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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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Using Humor During a Pitch

“Laughter is the best medicine.” It’s one of the many mantras funny people live by. That and “Laugh with people, not at them” are some of the better ways of looking at the best side of humor. While it unfortunately may not be for everyone (there are some very serious people out there), the sound of laughter is still pleasant to hear.

That simple, lighthearted reason is why it’s a good idea to incorporate humor and make people laugh during your presentation. You’re fostering a more welcoming atmosphere and making sure any tension is laughed away. In addition, you’re giving your audience members a good time by ensuring they don’t get bored while you talk.

It doesn’t mean that you must be a comedian—although there are a few pointers from their trade you could take lessons from. Humor can be strategically inserted into your speech or be present in your slides, like a funny image or a reference to pop culture. There are just a few reminders you must be mindful of.

Pitch Consideration #1: Relevance

Relevance

Recall what public speaking greats do before they get to their main point. A common technique is sharing a story, personal or otherwise. Another is telling a quote they hold close to their hearts. There are others, too, who crack jokes. A shared trait of all three methods is that they serve as an introduction and give the audience an idea and/or a stance on the subject of your speech.

Determine the topic of your quip and make sure that it is relevant to what you’re going to talk about. You don’t want an off-hand punchline that steers away your audience’s focus or doesn’t add anything to your point. It’s just like picking a quote or a story to start your speech with: you always connect it to your topic. The same treatment should be accorded to your jokes as well.

Pitch Consideration #2: Timing

Timing

Jokes have two parts: the setup and the punchline. Veteran comedians have mastered the technique of making their audiences wait for a few moments after building up the former and before saying the latter. The dramatic pause in between evokes a heightened sense of suspense and highlights the punchline. In much the same concept, use that similar sense of timing when you belt out your jests.

Showering your speech with too many jokes dilutes your message with unnecessary asides, making it difficult for your audience to sort through the extra information and get to the meat of your message. Time your jokes with breaks in your piece, like when transitioning to your next point or when you know that you just gave your audience an information overload. Take a breather with a few laughs—just like in life.

Pitch Consideration #3: Sensitivity

Sensitivity

As much as humor is not for everybody (as healthy as that may be), there are also types of jokes that don’t sit well with everybody. For instance, a recent study correlates dark humor appreciation with high IQ, but a speech is not the proper platform, time, or place since the former doesn’t sit well with everyone. In short, choose which kinds of jokes to dish out.

A good type is where you can poke fun at yourself lightly. Don’t be afraid to make yourself the butt of your own jokes. If anything, it shows the level of confidence you have for and about yourself. Don’t let another person be a victim of your own humor; it might be interpreted as a sign of insecurity because you need to put someone down for you to come out on top. It helps that you don’t attack or isolate anyone or put someone in an embarrassing spot, especially if said individual is well-known and/or influential. The safest victim of your jokes is yourself.

Humor is a trait not many people are blessed with but is almost vital in socialization, so studying about being funny and making the conscious effort—although not trying too hard—can be seen as a good thing. When your intent is to use jokes as a tool for a light mood, then you’re grasping the concept of humor nicely; employing it on something as serious as a pitch is always a welcome thought. Make your audience livelier with hilarity and enjoyment since, after all, laughter is the best medicine.

 

Resources:

Anderson, Gail Zack. “How to Use Humor in Your Next Presentation.” Business Communications. September 26, 2011. www.managementhelp.org/blogs/communications/2011/09/26/how-to-use-humor-in-your-next-presentation

Asher, Joey. “How to Inject Humor in Your Presentations.” Speechworks. n.d. www.speechworks.net/how-to-inject-humor-in-your-presentations

Barancik, Steve. “How to Use Humor Effectively in Speeches.” Write-Out-Loud.com. n.d. www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html

Brounstein, Marty and Malcolm Kushner. “How to Use Humor in You Presentation.” Dummies. n.d. www.dummies.com/careers/business-communication/public-speaking/how-to-use-humor-in-your-presentation

