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5 Tips for Powerful Presentations

So you’ve just been asked to whip together a PowerPoint presentation to keep your colleagues up to date on your latest product line. Do you: a. Cram each slide with as much information as you can fit on it because you don’t want to leave anything out? b. Make sure the words on the slides are exactly the words you plan to say? c. Keep your slide text brief, and use it only to highlight key points of your presentation? If you said “c,” you’re off to a great start. If you said “a” or “b,” or worse, are guilty of “a” or “b,” we have to talk. The problem with “a” and “b” boils down to this: People can’t read and listen at the same time. So if you plan to put more than a few words on a slide, you’ll need to choose whether you want people to read the slide or listen to you. Unfortunately, you can’t have both. Here are a few additional tips to help you create PowerPoint presentations that pack a punch. Blessed are the brief You know that look, the one where an audience’s eyes glaze over as a presenter displays a wall of text and reads every word. Perhaps there’s a lot to cover, but there’s a better way to do it than by bombarding your viewers with information. To make your presentation more impactful, start with length. A good guideline for determining how long (and dense) your presentation should be is the 10-20-30 rule, which originates from tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki. He says your PowerPoint should: Contain no more than 10 slides Last no more than 20 minutes Use no less than 30-point type That last guideline is designed to help you gauge how much text should go on each slide, but that actually allows for quite a bit of text. Consider breaking it up with subheads, appropriate images or videos, and white space. The 10-20-30 rule has been around for a while, but it still holds up, helping people create better, more effective presentations. Use images wisely Charts and graphs should be easy to understand and quickly illustrate the point of your speech. You don’t want your audience sitting there with knitted brows trying to figure out what those shapes and numbers mean. Photos and videos need to make an impact and evoke an emotional response, or at least interest, if you want your presentation to be compelling. Appropriate photos and art can also help break up text and support your information. (Be sure to lose the random, irrelevant stock photos and clip art.) Adding videos and animations can give your audience a break from reading and make your presentation more engaging. It’s well worth your time to learn how to insert them. You’ll find plenty of tutorials online. Tell stories Just as you would with copywriting, use stories to capture the attention of your audience and bring your point home. For instance, break up the facts and figures of your presentation by creating customer personas. Tell tales that show what their lives are like, what kinds of related problems they’re facing, and how your product helps them. With good stories, your audience will better understand and remember your presentation. Create a handout When you’re delivering a presentation, certain people will want to write down every word. If they do so, they won’t really be listening to you and grasping the main ideas you’re trying to convey. To solve this problem, tell your audience right off the bat that they don’t have to take notes because you’ll have a handout with the main points to give them after the presentation. (Don’t plan on giving it to people before or during the presentation because they’ll want to sit there reading it and, again, won’t be listening to you.) Many presenters just send the PowerPoint deck to everyone after the meeting, but often these presenters don’t include speaker notes, at least not for all the slides. This may leave the PowerPoint recipients trying to fill in gaps, either by remembering what you said or figuring out what you meant by the limited content on your slides. Instead, it shouldn’t take that long to summarize your key points on a one-page Word doc or PDF that your audience can easily reference. If you’re able, give the handout a nice layout with images to make it more readable and improve audience recall. Present! Remember: You are the presenter. So present! That doesn’t mean looking up at your presentation on the screen and reading every word of your slides or bombarding your audience with less-than-interesting data. Rather, you’ll want to make eye contact with people and have an actual conversation where you tell them something that’s not on your slides. Give them plenty of opportunities to ask questions and interact with you and other participants. By the end of your presentation, your audience won’t just leave with a solid understanding of your material; they may also have a more enjoyable experience. And the next time you send them a meeting invitation, they won’t be rolling their eyes in anticipation of “another boring PowerPoint presentation.” Instead, they’ll be eager to find out what you have to say and how you plan to say it. By ETMG Social Media Team

