send a clearer message when used properly. If you’re unsure about how multimedia can complement your talk, use a multimedia presentation PowerPoint service that will do all the work for you. That way, your slides will not only look professional but also engaging.

Use Multimedia to Catch Attention9. Break the ice with a joke.

Popular opinion will claim that jokes are a good way to kickstart a presentation, but professional speakers should know better. Strictly speaking, it’s your sense of humor that elicits smiles and chuckles from the audience. It’s the humor, not the joke, that lightens up the atmosphere. So the more you can make the audience crack up and feel at ease without forcing a joke, the better.

10. Add a twist to an old saying.

Quotations are a common way to start a speech, but you can make yours stronger by tweaking it a bit. A cliché will sound fresher if you add your own take to it. For example, you can say, “To err is human, and to forgive is simply an acknowledgement of the error.”

Of course, this will only work in a casual and laid-back presentation. If you’re opting for a more serious delivery, you can use proverbs or references to historical events instead.

Coming up with an exciting presentation grabber is a task that takes time, effort, and talent. If you do it right, it pays off in the end.

Creating an Effective Financial Presentation

At some point in your career, you’ll have to give at least one complex and data-heavy presentation. It’s inevitable for entrepreneurs to venture into the financial side of business and deliver fiscal reports such as those involving business charts that reflect the company’s performance against goals and financial analyses.

But the thing is, financial data can be boring. They may appeal to analytical brains, but what about the rest? In order to hold your audience’s attention, you need to make your financial presentation interesting. Don’t just conduct a data dump. Explain where the figures come from and how they affect your audience. Provide examples as to how those numbers can be relevant in their lives.
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In other words, harness the power of financial storytelling. Present a narrative-driven angle that will give your presentation a new light. Show the numbers but let the story behind them shine through.

Mastering the Art of Financial Storytelling

Financial presentations don’t have to be dull. Here are some tips to successfully deliver an intellectually-stimulating yet engaging presentation.

1. Pattern your presentation after the GPS approach

Organize your facts and figures by planning your presentation. Create a structure so your message will be clear from start to finish. One method you can apply to achieve this is the GPS approach.

First of all, identify who your audience is. What’s the extent of their knowledge and the level of their expertise? Once you know this, you have the starting point. You can then proceed to identifying the goal of the presentation. What would you want the audience to think, feel, understand, or do when you step out of the limelight? What end point are you trying to achieve? This is the destination.

From there, it’s just a matter of choosing the best route. How do you go from Point A to Point B? Outline your main idea first, then follow it up with the supporting ideas. You can create a script to help you with internalizing the flow of the presentation.

Master the Art of Financial Storytelling: GPS

2. Establish credibility from the outset

Since you’ll be presenting critical figures, it’s important to appear trustworthy. Cultivating credibility and cementing a good reputation will make it more likely for your audience to believe in what you’ll say. If necessary, use supporting materials to validate your claims.

3. Outline your goals to build anticipation

If you inform your audience about the goals of your presentation, they’ll be more prepared to process any chunk of data you give them. It helps them to follow along since they already know what to expect and what material you’ll cover. It allows them to focus on the goal and take part in your presentation. 

4. Follow the three-part story structure

When communicating the story behind your data, it’s good to divide your narrative into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the ending.

Start your presentation by describing things as they are. This is key to creating a bond with your audience. If you tell them something that they already know or can agree with, you ignite a small fire of recognition in them. Naturally, that will make them more interested in your talk.

After establishing the facts, you can show them how things could change. Establish a gap between what is and what could be. Make sure your claims hook and intrigue them enough.

Finally, when concluding your financial presentation, don’t forget to include a call to action. Introduce what presentation expert Nancy Duarte calls the “new bliss,” a state where your audience’s world can be a lot better if they adopt your ideas and follow your suggestions.

Follow the Three-Part Story Structure: Employ visuals instead of spreadsheets

5. Employ visuals instead of spreadsheets

Don’t limit yourself to Excel. Embrace the perks of technology so you can create a financial presentation that drives home with your audience. Present numbers, graphs, and tables using PowerPoint.

