A Nightingale sang…

A decade before Charles Joseph Minard famous chart that portrays the losses suffered by Napoleon’s army in the Russian campaign of 1812, which Edward Tufte claims was “probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn”, English nurse Florence Nightingale created a “rose diagram.”

In 1858 she published Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army. Founded Chiefly on the Experience of the Late War. Presented by Request to the Secretary of State for War. This work contained a color statistical graph. Her “Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army of the East” showed that epidemic disease, which was responsible for more British deaths in the course of the Crimean War than battlefield wounds, could be controlled by a variety of factors including nutrition, ventilation, and shelter. This was, believe it or not, denied by the medical establishment of the time.

Rose chart showing the causes of mortality in the Crimean War

Nightingale went on to develop other statistical graphics in her reports to Parliament, realizing this was the most effective way of bringing data to life.

Statistician Hugh Small explains how the ‘rose chart’ works:

The circle on the right has 12 sectors going clockwise representing the first 12 months of the war. The circle on the left is the second 12 months. The superimposed dark shapes show the monthly death rates. The diagram illustrates how the Sanitary Commission, sent out in the middle of the war, dramatically reduced the death rate. The length of the radial line in each month is proportional to the death rate, but both the text and the appearance imply that it is the shaded area that is proportional to the death rate, rather than the length of the radial lines. Florence recognized this error and inserted an erratum slip, but then replaced this diagram in later documents.

Indeed, the 19th Century was a time of great progress in data collection.  In 1837 the General Registry Office at Somerset House, led by William Farr who later helped Nightingale with her Crimean statistics, began to systematically record births, deaths, and marriages in the UK.  While census data had been collected every ten years since 1801, the 1841 census was the first to list the names of every individual. This gave researchers the opportunity to examine new cause and effect relationships using registration statistics.

Here’s another chart created by Nightingale:

Hugh Small comments on the ways in which this chart is designed for maximum emotional impact:

The title ‘Lines’ (in ornate script in the original) makes it sound like a poem, as in  Lines on the Death of Bismarck.  There are four pairs of bars, when actually the message is clear from one pair alone.  There seems to be a kind of repetition, as in a chorus.  This effect is increased by the words, repeated at the end of each line, English Men, English Soldiers … It sounds like a funeral march.  Second, the red bar for the soldiers would certainly make some people think of the  ‘Thin Red Line’ which had become famous in the Crimean War when a two-deep row of red-jacketed British infantrymen stopped a Russian heavy cavalry charge, something that was thought to be impossible.  The thin red lines on Nightingale’s chart represented these same heroic soldiers who were now dying unnecessarily because of bad hygiene in their barracks.

The variation of death rates due to differences in hygiene was very important to reformers like Nightingale because it showed that even the civilian death rate could probably also be improved by better hygiene. 

Her goal with these charts was not just to inform, but to change hearts and minds.

In our time

In recent weeks, a number of temporary field hospitals have sprung up across Britain for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Named “Nightingale Hospitals,” they pay homage to the famous “lady of the lamp.” Florence Nightingale’s pioneering approach to sanitation changed the understanding of public health in Victorian Britain and laid the foundations for the profession of nursing as we know it.

In our time of “mask deniers” and people who doubt the safety of vaccinations, or even that the pandemic is “real” and not a “Plandemic“, we need the persuasive power of modern-day Nightingales more than ever.

Ex Machina

Robin Wigglesworth highlights the effect of Artificial Intelligence on executive communications in an article in the Weekend FT (subscription required). A new form of “robo-surveillance” by trading algorithms is spurring executives to place a deeper focus on the spoken word.

Executives are coached to avoid saying certain phrases, such as “but” which could trigger stock sales by natural language processing (NLP) machines taught the intricacies of human speech. Using NLP, investment funds instantaneously scrape speeches, social media chatter and corporate earnings calls for clues.

Cat and mouse

The result is a cat and mouse game, where CEOs try to outwit the machines that can pick up a verbal clue that a human might not even realize is relevant.

A recent academic paper — How to Talk When a Machine Is Listening: Corporate Disclosure in the Age of AI — points out that companies are keen to show off their business in the best possible light.

…firms with high expected machine downloads manage textual sentiment and audio emotion in ways catered to machine and AI readers, such as by differentially avoiding words that are perceived as negative by computational algorithms as compared to those by human readers, and by exhibiting speech emotion favored by machine learning software processors.

