Slidegenius, Inc.

What Nick Offerman Can Teach Us About Manipulating Meaning with Inflection

NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman,who plays Ron Swanson, the staunchly libertarian director of the Parks and Rec Department, is the epitome of manliness. In his free time, he enjoys woodworking, whiskey tasting, fleeing from his ex wives and consuming mass quantities of meat. the seasoned actor started a series on The Conan O’Brien Show called “Nick Offerman From Parks And Recreation Reads Tweets From Young Female Celebrities.” It’s delightfully funny, chiefly because Offerman is the exact antithesis of the ultra-rich celebrity divas who’s tweets.

See for yourself: Nick Offerman Reads Tweets

This is a testament to the dynamic effect inflection can have on how we’re interpreted. Offerman doesn’t change a single syllable of what these young celebrities tweet, but he makes them funny by reading them with a gruff, no-nonsense demeanor contrary to their whimsical, overly girly nature. Just by changing the way these statements are read, he gives their meaning a complete overhaul.

We can apply this to our own presentations by deciding what kind of impact we want our words to make. When you’re giving a great powerpoint presentation on a crucial piece of information to investors, whether it be a standout statistic or your brilliant mission statement, you can’t expect to be able to read it in a flat voice and have its significance reach your audience. You have to sell it. Show the energy through your voice and through your movements. Think about the emotions each statement you’re making should elicit then focus on selling that when presenting.

So when designing your next powerpoint presentation, keep in mind not just what you’re saying, but how you say it. This can make all the difference in your next corporate presentation.

What You Need to Learn From Lion Tamers

Any lion tamer will have three tools to control their majestic beast: a whip, a stool, and a fistful of enticing snacks. Which of these tools is most useful?


Most would say it’s the whip, but they would be wrong. It’s the stool. When the lion tamer raises the stool to face his roaring counterpart, the lion sees all four stool legs and doesn’t know which one to focus on. Consequently, they stand frozen, enabling the tamer to keep them under control.

As interesting as this may be, we as humans are not impervious to this same manipulation. When you try focus on too many things in your work, you become incapable of taking effective action on any of them. Lack of focus significantly impairs your ability to lead and stick to your plan, especially when giving a presentation.

In order to prevent what I like to call the very appropriately named “tamed-lion syndrome” you should follow these rules:

Set goals.

Know what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and where you want to take it. Know all of that, and the goal-making process will be a piece of cake. Go to the first day of class and what does the professor do? He goes over the syllabus and talks about his goals for you as his student. Join a gym your instructor will immediately talk about your goals and what exactly you hope to achieve with your body. Both the college professor and the gym instructor are following the same trend, they’re highlighting end results. They’re trying to lure you in by showing you the potential the service can offer you.

 It is useful to set goals at all levels, daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and long term. Expressing your short and long term goals in your presentation are great for transparency for your audience. Giving a clear message and ultimate goal to your audience will allow them to empathize with you and genuinely understand your passion. It’s a universal fact that empathy, or really just emotion, is the single most powerful tool for selling. All in all, it’s pretty simple; set goals, explain them, and sell more.


“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

-Steve Jobs


Get your priorities straight.

This is arguably the most important and useful factor when it comes to focusing. Knowing your long term goal is the best way to start. That in itself takes a while to figure out. But once you take that step, highlight, circle, star, check, enumerate, or do whatever it is you have to do to prioritize your tasks to get you to your goal. The more detailed, the more effective it’ll be. Priorities should be outlined along with your goals in your presentation. This comes back to transparency; the more your audience can understand you and your company, the more comfortable they will feel with you.

 

References:

Colan, Lee.What Lion Tamers Know About Focus. Inc.com. July 19, 2013. 
Jarrett, Christian. “How Goals and Good Intentions Can Hold Us Back.99u. July 10, 2012.

4 PowerPoint Resources You Can’t Miss Out On!

Effective slide design is not simple, but should be simplistic. It isn’t easy, but should be easily understood.

Most presenters fail at creating effective PowerPoint presentations from the moment they start planning them, because they don’t focus on the key elements. Proper layout, organization, font usage, and image usage are crucial facets of design.  We at SlideGenius have come up with a short list of 4 useful supplementary content, design and editing resources for anyone who may find themselves giving or creating a presentation.

1. PowerPoint Support Sites

Here are a couple of useful support sites to help deal with PowerPoint product issues:

2. Stock Photo Sites

Each of these three sites offers a wide variety of royalty-free images starting at $1 an image:

3. Editing Tools Sites

As I’ve started blogging about various PowerPoint and presentation topics, I’ve come across some interesting presentation tools. These tools might be alternatives to PowerPoint or complementary tools for PowerPoint users.

