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The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

Crafting a Presentation that Ends with a Bang

It’s almost time for a new year, for a new beginning. Looking back, you see how well you did and where you need to improve. From an optimistic viewpoint, a great year-ender is appreciating deeds and being inspired to make the next one better.

A year well-ended can be a great drive to improve. It can be the cornerstone of a pleasant beginning. The charisma of great things has the power to move. Spectacular presentation endings—especially ones that strike a chord in the heart—can inspire people to do generous acts.

Crafting a Presentation: Marching band

Where to Begin Your Presentation

Although, yes, it’s the season for holiday gimmicks such as festive shows and productions, many presenters will tell you that one doesn’t simply chorus his way to winning an investment or donation.

Curation is necessary when crafting a pitch. Relevant and influential data are what you need when choosing the right content for your pitch.

Even crafting PowerPoint Presentations have dos and don’ts. Let the 4-by-5 rule guide you in using words sparingly and curating only the essentials for your pitch.

Visuals can also be charming additions to a presentation. Not only are they entertaining, but they are also powerful storytellers.

Your choice of presentation content must, at all times, not only be largely influenced by the interests and preferences of the audience; but also primarily benefits your cause or proposition.

A polished PowerPoint Presentation takes one far but presenting them confidently will get one further.

Your confidence level should always rule your audiences. They may not know how prepared you are with your presentation but they can easily pick up that you are poised enough to show them you are.

Take command of your pitch. Know where the good stuff should fall and make sure you strut them when there’s a chance.

Crafting a Presentation: Exit

How to Get There

The content that comes before a conclusion plays crucial roles in supporting a proposition.

Other parts of a pitch add depth to a presentation ending, and vice versa. How well you build your presentation to your audience has a great effect on whether the ending makes it or breaks it.

Interesting opening remarks and clear introductions help set a good first impression for audiences. Data that are laid out and presented in an organized manner will highlight your first objective: to be remembered.

Before you reach the end of your presentation, make sure that attention is developed and maintained from start to finish.

Lastly, create a strategy on how you project a smooth transition when it’s time for an epic ending. Make way for the remarkable close.

As Brian Tracy advices, pick up your tempo as you approach the end. Add some energy on your voice and fire up your expressions when referring to highlights and interesting details.

Crafting a Presentation: Wizard

Call to Action

From delivering up to 5,000 seminars to more than 5 million people in different countries, in his own video presentation, Brian Tracy shares four awe-inspiring ways to end pitches.

The renowned speaker said that “A call to action is the best way to wrap up your talk with strength and power.”

Not only does it vividly imply that there’s an option for the audience to take steps but it also signals that, based on your justification, there is a need for action.

There are many ways to end with a call to action when giving a pitch. Knowing which ones effectively influence audiences, instead of abruptly asking, is the way to go.

The call to action often comes in the first or the final part of a presentation.

In a challenging close, audiences were asked to recall the presentation and were also asked to apply what they have learned just to see if it works for them. Challenging the audience triggers curiosity on whether they can do something or not.

Feed that curiosity when you get the chance. It is one of the hardest things to resist.

Crafting a Presentation: Fireworks display

Quick Summary

Summarizing after pitching is a common way to signal an audience that a presentation will be over soon.

Again, why are you agreeable? Remind them of your key points. Summarized presentations make it easier to internalize the thoughts in a presentation.

With a bookend close, you refer back to the earlier parts of your presentation to show that you have arrived at the same final point where you began. A title close similarly does the same technique except that the title conveys the main message.

When there’s a pile of slides to remember, it’s hard to make an impact on an audience. These types of closes are ideal when points-to-remember require a list.

Crafting a Presentation: Once upon a time

Closing Story

“Tale as old as time, true as they can be.”

Not all stories are real, but the point is, those that have morals are true enough to guide people with the ups and downs of life.

One would prefer to spend five minutes hearing a short but meaningful story than another load of data. Stories serve as breathing room for audiences, especially when the presentation is quite technical.

