INSIGHTS

How to Make Your Presentation Slides Less Boring

 

When giving a presentation, do your slides actually matter?

Absolutely! We live in a design-centric world, and visuals go a long way.

According to developmental molecular biologist and best-selling author John Medina, vision trumps all senses. It’s no wonder then that people following directions with illustrations do 323% better than those who follow directions with only text. For presenters, this means that visuals can be especially important in helping people retain information and remember your speech.

Here, we’ve rounded up a handful of tips to make your presentation go from boring to engaging and memorable:

  • Avoid overloading your slides with too much text. Try to keep it to one idea per slide. Really, you should think of every slide as an individual advertisement.

  • Use high quality photos instead of clip art. No pixelated images - there are better ones out there, we promise!

  • Choose your fonts and font colors wisely. Keep your typography clean, simple, and professional, and spare your audience from those hot pink or highlighter yellow tones.

  • Avoid standard templates. If you want to impress your audience, don’t use a generic preset. It's boring!

  • Use infographics to present information. Again, this goes back to people processing information more effectively through images.

  • Go easy on the effects and transitions. The transitions you use shouldn’t distract from your presentation, or make you appear less professional.

Need more tips on designing the best presentation? Check out this guide.

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Not there yet, and looking to lock down your first speaking engagement? Give us a shout!

 

How to Handle a Heckler

 

Dealing with hecklers is never fun. Fortunately for us, they rarely show themselves during presentations (most people are afraid of looking bad in front of large groups).

That said, it’s good to be prepared. As a presenter, hecklers can really throw you off and distract your audience. So what’s the best way to handle one?

We’ve rounded up five tips to help you get started:

  1. Never reward interrupting. When someone starts talking over you or chatting with their neighbor, keep going. Make them look rude.

  2. Respond if you need to. Sometimes you just have to respond to the comments. When this happens, make sure you’re addressing the whole audience and not just the heckler. If you only address the heckler, it may invite them to continue.

    • That said, at a certain point, it is okay to make a firm, direct request to the heckler to stop. Revert to Tip #3 and #4 for this.

  3. Don’t try to be funny. Unless you have experience doing stand-up, avoid trying to come up with a witty response - it may fall flat. You can still be pleasant, but deal with the heckler head-on.

  4. Stay calm and gracious. Shake off whatever the heckler has to say, and don’t let them ruin the rest of your presentation. Remember that you want to be the most mature and positive person in the room. Lose your cool and you might lose your momentum - as well as the rest of your audience.

  5. Don’t let it get personal. Focus on the subject matter, instead of attacking the individual. Avoid trying to get even.

Finally, remember that you’re serving the group’s needs - not the individual’s. Don’t let one naysayer drive a wedge between you and your audience!

Need more advice?

Check out these posts on dealing with hecklers and restoring order.

 

Branding vs. Marketing - What Comes First?

 

When it comes to startups, entrepreneurs tend to focus on developing a minimum viable product. Once early adopters' minimal needs are satisfied, the focus shifts to marketing the product in order to grow users.

But what about branding?  

A common misconception is that branding is only about the logo and design. While branding does consist of what the public sees, it’s more about how they perceive. Marketing and branding are not interchangeable, and below is a closer look at what distinguishes the two from each other:

  1. Branding is strategic; marketing is tactical. To put it plainly, branding is who you are and marketing is how you build awareness. While marketing focuses on positioning your product or service, branding is the process of building your personality, voice and message into your company’s DNA.

  2. Marketing activates buyers; branding creates loyalists. Marketing’s focus is driving user action (e.g. clicking on a link). Branding goes beyond customer acquisition and focuses on turning customers into advocates.

  3. You drive your marketing, but customers determine your branding. You hold the power over your tone and content; however, the customer ultimately defines your brand - and their perception of your company influences what they share with their network.

Thus, while marketing and branding go hand-in-hand, branding is what ultimately drives your marketing campaigns and shapes how you do business. Before you make the shift from product to marketing, be sure to consider how you want your company to be perceived, what your vision is and why your product or company exists.

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Interested in learning more about the difference between marketing and branding?

Check out this article.

 

Branding 101: Consistency is Key

 

“Your brand is your promise to your customer. [It] is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be."