  • ColorCop (free eyedropper/color picker tool)
  • Freepath (combine files and other media files in a playlist)
  • WhatTheFont (font identification tool)

4. Useful Quotation Sites

Most of the famous quotation sites are difficult to use due to a variety of usability issues. I found these to be among the better ones for finding useful, concise quotes.

Innovation is a major aspect of effective design; you should always be looking to better your PowerPoints, their design, and the holistic delivery. These resources are a great way to begin maximizing the few minutes you have to deliver your corporate presentation, investor pitch, executive sale presentation, etc.

If you can think of any other useful resources that align with this theme, feel free to comment them on this post and we will be sure to add!

5 Characteristics of Ideas That Spread

Your success as a business professional doesn’t stop at coming up with an idea, but only when you can convince others to use it.

In other words, to quote the timeless saying “Ideas are a dime-a-dozen, execution is all that matters.” With that, a resulting logical question would be “How do you execute successfully?”

In order to answer that, we need to first look at another question, which is “how do you improve your chances of getting your idea adopted by others?” If you’re measuring your success on the influence you have on others, the latter question is where to start, and with the idea of improving your odds of adoption you need to think of the medium through which you convey the idea itself: your corporate presentation, investor pitch presentation, or really any professional PowerPoint presentation.

In 1962 a sociology professor at Ohio State University named Everett Rodgers published a book called “Diffusion of Innovation,” which was ultimately a large-scale research project on why ideas spread. The study gathered the results of over 500 case studies showing why some ideas are adopted among people and organizations and why others aren’t. The study’s results outlined a set of five factors that direct and influence our decision to adopt or reject ideas:

Relative Advantage

This is basically the higher degree to which an idea is perceived as relative to the existing standard. Just how much of an improvement is it over the previous generation? Relative Advantage is what most people think of when they hear your company’s name; its the brand, or collective cognitive understanding of a concept.

Observability

This relates to the same concept as Trialability: the more users are able to observe, listen, taste, or use your product or service, the more noticeable it will be. At its core, this means that you need to set your idea up in not only an extreme variety of avenues, but avenues that are popular and showcase to the most amount of people. Sometimes this won’t even mean the obvious ones like Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, but might mean your local park, school, or grocery store. Think creatively and explain your plan for observability in your PowerPoint presentations, investor pitches, etc.

Compatibility

How easily can I use past ideas, experiences or businesses to understand how your new idea functions or benefits me? It’s essentially the ability to connect past success to your new venture. Take Apple, for example, their more recent products at some level are more improved versions of the old ones.  Whether talking about the laptops, iPads, iPhones; they are each better versions of the old, but the old proved to be successful, so the updated version should too. Show how your venture is compatible through your presentations and pitches and you’ll see an increase in not only adoption, but also sales!

Complexity

Oddly enough, complexity is actually about simplicity, or how easy it is for people to understand your idea. What’s the logic? What’s the system? What’s the benefit? My benefit? An idea that is too difficult for most to understand is scary and, therefore, ineffective when it comes to persuasion. The simple ideas like Steve Jobs’ “a thousand songs in my pocket” for the iPod that stick, and stick well!

Trial Ability

This is measuring how easily your targeted audience can try it out? The more testers you get to try your idea out, the more feedback you’ll get, and the more users you will open yourself to adopt. Most musicians nowadays start off by sharing their music for free on YouTube. Why? It’s an easy way to have users try their material, and if it’s worthwhile, it’ll spread like wildfire! The more they can try it, the more certainty there is about committing to it.

Circling back to our original question, “How do you execute successfully?” we see that one needs to not only make their ideas fit each of these characteristics, but convey them through the avenues in which they are judged, namely corporate or executive presentations.

 

References:

Burkus, David. “The 5 Common Characteristics of Ideas That Spread.99u. October 7, 2013.

Our Best PowerPoint Recommendations of 2013.SlideGenius. December 10, 2013.

Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition. 5th ed. New York: Free Press, 2014. 576.

4 Types of Audience Members You Need to Present For

Your audience is filled with 4 different member types of thinkers: analytical, structural, social, and conceptual.

It’s your job to make your presentations appeal to all four. Like any other accomplishment, appealing to all four thinkers will involve research, namely research about how each thinker thinks. We, at our Presentation Agency, have looked into inc.com’s recent series of articles on leadership and compiled a rudimentary set of instructions to appeal to each thinker by analyzing the essentials that make up the foundation of each form of thought.

Analytical

Here’s how you can be sure to draw out your analytical-thinking audience:

  • Show your research.
  • Highlight important data from within the research.
  • You need to show the big picture, not just the details.
  • Provide a case study.
  • Analyze past successes to allow your team to develop new ideas.
  • Provide an overview as well as objectives.
  • Clarity about your needs is critical.
  • Quantify everything
  • Use analytical phrases like:
      • What is the cost/benefit of this project?
      • What does the research say?
      • I’ve been analyzing the situation.