The paper found that companies have tweaked the language of annual reports and how executives speak in public to avoid words that might trigger red flags for machines listening in.

These changes extend to the tone of voice executives use, in addition to the words they use. The paper notes:

Managers of firms with higher expected machine readership exhibit more positivity and excitement in their vocal tones, justifying the anecdotal evidence that managers increasingly seek professional coaching to improve their vocal performances along the quantifiable metrics.

Some companies’ investor relations departments are even running multiple draft versions of press releases and speeches through such algorithmic systems to see which scores the best.

In return, NLP powered algorithms are also continuously adjusted to reflect the increasing obfuscation of corporate executives, so it ends up being a never-ending game of fruitless linguistic acrobatics.

In this game, the machines have the upper hand. The algorithms can immediately adjust for a chief executive’s idiosyncratic styles.

A certain CEO might routinely use the word “challenging” and its absence would be more telling while one that never uses the word would be sending as powerful signal by doing so.

Body language

Machines are still unable to pick up non-verbal cues, such as a physical twitch ahead of an answer, but experts predict it’s only a matter of time before they can do this as well.

Where this will all end, and the impact it will have on speechwriters, presentation coaches, investor relations, and PR professionals is open to speculation.

Usually when machine and men collide, it’s the machines that have the upper hand.

Reimagining Conferences

At a time when the COVD-19 novel coronavirus is causing conferences around the world to be canceled or postponed, it’s more important than ever to take a long hard look at the fundamental ways that large gatherings for professional purposes are structured.

For too long, organizers have tried to cram a full schedule of keynotes, panel discussions, and mixers onto schedules. While these may look good on paper, they leave everyone dazed, unable to absorb a tsunami of data or to remember much of what they’ve heard when they get back home.

Writing in Forbes, Lital Moram challenges conventional wisdom about the organization of typical conferences. Technology has long-promised audiences new access to content and a backchannel for peer-to-peer communication in the face of the person on the podium.

She offers five suggestions for a timely reimagining of the way conferences are structured.

Less is More

Rather than larding the agenda with every minute filled, recognize people need time to discuss what they’ve heard. Downtime is valuable.

But wait, there’s more. Why not do away with an agenda altogether?

I was introduced to Open Space Technology 14 years ago at an NSA Northern California meeting. However, none of the major tech companies I worked for dared to embrace anything as radical.

Make your Speakers Accessible

Requesting that speakers schedule meeting time after they present gives audience members who feel uncomfortable asking questions in front of the whole audience a chance to discuss their issues one-on-one.

This is complemented by the social media backchannel, which has gone from a fringe activity to mainstream in many meetings. Moram provides an update in her next recommendation:

Don’t Shy Away from Technology

Beyond sharing tweets, there are a whole host of ways to engage audiences via their mobile phones. Savvy speakers are well aware of this, and can now employ a host of audience response software for instant polls.

Work Toward Relevance

Moram cautions against the threat of death by PowerPoint and the curse of the specialist:

Identify your keynote speaker’s expertise and then continue to build on their message by orchestrating workshops and breakout sessions that apply new insights they’ve shared as it relates to real-world pressing issues faced by your participants.

There are proven methods to help subject matter experts overcome the limits of their deep knowledge of one specific area.

Cultivate Learning by Doing

The most radical proposal in this excellent review is the acknowledgment that people learn by doing:

… the heart of the conference should focus on learning by doing — through moderated workshops, breakout sessions and interactive experiences where you get to apply new knowledge in action. Research shows that experiential learning is learning that sticks.

Problem-solving that involves your attendees personally is something they’ll remember 20 years later.

Taking it to the Next Step: Coach your Speakers

It’s refreshing to see that Forbes carries this article. While “Disrupting” meetings might have awkward historical connotations, her heart is in the right place.

Beyond the five suggestions listed, there’s no shortage of ideas conference organizers can review with each speaker, so that they are aligned to the goal if helping audience members remember what they say:

How to Get the most from your Next Conference

Sooner or later COVID-19 will cease to be the challenge to meetings that it is today. When you are once again able to attend your next conference, before you grab your name-badge and head over for nibbles and drinks, check out these useful tips for attendees. (Be sure to scroll down and read the resources listed in the comments section.)

Garbage Language

Obfuscation is alive and well in the corporate world. Molly Young writes in New York Magazine about the ways the Millenial generation of white-collar workers replicate the communication patterns of the organization man and woman.