Also, stories can be charismatic enough to improve the way an audience perceives. Relating with audiences gives you more power to convince and to convert.

Crafting a Presentation: Closing story

Inspirational Excerpt

Brian Tracy believes that hope is the great religion of mankind.

Sometimes, audiences, especially the anxious ones, are just an inspiration away. Some may see trusting you as a risk, but let inspiration pull them up and lead them to their first step of action.

A feel of familiarity takes out anxiety among audiences. Sharing thoughts or insights they can relate to eases out tension between them and the unfamiliar person onstage, you.

No matter what age, inspirational excerpts help when your audience need a little soothing. Quotations from books or songs are some of the most popularly used. They have a nostalgic characteristic that people can relate to apart from the timeless morals they share.

Or, you can use a third party close. Here, a quotation is used as a premise to frame the whole presentation and at the same time, to wrap it up.

Conclusion

Audiences base decisions on how a proposition is presented.

Do you manage content and take audience presence seriously? It’s necessary to know which data fits the puzzle, making sure that they count.

Presentation maneuvers have the power to kick start the pounding of your audience’s hearts. Preparing for the arrival of a great presentation ender has a great impact on the next steps that your audience will take after the presentation.

Lastly, be compelling when you say they need to act yet observe genuineness when you bid them well, especially on their new year. Let a pleasant final impression be the last thing they remember from you before the year ends.

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Resources:

Tracy, Brian. “4 Ways to End a Speech With a Bang.” YouTube. July 14, 2015. www.youtube.com/watch?v=EucZKuqaVEE&feature=youtu.be.

Jeff, Peter. “10 Ways to End Your Speech With a Bang.” Six Minutes. October 12, 2009. www.sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-ways-to-end-your-speech

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Can Hosting a Webinar Expand Your Audience?

Today’s business climate makes it more challenging to gain business leads. Competition is tight, so brands should up their game to survive. If you want to stay at the top, you should learn how to keep liabilities at the minimum and make the most of your assets.

Phone marketing was the norm before, but today, digital marketing is king. Businesses leverage online resources like social media, blogs, visual content, and what is probably the least known of all marketing channels: webinars. The rise of digital marketing has paved the way for businesses to do more without spending more. Make sure you use this advantage comprehensively.

Webinar Tips: Primary Goals and Purposes

Webinar 101: Primary Goals and Purposes

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web. Obviously, it’s a portmanteau that blends the words “web” and “seminar.” According to webinar expert Marta Eichstaedt, when webinars are used as marketing tools, they typically last between thirty minutes to a full hour. This length already takes into account the spontaneous interaction between the host and the audience.

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate new business leads. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Webinar Tips: The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

    • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
    • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
    • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
    • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
    • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Webinar Tips: Preparing for a Webinar | Signup Form

Preparing for a Webinar

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s a demand for it. Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

The Takeaway

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Explore the wonders of this tool and discover how it can propel your business to success.

 

Resources:

Howes, Lewis. “8 Ways to Boost Your Business with Webinars.” Lewis Howes. n.d. lewishowes.com/webinars/webinar-marketing-tips-and-resources

Jozwiak, Agnes. “World Wide Webinars: New Infographic.” ClickMeeting. March 23, 2012. blog.clickmeeting.com/world-wide-webinars-new-infographic

MacDonald, Steven. “How to Successfully Host a Webinar and Build Your Audience.” E-Marketeer. August 19, 2014. www.emarketeer.com/blog/successfully-host-webinar-build-audience

Moreau, Elise. “What Is a Webinar?” Lifewire. April 6, 2016. www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-webinar-3486257

Russer, Michael. “Expand Your Reach with Webinars.” Realtor Mag. July 2009. realtormag.realtor.org/technology/mr-internet/article/2009/07/expand-your-reach-webinars

Slyman, Natalie. “How to Hold an Effective Webinar an Generate Leads for Your Business.” Influence & Co. December 6, 2016. blog.influenceandco.com/how-to-hold-an-effective-webinar-and-generate-leads-for-your-business