Doward, Jamie. “Black Humour Is Sign of High Intelligence, Study Suggests.” The Guardian. January 29, 2017. www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/29/dark-humour-high-intelligence-study

Marshall, Lisa B. “How to Make People Laugh During Presentations.” Quick and Dirty Tips. January 1, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-to-make-people-laugh-during-presentations

Pain, Elisabeth. “Slipping Humor into Scientific Presentations.” Science Magazine. April 1, 2011. www.sciencemag.org/careers/2011/04/slipping-humor-scientific-presentations

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How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation

A speaker standing still throughout a presentation is dull to watch. The audience may not relate with your message if you don’t show enough interest in delivering it. In the same way, if you move excessively onstage, you may risk distracting your viewers from the content of your presentation. Exaggerated and unnecessary movements only make you look like you’re trying too hard. You should know how to carry yourself under the limelight. Smoothly transition from one point to another using fluid movements.

The Power of Body Language

Dynamic speakers maximize their stage presence by moving around and owning the stage. They also use appropriate body movements that help accentuate their point. Moving purposely and naturally will give you an opportunity to foster a bond with your audience. Being dynamic onstage will endear you to your audience and help you win their attention and favor.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Captivate Interest

Captivate Interest

A compelling speech and a well-designed PowerPoint deck will only win you half the battle. Ultimately, the success of your presentation lies on how well you deliver it. What’s a good content if it can’t be understood by the audience? When stressing an idea, match your words with the proper gesture and non-verbal cue. Use appropriate body language so as to stress your message. Remember, content, design, and delivery work hand in hand. You need to put equal emphasis on all three for your presentation to be successful.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Stimulate Emotions

Stimulate Emotions

Certain body movements are so engaging that you can use them to invite your listeners to join in the conversation. You can make your presentation feel like a dialogue rather than a monologue by simply putting a variation in your movements. The more you make your audience feel included, the more you can build rapport with them. Once you have that connection, your audience will be more likely to remember your message and share it to others. 

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Highlight Transitions

Highlight Transitions

When you’re relating a narrative that involves occurrences from the past and present and some hopes or predictions for the future, you can move around the stage to establish the transitions between them. For instance, you can start ambling to one side of the platform to communicate that you’re talking about the past. Then, you can walk to the other side to show a change of perspective. Your audience will get a hint that you’re now talking about the present. Finally, when you return to the center, your audience will know that you’re moving on to future events. Needless to say, you need to make these transitions look and feel natural. Draw a pattern in your movements, but make sure the audience won’t detect it. 

Move with Meaning

Now that you know how important body language is when delivering a presentation, you’re probably wondering how you can use it to your advantage. There’s only one sure way to master this skill: REHEARSE. As ironic as it sounds, rehearsing your movements onstage will help you carry and deliver them with grace. Practice until your non-verbal expressions look seamless and natural. Moving with purpose and meaning will make you look confident onstage. But more important than this, it can make your audience feel more engaged and included. Make sure not to forego an impactful body language.

 

Resources:

Galarza, Erin. “Public Speaking: Developing Stage Presence.” Percolate. February 25, 2015. blog.percolate.com/2015/02/public-speaking-developing-stage-presence

Gallo, Carmine. “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.” Presensatie. 2010. www.presensatie.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Presentation-Secrets-Of-Steve-Jobs.pdf

Genard, Gary. “The 5 Key Body Language Techniques of Public Speaking.” Genard Method. May 31, 2015. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/144247/The-5-Key-Body-Language-Techniques-of-Public-Speaking

Young, Graham. “To Move or Not to Move When Presenting.” Young Markets. October 10, 2012. youngmarkets.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/to-move-or-not-to-move-when-presenting

“Gestures: Your Body Speaks.” Toastmasters International. June 2011. web.mst.edu/~toast/docs/Gestures.pdf