Silicon Valley

She reviews Anna Weiners’ memoir Uncanny Valley about life in San Francisco during the current tech bubble:

…the scent of moneyed Bay Area in the mid-2010s: kombucha, office dog, freshly unwrapped USB cable…the lofty ambitions of her company, its cushy amenities, the casual misogyny that surrounds her like a cloud of gnats.

Wiener describes watching her peers attend silent-meditation retreats, take LSD, discuss Stoicism, and practice Reiki at parties. She tries ecstatic dance, gulps nootropics, and accepts a “cautious, fully-clothed back massage” from her company’s in-house masseuse. She encounters a man who self-identifies as a Japanese raccoon dog.

Only, as they say, in San Francisco. Or is it? Her description of the language employed is universal:

People used a sort of nonlanguage, which was neither beautiful nor especially efficient: a mash-up of business-speak with athletic and wartime metaphors, inflated with self-importance. Calls to action; front lines and trenches; blitzscaling. Companies didn’t fail, they died.

Weiner’s term for this is garbage language. More accurate than jargon or buzzwords since it is produced mindlessly and stinks. She notes how these terms warp and impede language, and permeate “the ways we think of our jobs and shapes our identities as workers.”

Etymology

Down the years, Weiner notes, garbage language has taken different forms:

  • In the 1980s it smelled of Wall Street: leverage, stakeholder, value-add.
  • The rise of high-tech introduced computing and gaming metaphors: bandwidth, hack, the concept of double-clicking on something, of talking off-line.
  • In the 1990s Clayton Christensen introduced the term disruptive.
  • By the turn of the century, New Age terms arrived: lean-in, conscious choices.
  • Then there are aviation terms: holding-pattern, discussing something at the 30,000-foot level.

Further characteristics include:

…verbs and adjectives shoved into nounhood (ask, win, fail, refresh, regroup, creative, sync, touchbase), nouns shoved into verbhood (whiteboard, bucket), and a heap of nonwords that, through force of repetition, became wordlike (complexify, co-execute, replatform, shareability, directionality).

WeWork

Young takes the WeWork SEC prospectus to task for it’s “fidelity to incoherence” — a 200,000-word tomb that overflows with windy passages such as:

We are a community company committed to maximum global impact. Our mission is to elevate the world’s consciousness. We have built a worldwide platform that supports growth, shared experiences and true success.

Why CEOs speak like idiots

In a passage worth quoting at length, Young zeros in on the dilemma those in the C-Suite face:

Edith Wharton[wrote a] story where a character observes the constraints of speaking a foreign tongue: “Don’t you know how, in talking a foreign language, even fluently, one says half the time, not what one wants to, but what one can?” To put it another way: Do CEOs act like jerks because they are jerks, or because the language of management will create a jerk of anyone eventually? If garbage language is a form of self-marketing, then a CEO must find it especially tempting to conceal the unpleasant parts of his or her job — the necessary whip-cracking — in a pile of verbal fluff.

Author Jessica Helfand lists commonly abused words and phrases, which she claims younger workers cling to because they give the illusion of authority. She classifies them as:

  • Hyphenated Mash-ups (omni-channel, level-setting, business-critical),
  • Compound Phrases (email blast, integrated deck, pain point, deep dive), and
  • Conceptual Hybrids (“shooting” someone an email, “looping” someone in).

Delusion as an Asset

Young concludes by quoting Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense:

A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms — in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

The German philosopher made the ironic suggestion that we drop all pretense at ‘functional’ speak and resort to poetry. Something, Young concludes, that would be less of a threat than the garbage spoken in the corporate world today, where:

The meaningful threat of garbage language — the reason it is not just annoying but malevolent — is that it confirms delusion as an asset in the workplace.

Book Review: Bad Blood — Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

For anyone with even a passing interest in executive communications in Silicon Valley, Bad Blood is a must read.

Bad Blood CoverWall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou delivers a step-by-step history of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup headed by the young, charismatic founder and Stanford drop-out Elizabeth Holmes. He has written a masterful, suspenseful tale of allegedly illegal acts that range from intrigue and deception to outright lying and fraud.