However, if you really want to take your presentation to the next level, you can ask a presentation design specialist to do the job for you. Let an expert turn your numeric data into graphics and visual images that are equally credible-looking and interesting. Your audience will be able to better make sense of your presentation this way.

6. Use simple and effective design elements

To make your slides more visually appealing without going over the top, use a sans serif font instead of a fancy one. Also, choose a template that isn’t too loud. Observe a good balance of colors to avoid design clutter. If you can, use a color contrast calculator to make sure that the colors in your presentation match. 

7. Reiterate your claims repeatedly

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, you need to be exposed to a piece of information three to five times for you to absorb it and act on it. Also, you need to hear it from different sources for your brain to validate the information. Repeat your message throughout the presentation, but say it in different ways.

Keep Calm and Speak Like a Pro

With the proper tools and the right techniques, you can be more confident in delivering a good financial presentation. All you need is some storytelling and a few basic design skills. If you prepare well, you can get your message across without losing your audience in the process.

 

Resources:

Duarte, Nancy. “Structure Your Presentation Like a Story.” Harvard Business Review. October 31, 2012. hbr.org/2012/10/structure-your-presentation-li

Jeavons, Sheri. “Financial Presentations That Won’t Put Your Audience to Sleep.” Sales Gravy. n.d. www.salesgravy.com/sales-articles/presentation-skills/financial-presentations-that-wont-put-your-audience-to-sleep.html

Mogilner, Geoffrey. “Perfecting the Art of Financial Storytelling.” Edelman. February 2, 2015. www.edelman.com/post/perfecting-art-financial-storytelling

Piontek, Katelyn. “7 Ways to Make a Financial Presentation Interesting.” Turbine HQ. September 9, 2014. turbinehq.com/2014/make-a-financial-presentation-interesting

Riggins, Nash. “15 Ways to Create Effective PowerPoint Presentations.” Small Business Trends. July 5, 2016. smallbiztrends.com/2016/07/effective-powerpoint-presentations.html

Sullivan, Sarah. “Financial Presentations That Really Stand Out.” Talisman. October 10, 2016. www.talismansolutions.co.uk/blog/stand-out-financial-presentations

Theriault, Michel. “9 Tips for More Powerful Business Presentations.” Forbes. November 4, 2013. www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2013/11/04/9-tips-for-more-powerful-business-presentations/#55621b7043a0

“Creating Effective Financial PowerPoint Presentations.” 24Point0. January 16, 2014. www.24point0.com/financial-statement-presentation

“Don’t Start by Copying Previous Slides.” Think Outside the Slide. June 24, 2014. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/issue-314-june-24-2014

“Edelman Trust Barometer.” Edelman. 2009. www.edelman.com/assets/uploads/2014/01/2009-Trust-Barometer-Executive-Summary.pdf

“Five Tips to Make PowerPoint Business Presentations More Effective.” Think Outside the Slide. n.d. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/five-tips-to-make-powerpoint-business-presentations-more-effective

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Attracting More Visitors for Business

New customers can come from two sources; you as a brand or satisfied consumers.

Do you think you have full control over your business? Unbelievably, customers also have a great influence over your business. Remember that a great brand has a good reputation. What makes a product or service attractive is the high standard of customer service equal to its superb quality.

If there are ways to improve customer experience, how do you do it? Here are four of them.

Focus on Reputation Management

Focusing on Reputation Management

According to HelpScout, news of bad customer service reach twice the number of people compared to the good news. In addition, it would take 12 positive experiences to resolve a negative experience. Indeed, prevention is better than cure. In business, it’s cheaper and more convenient to troubleshoot now than to pay the consequences later.

More than half of the general public perform research on a business before they make transactions. And many would refuse to engage with a company because of negative news. Buying is largely based on customer experience, and attaining positive feedback from past customers means good business.