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Marketing Through LinkedIn: Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

Marketing Tip #1: Post High-Quality Content

Post High-Quality Content

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

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

Connect with Personalized Invites

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

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

Marketing Tip #3: Take Advantage of Customized URLs

Take Advantage of Customized URLs

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

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

Be Human

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

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

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

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

 

Resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pointers for Planning a Successful Webinar

Preparation is a critical step in any type of campaign, including hosting webinars. To produce a successful one, you need to lay out all the steps leading to the actual event. It might be tempting to jump straight to the promotion stage, especially if you have a winning topic and a celebrated speaker, but no excuse can justify skipping the planning part. Without a solid plan in place, you may run the risk of delivering a lackluster presentation that will only prove to be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Planning a webinar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s necessary if you want a worthwhile output. Part of the process is creating a checklist that will solidify your strategy. You don’t have to worry about the technicality of it all. With the abundance of tools you have at your disposal, you can plan an online seminar even with limited technological expertise. And besides, every bit of effort you make will be worth the rewards you’ll reap in the end.

Can a Webinar Help Reach Your Business Goals?

You’d think the answer to that question is an unwavering yes, but it actually depends on the goals you aim to achieve. While it’s true that webinars are an effective marketing tool, they only work in certain contexts. So, before planning one, make sure it will leave a positive impact on your business.

What exactly are webinars for? For one, they’re a good training and outreach tool. You can use them to share your expertise to your target audience. Webinars are also effective for getting the word out to your customers when rolling out a new product. When done right, it can help you move customers further down the sales funnel and reposition yourself as an industry thought leader.

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Resources:

Berdeal-Skelly, Michelle. “6 Tips to Planning a Successful Webinar.” Find and Convert. October 14, 2014. www.findandconvert.com/2014/10/6-tips-to-planning-a-successful-webinar

Gilbert-Knight, Ariel. “10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar.” TechSoup. September 2, 2016. www.techsoup.org/support/articles-and-how-tos/10-steps-for-planning-a-successful-webinar

Sibley, Amanda. “10 Things That Take a Webinar From Good to Great.” HubSpot. January 3, 2014. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/webinar-planning-list#sm.0000w6nx4vstbcwkqnc12umt2kzcx

“15 Tips for a Successful Webinar.” MegaMeeting. n.d. www.megameeting.com/15_Successful_Webinar_Tips_Part1.html

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Why Listening Is the Most Important Communication Skill

When was the last time you had a decent conversation? While some say that communication is “talking to” people, others would argue that a simple change of preposition can mean a world of difference between one-sided ranting and healthy dialogue. Try “talking with.”

Hearing and listening, as is often said, are not the same. A common difference in definition is that the former means your ear takes in the information. Scientifically put, it’s the physical phenomenon of vibrations in the air reaching your eardrums; thus, you hear many things, like the whistle of the breeze, the roaring of engines, or footsteps and claps. Meanwhile, the latter is more than just hearing; you also heed and keep in mind what the other is saying, taking in the details and assessing and analyzing their thoughts. When you get the facts straight, you can answer with and/or add your own insights—and eventually, an exchange of ideas. This, then, is discourse, a conversation.

No matter the setting, be it a business meeting, negotiation, personal relationship, etc., listening precipitates proper understanding. While the act may seem simple, don’t underestimate the power of distractions. It could be the sound of a TV or a radio in the background or the whispering hum of a nearby motorcycle. It could be anything that takes your attention away from the one you’re listening to. Even your own thoughts can be a disturbance.

Communication is not a one-way street; you must do you own part too. Foster better conversations by listening because it…

Communication Skill 101: Encourages Open-Mindedness

Encourages Open-Mindedness

Sure, you’re an individual with your own thoughts, judgments, and biases (which, in perspective, isn’t inherently wrong or bad since it’s human nature). But shutting your mind to your own prejudices is a surefire way to close yourself off from the point and mindset of the person you’re talking with. Worse is that you will only spiral down to the mentality that you have a solution you can’t keep inside and interrupt them so that you could speak. This is a very rude gesture. Avoid it at all costs.