Elizabeth Holmes, who imitated Steve Jobs in both dress, abrasive management style, secrecy that verged on paranoia and, most tellingly, presentation skills that created a “reality distortion field” among her audiences, was able to raise hundreds of millions in venture funding and the support of an incredible cast of characters including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Rupert Murdoch, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Larry Ellison, Mark Andreesen, Chelsea Clinton and the head of Stanford’s chemical engineering department Channing Robertson.

What seems almost unbelievable, in hindsight, is that every one of these eminent leaders supported Holmes even as doubts were being raised about the technology by a number of ex-employees and regulatory agencies. Most poignantly, Secretary of State George Schultz chose to believe Holmes over the pleas of his own grandson who had worked at the company and had serious concerns.

Fortune_CoverTheranos was founded on technology that promised vital health information could be gleaned from a small drop of blood using handheld devices supposedly equal in accuracy to the those depending on the much larger quantities of blood drawn by companies like Quest Diagnostics and Laboratory Corporation of America. This was, apparently, never the case. The company was adept at hiding its failings from those who doubted their claims.

Theranos ran under a strict code of secrecy. Management created smoke screens and diversions. Investors kept pouring in money, turning Elizabeth Holmes into a temporary billionaire. Companies like Walgreens and Safeway struck deals with Theranos. The press lionized the charismatic Holmes.

Bad Blood ReviewDespite the aggressive tactics of the best lawyers money could buy, including the super-scary David Boies, Carreyrou’s investigative work shone light on the deception. The final third of the book is his story and the revelations that started with the October 15, 2015 front page story in the Journal.

For those working in Silicon Valley this is a cautionary tale. Take note of what your moral compass is telling you.

Guest Posting: 7 tips for pitching investors, by Marianne Fleischer

Marianne Fleischer is a speechwriter and presentations executive coach. As a Corporate Communications consultant, her San Francisco firm, Fleischer Communications, helps clients think on their feet. She coaches others to pitch ideas, handle Q&A, and stand out on panels, corporate presentations or digital media. Clients include Schwab, Apple, Salesforce, Genentech, DLA Piper Law Firm and Charles Schulz Museum.

Want to understand VCs, angel investors, bankers and your rich uncle? First, make peace with the fact that investors are predisposed against you. 99% of pitches they hear sound like recipes for losing their money. After all, many great companies – Pandora, Salesforce, Pinterest — were all turned down many times before they got funding. Here are 7 tips for pitching investors:
 

  1. REVERE BREVITY: Pitch your business in the first thirty seconds. Many entrepreneurs waste critical time avalanching background data, while investors impatiently think, “But what do they do?” Speak the “What” and “Why” first. Also, have pitches of varying length (1 min. 3 min. 5 min. 30 min.) ready to go.
  2. UNDERSTAND INVESTORS: Start with a vivid picture of why potential customers would give you their hard-earned money. Investors want a founder who gets them. They want a maker who is almost ready for market because they like finding a diamond in the rough and saving the day.
  3. BE UNDAUNTED BY RIVALS: Show insider knowledge of your competitors. Then be undaunted by rivals or history, if you truly have invented a better mousetrap.
  4. BE A HUMBLE PIED PIPER: Explain why you are the ONE to make this happen–now. Investors want a maker-talker who can convince the world – not just them. Show daring and humility, but also show that you seek the wisdom of strategic partners, not just moneymen.
  5. LEARN THE LINGO: Learn investors’ lingo. Master your industry’s patois. Speak the language of finance, marketing and, of course, your industry segment. Money people have heard it all. So don’t stop refining your pitch until you can WOW them. They want to be in the presence of genius, especially if you can keep the “jerk factor” low.
  6. RESPECT THE MONEY GUYS: Even if—especially if—you see yourself as a creative type, show some respect for the money guys. Ask for a specific amount of money. Then break out how you will specifically spend other people’s money.
  7. LEARN FROM EACH PITCH: Make each pitch presentation a focus group for your next one. When an investors ask questions, write it all down. Then deeply weave those answers in your next pitch.

Guest Posting: The 3 Myths of Presentations That Will Destroy Your Credibility, by David McGimpsey

David McGimpseyDavid McGimpsey is a communication skills trainer. He specializes in coaching business people to deliver compelling presentations which sell, persuade, and entertain. His popular blog can be found at
presentationblogger.com. To read more about how to improve your presentation skills, check out David’s book: PowerPoint Doesn’t Suck, You Do: The counter-intuitive approach to compelling presentations.

There’s no nice way to say this. Your presentation sucks.