Marketing Sensitivity in the Age of COVID-19

As the COVID-19 virus continues to bring unprecedented changes to our world, your business has probably experienced some big changes as well, from telecommuting employees to shifts in how you operate. While attempting to navigate these changes, and the best way to respond to them, one thing is sure: for most companies, it’s no time for business as usual. One of the biggest challenges businesses face is determining how to market to customers during this difficult time. Some companies have already hammered out a plan for approaching them. Others are still trying to figure it out. To help you assess your own situation and forge an appropriate path, we’ve gathered some lessons from companies who have already come up with a strategy, along with data-based best practices for showing sensitivity to the current situation in your marketing. Don’t lie low While you may be tempted to keep quiet until the business climate becomes a little more certain and less confusing, that’s not what your customers want. It turns out that they actually would like to hear from you. In fact, in a recent Advertising Age study, 43% of respondents said they found it reassuring to hear from brands during this time. A GlobalWeb Index survey supported this conclusion, with 38% of respondents agreeing that brands should continue to advertise amidst COVID-19. (Of the other respondents, 28% disagreed and 35% neither agreed nor disagreed.) Bottom line: let your customers know that you’re still out there and ready to help. Be nimble Are you ready to launch a traditional marketing campaign, developed before the coronavirus turned the world upside down? Well, it may be time to shelve it instead, at least temporarily, until life for your consumers gets back to normal or closer to normal once virus numbers finally begin to decline. Instead, use the time to learn how the virus is affecting your consumers and adjust your strategy accordingly. Reassess your goals and priorities. Almost half of marketers surveyed by GlobalWebIndex have decided to change their priorities during the pandemic. Only 6% are going ahead with business as usual. Avoid making assumptions You know what they say about assumptions. (If you don’t, you can Google it.) In any case, because everything about marketing during the pandemic is new, it’s no time to be assuming things. In this changing business climate, it’s more important than ever to rely on new data and insights regarding your customers, prospects, and others connected to your business. How are your customers feeling these days? (Depressed? Stressed? Happy? Relaxed?) What are their financial challenges? Are they buying goods and services now or holding off on them until later? What are their expectations for the companies they patronize? It’s well worth your time and money to do the research and adjust your marketing to reflect what you find. Be sensitive to financial pressures In April of this year, the unemployment rate soared to 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression. While many of these job losses may be temporary, a significant number of those now without jobs are having money problems. Even those who aren’t, appear to be conserving their dollars in the wake of economic uncertainty. For example, according to a Scorpion survey, many consumers are holding off on large purchases and are planning to save during the upcoming months. It’s important to take this uncertainty and these financial issues into consideration when determining your marketing strategy. Perhaps it’s time to think about offering special promotions or flexible pricing to help customers weather the financial climate. For instance, for a small startup fee, some enterprise software companies have created promotional offers that give prospects almost unlimited use of their products for three months. The strategy has helped the companies gain market share while remaining sensitive to customers cash-flow problems and building customer loyalty. Use your power for good When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s an appropriate mantra for all the tech companies that have seen the problems brought about by COVID-19 and worked to find solutions. Here are some examples: Rideshare services Lyft and Uber are delivering food and medical supplies for frontline workers, seniors, and others in need throughout the world. Apple has donated 10 million masks to the medical community and $15 million towards the global COVID-19 response. It’s also continuing to pay all its hourly workers, even though they can’t go to work. Honeywell has partnered with the U.S. government and is expanding its operations to produce N95 masks. According to the Smithfield, Rhode Island company, the expansion will create 500 more jobs in the area. Verizon Media has offered new tools to help developers and data teams better organize, understand, and present publicly available COVID-19 data. Cisco has created programs to help healthcare operations quickly procure free networking equipment. Google is working with the U.S. government to create a website for COVID-19 education and resources. The company is also removing misinformation from its sources. These are just a few of the companies that have looked at the pandemic problems impacting their communities and the world and risen to the occasion to help out. Their actions will not only create goodwill with the community and loyalty from their customers, but they are also likely to make partners, vendors, and others feel good about working with these businesses. What can you do to help your customers and communities during this time? If you can’t think of anything, ask colleagues and employees to weigh in with their ideas. Even some of the smallest actions are likely to be remembered and appreciated. Just keep in mind that, in the worst of times, it pays to be at your best. By ETMG Social Media Team