Always seek to improve your company’s customer service. Make sure that when a visitor comes in your store, he or she comes out happy. When a customer raises an issue about your brand, don’t wait for a week to resolve it. Have someone focus on managing such issues and make sure he gets the job done.

Lastly, boost those that support your brand. Go the extra mile on the “PR,” because you may need it someday. You’ll never know when you’ll need the extra ammo.

Good Customer Service

Being Known for Good Customer Service

If in most western countries, “The customer is king,” then in Japan it’s “okyakusama wa kamisama desu,” a Japanese proverb that says “The customer is god.” Omotenashi, or the so-called “art of selfless hospitality” is one of the major cornerstones in Japan’s culture of excellence. It is practiced in ancient households and in modern Japanese establishments.

70 percent of buying decisions are based on customer experience. And being popular for treating customers well, just like in Japan, is a sure way to attract customers. The way you manage your business does not only affect customer loyalty but store visits as well.

Observe good hospitality offline and online. Just like the Japanese, anticipate the needs of your customers, be polite and most of all, be patient.

User-Generated Content

Connecting with Customers Through User-Generated Content

Instagram and YouTube are some of the online platforms that provide a huge impact on millennials. Bloggers and vloggers from these platforms may not be marketing professionals, but they have become reliable sources of millennial customers. More than half of Instagram’s 300 million users are millennials and over 60% of all age groups prefer a brand recommended by a YouTuber than a marketer in TV.

Since millennials trust User-Generated Content (UGC) 50% more than any type of media, it could be proven that UGCs are effective marketing strategies.

Social proof is one of the most influential motivator for new buyers. When doubting an item online, a customer typically looks for product reviews. There, he sees a balance of positive and negative feedback. When a user gives a negative review about a purchase, it is assumed that other customers can avoid the same situation. Product reviews have a genuine tone to it that millennial customers seem to trust. Those who write them have that voice, making millennials more eager about purchasing a product.

Employ UGC in your business. Invite customers to review and respond to them. And if you are bold enough about your brand, hire bloggers and vloggers who have a large audience to review your products.

Leverage Social Media Marketing

Leveraging Social Media Marketing

If you are or have a brand, you want to be in the thick of customer conversations whenever they discuss needs and wants. Through hashtags or search-related tools, social media lets you engage with customers who are talking about your brand. Through them, you find more about your prospects as well.

If you want your business to grow, knowing what customers think about your brand—with or without their feedback—is fundamental. Social media connects you with customers and helps you track your relevancy. More people are active in social media today, and almost half of customers who reach out to brands online expect a response within an hour. Social media helps you practice customer service more conveniently.

Social media apps are fast and convenient ways to connect to customers. Practice efficiency and use those advantages to improve your business. With reputation management via social media, you address negative comments and experiences, as well as provide muscle on customers who share and relay positive posts about your brand.

Conclusion

Customers have powerful voices.  Whether you like it or not, their opinions will always matter. What they say can improve the growth of your business.

For the most part, you are responsible for what buyers say about your brand. How you manage your business and take care of your customers should be your priority because that will determine the fate of your business for a long time.

 

Resources:

Donnelly, Kevin. “Marketing to Millennials: 5 Massive Trends that are Leading the Way.” Shopify. February 10, 2016. www.shopify.com/blog/75614533-marketing-to-millennials-5-massive-trends-that-are-leading-the-way

Spivock, Jeffrey. “Omotenashi: The Secret of Japanese Service.” Bookmark. September 29th, 2015. www.spafaxcontentmarketing.com/2015/09/29/omotenashi-secret-japanese-service

Starak, Yaro. “What Is Social Proof and Why Your Business Can Live or Die by It.” Entrepreneurs-Journey. www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/10964/socialproof

“Acumen Report: Constant Content.” Defy Media. www.sandbox.break.com/acumen/Acumen%20Constant%20Content__ExecSum%20Booklet_Final2.pdf

“Millennials.” Goldman Sachs. www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials

“Social Influence: Marketing’s New Frontier.” Crowdtap. http://corp.crowdtap.com/socialinfluence