- John Williams, Founder of CMOsmart

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Whether you’re a VP within a large organization or a small business owner, an effective brand strategy is what gives you the edge in an already saturated market.

Your brand is what lets customers know what they can expect from you. Here, we've pulled together a list of four key elements you need to get the word out and establish a consistent brand:

  • Logo. You need a unique logo that won’t need to be changed every year. Once it's perfected, place it everywhere. Note: This may require an investment in time and resources. (Consider hiring a designer to ensure your logo is done correctly the first time.)

  • Messaging. Spend time developing your key messages, slogan or tagline, etc. There’s nothing like a catchphrase to capture attention and help customers remember what your company has to offer.

  • Templates and standards for marketing materials. To maintain consistency and establish your company’s visual brand identity, use the same color scheme, font, and logo placement on your website, social media profiles, and non-digital assets.

  • Voice. Again, consistency is important. Will your brand have a formal, polished tone, or are you more like Wendy’s, whose Twitter account roasts anyone brave enough to take them on? (Looking for more great social media voices?)

While each of these elements is important, your company’s mission is the most essential. Don't sweat the small stuff - like your logo - until after you've properly defined your company’s purpose and have the means to deliver upon promises. There’s no point in developing stellar marketing materials if your services are unreliable.

For more branding rules your company needs to survive, check out this article.

 

Why Smart CEOs Are Social CEOs

 

These days, it’s a given that your company needs to have an active social media presence. But what about the members of your C-suite?

A recent Edelman study revealed 78% of the highest-rated CEOs were present on social media channels. Executives like Marc Benioff utilize social media to not only share company updates but also provide insight into aspects of their personal lives.

When used correctly, CEOs can use platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to expand thought leadership and boost marketing efforts. However, the benefits gained by engaging on social go beyond boosting business. Compared to peers who are not active on social media, Social CEOs are 89% better at empowering others, 52% stronger at communications, 46% more influential, and 36% better at cultivating networks. 

Here are four other reasons why CEOs should make time for social:

  1. Connect with customers: Not only does social provide a direct line of communication with those who purchase your product, but it’s a practical way to always have a finger on the pulse of your company and industry. A good example is when Airbnb’s Brian Chesky took to Twitter last year to ask people what they wanted his company to launch in 2017.

  2. Build trust: 80% of consumers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO uses social. Think of social as a place to share details that humanize you and prove your accessibility to the public.

  3. Strengthen public perception: In the midst of a PR crisis, brands who put their CEOs on the frontlines see a significant boost in public perception. For instance, AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes was lauded for providing updates via Twitter after an AirAsia plane crash in 2014.

  4. Create brand awareness: John Legere builds time for social media into his day as CEO of T-Mobile. While sometimes controversial, he’s a prime example of the many ways you can use social to your advantage. He frequently engages in conversations with customers, and his public tweets help spread T-Mobile’s message and set the company apart as the “Uncarrier.”

For more insights about execs on social media, check out thesE articles, here and here.

 

5 Presentation Tips to Become Pitch Perfect

 
Workplace Meeting

Whether it's for an intimate meeting or a huge conference, public speaking requires practice, and there is always room for improvement. Fortunately, there are a few tried-and-true ways to get ahead of the game.

This week, we’re taking pointers from Bill McGowan, Founder and CEO of Clarity Media Group, public speaking expert, and author of Pitch Perfect. We recently had the privilege of attending his talk at General Assembly, and also purchased his book!

Our favorite take-aways:

  1. Don’t buy time with the phrase: “That’s a great question.” Too often, it’s used to stall or flatter, and people can see right through it. According to McGowan, this phrase is as outdated as telling speakers to envision the audience in their underwear.

  2. Vary your delivery. Switch up the 3 P’s - that is, your pitch, pace, and projection. When delivering a key point, help it stick by slowing down, pausing, or changing your volume.

  3. Never start your presentation with an apology. Whether it’s 9 am and you’re the first session of the day, or 1 pm and the crowd is in a post-lunch slump, don’t feel like you need to preface your talk with a “I promise to keep this exciting…” or “I just want to take a little bit of your time.”

