Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Informal Chat Does Not Work For Keynote

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

I went to Blogworld recently to see a friend speak. I was also looking forward to catching the keynote speaker Chris Brogan at the end of the day. I’m a big fan of Chris’s blog posts and his book. I’ve seen him present via online stream and the occasional video that he posts.

The conference was kind of interesting. It was smaller than I expected for a event like this in New York City. I like blogging. I have two blogs. You are reading one now. Chris’s blog is one of the few blogs I read regularly. I admire his knowledge and writing style that has won him thousands or as he mentioned maybe 200,000 blog followers. That is a  big audience.

I can never find the time to write. Chris says there is no excuse not to write. I’d like to say to Chris that there is no excuse for not taking his presentation skills and style to the next level. I found his “talk” amateurish and looking unprepared. There were only a few thousand live people in the main conference hall of the Javits center, but maybe a much larger audience on the live stream.

I know from watching some of his past speaking engagements that his style is more of a personal chat with his audience than a formal presentation. He usually adds in some crude comments about having to pee or a poop joke for some shock value. The shock to me was how his informal approach in this large venue felt so disrespectful. I gave up my afternoon to stick around and hear some of his words of wisdom mixed with his personal chat style and to learn from the king of blogging and guru of social media.

To me, his talk came off as a bit pompous, unprepared, and lacking of much useful or even entertaining information. His preparation seemed to be writing four or five notes or key words down on the back of a business card, which he possibly finished minutes before, while doing his business on a bathroom throne.

I will still continue to follow Chris’s blog post and buy his next book. He has a brilliant mind when it comes to social media and the future of marketing. To me, he still remains the king of blogging and social media but I will not go out of my way again to hear him speak live or online until I read in one of his blogs that he’s getting some coaching on his presentation skills. He needs to get his speaking skills on par with his writing skills.

Now I may be alone in my disappointment at the keynote today at the Javits center. Maybe the audience of bloggers and new media love this impromptu, minimal prep attitude of  “I’ll just ramble on about a few key points that I wrote down before I came up on stage” kind of style. Maybe this is why big corporations pay him $20k to do a “chat session” – to just get up and speak from the heart.

But for my $20 NYC cab ride over to see him, I’d like to see more. Chris is talented at communicating with written words and I’ve seen him do some great talks. If he only got serious about being a speaker in front of live audiences, he could be an awesome presenter. What do you think of a “chat style” keynote presentation?

Facebook IPO Video – do you like it?

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The Facebook IPO video is an excellent video production, but did they produce it because they were afraid of Mark Zuckerberg going off script in a traditional IPO road show presentation?

I have produced and attended many investor road show presentations over the years and it was always fun to watch the Investment bank managers in the back of the room pull their hair out as the CEO diverged from their well prepared and practiced script. Maybe this Facebook video presentation is the answer? But does it sidestep the primary reason for the IR Road Show – for the potential investors to get a first hand, face to face view of the leadership qualities of the company executives?  I don’t think I’d invest in Facebook even if I had the opportunity to buy the crazy prices the IPO numbers will hit, but I would invest in the video production company that produced the Facebook IPO video.

Ballmer Bombs at CES with No PowerPoint

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Did you get a chance to see the Microsoft keynote presentation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show? If you didn’t yet, don’t bother. Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft was making one of the most prominent keynote presentations of the year and he chooses to use a lame, over rehearsed sit-down interview format, rather than a powerful stand up and deliver, visually exciting, information packed, fast moving PowerPoint slide slide show on the future products of Microsoft – including the future direction of one of their anchor products Microsoft Office and . . . PowerPoint!

To me this was like the CEO of Ford Motor Company traveling to the Detroit Auto show on a motor scooter rather than their latest super looking, power dripping, hot Mustang.

On top of that the choice of interviewer was wrong. Now, I like Ryan Seacrest on American Idol. My 12 year old daughter loves the show. He is clearly the number one TV show master of ceremonies, but he did not fit the part for an interview show at CES. They should have used Walt Mossberg, or David Pogue. It would have come off much less rehearsed and stiff.

Steve Ballmer had the opportunity to do what Al Gore did for the cause of climate change, and Steve Jobs did for Apple at every keynote presentation with powerful, exciting visual supporting slides – got the audience engaged, excited, buzzing and motivated to take action with the peek into the future. In Gore’s case it motivated more people to be involved in the climate change issues, and in Steve’s case it motivated people to RUN out to buy Apple products.

What better opportunity to promote a key Microsoft product by not just making a slide of bullet listed features (which might be all they know how to do), but use it in a way to show off how it can be an incredibly powerful communication tool!

How Many Types of Meetings?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Although experts frequently suggest that effective PowerPoint presentations should not include “bullet points” or that presenters should only be using less than 15 slides – these rules are just guidelines that vary depending on the type of meeting. If you have an hour to persuade an audience of 500 that your Fortune 500 company is a good investment, that is a different type of meeting than if you have 10 minutes to pitch your new startup to a group of angel investors.