Instead, be openminded and receive with no preconceptions or assumptions. If it helps, try thinking of yourself as a blank slate, and everything you hear and listen to is carved onto you. It’s a different take on empathy, but it helps you be in the speaker’s shoes. It helps you connect and relate. And that’s when the magic begins.

Helps Understand

When you keep an open mind, you learn more about the situation and/or the person you’re talking with. You mentally process the information and analyze the details as they come. You don’t jump to conclusions; rather, you are guided by the information you received as you fit the pieces of the puzzle.

Seek to understand. By listening intently, you open yourself up to see what they see and feel what they feel. It’s more than empathy (but it does play an integral part). It’s also about creating a deeper connection and relationship with the person you’re talking with. Since there are no shortcuts to strengthening bonds, listening to understand is a good place to start.

Communication Skill 101: Allows for Better Responses

Allows for Better Responses

When everything has been said, you take things into consideration, be it the problem and its circumstances or the task at hand and its instructions. Knowing what the other party knows and feels about the whole matter makes responding easier and more natural, especially when it deeply affects them.

Because you listened, you have more insight on the stance of the person you’re talking with. You get to see deep into their minds and their thought processes. Then you come up with your responses and add to—or counter (but not argue about)—what they said.

There’s no more dancing around the issue, no more sugarcoating, and no more stepping on anyone’s toes. Listening makes you completely aware and sensitive of your partner and how they respond back to you, and that level of mindfulness goes a long way.

Deepens Bonds

Humans are social creatures. If you have no one to socialize with, you’ll most likely crave talking to anyone or anything—even a volleyball. People feel joy in being with others. Even the mere presence of someone satisfies the neocortex, the part of the human brain comprised of sections involved in social cognition.

This is the foundation of communication: the need to interact with others, be it casual storytelling, heavy rant sessions, or business meetings. Listening shows you’re not just there to talk and socialize; it gives people the comfort and security that what they say is heard, understood, and taken to mind and heart. That puts them at ease, and the trust slowly builds and/or strengthened. You know more about them, and they get to know more about you.

Of course, you’re not the only one who should listen. Ideally, communication is a two-way street. When you’re the one talking, the other should focus on you and on what you’re saying and vice versa. This is common courtesy. There are more rude gestures than interrupting one when speaking, like imposing your unsolicited solution.

A cornerstone of any great relationship is communication. The better the communication, the more lasting the bond. Don’t waste a good one just because you feel the need to talk over the person you’re speaking with. Instead, let it be a proper conversation. Listen, then talk. Talk, then listen. It’s about the giving and taking.

 

Resources:

Bush, Mirabai. “Why Listening Is the Most Radical Act.” Mindful. January 31, 2017. www.mindful.org/why-listening-is-the-most-radical-act

Feintuch, Stacey. “9 Things All Good Listeners Do During Daily Conversations.” Reader’s Digest. n.d. www.rd.com/advice/relationships/how-to-listen

Foster, Nancy. “Good Communication Starts with Listening.” Mediate.com. n.d. www.mediate.com/articles/foster2.cfm

Hellesvig-Gaskell, Karen. “The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills.” Livestrong.com. April 16, 2015. www.livestrong.com/article/83661-difference-between-hearing-listening

Roua, Dragos. “After I Read This, I Started to Speak Less and Listen More…” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-benefits-speaking-less-and-listening-more.html

Schilling, Diane. “10 Steps to Effective Listening.” Forbes. November 9, 2012. www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/#12e324f73891

Verstraete, Mary. “What Is the Most Important Communication Skill to Acquire?” Center for Coaching Excellence. n.d. www.centerforcoachingexcellence.com/blog/the-most-important-skill-to-building-trust