Structural

So here’s how to communicate in aims to draw out your structural-thinking audience:

1. First, it’s important to understand that a structured thinker learns by doing

2. Next, provide plenty of “how-to” points

3. Hand out a step-by-step implementation plan and a guide for how things need to be done.

4. Explain through practicality.

5. Communicate in concrete terms and explain the rules.

6. Be very detailed.

Social

  • Here’s how you can be sure to draw out your socially oriented audience:
  • Don’t be afraid to refer to feelings.
  • Use questions like:
      • “How does that appeal to you?”
      • “How are you feeling about this?”
  • Or statements like:
      • “I’m concerned about how others will react.”
  • Show a personal connection.
  • Phrases that evoke this:
      • “Let’s work through this together.”
      • “Is everyone on the same page?”

Conceptual

Here’s how you can be sure you speak and interact conceptually to draw out your conceptual-thinking audience:

  • Think long-term; Where do we want to be in 5 years? You can always fill in the details and short-term afterward
  • Describe the levels or stages of your plans or ideas
  • Use abstract examples or metaphors
  • Define key terms

Thinking through this form of audience analysis will allow you to maximize the research for PowerPoint presentation, which will in turn lead more sales!

References:

Browning, Geil. “Why Being Social Makes You a Better Leader. inc.com. July 15, 2013.
Browning, Geil. “Why Steve Jobs’ Exactitude Mattered as Much as His Vision. inc.com. May 16, 2013.

Raising Capital? Consider a Scrolling Web Pitch!

Raising capital is complicated. There are a lot of pieces to put together, including selling your audience, knowing your valuation, how much capital you need, use of funds and much, much more.

The initial hurdle for countless companies comes at the intersection where entrepreneurs and investors meet. Entrepreneurs often stumble building their investment deck and effectively pitching which makes it that much harder to get people to give you the capital. Investors must believe in you and your abilities to manage and grow a company. The problem is that showing who you are and what you’re capable of can be difficult let alone doing it in a 10-15 minute window.

For that reason you need to put your heart and soul into the pitch, but not just the content, also the delivery. What does a perfect pitch look like, you ask? That is a matter of opinion and you’ll never see the “perfect pitch deck”, but recently its all about presenting your company in a unique way to stand out from the crowd.  One additional option you may consider is a scrolling web pitch. Scrolling web pitches incorporate a unique scrolling technique that allow the presenter to replace the generic professional PowerPoint click-by-click slides with an interactive, more organic and lively design.  This is not meant to be a replacement for the face to face PowerPoint pitch but a reinforcement and/or teaser to get the meeting.  Here are 4 reasons why you need to use scrolling web designs for you next investor presentation:

Keep Content Up to Date

In using a scrolling web pitch, you are making any future edits or updates to your text as easy as can be. This design simplifies the process and maximizes your use of time.

Stand Out from the Crowd and be unique

Most people email their large, boring and lifeless PowerPoint presentations to prospective investors, but it really doesn’t make sense to do that. Without context from the entrepreneur you’ll risk a misinterpreted message or worse they might not even move past the first three slides.  Treat you pitch with respect. Why be dull and lifeless when you can be unique, creative and memorable?

Monitor page analytics/views and keep consistency

Data, data, data! Being able to keep your pitch up to date online and get analytics will help you assess the effectiveness of your deck. Additionally, you’ll have created another venue to market in. A great scroll web pitch will be able to sell itself without you being there, so any viewer could potentially bite in your concept.

Create more interest and leads

Analytics and views lead to increased interest and leads. Garnering and extrapolating public interest in your concept will serve as evidence to any potential investors as quality and a great opportunity.

Think of it as PowerPoint presentation Darwinism: evolve your presentation or have it die. Though raising capital may be intimidating, challenging, and maybe seemingly impossible at times, the process starts with how you present yourself to people.

We’ve created an example of a scroll web pitch that you can see here.

If you have any questions or comments about scroll pitches just comment them on this post?

Halloween’s Takeaway Lessons for Presentations and Marketing


I say Halloween, what do you think of? Costumes, candy and cavities? Most people do.

The fact of the matter is Halloween is one of the most commercially influential holidays throughout the year. It is crucial to be able to see it as more than just a holiday for young kids to trick-or-treat. In just analyzing 2013’s Halloween’s sales and marketing activity, you’ll be able to tailor the way you present and/or market your company to increase sales for the season, and respectively apply the same tactics to any other holiday in the near future.

