Will Masks be the new Meeting Attire?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
Masks are the latest "in" meeting attire

As Swine Flu hysteria makes a come back this fall, will the new attire at your next business meeting be business casual with a business blue face mask?  My daughter is home from school today for the second day. She has a simple cold or what appears to be a simple cold, but anyone sneezing or coughing at school gets sent home.  Will this new wave of Swine Flu give companies another reason (besides budget cuts) to cancel meetings and events?  What is going to happen to all the medical meetings planned that will contribute to avoiding Swine Flu outbreaks in the future? Will they be canceled? Time to call the stock broker and invest more money in Webex and the other online meeting companies.

Life by PowerPoint vs Death by PowerPoint

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Life by PowerPoint

If you work with PowerPoint, you’ve heard the term “Death by PowerPoint”. Some days it seems PowerPoint has killed more people than the Iraq war. PowerPoint has never killed or hurt anyone. It is only a communication tool that can be a great tool when used properly or a very bad tool when used poorly. Unfortunately, it is so easy to use and used so often (estimated to be 30 million users daily), it is often abused and too often used to torture audiences rather than engage and excite them.

It is not “Death by PowerPoint” but “Death by BAD PowerPoint”. PowerPoint as a communication tool has the capacity to support a meeting communication, but can also kill an idea or meeting if used incorrectly.

PowerPoint can be an amazing tool when used correctly.  It can help engage your audience, enhance your presentation, help close a deal, explain a complicated process, keep an audience focused on the important points, share information faster and more effectively than a speaker without PowerPoint slides. It can bring life to your ideas and to your important communications!

PowerPoint animations are comprehension killers?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

A great deal of attention has been given to this recent blogged about study that said PowerPoint animations are comprehension killers. Why should this be such big news? As a professional working with presentations for over 20 years, it was clear 20 years ago that if you load up your slides with animation after animation, all you will accomplish is making audience dizzy and tune out.

PPT Animation can kill comprehensinFor any visual effect (and in the new PowerPoint there are many), you need to use them sparingly to have them have any impact. If you keep your slides simple and consistent except for when you want to make an important, memorable point – you add an animation or other visual effect for impact.

People just love to hate PowerPoint. I’m still not sure if people really hate PowerPoint or they just hate it by association of meetings and deadlines that they hate.

I find it interesting that with all the blogs and tweets I saw about this study yesterday, NO ONE mentioned a small important comment made in the study: “Both presentations dramatically improved the students’ scores”. YES, the presentations dramatically improved the students scores which proves the point that PowerPoint can improve communication, just leave out the fancy animations.

I’m so sick of hearing the “death by PowerPoint” cliche when it should be Death by BAD PowerPoint. I’m going to start a new effort to change the cliche to: LIFE by PowerPoint. PowerPoint (when used correctly, and effectively) can give life to ideas, careers and companies.

More Slides for Non-native Language Audiences

Friday, June 20th, 2008

earthIn this flattening world, it is becoming more important than ever to have good visuals that support your message when presenting to a global audience.

As you present globally with web online presentation tools or even in person, it is a good idea to support your speech with enhanced visuals that support your message. This will help your non-native language speaking audience members keep up with the rest of the audience.

I have been in the corporate review of evaluating how to improve online web meetings, where members of the the worldwide corporate audience requested more slides for the next monthly meeting because they found as non-native English speakers they understood information better when they were able to read it, besides hear the presentation.

Think about it. If you speak English as a second language, it would be easier to comprehend complex concepts during a presentation if the information could be read besides heard on the phone line. Very often it is easier for people to read information (at their own pace) to support the fast speaking presenter. The answer for improved meeting communication in a multi-language audience is use more slides. Also remember that a good visual can be thought of as an international language if done correctly. When presenting Globally use more slides, even if they are simple text and data slides it will help your non-native English speaking audience members.

Save Money by doing your own slides?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I heard this comment today by a employee of a large company. He said the comment came from a fellow employee who was disturbed by the amount of the cost to use outside companies to do PowerPoint and thought money  could be saved by doing it yourself or using internal resources.

I agree. Yes you could save money by doing it yourself or using an administrative person to assist in creating PowerPoint. In fact if you want I will give you the cell phone number of my 12 year old daughter and she can do PowerPoint for you at her babysitting rate of $5.00/hr. Yes, anyone who can use a computer today can probably create some PowerPoint slides.

But few people these days have the talent or skill to create PowerPoint slides that can communicate a message the way a professional presentation graphic artist can. And they can probably create the slides in a quarter of the time it would take to do yourself – saving you plenty of time to do the job you were being paid the big bucks to do.

Just like anyone can throw a meal together that is editable, but few people can cook like a master chef or make cooking look so easy and taste so good. Anyone can throw paint on a canvas and call it art, but few can do it and get paid for it, and even fewer can get paid to make a living from it.

Maybe the next big company blog post will be a suggestion that the company should stop using outside companies for their advertising needs. They can create their own videos with their cell phone camera’s and post them on youtube.com or maybe get them into commercial time for the 6pm news?

Maybe they do spend too much money on outside resources for slides . . . because they are not using the right company for the task. Are they hiring their PR firm or Advertising firm to do PowerPoint? Again, anyone can use Powerpoint, any graphic artist can surely come up with some decent looking slides, maybe even some pretty slides. But why hire an expensive general contractor when the job can be better accomplished by a specialist? A specialist that has honed their skills designing and developing visual images for PowerPoint for years.

 What is the cost savings to the company when a highly compensated executive take times away from his “real job” to spend hours figuring out how to make effective slides communicating important messages? What is the cost savings when the executive does not successfully communicate the important message to the group he’s presenting to? A lost sale, a lost business objective, a lost opportunity to inspire a group to innovate and drive the company forward to growth and success?

Everyone loves to hate meetings and loves even more to hate PowerPoint. They don’t really hate PowerPoint, they really hate BAD PowerPoint because it is bad PowerPoint that causes bad meetings.

The real irony of their post about not using outside slide vendors is that if they used a professional presentation graphic artist studio to help them produce some effective visuals to communicate their cost saving message, they might actually succeed in implementing their suggestion. . . but
I don’t have to worry about that.