Vrticka, Pascal. “Evolution of the ‘Social Brain’ in Humans: What Are the Benefits and Costs of Belonging to a Social Species?” The Huffington Post. November 16, 2013. www.huffingtonpost.com/pascal-vrticka/human-social-development_b_3921942.html

“Listening Skills.” Skills You Need. n.d. www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html

“The Importance of Listening.” Boundless.com. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/learning-to-listen-and-helping-others-do-the-same-5/understanding-listening-29/the-importance-of-listening-132-8285

“The Importance of Listening, and Ways to Improve Your Own Skills.” Udemy Blog. December 13, 2013. blog.udemy.com/importance-of-listening

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WWE and Marketing: Exploring the Common Ground Between

Pro wrestling fans are everywhere. They’re prolific on social media, where they talk incessantly about their shared interest in sports entertainment. This community of fans is among the most unique and united in the world. In fact, the bigger part of them call themselves the “WWE Universe.”

World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE. It’s a name every digital native has heard before, regardless of race, social status, or personal preferences. Kicking off as a gimmicky show in the 1950s, the WWE is now regarded as an entertainment giant. It’s a billion-dollar industry with $700 million in annual revenue and fans in 180 countries. The company delivers content 52 weeks a year in 25 languages to almost 650 million homes worldwide. Indeed, no one can ignore the WWE’s encompassing reach. Its influence is so strong that the pro wrestling industry is equated with it.

As an entertainment powerhouse, the WWE has transcended generations. It has certainly left an indelible mark on pop culture. To many, it’s more than just a brand but a way of life.

Marketing Lessons from the Squared Circle: Storytelling

Marketing Lessons from the Squared Circle

What many businesspeople don’t realize is that some marketing lessons can be found in the unlikeliest of places. We’re talking about the wrestling ring. Brands who want to be as successful as the WWE should follow its footsteps by using progressive marketing tactics and public relations strategies.

By looking at the pro wrestling industry from a marketing perspective, you’ll uncover secrets that you can apply to your business. Here are some of them:

1. Storytelling must sit at your brand’s core.

The WWE calls itself “sports entertainment,” so it’s not really a legitimate sport. All matches are driven by predetermined storylines, and most of what happens inside the ring are choreographed. The business relies heavily on developing great personas and crafting winning storylines. In essence, the squared circle is where athletics marries theatrics.

Since storytelling lies at the core of the WWE, they market each superstar’s brand individually. Everyone gets his or her own entrance music, ring gear, signature pose, signature moves, and even a unique moniker. For example, when Bray Wyatt makes his entrance, people take out their flashlights and wave them through the air. When AJ Styles performs, fans pray for an Ushigoroshi. If none of this makes sense so far, perhaps you’d be familiar with John Cena, the grown-up man famous for his denim shorts, or The Undertaker, who’s always menacing in his Dead-Man costume.

But how exactly does this translate to your business? It’s simple: tell an authentic story that will make your audience care about your product. Give meaning to everything you do so that your audience will have a reason to invest emotionally in your brand. The only way to differentiate yourself from competition is to constantly bring something fresh to the table.

Marketing Lessons from WWE: Audience Dictates What Comes Next

2. The audience dictates what comes next.

What the WWE has that you should have too are data-driven storytellers. The company listens to fans to determine what to do next. As WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon said, “Our fans are the secret to our success. They tell us what they like by cheering; they tell us what they don’t like by booing; and worse, they tell us what they don’t care about by being silent.”

The WWE conducts extensive analyses to determine what appeals to their target market. They use quantifiable means of measurement to construct portraits of fans based on variables. You should do the same in your business. Gauge your audience’s sentiments so you can provide relevant content. Know what makes them tick so you can please or surprise them at will.