Wasielewski, Jarek. “How Webinars Expand Reach to Your Target Audience in Online Marketing.” ClickMeeting. September 12, 2014. blog.clickmeeting.com/webinars-expand-reach-target-audience-online-marketing

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Corporate Forecast: The Future of Company Presentations

Before the widespread popularity of software like PowerPoint, people relied on limited visual aids for their presentations. However, with the recent rise of technology, presentations are now branching out into more diverse possibilities. Sooner or later, some presentation factors in the boardroom will change to keep up with the demands of the modern era. There are specifically five aspects of presentation that will face the most change.

Future of Company Presentations: Digital Media

1. Digital Media

The digital world is becoming an attractive avenue for companies to keep track of their target audience’s interests. Digital media is the biggest game changer in the presentation playing field. According to business strategist Michael Wolf of Business Insider, tech and media activity will increase by 2016. Businesses will no longer have to sift through tons of hard facts to get what they need. Digital media will make it available to them.

Online references like virtual surveys and trending tags will give easy access to insights on market activities and preferences. Aside from this, the growing importance of digital media in people’s lives will push companies outside the boardroom and into the internet. With the increasing popularity and accessibility of smartphones, going mobile may just be the next big thing to watch out for.

In a constantly changing social environment, businesses should keep themselves on their toes. Stay updated by observing digital media trends closely, and adjust your presentation tactics if the need arises.

Future of Company Presentations: Audience Engagement

2. Audience Engagement

The audience has always played a crucial role in deciding the fate of a business pitch. However, in the future of company presentations, they will take on an even more active role. Far from being silent judges, your audience will vocally proclaim what they want from your business.

This is, again, due to the upsurge of digital media. According to Staging Connections Digital Event Services General Manager Tim Chapmansocial networks can break the barriers holding you back from your listeners. Knowing what people expect in your business gives companies a head start to craft presentations according to these preferences. On the other hand, trends also fade as fast as they come in, so constant vigilance is necessary in the market.

Operate your social media accounts to actively engage the audience at all times. Keep track of their needs and wants to optimize your presentation.

Future of Company Presentations: Time Limits

3. Time Limits

With people becoming more accustomed to fast-paced lifestyles and multi-tasking, presenters can’t afford to beat around the bush with their pitches anymore. The attention span of the average human being has reached its shortest at eight seconds, according to a Microsoft study cited by Leon Watson of The Telegraph.

That said, your audience members would be more likely to appreciate a compact and concise pitch that cuts to the chase.

But this doesn’t mean you have to resort to a plain deck and a bland delivery. If anything, it allows you to be more creative about how you’ll be cutting your presentation. Business guru Guy Kawasaki’s famous 10-20-30 rule is ideal for a crowd that’s constantly on-the-go.  According to Kawasaki, you should keep your presentation to 10 slides at 20 minutes, with 30-point font. These 10 slides already contain everything everyone needs to know about you—from the market situation to the summary and call to action.

This just shows that you don’t need to stretch your time limit to get the point across, but you shouldn’t just relate the details either

Future of Company Presentations: Use of Visuals

4. Use of Visuals

By the late 20th century, a large part of the population is identified as visual learners, according to Visual Teaching Alliance. This means that they’re more inclined to learn when data is presented to them visually, through diagrams, images, or illustrations. In terms of presentations, it’s better to abandon the wall of text and opt for more visuals. You might even drop the bullet points, which are seen for the longest time as the alternative to text-heavy slides.

However, your visuals should also complement your message. The point of catering to visual learning is to reduce the fatality of Death by PowerPoint. Stay focused on large, engaging images that you can relate to your pitch. Don’t clutter your deck with too many miscellaneous details, lest it defeats your point of drawing people’s attentions to what really matters. Finally, use colors that are easy on the eyes and that evoke positive emotions.