“The Customer Is God.” EU Business in Japan. www.eubusinessinjapan.eu/culture/customer-god

“The Harris Poll Releases Annual Reputation Rankings for the 100 Most Visible Companies in the U.S.” The Harris Poll. Feb 18, 2016. www.theharrispoll.com/business/Reputation-Rankings-Most-Visible-Companies.html

“10 Key Benefits of Social Media for Business.” Business2Community. www.business2community.com/social-media/10-key-benefits-social-media-business-01461178#CKOKymZJSpxmmzVu.97

“75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics.” HelpScout. www.helpscout.net/75-customer-service-facts-quotes-statistics

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This is How Visual Marketing Grows Your Business

No one can question the power of the internet. Since its introduction more than half a century ago, it has helped us accomplish greater things. Take global communication, for example. Social media has made it possible for anyone to communicate with another person anywhere in the world. It’s a phenomenon that took the world by surprise upon its release.

When the initial wave of excitement over social media dialed down, image-based social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram followed suit. They redefined the customer experience and set a new trend in marketing.

Today, image-based content—or what is known in business as visual marketing—is becoming more of a permanent fix rather than a passing movement. Visual marketing is here to stay. Retailor your campaign to include visual content that’s relevant to your target audience.

Visual Marketing: toy store

The Goldmine that is Visual Marketing

Online marketing is behind the decline of print advertising. Although it will take decades to obliterate textual content, we can now see how online ads are dominating the marketing world. Even in the virtual platform, text doesn’t reign supreme anymore. Visuals are taking a huge share in the market. In fact, professionals estimate that 84% of communications will be visual come 2018.

What exactly is visual marketing and why is it so powerful? Visual marketing is the radical use of design elements to connect with a target audience in a unique and creative way. It includes images, GIFs, slides, infographics, videos, checklists, and other graphics.

Visual content can strengthen your brand image and make your campaign more successful. To use the words of Anita Campbell, CEO and founder of Small Business Trends, “Harnessing the power of images and visuals will make your marketing more powerful and more memorable. Images, when done deftly, can turn concepts and intangible things into something concrete. That helps people envision your brand and your message in their mind’s eye—and remember you when it comes time to buy.”

Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read content by 80%. In the same way, contents with relevant images get 94% more views than those without graphics. It’s clear how visual marketing is changing the business landscape. 

Visual Marketing: Key elements

Key Elements that Drive Visual Marketing Success

Powerful though it is, visual marketing won’t sell itself. You need to learn how to use it to its full potential.

  • Brand Story and Personality

Showcase your brand story through visual marketing. Good visuals coupled with good narratives forge lasting bonds with customers.

  • Creativity and Resourcefulness

Differentiate your brand by doing something unique. Use your creative juice every time you communicate with your audience. Innovation is a good way to weed out competition and let your voice stand out.

  • Depth and Impact

Unless your content makes the audience stop and look, it will be lost in the background. Make sure that your social media posts have depth so that you can develop a compelling case that hooks the audience.

  • Humor and Entertainment

Humor is always a competitive edge. Use it in an impeccable way to enthrall your target audience and make them love your brand more.

  • Relevance and Application

As a marketer, you should know your audience well. It’s your mission to understand what the customers find valuable. Use all the information you have to make your campaign more targeted and personalized.

  • Call to Action

Lacing your visual content with a call to action will increase your chance of getting a better return on investment. Encourage your audience to engage with your brand across all social media platforms. 

Visual Marketing: Teaching

The Goal of Every Marketing Campaign

Brand awareness is just one of the many purposes of visual marketing. Thought leadership is another. Marketing in general is crucial to business, so you must leverage it as much as you can. Below are the five E’s of marketing according to Create, Connect, Convince.

Educate. Convey information about your brand. Your visual content must be as informational as your textual content.

Engage. Encourage your target audience to take part in growing your business. They are the most important resource you can use.

Enhance. Marketing is about promoting your brand, so don’t be afraid to blow your own horn and proclaim the benefits of your business. Just remember to do it in a non-intrusive way.