3. Digital media is the king of communication.

The WWE’s social media team is composed of only ten people, but that doesn’t hinder them from performing at the top of their game. In fact, the WWE garnered three Shorty Awards in 2014 for its innovative use of social media, YouTube content, and mobile apps. Podcasts are also a good form of content to promote the WWE brand, and so are YouTube videos. However, what really pushed the company to the top is its own streaming service, the WWE network. Reaching over a million subscribers in under a year, the network has inflated WWE’s international popularity.

So, what’s in this for you? As you know, social media is a must for all brands. You can use different digital platforms to appeal to your audience’s emotional side. Provide sneak peeks into behind-the-scene actions, and give your followers something to hold on to. Interact with them the way you would with a friend. Also, try to create a medium of your own—a company blog, for instance—to cultivate a loyal customer base.

Marketing Lessons from WWE: Adapt to the Changing Times

4. Adapt to the changing times.

If there’s one thing the WWE got right, it’s that they constantly evolved with the times. One of the most important decisions they made was the improvement in the portrayal of women. Until recently, female wrestlers or “divas” were considered accessories—no one took them seriously. When the Four Horsewomen came, however, women’s wrestling was revolutionized forever. Instead of “divas,” female wrestlers are now called “superstars,” like their male counterparts.

Another progress they made was the blurring of the lines between kayfabe (i.e. the fiction that happens in the ring) and shoot (i.e. reality). Before, it was considered a sin to break kayfabe, but today, the injection of reality in storylines makes the turn of events more interesting. Fans love the gray area where reality meets fiction.

The WWE’s adaptive nature enabled it to reach audiences outside its demographic. From a majority of male audience, the company’s viewership has now grown to include kids, females, and non-sports fans. Its versatility opened huge opportunities for mainstream sponsorship deals and merchandise sales.

So, what has this got to do with your brand? Obviously, you can take this lesson of versatility and apply it to your business. You can’t keep playing the game unless you constantly find ways to be relevant. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. Don’t stop until you succeed.

5. Nothing sells better than passion.

WWE superstars are just people living their dreams every day. For most of them, pro wrestling is life. They joined the WWE because they were fans as kids. You’ll rarely see a lifeless superstar in the ring—everyone shows charisma in his or her work.

A notable superstar who has entertained the crowd for the last eight years is Naomi. Like others before her, she has given her sweat and blood for the business. When she won her first WWE title in 2017, the crowd erupted into chants of, “You deserve it!” When she had to relinquish it only nine days later due to injury, the crowd again erupted into a reverberating, “No!” The WWE Universe empathized with Naomi because she was a passionate and talented worker. It was what gave her story a genuine touch.

Like the WWE superstars, your brand should exude charisma in every possible way. You should communicate a certain energy to your audience—an infectious aura that will draw them closer to you. Remember, if all else fails, passion will carry you through.

In today’s business environment, brands are constantly wrestling for attention. In order to thrive in your industry, you must look for new ways to keep your title. Look for inspiration in unexpected places, and you might just find true gems that will make you an undisputed champion in your field.

 

Resources:

Cooper, Lana. “4 Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn from WWE.” Seer Interactive. August 21, 2015. www.seerinteractive.com/blog/4-lessons-digital-marketers-can-learn-wwe

Evans, Zachary. “How the WWE Has Retained Its Marketing Dominance.” Spin Sucks. August 1, 2016. spinsucks.com/marketing/wwe-retained-marketing-dominance

“Company Overview.” WWE Corporate. n.d. corporate.wwe.com/who-we-are/company-overview

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Top Problems Presenters Face (And How to Avoid them)

“To err is human,” the adage goes. While not completely skipping the latter half, let’s accept the fact that we, as humans, make mistakes. It’s completely natural, albeit embarrassing—especially when in public. The moral of the story is that you have to make sure it doesn’t happen, right?

There are lessons taught the easy way: anticipate the blunder and avoid doing it. Then there are those only learned the hard way, the ones you must experience first before you can say, “That shouldn’t happen again.”