Presentations adapt to the tendencies of the target audience. In this case, the attention to visuals and the way it impacts viewers will definitely play a central role in the ability of business presentations to convince and convert leads.

Future of Company Presentations: Constant Innovation | Types of Graph

5. Constant Innovation

The development of technology steers toward innovation. While others may condemn presentation software for boring audiences, innovation improves both the audience’s and the speaker’s experiences.

Just this year, PowerPoint released its latest add-ins, Designer and Morph, which make presentation layout and design easier. The visual aspect of a presentation is enhanced in presentation tools like Prezi, which provides templates that users can customize on their own. Nonetheless, people need to remember that a good feature can backfire when misused. After all, when PowerPoint first came out, bullet points and awkward animations were accepted as designs until they were deemed passé.

The use of presentation tools should still be coupled with some guidance. This is why companies are highly encouraged to consult presentation gurus when setting up their business pitch.

The Future and Beyond

The future of company presentations holds a number of possibilities, partly due to the turn social trends have taken in recent years and will continue to take in the years to come.

People now have a wide range of software tools to choose from. Other digital avenues like social media allow them to form more intimate connections with their audience. A fast-paced society demands shorter presentations and a more concise content. At the same time, audiences are no longer impressed by slides that tell everything. To avoid boring a modern crowd, opt for relevant visuals that directly correspond to your core message.

Track the trends to avoid becoming outdated. Roll with the pitches and keep your company brand relevant.

 

Resources:

 Chapman, Tim. “The Future of Presentations: Top 3 Predictions.” Staging Connections. August 29, 2014. www.stagingconnections.com/events/the-future-of-presentations-top-three-predictions

Danielson, Tess & Nathan, McAlone. “Epic Slide Deck from Former Yahoo Board Member Lays Out the Future of Tech and Media.” Business Insider. October 21, 2015. www.businessinsider.com/michael-wolf-predicts-what-will-happen-in-the-tech-industry-in-2016-2015-10

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

Koenigsbauer, Kirk. “The Evolution of PowerPoint: Introducing Designer and Morph.” Office Blogs. November 13, 2015. blogs.office.com/2015/11/13/the-evolution-of-powerpoint-introducing-designer-and-morph/#Jy7F8TwAkgcSCMfb.97

Watson, Leon. “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” The Telegraph. May 15, 2015. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11607315/Humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smartphones.html

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Presentation Tips to Counterpunch Your Nerves

For people who are not gifted with natural eloquence, public speaking can be a daunting experience. Darlene Price, president of the award-winning coaching company, Well Said Inc., summed it up well when she said, “Though statistics vary on the exact percentages, it’s safe to say most of us get nervous before a public speaking engagement. As a speaker facing an audience, we often fear failure, criticism, judgment, embarrassment, comparison, or rejection.”

And indeed, all this fear, all this negative reaction, is only natural. Even the most experienced speakers tremble before delivering their opening salvo. This is why you should go against the general notion of tackling  fear for the purpose of eradicating it. Instead, what you should do is conquer it by controlling it to your own advantage. Managing your fear is the only way to connect with your audience.

After all, spectators don’t really see how you feel. They only see how you carry yourself onstage. So, it’s okay to be afraid, as long as you don’t show it to anyone. When all’s said and done, a presentation is not really about what you say but how you say it.

Positive Visualization

The Dramatic Pull of Positive Visualization

To turn your jitters into positive energy, you should pump yourself up before a presentation. Boost your enthusiasm by imagining a positive outcome to the speaking engagement. Mentally walk yourself through your speech, and picture yourself acting with confidence, flair, and poise. You’re a presentation guru, and the audience enjoy watching and listening to you.

Positive visualization is healthy and effective. The more you envision something in a good way, the better it will play out in reality. Just take in mind the American industrialist Henry Ford’s famous quote, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Above all else, smile. Smiling can help calm your nerves and lower your anxiety. It increases your body’s supply of endorphins, the chemicals responsible for lowering stress levels. When you smile, you exude confidence, which your audience will interpret as a sign of enthusiasm towards your speech.