Five Tips to Make You a Videoconferencing Star

If you’re like many workers these days, you’re telecommuting from home, and communicating via video conference, due to Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders. Some people, especially those who were videoconferencing frequently long before recent events, make this look easy. They always seem to look great on camera, manage to find the perfect, interruption-free spots in their homes, and exude competence and professionalism throughout every meeting. Then there are those of us who may be a tad less videoconference savvy, and are trying to make it work in spite of problems like lousy lighting, unflattering camera angles, the kids yelling inside or lawnmower outside, and distracting things happening in the video background, like a cat throwing up a hairball. (Yep; that happened.) If you’re among the latter group, here’s the good news: It’s fairly easy to turn yourself from a remote meeting rookie to a videoconferencing superstar. All it takes is a little time, attention, and experimentation. Here are few tips to get you started. Check the lighting Expect your lighting environment to dramatically impact the way you appear. For instance, if you’re sitting right in front a big window in bright sunlight, you might look a tad washed out; maybe even ghostly. If the window is to one side, only half of your face will be lit, which may look a little odd to your colleagues. A room with florescent lights in the ceiling should light you up just fine, but those lights may also expose every itty-bitty facial flaw. That can be particularly alarming if you have a high-quality camera with crystal clear video. Yikes! Your best bet is soft, natural lighting, which tends to flatter most people. For example, if you have a room with a few windows, you can project a nice image if you’re not sitting too close to them. If you find your face is still a little dark, consider putting a lamp – yes, a regular old lamp with a shade and everything, behind your computer. Some people even set up a ring light, which photographers often use for portraits and beauty shots to get rid of those unflattering shadows. Find the right angle There’s a reason why many people who take selfies hold their phones above their heads when they look into the camera. It’s because doing the opposite—taking that photo from a low angle, can make you look bad, really bad. Expect to see downcast eyes, double chins and neck wrinkles you didn’t even know were there (and that may not even be there). This is especially true for the over-40 crowd. Looking down at your laptop can have a less dramatic, but still unflattering effect. So why not change that angle so you can look better? You’re going to want your computer camera to be just above eye level, or maybe even a little higher so you’re looking up into the screen. If you don’t need to use the keyboard, you can do this by putting the computer or laptop up on a box or a laundry basket and tilting the screen down toward you. If you do need to use the keyboard, an adjustable standing desk with a lower keyboard panel can work, although those can be pricey. An inexpensive wired or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse can also solve the problem. If you use a wired version, just make sure the cord is long enough. Beware of background distractions If you’re in a business meeting, set the camera up in a place where your video background isn’t too messy or busy. If the busy part is not possible (for lighting or other reasons), ask family members to avoid walking or doing other stuff behind you. A Sacramento TV reporter learned this the hard way when she Zoomed-in from her bathroom to show her viewers how to give themselves haircuts, and viewers could clearly see her husband taking a shower in the background. All of him. Know how your software works With some video meeting software, you can upload backgrounds so people can’t see the mess behind you, your kids doing a jig in the background, or anyone walking around in their underwear. But especially if you use one of your own pictures, make sure there’s nothing embarrassing in the photo. If you want to use filters like the kind that give you puppy ears or stretch your face in funny ways, be sure they’re appropriate for your workplace. One department head knew they weren’t right for hers, but had downloaded a special filter for a virtual happy hour with friends, When it came time for her meeting, she inadvertently showed up as a potato, and couldn’t figure out how to turn the setting off. So she did the meeting as a potato. Also, be aware that, if you’re showing your video and your face is not on the screen, everyone can see still you. Actress Tiffany Haddish learned this the hard way when she continued her meeting while standing up in phone mid-conversation, and walking right into the bathroom. Keep your pants on Or your skirt. Or whatever else you might feel comfortable wearing from the waist down in your office setting. It not only matters what you wear that’s visible on screen but also what you think is not visible. Reporter Will Reeve, son of the late Christopher Reeve of Superman fame, made a super slip-up. While he was smartly dressed in a blazer and tie from the waist up, he didn’t realize the camera angle showed he was wearing short shorts from the waist down. At least Reeve was wearing something. Others have been caught in video meetings wearing nothing at all. While these five tips aim to help you project a professional appearance and good judgment during your videoconferencing sessions, don’t worry too much if you mess up and end up showing more than you intended. We’re all human, and your mishap is likely to do no more than give people a chuckle at a time when we all could use a good laugh.



By ETMG Social Media Team

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