The type of meeting is an important factor which helps determine the content, number and type of slides that will help you get the results you need. I thought I’d try and come up with a comprehensive list of types of meetings. Please comment or email me if you can suggest additional meeting types. Here’s my list:

Types of Meetings by Marsh

1. Board Meetings

2. Brainstorming Meetings

3. Breakout Meetings

4. Combination Meetings

5. Conference Call Meetings

6. Emergency Meetings

7. Evaluation Meetings

8. Event Planning Meetings

9. Feedback Meetings

10. Financial Review Meetings

11. Financial Update Meetings

12. First Meetings

13. Holiday Meetings

14. Information Sharing Meetings

15. Introduction Meetings

17. Investor Meetings

18. Keynote Speeches

19. Large Conference Meetings

20. Leadership Meetings

21. Management Meetings

22. Manager Meetings

23. Meetings to Plan Bigger Meetings

24. New Business Pitch Meetings

25. New Product Launch Meetings

26. Online Meetings

27. Organizational Meetings

28. Party Meetings

29. Pitch Meetings

30. Planning Meetings

31. Political Meetings

32. Problem-Solving Meetings

33. Production Meetings

34. Project Planning Meetings

35. Religious Meetings

36. Research Review Meetings

37. Sales Meetings

38. Shareholder Meetings

39. Small Conference Meetings

40. Staff Meetings

41. Stakeholder Meetings

42. Strategy Meetings

43. Termination Meetings

44. Training Session Meetings

45. Trip Planning Meetings

46. Update Meetings

47. Year End Meetings

48. Year Beginning Meetings

49. Family Meetings

50. School Meetings

51. Class Meetings

52. Public Relations Meetings

53. Sports Meetings (and Events)

54. Team Meetings

Presenter of the Year – Not Mark Zuckerberg

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

He might be Time Magazine’s person of the year, but he is not the presenter of the year. Yes, Mark Zuckerberg has impacted 500 million people’s lives with Facebook, but he could use some help with his presentation skills. Look at this picture below. He’s talking, no one seems to be paying attention to him and his slides look like a boring list of bullet points.

Are these people in the room paying attention to him or checking their latest post on their Facebook page?

Is this the future of meetings – where the speaker talks to the back of everyone’s heads while they multitask, reading, sending emails, and chatting on Facebook?

Mark is talking about “Next Generation Messaging” and how Facebook is coming out with a messaging tool that may replace email.

I hope he and his team are not working on a new presentation platform that will replace PowerPoint, especially if this meeting shown above is his idea of a successful presentation.

NY Times Article: “Staying Professional in Virtual Meetings”

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

A good article on meetings in The New York Times: JOBS | September 26, 2010
Career Couch:  Staying Professional in Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings have become a staple of business life, but personal conduct during a phone or video conference can be different than in face-to-face meetings.

Eilene Zimmerman hits on some important points about staying professional in Virtual Meetings from the perspective of being a participant.  I totally agree that virtual meetings are now a staple of the business world. One key point she left out about virtual meetings . . . you need to pay even more attention to your PowerPoint visuals – that’s if you are using them.  As Eilene points out the visual component of your virtual meeting is important. Read the rest of this entry »

PowerPoint Masters at Microsoft?

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I read that Microsoft had it’s Financial Analyst Meeting yesterday. I was curious what their PowerPoint slides looked like. Here are two slides from Steve Ballmer’s deck. Now, remember I’m a big fan of Microsoft and LOVE PowerPoint. I thought the slides looked OK, but I was disappointed considering they were from the developers of the program. In general there’s too much content on each slide.  Look at the slide below where it seems their main message is about making Office 2010 simple, but the slide looks chaotic. Using all caps for the text is a very poor design choice – research clearly says ALL CAPS is not as readable as upper/lower case.  One of my #1 rules for good slide design is make it as simple and easy to read as possible.

They should hire one of the terrific PowerPoint MVP’s to assist them with some slide design. Or call eSlide.  Do you think Steve Ballmer did these slides himself? Maybe, I’m being too hard on Steve and Co. What do you think of the design of these two slides?

Click here to see Steve’s entire slide deck and others presented at the their investor conference July 29th, 2010.

Ballmer_FAM_2010 slide1

Ballmer_FAM_2010 slide2

Can PPT Bullets Save Us From Real Bullets?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

PowerPoint is not the enemy, but can be a powerful communication secret weapon, if used well.

If you were in a contest to win a million dollars by pitching an idea to a small group of investors for starting a new company which would you choose:

1. Send them a detailed 100 page business plan a week before the meeting and ask these extremely busy investors who have their own successful companies to run and a few too many start-up businesses to oversee and keep tabs on – to read your detailed plan. Then at the pitch meeting with them, speak to a few highlights of the plan and ask them if they had any questions. What do you think the chances are that they read your detailed business plan or anything beyond the summary page – if they even took the time to look at more than the title?