  4. Don't sweat the details. If something happened two years ago instead of three, don't worry about backtracking and correcting yourself. Press on, or you'll lose momentum - and audience interest.

  5. Stop wasting time with sign posts. That is, there's no need to begin your talk with a preview and/or give a recap afterwards. As McGowan says, don't tell your audience what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. Instead, dive right in!

For more tips, check out Top Tips for Effective Presentations

 

How to Maximize Audience Attention (When Everyone's Glued to Their Phones)

 
Crowd

With the average adult touching their phone around 2,617 times a day*, it’s only a matter of time before something distracts them from your presentation.

So what can you do? If you can’t fight them, join them. Here are a couple of ways to turn a distracted audience into an engaged one:

Live Polling & Results Display

If you’ve ever stood in front of a room of people, asked a question, and waited helplessly while no one felt confident enough to answer, your solution is live polling. Using an event app, you can ask your audience simple questions and give them the power to reply immediately using their phone.

After collecting the data, results can then be streamed in real-time to an on-stage display. This is a great tool for re-capturing your audience’s interest and focus. Live polling allows for active participation and takes the edge off speaking in a crowded room.

Networking & One-on-One Meetings

How often have you walked away from an event wondering what connections you could have made had you talked to everyone in the room? Using the event app as a meeting facilitator, attendees can now find out exactly who is in the audience, send invites for meetings, or be matched up with others with similar interests (ATTN entrepreneurs: this is an easy way to get ahold of that investor who’s been hard to reach). Event apps leave no opportunity unrecognized and allow audience members to engage both with one another as well as with speakers.

Guide your audience to action

Before heading off the stage and leaving your audience to digest your presentation, make sure you’re giving them the right tools to take action. Use your mobile events app to share your contact information and social media handles, include any presentation decks, and send through a quick survey to gather feedback after your talk.

If possible, ask the event organizer ahead of time to have your session recorded and include a link to the session in your email. This way, you can ensure a lasting impact on your audience.

Once you tap into these new forms of audience engagement, you will become a more compelling speaker, achieve a greater event ROI, and increase overall attendee satisfaction. Make sure you turn this generation's reliance on mobile devices into the next level of audience engagement.

For more on audience engagement via mobile device, read more here and here.


*Article published on NetworkWorld, IDG.

 

How to Convince Others to Repeat Your Words

 

Repetition. Mnemonics. Visualization. These are but a few ways that people commit things to memory. Knowing this, speakers can - and should - utilize certain strategies to make their presentations more effective and memorable.

In this post, we’ll break down some thoughts on memory by Memzy's Managing Director and Cognitive Neuroscientist Carmen Simon, including portability, timelessness, and syntax.

Portability, or the ability to apply something in various contexts.

How “portable” is your idea or message? According to a study by Cornell University, phrasing affects memorability, and relies on both distinctiveness and generality. People are more likely to repeat phrases if they can apply them in multiple contexts.

Carmen’s recommendation? Create generic statements, using the present tense and limiting personal pronouns. Think of some famous movie lines or slogans, and think about how they could’ve ended up.

You’re gonna need a bigger boat. --> You’re gonna need the bigger boat.

The first instance, which is the actual movie line from Jaws, can be used pretty flexibly. Some use it when they’re simply in need of more resources. Had the writing team written the line as the latter, it would not have made any sense off the water and wouldn’t be as commonplace of a phrase as it is today.

Timelessness.

The best repeatable messages have a lasting impact and endure time. They focus on three aspects:

  1. A fundamental problem, one that is related to the audience receiving the message,

  2. Building a stimulating mental image, and

  3. The right level of complexity.

Quick note on the third point: There is a difference between profound complexity and intimidating complexity. Never overwhelm your audience with too much information that they cannot process.

Simple (but disfluent) syntax.

The order of words is important if you want people to remember what you have to say. At the same time, disfluency is also necessary.

That is, half the battle is making sure your statements flow together as a whole, creating what Carmen calls a “safe canvas.” Next is marking that canvas with distinct, disfluent words to provide cognitive roadblocks that elicit deeper processing. Seems counterintuitive, but it works. (Just make sure your entire message isn’t all over the place!)

For more on memory tips and tricks, listen to Dr. Carmen Simon on Persuasive Techniques for Business and Life here.