Barring advice from more experienced speakers and presenters, presentation mistakes can either be of those. The rub, though, is that there are many things that could possibly go wrong that only those with experience can fully prepare for everything.

Here are the most common problems—and how you avoid them—that amateur and professional presenters alike may still experience.

Presenter Problems: Slide Issues

Slide Issues

There is a myriad of presentation design tips out there, so let’s cover only the basic/common ones.

Color contrast.  Keep your choice of colors contrasting: dark text on light background or light text on dark background. If it makes your text easily readable, then that pair—or trio if you have three colors—has great harmony.

Wall of text. A reading spree will bore your audience. Instead, a few simple, powerful words is enough to drive the point home and make an impact. If not words, a meaningful image will do the trick; poignant, nostalgic, rousing, etc., the more emotions the picture solicits, the better. The clincher? Either of those on a single slide for maximum impact.

Too many slides. Drag your presentation on and on, and you’ll bore your audience. Attention is a fragile thing. A good guideline to follow is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with a 30-point font. That way, you’ll be able to punch in more points with fewer slides.

Technical Issues

If you’re not tech-savvy, then the following technical problems—or technological—will be the most complicated ones you’ll encounter.

Connecting to the projector. There are two areas for this blunder: Mac and Windows. First with the latter, most PCs and laptops that aren’t made by Apple have dedicated VGA ports, so you’re covered. There will still be occasional problems, like screens not displaying correctly—or at all—or distorted resolutions, but those are easily fixed with a little tinkering on the Display settings. If you’re rocking a MacBook, though, then chances are you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the extensions and adapters necessary to connect. So…

Presenter Problems: Technical Issues

Not bringing your own cablesIt would be prudent to carry your own gadgets to the venue: VGA adapters, additional USB port extensions, etc. Speakers will find bringing their own stuff is better when they learn on the day itself that the place isn’t fully equipped. Considering that Apple’s ports are, if anything, unique to everything but to those of the same brand, you can’t reasonably and practically expect every venue to have complete equipment. Of course, Windows users will find the practice time-conserving too. Bottom line: just to be safe, bring your own cables.

Videos not playingIf you plan to use videos during your speech, then you need lots of preparation before going onstage. If you’re using YouTube externally (switching from slideshow to Internet browser), secure a good Internet connection and preload the page; if you’re showing short scenes from a long clip, skip ahead to the relevant parts.

Linking is a different game though: You’re basically putting on your slide a “shortcut” button to a video in a specific file path. If you’re not using your own computer, then you need to transfer both presentation and video files and relink to make sure that the “shortcut” has the correct file path.

Freezing or crashingSometimes, it seems like devices have minds of their own, and speakers are forced to encounter a hurdle they can’t control—but can handle gracefully. In cases of computer meltdowns—a sudden hiccup may be tolerable, but a blue screen of death is hard to recover from—losing your cool is a no-no. Don’t panic. Instead, you can:

  • For a system hiccup, tell a few jokes, maybe something about technology, while waiting for it to resolve itself (heighten the suspense and kill the tension);
  • For a sudden crash, since you know it’s going to take some time, tell a story while the computer reboots; or
  • For a blue screen of death, well, nothing much to do about it but to restart the computer, tell stories and/or jokes (see the pattern now?), and just pick up where you left off.

The bottom line here is not to panic and/or just leave. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but handling the whole situation with dignity, and a bit of humor, will overshadow that little blunder.

The Importance of Proper Preparation for a Presenter

The talk itself notwithstanding, those are some of the most common problems presenters face before and during a public speech. But perhaps there’s a more common problem that is easily corrected but overlooked most of the time: lack of proper preparation. Most people don’t realize that this is the biggest enemy before anyone who undertakes an endeavor. It can manifest itself in many forms, including everything above. It’s also what separates amateurs from professionals.

Does that mean that professionals who make mistakes are amateurish? No, of course not. There are circumstances without a person’s reach, and those are the ones you must be careful with. Everything else, you learn to avoid with the right mentality, attitude, and dignity.