Entertain. When you’re posting through Facebook and other social media sites, you’re communicating with real people. Add emotion and humor in your content to entertain the audience.

Entice. You want potential customers to talk about your business. You want existing customers to buy your products. You can only do all this if you create a brand that is interesting enough to attract attention.

Visual is, without a doubt, the future of marketing. It will only be a matter of time before every content online is dominated by graphics and visual designs. Don’t wait until everyone else has taken all the spoils. Take your own share now and watch your business grow exponentially.

 

Resources:

Bradley, Sarah. “Visual Marketing: What’s Out There and How It Benefits Business Owners.” Search Engine Journal. April 11, 2014. www.searchenginejournal.com

Ditteaux, Matt. “Visual Marketing Tips for Your Business.” SB Marketing Tools. n.d. www.sbmarketingtools.com

Kaushal, Navneet. “How to Leverage Visual Marketing to Grow Your Blog Traffic.” Business 2 Community. November 16, 2016. www.business2community.com

Kim, Larry. “16-Eye-Popping Statistics You Need to Know About Visual Content Marketing.” Inc. November 23, 2015. www.inc.com

Mawhinney, Jesse. “37 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2016.” Hubspot. January 23, 2016. blog.hubspot.com

Moltz, Barry. “5 Ways to Use Visual Marketing Online to Boost Your Business.” American Express. October 26, 2011. www.americanexpress.com

Moritz, Donna. “The Shift to Visual Social Media.” Socially Sorted. n.d. sociallysorted.com.au

Schawbel, Dan. “Leverage Visual Marketing to Grow Your Business.” Forbes. n.d. www.forbes.com

Vats, Shashvat. “How to Use Visual Marketing to Grow Your Business.” Viral Woot. July 1, 2016. viralwoot.com

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2017 Checklist: What Your Business Needs to Do to Start the Year Wisely

It’s already the third day of 2017. My, how time flies, doesn’t it? With the new year, though, how much have you done? Or, perhaps, a better question would be, “How far are you willing to go this year?”

Past the fireworks and new year’s feast lies an unknown. The uncertainty of the future. But then again, it’s a brand-new start… isn’t it? Blank slate, anyone?

New beginnings can be looked at in a myriad of ways: positively, negatively, pragmatically, stoically, and so on. If you’re one who holds new years in a high note, then you’re sure to hope for the best in 2017—like the past years as they started. Others can be unconcerned, at worst be apathetic, and just go on with their daily grind. Not saying this is wrong, mind you.

No matter how you look at it, the new year is about to give another set of challenges—other chances to grow, opportunities to take, and lessons to learn. But before that, you have to be prepared for them. Check out the infographic below to know how you and your business can have a fresh start to be wiser.

Business Checklist for 2017

If you hold on to the thought that how you start your year will affect the rest it, then stop. It doesn’t work that way. Just stop. You may start the year in a good mood, but someone or something may ruin parts of it. Or the other way around: 2017 may start in a bad way, but someone or something will turn all of it around. When you begin your day, does it always stay good or bad?

And there’s the lesson there: don’t just wait for your year, or day, to be magically fixed. It’s your effort that will get you through the day or through the year.

You decide your own future. A more familiar version of that is, “Life is what you make it.” This presentation design agency made it because of hard work. You can too. “Decide my own future.” How’s that for a New Year’s resolution?

 

Resources:

Evans, Lisa. “4 Ways to Get into a Positive Mindset for the New Year.” Entrepreneur. December 18, 2013. www.entrepreneur.com/article/230427

Ratliff, Joseph. “The Myth of The New Year’s ‘Blank Slate.’” Medium. December 31, 2013. www.medium.com/challenging-the-status-quo/the-myth-of-the-new-years-blank-slate-11b342611a36#.e7dl0fmf6

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Season of Giving: Making Your Audience Happier with Gifts

Ah, the Yuletide season. Nothing like the cold winter nights, all snuggled up in a blanket and drinking hot chocolate or eggnog—or any hot drink at all. Perhaps alone, if you so choose, or with loved ones. A cozy thought, especially for those looking to make the most out of this time of the year.