The good news is, it’s not your fault.

The coaches, the trainers, the gurus, and the presentation “experts.” They’ve all been giving you bad advice.

They’ve been leading you up the garden path, giving you the advice they think you want to hear.

And importantly, giving the wrong advice that makes them money. Money through training fees or money through book sales.

Here are the top 3 myths the “experts” want you to believe.

Myth 1: Your slide deck must be awesome

The gurus want you to believe that your slides need to be Steve Jobs’ standard or your presentation is destined for the trash can.

At best, this advice lacks context. At worst, it’s plain wrong.

Here’s the thing:

An awesome Steve Jobs’ standard slide deck can enhance a good talk delivered by a good presenter. An awesome Steve Jobs’ standard slide deck can do nothing with a rough talk delivered by nervous presenter.

And while we’re talking about Steve Jobs, the gurus will have you believe that what made his delivery so good were his slides. Thing is, remove the slides and his delivery is still as good as it always was. The slides are just there to add impact. If the slides are the main event then the presenter is unnecessary.

Here’s the rule: the slides are there to support you, not the other way around. You are not there to support your slides. Get your talk right first and then build your slide deck to enhance your talk.

Myth 2: Write out a script and memorize it

Rubbish!

For most business presentations you are setting yourself up for failure by creating a script.

People write out scripts when they don’t want to make any mistakes. And if you’re doing a performance presentation (like a TED talk or a keynote speech) a script might make sense.

But for a business presentation, it’s an impediment. Here’s why:

In your day-to-day work you have many competing priorities. On top of your upcoming presentation, you’ve also got your regular tasks to complete, incidental meetings and phone calls, plus any special projects you happen to be working on.

With all these different priorities vying for your attention, writing out a script and memorizing it is impractical. Firstly, writing out a script, and the amount of practice required to memorize it, involves time that you probably don’t have. And secondly, your strategy of memorization to minimize mistakes is folly. The more focused you are on not making mistakes the more likely it is that you’ll make them.

To prepare for your presentation you should avoid the scripts. Focus instead on elaborating on the 3 most important points likely to lead the audience where you need them to go. As the person chosen to deliver this presentation you are the subject matter expert, so your preparation involves simply drafting out your three main talking points and surrounding that with a opening and closing.

Myth 3: You should practice your body language

Giraffe ice skating with bananas skins.

Imagine you are in a social situation.

You’re telling your friends a story. Maybe you’re relaying a story about your kids, something that happened to you at the mall, or a surprising event at work.

When you talk to your friends, are you thinking about how you gesture with your hands?

No. You know the details of the story you are telling and your hands naturally gesture, subconsciously helping you explain your story.

When it comes to business presentations, the trainers and gurus tell us that we should practice our gestures and body language.

This is faulty advice.

When you practice your gestures you have to link a word you say to the gesture you do. This results in wildly un-natural hand movements. For example, open your arms wide when you say the word “big”.

Looking at this in the isolation of one word it seems to make sense. When it’s an entire business presentation (lots of words together) it starts to look practiced and robotic.

Additionally, you have the added stress of trying to remember what to do as well as what
to say.

Don’t practice your body language. Focus on knowing your subject matter well and the message you need to get across. If you do this, and maintain an open body position during your talk, the gestures will happen naturally.

Creative Video for Communicators

Brian WalterThis Saturday I attended the annual Presidents Day meeting of the National Speakers Association Northern California Chapter. As a past Chapter President (2008-09) I was invited to the meeting where the current national president, Brian Walter, CPAE, CSP held a brilliant workshop modestly titled ‘A Bazillion Extreme Ways to Use Video DURING Your Speeches’.

This was just as impressive as his 2011 Extreme Meetings presentation. He covered a wide range of options for the use of video by speakers and trainers with his typical infectious humor.

Why video? It’s for when your audience gets sick of you! It brings the real world into the artificial environment of a ‘meeting bubble’.

Brian began with some basic, very solid, advice:

  • Avoid streaming video over the hotel WiFi.
  • Instead, embed video in your slides (which he did throughout his 3-hour presentation).
  • Don’t project pixiliated ‘crappy video’ (as downloaded from YouTube or captured on a phone) full-screen. Instead, shrink it down to occupy a small part of your presentation screen, embedded in a slide background — such as a smartphone or monitor screen image.
  • Break up clips into short segments and turn each into a point to make in your talk.