Here are a few facts and stats about this year’s Halloween:

1. This year, according to Bloomberg Rankings, it seems Americans are spending less Halloween costumes, candy and decorations

2. Almost 75% of Americans who celebrate Halloween said that the state of the U.S. economy had no impact on their Halloween plans

3. Nearly 33% of “Halloween celebrators” found inspiration for their costumes online

4. About 50% of adults in the western U.S. planning to wear costumes this year, which was the most out of any other part in the country

5. Despite the above fact, the overall number of people above the age of 18 who celebrated Halloween dropped from 71% percent to 65%

6. Americans spent an average of $20.99 per person on Halloween decorations

So what’s the takeaway?

Don’t be most people, do your research with plenty of time before the season hits. Use the information, and market accordingly. Marketing for this may include giving a PPC marketing, online campaigns, or maybe even a professional PowerPoint presentation to pitch. For that reason, it is crucial to prepare yourself for any avenue of marketing by having the necessary data about your potential customers.

 Whether you business runs on sale for adults, teens or children, laying out the bullet points, like we did here, will help you understand how your market reacts to any event and will consequently let you prepare your corporate presentations or pitches with a more complete and well-rounded background. 

 I’ll leave with Huffington Post’s hilarious list of 2013’s best costumes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/29/best-halloween-costumes-o_n_4170143.html

 

Reference:

Murray, Brent. “The Scary Truth About Halloween: Oh, My!Bloomberg.com. October 31, 2013.

Remapping the Self: A TEDx Talk with Erika Casriel

How does one define themselves? Why is it that we tend to think our judgements and ideas surpass those around us; and why do our emotions play a part in this? Psychology journalist Erika Casriel discusses new developments within the neuroscience field in a describing a new concept titled, “conciocenterism”, an idea she presented with TED, an organization that broadcasts “ideas worth sharing”.

SlideGenius developed her TEDx Presentation which you can watch here.

Some of Erika’s presentation ideas about this revolutionary notion of “conciocenterism” included concepts such as, instead of thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe we must challenge ourselves and see the more rational sides of our emotions and actions. Her theory challenges us to step outside ourselves and silence the illusion of the “little man inside our mind”. She provides a great analogy stating that instead of seeing ourselves as the lead actor in our life we should place ourselves within the audience position as well; therefore not letting irrational emotions and single minded judgments get the best of ourselves but to look at the bigger picture.

This idea of drifting away from egocentrism can also be tied back into giving a presentation, as you as the presenter must see both sides of the picture in order to connect with your audience by allowing them to see your inner thoughts as well.

References:

Casriel, Erika. “Remapping the Self: Neuroscience Gets Personal.” Lecture, Navesink, January 1, 2013

Why Your Presentation Needs to Be These 3 Words.SlideGenius. January 5, 2014.

Dress to Impress : How to Deliver a Successful Presentation


Recent research concludes that all great presenters are born with a very specific mutation in their DNA that allows them to connect with their audiences every time.

Obviously false. Great presenters are simply people who have practiced enough that they are confident in themselves. A successful presentation requires constant coordination of content, delivery and audience interaction.  Proper content, delivery and audience interaction, along with confidence and passion are root from one single trait, preparation. Would you go out naked and dirty? No, you shower, dress up, and look good; same goes for your PowerPoint presentation.

Presenters commonly overlook proper preparation. The fact of the matter is, preparing powerpoint slides isn’t just making the deck look good. You need to prepare yourself, your clothes, your speaking volume and speed and even your audience. There are 3 tools to make sure you are preparing the right way for your presentation:

1. Know Yourself

Giving presentations is very similar to telling a story, and having personal anecdotes is a great way to improve your audience retention.  Audiences remember stories better than anything! Why? Because they can relate to every story in some way, so use that connection to your advantage.


“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

-Colin Powell


2. Know Your Audience

Whether you’ve been asked to be a keynote speaker, pitch a venture, or talk to preschoolers, the first step is to research your audience. Knowing the audience provides you with information necessary to craft an effective, well received presentation. Things to focus on are: audiences’ level of sophistication in the topic you’re presenting on, holistic objectives and common topics of interest. Rick Wion, director of social media for McDonald’s once said, “If you don’t know your audience, you are pretty much guaranteed to fail. Your presentation could be too rudimentary, too advanced or completely off topic without understanding the core audience.” That is all.

3. Know Your CTA

Three words: Call-to-Action. This is what you leave your audience with. After the introductions, stories, laughs, or whatever you do, lies the most essential part of your PowerPoint presentation design, the next step. This is where you highlight the purpose of your presentation. What do you want your audience to do next? Give you CTA the time and energy it deserves, which I will say, should be A LOT! Check out our article all about Calls-to-Action.

Aftermath

It’s Not Over Yet! After you’ve finished speaking, it’s the perfect time to finalize your relationship with the audience. Giving a presentation creates a unique opportunity to build your brand, so take advantage of it. Lastly, be sure to get feedback from attendees and event organizers so that you can make your next presentation even more effective and memorable!

 

Work Cited: http://mashable.com/2012/02/03/improve-business-presentation/