And by “make the most out of this time of the year,” let’s define it as “going out and spreading the message of the holidays.” Or, you know, “the season of giving.” This group of PowerPoint presentation professionals would like to think that, aside from the above statement, we consider that every day should be like Christmas—and in turn, every presentation should be just as giving as the last, if not more.

But what are you actually giving to your audience? Do you have to be a secret Santa to do that? Let’s take a step back and have a look from the observer’s perspective with this gifographic.

Making Your Audience Happier with Gifts

There’s no season like Christmas. For many, it’s a time of cheer and splendor, while for some, it’s a time of charity and selflessness.

For each and every one, it’s about merrymaking. Parties with officemates, friends, family, and relatives all make the holidays worthwhile. Get-togethers from distant beloveds and reunions with people you seldom see but often miss. Getting into the spirit of the season with decorations, fetes, and gift-giving truly make it a joyous part of the ending year.

And there’s no feeling better in the world than the merriment spent with those close to you.

It’s not as if your audience shouldn’t be treated as such. They’re an integral part of your task—as small as a group of company executives or as big as a jam-packed auditorium as it may be. Your audience is one of the reasons you’re onstage; they’re there to cheer you and to make sure you’re not doing this in vain.

Don’t take for granted that kind of support. You and your audience are playing your parts. Make the best out of it.

 

Resources:

Dorfman, Jeffrey. “Twenty Quotes And Verses On Giving For Christmas.” Forbes. December 25, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2014/12/25/20-quotes-and-verses-on-giving-for-christmas/#54867dde1e17

Mack, Lloyd. “Christmas is the season for giving.” Kenora Daily Miner & News. December 1, 2016. www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2016/12/01/christmas-is-the-season-for-giving

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Your Business Checklist: What Should I Be Prioritizing?

Before you started your business, one of the advices you have most likely heard is, “Know your priorities.” Even when growing up, adults would tell you the same thing. Wow, were they right.

Knowing what your priorities are and setting them straight are more or less expected of you. Moreover, on a personal level, this is a testament of your excellence and character.

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In many ways, the same standards are applied to a business. You as the founder should know which tenet of your business to grow or improve upon. If you can get opinions and suggestions from other experts, then all the better because you could make an informed decision.

These priorities become your responsibilities—goals toward a greater end. So you should make them work for you, and in turn, you should work hard for them.

Have you identified what you need to work upon and what you need to do first? If you haven’t, this infographic has suggestions on what to prioritize. Check it out below.

 

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What most thriving entrepreneurs forget, or worse ignore, is the caveat. Don’t bite off more than you could chew. There’s nothing more frustrating and time-consuming than having multiple priorities at once, having different sections of your company working towards different goals without utilizing each unit’s strengths and skill. Everything may fall apart piece by piece—or worse, all at the same time.

Exercise patience when it comes to multitasking. Slow and steady win the race. Don’t put yourself in a position of, at the worst, bankruptcy because of too much work.

There are balances when you started your business; more so now that you’re sailing at the helm of your enterprise, keeping your ship afloat. If you don’t want it to sink, be smart. Be cunning. Be confident.

For more infographics on presentation, design, marketing, and business, head on to our SlideShare account. See you there!

Branding Lessons from Volkswagen’s Emission Test Fiasco

Your brand is your key to building and maintaining your customer base. Keeping your brand’s promises consistently keeps people loyal to your brand. A single mistake can instantly break that trust, which may cost years to get back.

This is why the recent allegation of Volkswagen using software for cheating diesel engine emissions test results is such a big deal.

What happened during the 2015 Volkswagen scandal?

Why the Volkswagen Scandal was Such a Big Deal
Why the Volkswagen scandal was such a big deal.

According to reports, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the automaker had installed a program to adjust engine performance when the cars were subjected to carbon emission tests. This led people to believe that Volkswagen’s diesel engines were compliant with environmental standards, meaning they were supposedly cleaner.

