Powerful points on PowerPoint

I had captured the above image of Bugs Bunny a few weeks ago.  I can't remember how I came across it, but I did capture and save it to my PC.  I think I was considering using it for a powerpoint presentation I was creating as a proposal of sorts and was going to use it for the final slide.  As in "that's all folks".  

I didn't use it because the slide deck I created used the same image consistently throughout.  That's my style, a clean look with powerful images that convey what I think the .ppt conveys.

In this case, the audience was launching a social media presence for its corporate identity:  they were in operation, they had subscribers to their service, with zero social media presence.  I related it to climbing a mountain to reach the top, the goal defined as reaching out to vast audience in a crowded industry -- not unlike climbing a daunting mountain.

I ended up using the slide for social sharing, now wishing I had made the     right corner type smaller and more underwhelming 

If you read and observe the best presentations on SLIDE SHARE (a wonderful extension of Linked In) the common thread is that strong graphics and minimal words seem to be the most identifiable and powerful.

I wrote a few years back about presentations.  If you are in sales in any form:  selling a product or service or selling your company, you use .ppt to create a dialogue with an audience of one or many.  It is like a memorable guide to what topic you are covering.

I've had Eugene Cheng on my side gadget under recommended reading for a few years.  He really is talented in creating powerpoint.  Check out his website and see if you agree:

  www.slidecomet.com | www.itseugene.me

www.slidecomet.com | www.itseugene.me

It looks like Eugene rebranding and extended his reach under a new umbrella @High_Spark ... as is always the case, when I discover a talented individual, I like to keep them in my folder of idea enhancers, people who resemble the #bestofeverything there is to offer as talent, creativity, knowledge, exceptional learning.

I did initially upload the .ppt to SLIDESHARE and I have to say that the reaction and reception is a disappointment.  That isn't too surprising since I have used SlideShare as a resource and source for feeding my knowledge junkie habit.  

It takes confidence to consider that others may be interested in what you have created.  It can also trample it if the reaction is minimal or slight.  Then again, creating .ppt presentations hasn't been an area I would consider myself defined as worth sharing.

That is where the challenge comes in.  I force myself to be honest and then challenge myself to become better.

Why? Because if you are a CEO or sales professional, presenting .ppt is something you should become strong at.  

Most CEOs have a marketing department or communications professional to create their .ppt for them.   All they have to do is create and rehearse the notes to avoid reading off of them or reading from notes.

That takes practice.  The flow between slides and narration is a lot harder than it looks.  I've played with various tools to become stronger.  It was critical to get better after doing a presentation to a leadership evaluation for a senior project management role within my organizations.  As a self-critique, that is realistic and forms my own evaluation on how I could have been better (see if any of this strikes a cord with you):

  • The time for the presentation, including Q&A (questions and answers) was scheduled for an hour.
  • The amount of slides was too many to cover the Q&A period.
  • After the dismal, unprofessional set up of the room for the video conference, I was scattered but not shattered.
  • I read more off the slides than narrated them.  That was a disaster.  I could have just emailed the .ppt and been done with it.
  • Reading from notes or directly from the slides makes the narration stilted and boring.
  • While reading off of slides or notes, you are not engaging with your audience.  
  • When your eyes are on the slides, reading from them or the notes, your eyes are on the slides, not with your audience.
  • When you are not looking, scanning your audience, you are not feeling out their interest.  Are they smiling or looking bored or planning their grocery list for dinner that evening?
  • When your intent is to impress, you can do yourself an injustice on what you are capable of doing.
I was lucky.  The leader did give me feedback.  It was direct and a little brutal:  telling me that in that position, I would have minimum 10 minutes to report to an executive.  My presentation was way way wayyyyyyyy too long.  

The second .ppt I did, was not asked for.  Not directly.  I was asked to present how I, personally, would launch a digital marketing program for this corporation that had no presence.  Fortunately, I had been reached out to by the Founder of the organization.  Unfortunately, it was a group decision.  Instead of being asked to present to the founder and his partner, I was invited to meet with two key players on the team who's input would be deciding votes on my being hired.

My takeaway?  Well, the two audience members had a list of questions they wanted answered.  However, I had my own agenda because I had spent the time preparing the powerpoint that would answer a lot of the questions.  I could tell by the age of the lady in my audience, by her attire and attitude, that she was a driver and really couldn't care less about the intricacies of social media or me.  She had a multi-page questionnaire that she wanted to follow.  Her own agenda.  