Brian then explained the range of options (not a bazillion, but more than a few) for using video, from simple to elaborate. Absent his many examples these may not seem as impressive on the page as they were shown onscreen, but each is worth exploring.

Crowd-sourced video

Procurement TubeThis is harvested from the folks within an organization and embedded into a smartphone image (allowing for portrait or landscape source to be shown). It can be made into a parody video which can, in fact legally use images such as the YouTube logo if styled as, say, “Procurement (Department) Tube”

As-is Video

Licensed stock video clips from sources such as istockphoto can be purchased once and used over and over.

Libraries of commercials available for license from sources such as TVAds or, depending on the proposed use, from YouTube directly (assuming you are not going to embed the ad in product for sale, which commercial company could possibly object you showing an advert that was, in fact, designed to sell?). Brian made the point that the emotional charge of showing an advert to an audience is unique, since even those who might have seen it before will not have done so in a group setting where the impact is magnified. His example was the hilarious EDS cat herding Superbowl commercial (if you have not seen it, take a second…). Point is, EDS no longer exists, so ‘fair use’ is unlikely to be challenged.

Movie and TV clips can legally be shown if a speaker obtains an annual $625 umbrella license from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation. Reinforcing Brian’s point they state:

Conference organizers and Public Speakers understand that movie scenes have the power to bring a presentation to life. The magic of the movies allows a presenter to stand out from the crowd and unleash his or her creativity without limitations. What better way to illustrate a point than by incorporating the perfect movie scene? More importantly, movies can do more than simply enhance a presentation, they can help create a more engaging and entertaining experience that holds an audience’s attention.

One license allows you to legally show clips from major motion picture studios in at conferences and events. Which clips to use and what to say about them? Brian has us covered. He recommends three books that deliver both the medium and the message:

101_Clips101 Movie Clips that Teach and Train, by Becky Pike Pluth

Let this book jumpstart your creativity for lesson planning or training design by providing you with the perfect movie clip for over 100 topics, including discrimination, leadership, team building, and sales. Each clip comes with cueing times, plot summary and scene context and cogent discussion questions.

Reel_LessonsReel Lessons in Leadership, by Ralph R. DiSibio

A unique study of leadership qualities using memorable films and their characters. The author takes a unique approach to studying the overwritten topic of leadership by using scenes and characters from popular movies. For each of the dozen movies, the author identifies leadership traits that the main character symbolizes.

Big_PictureThe Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies, by Kevin Coupe & Michael Sansolo

Shows you how the stories in movies can inspire solutions in your business life. From brand marketing to ethics, leadership to customer focus, planning to rule breaking, everything you need to know about business is found in your favorite movies

As-Is Plus Video

Simple edits can be made to stock video that will enhance the message for the audience. These include subtitles, comment boxes, counters and more.

For-You Video

These are typically testimonial videos about you or your organization made by others. You bask in the reflected glory of their words. Be sure they mention your name up front.

By-You Video

If featuring you, these are the classic speaker videos. They need to be short, since people did not attend the meeting just to watch you on camera.

If they feature others, they really ‘bring the real world’ into your meeting. Examples featured employees saying what makes them feel appreciated, shown to HR managers. These can be ‘scrappy’ videos filmed on your phone, embedded in a suitable background.

Animated Video

Here Brian showed the great GoAnimate tool, which I used back in the day during my time in executive communications at Cisco. Really easy to make and effective at getting issues across in a powerful way. This explains how it works:

One tip from Brian: Don’t fade up from black. Simply add a still cover image with a half-second delay in PowerPoint before it plays.

Star-You Video

This was the highest level of video Brian discussed, explaining this puts you in the role of producer who hires scriptwriters, sound & camera people, editors and more. Coincidentally, there was just such a resource in the audience that day — Joanne Tan from 10+ Visual Branding.

My fav example from Joanne’s portfolio has to be the ad for this local Brazilian waxing salon, located right next door to the restaurant where the past-presidents met for a late lunch. How convenient!

Announcing: A Conversation with Shel Holtz

Shel HoltzI’ve long been an admirer of communication strategist Shel Holtz. who is a regular speaker on topics surrounding the application of online technology to strategic organizational communication. He speaks regularly at IABC and Ragan Communication conferences.