Familiarity Breeds Confidence

How Familiarity Breeds Confidence

Don’t take chances with your presentation by delivering it once and for all. You have to practice it multiple times before the actual event. Rehearse your lines in various positions until you grow comfortable with them. If necessary, record your presentation and watch it afterwards. This will help you see which bad habits to grow out of.

Know your presentation by heart, but don’t memorize it word by word—unless, of course, you’ll be delivering your presentation at TED. Just the opening and closing lines of your talk are enough. Learn your first and last statements so they’ll come to you naturally.

Practicing will help you gain a certain amount of control over the situation. The more certain you are about your talk, the less nervous you’ll be about it. By rehearsing your presentation beforehand, you can focus your nervous energy on something more productive.

Surroundings as a Teacher

What Your Surroundings Will Teach You

Give yourself ample time to be familiar with the venue. Arrive at least a day early so you can thoroughly assess the setup. Check if there are any elements in the surroundings that may distract you from your presentation. Test the equipment you’re going to use to minimize the possibility of technical difficulties arising later on. Practice delivering your talk in the venue, too, to familiarize yourself even more with the entire affair.

If your speech is part of a series, you should listen to other talks. Do it as a courtesy to your fellow speakers, and also to learn more about the spectators. By attending the other presentations, you’ll be able to gauge the general mood of the audience. You can assess whether they’ll appreciate humor or straight facts. This will help you tailor your presentation to their needs and preferences.

On the day of your speech, make sure to attend the meet-and-greet ceremony. Speaking with representatives from the audience will help you understand them more genuinely. As public speaking coach Ian Cunliffe advised, “Arrive early and talk to a few individual audience members about their needs. That way, you’ll have insider information and friendly faces that you can focus on when you take the stage.” Darlene Price held the same opinion. She said, “Conversation helps relax your nerves, creates a bond with your audience, and sets the stage for personable speaking versus public speaking.”

Power Stance

Power Stance and Other Endorphin Boosters

Warm yourself up before taking the floor. To calm your nerves, practice deep breathing, a method that will flood your brain with oxygen. Your muscles will relax and you’ll regain composure. Moving around and assuming a power stance will also help you create a lasting sense of confidence.

Before stepping into the platform, make sure you are properly hydrated. Dry mouth can sometimes be a cause of anxiety. Drink plenty of water before going onstage, and keep a bottle of liquid within arm’s reach in case your mouth dries up in the middle of your talk. Finally, make sure to take a bathroom break before your performance.

Presentation Mantra

The Mantra You Should Adopt

Repeat some words of encouragement before heading to the spotlight. Your mantra should be: “I’m the expert in the room. The audience trust and believe in me, and they want me to succeed. I will go out there and deliver with confidence and conviction.”

As body language expert Mark Bowden said, presentations are not really about the facts and the data. “When we go live in front of an audience, it’s about the event, the personality, the relationship, and trust.” Kill it with your confidence. Bring home the gold with your poise and enthusiasm.

 

Resources:

Genard, Gary. “How to Use Positive Thinking to Speak More Successfully.” Genard Method. June 26, 2016. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/176604/How-to-Use-Positive-Thinking-to-Speak-More-Successfully

Heaps, Mark. “Stop that Stutter: 6 Steps to Overcome Presentation Performance Anxiety.” Duarte. December 19, 2012. www.duarte.com/blog/stop-that-stutter-6-steps-to-overcome-presentation-performance-anxiety

Kim, Larry. “15 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation.” Inc. October 20, 2014. www.inc.com/larry-kim/15-power-up-tips-to-make-you-a-better-presenter.html

Kleiman, Karen. “Try Some Smile Therapy.” Psychology Today. August 1, 2012. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201207/try-some-smile-therapy

Smith, Jacquelyn. “11 Tips for Calming Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation.” Business Insider. June 23, 2014. www.businessinsider.com/tips-for-calming-nerves-before-a-speech-2014-6

“Feeling Anxiety is Normal.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/building-confidence-to-speak-4/understanding-anxiety-27/feeling-anxiety-is-normal-127-10639

“Managing Presentation Nerves: Coping with the Fear Within.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/PresentationNerves.htm

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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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Presentation Resolutions: 3 Tips to Help You Progress This Year

The start of a new year, a  chance to re-create your values and start fresh. Most of us think of resolutions as ways we can change for the better and improve. We can apply these same New Year’s resolution concepts to enhance your professional presentation skills.