2. Send them the detailed 100 page business plan and ask them to review it. Then you meet with them and take the first ten minutes to present the key highlights of the plan with some powerful, effective, easy to understand PowerPoint visuals that support your presentation speech. You make sure they knew you expect them to ask questions at any time. You brought copies of the detailed business plan, so you could answer some questions by pointing them to answers in the document (that they probably forgot to bring, or lost in the pile of plans they are asked to review). You might have an appendix of the plan in the PowerPoint deck with all the key data that you might be asked about and can quickly show supporting data to answers if asked about it.

Creating this PowerPoint deck might take a lot of work. I might even hire a professional graphic artist to assist with a few of the key graphics. In the end it will ensure that I get the opportunity to present my idea thoroughly and accurately by having the long form detailed document, my speech, and powerful visuals to point out the highlights and support the words in my speech.

For an opportunity to win a million bucks to get my business started, I’d do what ever it takes to ensure my one shot at pitching it to the investors that could make it happen. I’d use every tool available to me.

Now, if I were in the military and presenting information on strategies and information that may change the course of history and literally result in the life or death of people, not just the financial success of a company – I would use every available tool to communicate that information as effectively and accurately as possible!

If used effectively, maybe the bullet points in a PowerPoint used by the military could actually save lives by avoiding the use of real bullets that kill people.

The Enemy is PowerPoint

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010


Financial crisis, Healthcare crisis, and now Mideast crisis all caused by PowerPoint. The horrible program that has tortured millions, maybe billions of people to sit through boring, time wasting meetings.

Faster than a speeding locomotive, able to leap from any size digital projector or computer screen, more powerful than a nuclear bomb, capable of killing ideas and making people stupid, PowerPoint is the secret weapon of the Microsoft Bill Gates to conquer the world.

Forget Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Explorer and all the other applications the evil Microsoft has forced upon the world with their near monopoly of the software industry, it is PowerPoint that is being used to control minds and make people stupid enough to buy the next Microsoft Office release and add billions of dollars to his already fat financial world controlling bank accounts.

Once people start using the new features in PowerPoint 2010, they will become so stupid that they will start believing FOX News is truly unbiased news reporting. These people made stupid by PowerPoint 2010 will then start voting into office people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck (who are too smart to ever have used PowerPoint). Once in power, they will ban the use of Google search of their backgrounds, tax The New York Times out of existence, and heath care for anyone over the age 65 to save costs.

They will then push through congress and the senate a new law that allows them to appoint a new leadership position of the US, the Czar of the Digital US. Everyone will know, even the people made stupid by PowerPoint, that the Czar that controls the Internet, the computer “clouds”, the virtual worlds, the digital US will control the world. Bill Gates will have won. PowerPoint is the enemy. We must fight back with long winded speeches without any visual support, and 100 page research papers that everyone must read or die, for there will be no summary PowerPoint decks to help get the key points communicated. We must stop this enemy now!

Inspired by the article in the NY Times: “We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint“,  The New York Times, April 26, 2010 by Elisabeth Bumiller

Another Steve Jobs Presentation Success?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

When Steve Jobs presents the world listens. Yesterday he presented Apples latest new product, the iPad at a much anticipated industry event.  His presentations are often the high bar to be measured against. His style has changed little over the 20 years I’ve seen him present. I remember watching him present the Apple Newton many years ago at the then yearly MacWorld Boston event.

He does haveSteve Presentats the iPad a few advantages over your typical presenter such as he wanted better presentation software, so he had Apple develop Keynote. I’d love to know why they never developed a Windows version.   A bigger advantage is that he always has a great, exciting, newsworthy product to show and demo. My favorite memorable “Steve the Presenter” moment was pulling the Apple MacBook air out of a inter-office envelope. He’s part marketing magician.

He makes it look so easy and relaxed, but from what I’ve have read and heard from people that have worked at Apple events he rehearses often and until it looks unrehearsed. He did look a little tired this time, but he still looks like he is recovering from his liver transplant. After what he has been through it is amazing that he has the perseverance to continue to put himself through the new product development, media circus and pressure of a worldwide speaking event.

I’m glad he did. I look forward to his speaking engagements as much as a new Pixar movie, not to mention the excitement of the new product he was launching. I’m sold. I’ll buy one when it ships in a few months.

The iPad may not make much of a dent in the PowerPoint world, but I’ll want to try the new version of Keynote developed for it. You have to listen carefully to the presentation, but it does hook up to a projector so you can present from it.

Now, back to working on a client’s PowerPoint presentation that she would like us to make it look as Apple Keynote “Wow” like as possible.