I didn't inquire about the room setting for the meeting, nor about the technology available.  Maybe I wanted it to be a nice present surprise that I was so professional and prepared.  

I had saved my presentation on not one but two flash drives, along with emailing it to the meeting scheduler.  However, the room wasn't set up and at least 10 minutes was wasted getting it up and running.  10 valuable minutes that could have been spent on building rapport with a stilted audience.  

I had learned from my previous presentation that I needed to shorten my presentation, avoid reading the slides, and rehearsed enough so that the narration was smoother once I got started.  Yet, the fumbling over getting technology going and the resistance from the one audience member that she just wanted her questions answered.  The second team member was the organizer who let the other person dive in and drive the meeting.

My first horrific executive presentation was about 15 years ago.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  My boss and I were invited to present to an executive as to why our company should consider our proposal to be awarded the vendor of choice.  

My boss and I had rehearsed:  in so that we knew who was going to do the speaking and who was going to do the clicking of the powerpoint.

I was unprepared for the executive's response:  after barely 10 minutes he jumped in with direct, pertinent questions, that made me stumble and falter.  Needless to say, we weren't awarded the contract.  In all fairness, it wasn't only because our .ppt had failed to impress them, it had a lot to do with the incumbent being the favorite.

My husband and I review some of his own presentations with his own executive team.  He is tasked with saving money for the company in the oil-shorn city of Calgary where falling oil prices are taking thousands of jobs and companies are in survival mode.  

I listen and pay attention.  That's because my husband is an ops guy who doesn't have a lot of time to waste on meetings and being wined and dined to buy from his suppliers and vendors.  He works with a talented young fellow who is a pro at Excel and .ppt.  He often says over and over:  

Just give them the facts and have the backup to support it.
He seemed to be bang on, stating that the executives just wanted the bare bones numbers, without the fluff.  The executives had specific questions on how the numbers were determined (aka back up).

I want to get better at this.  Some would say that I'm not nearly as bad as I tear myself up over.   I would say that there are some critical nuances you have to keep in mind when preparing and presenting. 
> Don't spend more time on creating your powerpoint than preparing the facts.

> Know the facts: details, how the numbers were arrived at, where the source came from.

> Back up your numbers by knowing them intimately, have them on the top of your head 

> Substance over style: it isn't so much about the pretty .ppt as a direct hit on message

> Be succinct in your narration.  (I have a weakness for being too wordy which is a disadvantage that needs to be excelled at).  Don't read the slides or off of your notes

> Know your numbers: spend more time on how you are going to explain your numbers in your preparation.

> Planning should equal preparation: ask the meeting organizer if the room will be set up to allow for a powerpoint presentation.

> Technology can defeat preparation and planning, thus a backup plan is critical (i.e. printed copies of the presentations)

> Establish the agenda:  are they expecting you to have a powerpoint to present or do they have a sheet of paper with questions they want to scribble on?

> Keep time on your side:  confirming the meeting time is typical for professionals.  Sticking to the allotted time is critical to a favorable impression.

> General rule of thumb:  Divide your Agenda by 0 or 20 minute segments if your meeting is 1 hour.

> Understand expectations:  What decision will result by this presentation?  

                   * Award/awarded contract
              * Sell service or product
              * Be hired (contract or employee)
              * Performance review
              * Report on business
              * A proposal for funding, endorsement, sale
              * Brainstorming ideas

> Read your audience:  Maintain consistent eye contact, watch body language.  Active gestures like shuffling papers is a sign that they're getting impatient, looking at a watch demonstrates a concern over schedule, exchanged looks from audience (rolling eyes, aka here we go again).

> Define the rules:  for instance that you will be presenting a .ppt that should take no more than 10 minutes, with the remaining time on answering questions

> Who's in charge?  in most, if not all cases, your audience is in charge.  Define within the audience who is a decision maker or supporter or recommender.

> Next steps?  Should always be asked at the end:  it will tell you the decision making process and by whom the decision will be made.

> Married to the agenda:   You can't assume your own agenda.

> Cultural missteps:  Sometimes having a .ppt will communicate your superior communications skills, your imaginative powerpoint slide creations, or comfort using technology.  It isn't always welcome.

> Cultural acceptance:  A lot of major organizations use .ppt as a form of conducting meetings.  Others not so much. 