Focusing on improvements will always steer you in the right direction when delivering effective presentations with any type of content and to any type of audience. Taking little steps such as preparing a script or starting with a storyboard will allow you to over time to become a presentation specialist. Below are a few simple yet impactful, changes that you can begin to adapt in the new year.

Taking Charge of Your Public Speaking Fear

ted conference

Public speaking comes easily to very few. Make it a goal to improve your presenting skills with tips and resources from some of the world’s best. Watch famous speeches and learn from these speaker’s traits,  you can find some great presenters from TEDx Talk Events. The only way to truly enhance and improve your public speaking abilities is to practice, which overall means giving more presentations. You can even practice for a colleague or co-worker before your big presentation, and taking small steps like these will help you feel more comfortable speaking in front of any audience.

Using More Pathos

Graffiti: Creativity and Customer Acquisition

Though your presentation needs to be composed properly with enhancing content and ideas, making your presentation memorable. You can reach your audience’s emotions by utilizing powerful stories, images, graphs – even color schemes! Try to do something different in each one of your presentations, while still keeping an organized outline using a storyboard, take it to the next level. Spend a few extra minutes preparing this by using creative content, ideas and themes, ask yourself- would this presentation be entertaining to you?

Being Honest, No Matter What

cross finger

Being a credible presenter is being the best kind of presenter. Your audience only believes in your ideas and content if they believe in you. Though your audience may throw you off once in a while with tricky questions or concerns, remember to always be honest in your response. Always do your back research and cross-check on multiple sites for data accuracy and cite accordingly. Another good way to earn credibility as a presenter is to ask for feedback at the end of your presentation. Teach more and sell less, engage constantly and make sure you look as professional as you sound.

 

Reference

Ted TalksTED. Accessed January 2, 2014.

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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Count from 6 to 10: A Quick Guide to Great Presentations

We’ve previously discussed how the numbers one to five can make your business presentations count. This was based off keynote speaker Stephen Boyd’s tips to create a presentation countdown. With our own take on it, let’s continue counting from number six to number ten.

6. Presenting after SIX o’clock P.M.

Business professionals work eight hours on a regular basis. After a long day, only a few stay later than six o’clock p.m. to polish their paperwork, web designs, PowerPoint slides, and the like. After all, we want to get back to our families and our lives, right?

Deliver your presentations as if you’re doing them after six in the evening. Embody the elements of fun, involvement, and learning to keep your audience awake. Treat your audience like close friends and family you’ve been longing to see. Sustain their interest from the beginning to end, no matter how late it is.

7. Seven Means Complete

According to the Bible, the number seven has three Hebrew roots: saba, shaba and sheba. These three biblical ideas are associated with oaths, perfection, and completeness. Whether you’re delivering a pitch to a potential client or discoursing a monthly report with co-workers, your PowerPoint presentation should contain complete data.

Providing evidence supports your argument or main idea. Maximize the use of graphs and charts, statistics, and other visuals for a more comprehensive discussion. Inevitably, your audience will have questions or clarifications which you can tackle in a Q&A session. However, it pays to address all of these possible questions from the beginning to make things easier for everyone.

8. Eight for Affinity

The number eight is drawn with two interconnecting circles. Lacking one circle, either at the top or at the bottom, means you have zero. Presentations are about making connections. Your business speech is useless without an audience.