As if this wasn’t enough, reports also say similar models shipped to European and Asian countries could also be affected by this software as well. The total number of affected vehicles could reach at least 11 million.

CEO Martin Winterkorn has already apologized for his company’s apparent violation of environmental safety standards, and is set to step down. While we have yet to hear news about a product recall, it’s safe to say that the public’s trust in Volkswagen has dropped significantly. Even then, there are also lessons we can learn about safeguarding your brand during trying times:

1. Do a Product Recall

Volkswagen should do a product recall 2015
Don’t let defective products stay in the market, or your brand’s reputation could tank further.

If anyone finds something wrong with your product, do a recall as soon as you can. Auto manufacturers like GM and Honda have also done recalls over defective parts when problems have been reported. This shows that you’re not willing to risk the public over the mistakes you made. You also give the impression that you act swiftly to correct your mistakes.

2. Issue an Apology

Volkswagen issued a public apology about the 2015 emission tests
Own up to your company’s mistakes. Never run away from them.

Owning up to your mistake is a crucial part of the brand recovery process. If you don’t share your side of the issue, the media will just keep reporting complaints from people and accidents caused by defective products This can be seen in the public apology done by Winterkorn. While it’s true that the public is still angry with Volkswagen, at least they humbly admitted their mistake and didn’t point fingers.

3. Keep the Public Posted

Volkswagen should keep the public informed about the 2015 issue
Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, keep taking steps to solve the problem, while keeping the public informed at the same time.

Maintaining a presence and updating your customers is another crucial lesson here. It goes without saying that you need to improve your product and fix what was broken. But as you do this, always remember to keep the public informed about the steps you’re taking.

As of this writing, Volkswagen has yet to take action over the affected cars. Expect that a costly recall will come up, though. While billions of dollars and euros might be spent to fix this problem, the people will be watching the company’s every move. It’s best for them to avoid taking wrong turns at this juncture.

The Bottomline

Volkswagen has a lot to learn from its emission test scandal
Volkswagen has a lot to learn from its public scandal, but the company can still recover with a lot of hard work.

The hardest part about your brand is that you will, at some point, have to own up to your mistakes. When this happens, it’s important to be quick in recalling any affected products. Don’t forget to share your side of the story and what you plan to do about the situation. This will help minimize the damage done by bad publicity and show that you‘re doing something to address the problem.

As for the Volkswagen fiasco, the company’s going to need a lot more than an apology to get their brand back on the right track.

References

DeBord, Matthew. “VW’s Cheating on Emissions Tests Goes to the Heart of Its US Business.” Business Insider. September 21, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015. www.businessinsider.com
Thomas, Chad. “VW Chief Winterkorn Steps Down After Emissions Scandal.” Bloomberg.com. September 23, 2015. Accessed September 24, 2015. www.bloomberg.com
Thompson, Mark, and Ivana Kottasova. “Volkswagen Scandal Widens: $7.3 Billion Cost, 11 Million Cars.” CNNMoney. September 22, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015. www.money.cnn.com

Does Your New Business Idea Have Potential?

So, you finally have the next billion dollar business idea.

You might think that this sets you off for greater things, but the real challenge is only about to start. There are plans to make and perfect as well as investors to impress.

You have a long road ahead of you.

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Before anything else, you need to make sure that your business idea has potential. After that, it will be much easier to convince others to consider your plans and take you up on your offer. As the old saying goes, “ideas are a dime a dozen.” It doesn’t really matter that you have this unique new idea that no one else has come up with before. The test is in how well you execute the tasks ahead of you.

For that, you need to develop the idea you have. What makes some ideas succeed, and others fail?

Diffusion of Innovations

In 1962, a sociologist named Everett Rodgers sought to answer these questions. He conducted a research project to learn more about how and why certain ideas spread. He gathered data from hundreds of case studies and published his findings in “Diffusion of Innovations“.

In his book, Rodgers was able to explore the different factors that influence how we decide which ideas are worthy of acceptance or rejection. These factors were examined by professor and author David Burkus in the context of business.