> Rehearse, rehearse, rehearsal:  Knowing your presentation inside out and backwards is the best way on a path to guarantee success.    There are a lot of ways to practice and test yourself:

* Videotape yourself presenting
* Present to your bathroom mirror
* Practice by presenting to a colleague 

In hindsight, I goofed around a lot doing my research.  I tend to struggle between having a solid understanding of the company I'm presenting to and its industry and competitors.  That is not such a bad thing.  Yet, my takeaway is I can be too committed to my presentation than meeting the expectations:  winning the sale, being hired, being considered as a vendor, selling your company, and so on and so forth.

The biggest takeaway I have learned from observing and learning from talented presenters within companies I've worked for or outside influence:

IMAGE SOURCE:   http://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/what_is_your_plan.html

have an AGENDA
>  what are you going to talk about? i.e. topics

how are you going present? i.e. present first and allow for Q&A at the end, or more informally 
questions accepted by interruptions throughout?

by having an AGENDA, you are asking your audience if anything is missing or if there is anything else they would like to add to the AGENDA?

> confirm the time for the presentation because someone could have been late and your allotted time may have shrunk by 15 minutes because someone was late or technology was disruptive or someone was supposed to log on as a teleconference

There are a lot of other things you can determine before you go to all the trouble and effort that you put into the actual data, creating the powerpoint, and practicing its presentation:

> who is going to be in your audience?
> what is the role (or roles) of your audience?
> what is going to happen after the presentation? (i.e. next steps)
> is what you are presenting second nature, instinctive and something you are comfortable with?  (if not, add more practice time)
> what sort of industry are your points about?  You can showcase your research or authority if you hover around this area.
> what position will the audience take?  being informed? judgemental? receptive? analytical? 
> feedback if time allows may give you a gauge on how you did

Murphy's Law

Applies every and all times you plan, rehearse, confirm, define, prepare:  the one thing you didn't expect or account for happens.

You can always surf through You Tube, Ted Talks (which I've been meaning to check out for a while) to see which style matches your own.  Don't try to be anyone else.  Be yourself.  Allow the viewer to gain a strong sense of who you are and who they can expect for months or years after being part of your audience.

"You can't always win the sale or get the job, yet you can always influence leaving a lasting, positive impression."
~ Jeannette Marshall

Powerpoint Resources:

SOURCE:  Powerpoint Templates ~ Slide Geeks.com 

SOURCE:  Pinterest 

SOURCE:  Pinterest PRESENTations BOARD

a REFLECTIVE reflection

FAVIM.com is a great site to check out if you have a creative eye

The following blog was originally written and posted on my "A Commentary" blog (without the lead in image above, I added that now).  

I was reviewing what I had written and realized it is something that I usually cover in MEANDERINGSabout blog. 

Then I got to thinking, not unusual for me after the sun goes down, it is more reflective than reactive .... there are areas pertinent to The optioneerJM blog here.  

So, I decided to do it more like a social media experiment.  Is there any benefit to cross-linking internally.  Meaning, three blogs under the same umbrella with Google:  could they help increase the reaction or traction to the original blog, or is the reaction (meaning clicks) coming from mostly those who subscribe independently.  
Google's analytics for Blogs is superior to most.  As a blogger with Word Press I did forewarn that I was going to start comparing the values each bring.  

There is a lot of power behind Google, which settles my suspicion it would help when I launched this, my first blog, optioneerJM.  They toss scraps over my way when people are "googling" a topic within the topic of sales ... kinda like they have links or results swayed to the strong player and then the miscellaneous or "everything else" comes my way.  I'm not complaining, I'm sharing my findings as I go along.

The one thing that I can say that Word Press seems to have stronger than Google's blogspot and that is the blog community itself.  Word Press authors seek out to read and support others when they like the content.  Synopsis:  Word Press has a stronger community of Bloggers than Google.  However, Google's engines do try to chug away and make up the difference, they just haven't figured out a way to slip into the middle of those results ... searches within a platform like Word Press.  

I think that open source development is the way to go.  Why?  It is simple.  There was a really really BIG EXAMPLE on a business failure because of not having open sourcing:  think HP's Tablet.  They were ahead of the curve on the product development, but it came down to one corporate decision that wrote the failure on the wall:  deciding to keep the code private.

The race that ensued shortly around that time was Apple's heady emergence on the scene.  I continuously marvel how Steve Jobs could pick up pieces that were missing or underutilized and maximize that very thing and it appears that Apple was innovative and HP was risk averse.  The difference between being bold and being sold out.  