Command interest by connecting with them on a personal level. You can best engage an audience by exuding a credible aura, by appealing to their emotions, or by challenging their intellect. Building networks after your business pitch is another way to solidify your core message, and get viable results as well.

9. Nine for Anticipation

Where there’s nine, an end is anticipated — nine is followed by ten, ninety-nine makes way for one hundred, and so on. Anticipating unforeseeable circumstances in your talk is a good presentation skill. Don’t make your audience tune out because you panicked or lost your train of thought. Always be prepared for whatever can go wrong in a speaking engagement.

Planning ahead increases your chances of foreseeing or dealing with such problems.

10. Perfect Ten

There’s no denying that the number ten connotes perfection. Ten is a rounded number, which is why our counting system is based on the power of ten. We rate things with one being the lowest and ten being the highest. Striving for perfection is the best mindset for succeeding in your business presentation.

Make sure that your PowerPoint design has the perfect font combo and title slide. Reinforce it with confident delivery and compelling content. Always aim for a deck that will get a perfect ten rating.

To Sum It Up

Use numbers six to ten as your guide for delivering fun, complete, engaging, planned, and perfect business presentations. Remember the importance of connecting to your audience, sharing complete and pertinent data, appealing to emotions, anticipating crises, and striving for perfection.

Need a PowerPoint deck to give you an edge? Check out our portfolio for inspiration, or contact our slide design experts for a free quote.

 

References

Boyd, Stephen. “Public Speaking By Numbers.” Speaking-Tips, August 17, 2011. Accessed June 10, 2015.
Count from 1 to 5: A Quick Guide to Great Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 14, 2015. Accessed August 27, 2015.

Twitter: Lessons from Social Media

If there is one social media platform that has changed the way we connect with the world around us, in only 140 characters or less, only one network comes to mind.

Twitter was founded all the way back in 2006, when social media started to take the tech world by storm. Like many young startups, Twitter’s popularity didn’t start growing until a few years later. It’s now one of the ten most visited sites on the Internet.

With over 500 million users and with over 400 million tweets sent daily, the platform has been noted as the “SMS” of the Internet. The application is simply designed to engage and connect users with hashtags and trending topics that spike during notable world events such as The Olympics
twitter follow me logo

Social media strategists now use Twitter to reinforce their client’s (or own brands) marketing efforts. They take advantage of the platform to boost their presence on the Internet. To successfully use Twitter there are a few rules and regulations one must follow. Some of these guidelines are also applicable in creating an effective PowerPoint presentation

If you pay attention, there are a few similarities between creating a well-rounded “tweet” and a successful presentation.

Step 1: Simplify Your Thoughts

A tweet can only be 140 characters or less. This means your information has to be condensed and minimized to fit this requirement. A great presentation is one that is simplified. It only has minimal bullets, text, images, and animation.

Overloading your audience with too much of these will distract them from understanding your content. Before you go ahead and add extreme fonts or a fancy template, think about how less is more and how this can positively affect your presentation.

Step 2: Get With What’s Trending

Twitter is known for staying on top of prominent world topics with phrases or words that are “trending” or being tweeted by many users. Try to apply this concept to your presentation ideas. Utilize culturally in tune twitter trendsgraphics, stories or videos within your presentation to better speak to your audience. Stay on top of the news and understand what’s going on in your audience’s culture. What do they know? What do they believe in? Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to connect with your audience at a higher level.

Step 3: Get Your Audience to Follow

Within the Twitter world, your “followers” are the equivalent to your friends on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn. You have to constantly engage and entertain your audience or followers if you want them to keep following. The same can be said for presentations.

You want to be constantly interacting with your audience the entire time. Ask them questions. Pause at the end of presentations to get feedback from them. You have to appeal to your audience over everything, if not you are basically speaking to an empty room.

 

References

“Keeping Your Audience in Mind : The 4 Essential Questions.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 11, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
“Study Shows Simplicity Is Key When Creating a PowerPoint Presentation.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 24, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
Twitter. Accessed January 23, 2014.