Now we’ll give our own take on the topic and see how you can gauge the potential of your own pitch deck.

Relative advantage

Relative advantage deals with how well your business idea and pitch deck compares to what is currently available on the market. The product or service you’re planning to launch should be seen by others as an improvement on the current standards of your industry.

This often happens when you’re presenting your product or service’s advantage in your pitch. Highlight how you stand out from the competition by stepping away from your slides and presenting a live demo. The concrete and visual evidence will convince your prospects of your skills.

Give them the statistics on how well you’ve performed in the past, or how in depth you’ve done your research, but before you reveal your own features, always start with the unique benefits only you can offer.

By tapping into this characteristic, you’ll be able to win people over with tangible proof, as well as a good track record over the competition.

Familiarity

Of course, your business idea will need more than an innovative edge to succeed. People also gravitate towards ideas that are familiar and relatable. If they can use past ideas and experiences to understand what you’re proposing, they will be more likely to accept and adopt to it.

Most of us prefer to try out things that have some semblance to what we’re already familiar with. Always keep in mind that even as you push boundaries, you also have to create an emotional connection with the target audience.

Check out the current trends that resonate with people’s preferences and incorporate these into your pitch. Share a personal story or experience that’s directly related to what you’re going to talk about.

The sense of familiarity before introducing the big reveal to your audience eases them in before surprising them out of nowhere.

Simple and easy to understand

Another factor to consider is the complexity of your business idea. It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand for others to adapt to it quickly. In other words, it shouldn’t be complex at all. It should be simple and straight to the point and this is where a pitch deck specialist can help.

The people you’re hoping to convince should be able to understand the logic behind it.The technical details might be complex, but it should still remain fundamentally easy to understand. An idea that’s too difficult to grasp can end up intimidating your potential audience.

You might have too much raw data at hand, but not all of it should go into your slides. Take only the most important data, and present it in a visually appealing manner. For this purpose, graphs, charts, and other visual representations can come in handy.

The details that you leave out can be further expounded on in your speech itself.

Able to test and verify

Related to the previous point, the next thing to consider is how effortlessly others can interact with and test out your new business idea. The more accessible your concept is for verification, the more individuals can familiarize themselves with it.

Once that happens, the likelihood of their accepting it grows. A quick example of this is how musicians allow audiences to stream their music for free on sites like Spotify or SoundCloud. Through these sites, their audience can see if they like their new material and then commit to buying the full-length album.

Get plenty of positive testimonials for your brand to put on your slides. It’s especially helpful if you can get the help of famous influencers, or better yet, brand advocates who are genuinely interested in your business, and who would be willing to advertise you to their followers.

Put your name out in the market with the help of other people, and build your network before, during, and after your presentation.

Can be observed and shared 

Finally, it will also help that your business idea can yield noticeable results that others can share and talk about. Rodgers calls this quality “observability.”

If your idea is open to observation, the easier it is to find and reach out to a wider audience. In other words, the more visible your new product becomes introduced to a mass audience.

In the article by David Burkus, he gives Banksy as an example. He wrote, “One of the reasons for Banksy’s success is the observability of his work. Many artists challenge social conventions in unique, seemingly playful ways, but Banksy’s work is highly public and easily shareable. It isn’t just stuck behind the glass in a single gallery or museum.

Don’t fail your prospects with empty promises. Part of your presentation is the assurance of quality. Show them that your ideas will have large returns from their investments. During your pitch, give instances when your product or service delivered well.

Does your new business idea have the potential to succeed? It definitely will if you improve on the finer points by using these criteria. Polish your message using these pointers and get started on creating a pitch deck that will wow investors.

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References:

Burkus, David. “The 5 Common Characteristics of Ideas That Spread.” 99u. 2013. Accessed January 30, 2015.
The Art of Graphs and Charts.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 21, 2014. Accessed January 30, 2015.
Why Storytelling Is an Effective Presentation Technique.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 8, 2014. Accessed January 30, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Joey Gannon via Flickr

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