On Wednesday October 4th the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable will host Shel on a conference call. We’ll be discussing the ways in which social and digital media — which have given rise to content marketing — offer a host of options to speechwriters to draw attention to the speech before, during, and after its delivery. From repurposing parts of a speech to taking advantage of trends in online video and audio, Shel will discuss how you can get much more mileage from a speech today than ever before.

To register for this no-charge event simply go to the Roundtable Meetup Group and RSVP. We start at 11:45am (Pacific).

Shel is the author of a number of great books on topics such as podcasting, blogging and more.

Shel_Holtz_Podcasting

Shel-Holtz-Blogging

Guest Posting: How to be a Presentation Hero, by Adam Noar

Adam Noar is the founder of Presentation Panda. He’s an expert marketer, entrepreneur, and presentation design expert. After building a successful website in the sportswear industry, he’s refocused on what he loves most: Building and designing exciting presentations for clients. Presentation Panda uses a simple, clear, and vibrant approach to presentation design. This material is posted with his express permission.

Presentation Hero vs Presentation Zero

In today’s competitive world, to pull off a KILLER presentation you need to:

• Think creatively … no more lazy bullet points
• Use tools and shortcuts so you can spend your time on the important stuff
• Create clean and captivating slides that appeal to people’s emotions
In other words, you need to be a presentation HERO.

Here’s 10 clever tips on how to be a Presentation Hero displayed within a simple infographic from Presentation Panda.

Click on the image below to see the complete infographic.

Hero vs Zero

Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 presentation tips covered in the infographic:

1. Give yourself plenty of time to work on your presentation so you can go above and beyond

Set aside plenty of time to work on your presentation so you can make sure that everything looks great. Avoid slapping your slides together at the last-minute hoping that it comes together. By giving yourself time you will be able to make sure the flow, the theme, and the content goes above and beyond.

2. Use keyboard shortcuts to save time

PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts can save you valuable time. For example, if you need to select all the objects on the slide, don’t select all your images one-by-one with you mouse. Instead, press Ctrl+A!

Here’s one more:

If you’ve made a mistake, instead of moving your mouse to hit the undo button simply press Ctrl+Z.

There are many keyboard shortcuts to memorize. Start with the common ones and add new ones over time.

3. Practice the art of slide cleanliness

Organization and consistency are one of those details that fade to the background if you do it well, but stand out as glaring errors when you neglect them. By placing everything on your slides with intention and precision your audience will be focusing on your message and not on your untidy slides.

4. Forget boring bullet points

Bullet points are simply not fun to look at. They are usually heavy on text and light on visuals, which usually means that they will be forgotten by your audience just as soon as the next slide pops up. You can do better! Getting rid of bullet points can be a challenging task, but there is no reason you can’t have a great time flexing your creative muscles to come up with some stylish alternatives.

5. Use a consistent theme of good looking visuals

A theme encompasses everything from font, images, colors, layout, formatting, and even to a certain extent the content that you put on display in a presentation. Once you have landed on a theme to use in your presentation, making decisions on how to design your slides becomes much easier.

6. Save lots of time by customizing PowerPoint with the tools you use most

Customizing your PowerPoint setup with your most commonly used tools will save you tons of time. Why search for the same tool over and over within the menus of PowerPoint when you can put it in an easily accessible place where you can easily grab it?

7. Get inspired before you start designing your slide deck

Don’t stare hopelessly at a blank canvas. Instead, take action and get inspired by looking around for presentation ideas online! A blank canvas isn’t really idea inspiring – a lot of times it’s intimidating, overwhelming, and frustrating. Who wants to feel like that before they even get started?

8. Get to know the many tools that can help you create nice looking slides
Presentation professionals know that many tools are needed for the job. In other words they keep an extensive set of tools with them when creating slides. They know what tools to use to do all sorts of things that make their presentation stand out.

9. Practice your presentation many times before giving it

Once you have finished creating your awesome slide deck you now have to practice giving your presentation many times before giving it. When you practice, you get comfortable with your message, hone what you want to keep (and get rid of), and get an understanding for how well your slides and content are placed.

10. Invest some time learning about the art of designing presentations

You aren’t born a presentation hero! If you want to create great looking PowerPoint slides you’ve got to put in some work – and that mostly means learning from the right resources and putting what you learned into action.

Conclusion

I hope you found this infographic and presentation tips helpful. Here’s my question for you:

Do you have a favorite presentation tip that has helped you achieve great results in the past? Sound off in the comments below!