 

Resources:

Duarte, Nancy. “Five Presentation Mistakes Everyone Makes.” Harvard Business Review. December 12, 2012. www.hbr.org/2012/12/avoid-these-five-mistakes-in-y

Ezekiel, Rebecca. “10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” Presentation Prep. n.d. www.presentationprep.com/10-most-common-presentation-mistakes

Harvey, Jim. “5 Most Common Tech Problems for Presenters… and How to Avoid Them.” Presentation Guru. August 2, 2016. www.presentation-guru.com/the-5-most-common-technical-problems-for-presenters-and-how-to-avoid-them

Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Marr, Bernard. “The Deadliest Presentation Mistakes Anyone Can Avoid.” LinkedIn Pulse. October 30, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141030071401-64875646-the-deadliest-presentation-mistakes-anyone-can-avoid?trk=prof-post&trk=prof-post

Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes

Olakunori, Giovanni. “30 Common Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Larnedu. August 27, 2014. www.larnedu.com/2014/08/27/30-common-presentation-mistakes-avoid

Russell, Wendy. “The 10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” About, Inc. n.d. presentationsoft.about.com/od/presentationmistakes/tp/080722_presentation_mistakes.htm

“10 Common Presentation Mistakes.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm

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Redesigning PowerPoint Clip Art for 2017

We believe there’s still a case to be made for PowerPoint Clip Art. In his article for Slate, The New York Times’ Farhad Majoo cites several criticisms hurled against the PowerPoint feature. To some extent, we agree.

Clip Art looks dated and campy. Using them makes your presentation deck look clueless and unprofessional, especially when there’s a wealth of sources for high-quality images available today.

But did you know that PowerPoint gives you the ability to customize clip arts and completely change how they look? Check the image above and notice how we’ve turned a standard clip art to a trendy geometric drawing. As you can see, using PowerPoint Clip Art isn’t always a mistake.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can take PowerPoint clip art designs to the year 2017:  

Step One: Open the PowerPoint Clip Art gallery

powerpoint clip art edit 00

Open the Clip Art gallery by going to the Insert tab and selecting the Clip Art icon. From there, you can choose any image you’d like to edit. For this tutorial, we’re going to edit the clip art highlighted above to make a hand-drawn lightbulb.

Step Two: Break the clip art apart

powerpoint clip art edit 01

Right-click the image, select Group, and then click Ungroup. This action will prompt a dialogue box asking if you’d like to convert the graphic into a Microsoft Office drawing object. Choose Yes.

Repeat the steps one more time, and then you’ll see something that looks like this:

powerpoint clip art edit 02

From here, you can start deleting the elements of the clip art that you don’t want. For this tutorial, we have to delete everything except the light bulb.

powerpoint clip art edit 02.5

This step will take some time, especially if you chose to work with a PowerPoint clip art that looks a bit complex. Just work on it patiently and click Undo if you end up deleting a part you want to keep.

Step Three: Edit clip art by using PowerPoint’s Drawing Tools

powerpoint clip art edit 04

Once you’re left with the bit that you want to work with, click on the Drawing Tools Format tab. Customize your clip art design by choosing any of the options in the Shape Styles group.

Much of this step involves trial and error, plus a bit of experimentation. Don’t be afraid to go crazy. You can always click on Undo if you’re not happy with how the effects look like.

After a bit of tinkering, our light bulb ended up looking like this:

lightbulb clipart

The Takeaway

Once you put your mind to it, even the most taboo of PowerPoint features can be transformed into something visually acceptable. ClipArt is one such redeemable feature.

The steps may seem rather daunting and tedious at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to come up with interesting results. However, if you don’t have enough time on your hands, there are always professional PowerPoint designers ready to help you with your deck.

Our SlideGenius experts can help you whip up an attractive deck in a quick, efficient manner. Contact us today for a free quote!