Sold out can mean that HP started to let its shareholders run their business.  I'm going to write more about that on a dedicated blog.  I've reflected, reviewed, and revisited with former colleagues at HP, and have started to develop some opinion.  It's an intriguing story really.  How could one of Collins "Good to Great" companies self-destruct so pitifully.  The straight answer:  they began to lose sight of its original vision and culture: "about solving problems by really smart people who cared about each other." ~Jeannette Marshall (quote)

Here you go loyal followers and subscribers .....

I tend to go on about stats and such on my optioneerJM blog since that is where the conversation about social media or soME seems to have some traction.  I really started out there writing about sales primarily, then shifted to include leadership and business with social media dialogue emerging frequently.

That's a tough position to be in because your golden followers, the ones who began the journey with you deserve and have earned your return loyalty and acknowledgement.  

The strange part of me is I constantly seek feedback online from trusted advisors, and I can take it.  However, if it is someone looking at me, with eye contact and giving me feedback, if it isn't filtered with empathy and professionalism, I can feel attacked.

Writing to the loyal followers is paramount to a business or a blog.  That's a mutual reward for sticking around together.  And as the object of that feedback, you take it more positively because they've grown to know you over a few years at least.  They aren't adding their own ingredients of bias into the equation.  People feel threatened if they recognize an element of your personality that they internally, personally feel that you lack.  That can make things get rubbed the wrong way.

To be told by a senior manager, that "people feel threatened by you" is something a person has to grapple with and grasp.  I don't think any one individual person consciously thinks they're a bad person.  The bad aren't even in your sphere because they know they're bad and proud of it.

Let's take how a woman dresses.  It shouldn't be a key factor in this day and age but it is.  You can be both the victim and the judge at the same time.  I am a clothes horse, even call myself a "fashionista" with the more humbling affiliation that I'm "fighting my 50s" so as to remove ego when is not there.

No dress code does not mean you look like you will
 jump into bed when you get home

How a person dresses, in my opinion, reflects to the world a statement:  "this is how I feel about myself".  You can relate even better when you think about when you are sick with a cold, a nose so raw and red from blowing it.  You feel lousy and look it.  You underscore how you are feeling with a ballgown?  Hardly, more likely the biggest, loosest flannel PJ bottoms, fluffiest slippers or lumberjack grey socks and a rebel Tshirt you wouldn't be caught grocery shopping in!  That's my point.  I agree that Hollywood and movies often portray the really efficient, bitchy boss dressed in a suit with not a hair out of place, so polished and poised.

I don't intimidate people by how I act, it is their preconceived notions before I've even opened my mouth.  Which can be annoyingly long-winded.  You won't walk away without replaying it or thinking about it again.

  This works well on the sprite that she is
 yet it would look dreadful on me:  5 ft and 55

My talkative, gregarious nature doesn't tee up with a suit.  It should be more Bohemian in style and mannerism shouldn't I?

My point today being that we should not evaluate and file anyone away or into a category based on a 5 second visual.  You are short changing yourself from what could be a great adventure, exchange of wits, a few laughs.  That is one of the main attractions of social media:  your voice is translated via keys communicating in such a way and in an acceptable manner that you listen to the person, you observe the message.  In its nakedness, you make your judgement, evaluation, and determination to join that person's ranks.  A photo or visual is after the fact.  What is appealing is that communications style that others gravitate towards while others with bias refuse to get to know them because of that first 5 seconds.  With social media, it may only be 1 or 2 seconds, but the benefits are far reaching, the risk obsolete, the ability to control (block, unfollow, ignore) your environment online is much more peaceful than anywhere else.


My kinda fashion for "Business Casual" or "Casual Friday" Looks.  Really comfortable with the jacket off, yet the jacket is there to ward off the chills OR attend that last minute meeting scheduled.

Although this was sourced as a PLUS fashion, the lines and curves packaged professionally is bang on with this look!  It compliments a figure with or without curves.  In either case, it is not bashful or hides the fact that you are a woman.  In fact, where it to the next All Boys meeting you attend to visually communicate that yes, you are a woman, and your ideas will add value.
Classic look, nice cut lines, tailored look.
A great look for a job interview or a performance review

If you want to add volume where others have curves
this would be a great look for someone slim or tall
I wouldn't recommend this if you're curvy
 or plus size as it will add weight where you don't want it.
 The shoes say "I'm going clubbing at lunchtime"
 while the suit conveys professionalism
 They are in conflict with each other.

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for keeping your attention
and you reading to the end