Category Archives: Strategic Communication

Exceeding Expectations: The PPT Edition

In our last post, we discussed the importance of exceeding customer expectations by taking an ordinary product and creating an unexpectedly amazing experience with it. But what does it take to achieve this with an everyday tool like PowerPoint?

The truth is, everybody has, or will, use PowerPoint. It’s on more than 500 million computers worldwide, and is probably even on yours right now. However, it takes a unique expertise to strategically use this tool to its full potential – a skill that most don’t even know exists.

An Australian presentation design company put it this way: “The hurdle we need to overcome is not introducing presentation design to the world, the hurdle is to show the world what presentation design SHOULD be.”

We couldn’t agree more.

That’s why we developed our first-ever promotional PowerPoint demo, to reveal all of PowerPoint’s unknown capabilities and to show how we use it every day: to exceed expectations. The file represents our own original story and animation, includes highly editable and reusable elements, and is only 10MB, which means it can be sent through most email servers. Take a look by clicking here or the image below and let us know what you think through this post, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

bigintro

And yes, this was created in PowerPoint… what were you expecting?

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The NEW Video…

Source: B2B Content Marketing Report: 2013 Survey Results, LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community

Source: B2B Content Marketing Report: 2013 Survey Results, LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community

Video is taking over. Journalism sites like BuzzFeed and Huffington Post are now using video to tell the stories that articles used to. Following the shift from print to interactive media, company websites can host internal videos to inform and update their teams instead of distributing print newsletters and materials. Marketers are studying how to best generate interest through the unique visual intimacy that only video can provide. And assisting in this upsurge are the social media sites – both for internal corporate use, like Yammer, and external, like Facebook – that allow for easy video sharing. Why say it if you can just play it, right?

A recent study by LinkedIn’s largest online group, The B2B Technology Marketing Community, thinks so. In a recent survey, its 50,000 members confirmed the current demand for content production, naming video as one of the most effective mediums for consumers to receive information, and, more importantly, react.

And where there’s priority to reach your audience, there’s certainly the priority to do it right! As the survey reveals, video production is the most outsourced form of content marketing. Now, with more than 80% of B2B marketers planning to increase their content production over the next 12 months, all signs point to video as the gateway to create consumer interest.

Here at Infinitely Big we not only embrace this platform, we enhance it. Our in-house production service covers everything from internal corporate videos to broadcast commercials. Click here to discover all the ways our video services can exceed your expectations!

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Kick Off 2014 With These 14 Communication Quotes…

175563453Are you ready to do amazing things in 2014? With every New Year comes the potential for so many great things. Start this year off right with some words of wisdom from those who knew about success and the importance of communication. Happy New Year!

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. – Peter Drucker

I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in. – Bill Gates

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. – Tony Robbins

Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life. – Brian Tracy

Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know. – Jim Rohn

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. – Hans Hofmann

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. – Rollo May

There is only one rule for being a good talker – learn to listen. – Christopher Morley

The two words “information” and “communication” are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through. – Sydney J. Harris

Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss. – Lee Iacocca

If you have a great idea, you should be able to communicate it as well. It’s like the sound of one hand clapping. You have a great idea but aren’t able to express it – well, how great was the idea? – Douglas Coupland

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – Dale Carnegie

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. – Mark Twain

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Is It Time for a Refresh?

You are an expert in your field – you know the intricacies and the nuances of your product or service better than anyone. Thus, you are often asked to speak publicly about your area of specialty. And like anyone with a lot to do and little time, you have a stock PowerPoint that you have created that you use over and again. It saves time and it works pretty well. As you read this and think about that PowerPoint you have created, I would encourage you to go through it and dispose of many of those slides.

Why, you ask? Because with each day, you get better and so should your PowerPoint. Think of new and creative ways to present your key points. Brainstorm ways to make complicated topics simpler to understand. Come up with ideas on ways to better engage your audience. Think of areas that went over really well in prior presentations and maybe put more focus there and for those areas that didn’t go over so well, how about a new strategy or eliminating the level of depth in that section.

Of course, you will also want to add slides that pertain to relevant industry news, updated research, and your own headlines – new business, new people, new products, etc. The point is, as you evolve, so should your PowerPoint presentation. While it may save time reusing your old one, it is worth the energy and effort to rebuild and revamp every couple of months. It pushes you to be better and will ultimately leave a better impression on the audience.

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Consistency Wins…

One of the great things about chain restaurants like T.G.I. Friday’s, The Olive Garden, or Burger King – and it’s not their food – is consistency. You can walk into a T.G.I. Friday’s in New York City or Omaha, Neb., and you know what you are going to get. There is no deviation – the look is the same, the food is the same, and the prices are relatively the same. You never have to worry about getting sick or what the bathroom will look like. Again, I am not saying the food is fabulous or the places are immaculate – the point is, you know what you are going to get. And often, that in itself is comforting.

Think about your business for a minute. Do your corporate communications show consistency? Do you use the same logo on your letterhead, in an email newsletter, and in a print ad? Do your salespeople all communicate in the same manner? How about your customer service reps? Do they have a similar personality to one another? Do they provide similar results call after call?

Consistency and confidence in the areas mentioned above will keep your customers around for a long time to come. Just the way you are more comfortable with the golden arches than the local burger joint in a new city, your customers are comfortable with what’s familiar and consistent. They know what to expect and that is priceless.

It sounds easy, but consistency can be very challenging. But, if you can be consistent in the way you operate, you will keep your competitors at bay.

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Keeping It Real…

The more true to life you can portray an issue you are presenting in your PowerPoint, the better your audience will understand, relate, and identify with it. This is your ideal goal – to get your audience to know that you understand their pain, their issue, and that you have a way to help resolve it or make it better. The impact you can add by using photos, videos, sound, or other media is extremely powerful and should not be overlooked. Here are a couple of ideas on types of media and when to use them.

  • Use illustrations or video to clarify. If your product is complicated, an illustration or video lets you simplify the way it looks. Also, illustrations and videos allow you to show a zoomed-in view or a view normally not seen, such as a product interior.
  • Motion, sound, and music. Just because PowerPoint has this feature doesn’t mean you need to use it. Use sparingly and only when deemed appropriate. Adding animation, sound effects, or music will make your presentation come alive, but it also lessens the seriousness of what you are presenting. Animation can be valuable when offering a product demonstration, but using when not needed will detract rather than add from the overall presentation.
  • Keep charts and graphs simple. Charts and graphs that are used to support a point should be simple and instantly understood. Audiences will be confused by overly complex visuals.
  • Photos have tremendous impact. A picture is worth a thousand words. This holds true in a PowerPoint. Finding a relatable image to put into your presentation can create an significant impression. It will leave your audience with an image resonating in their head when they go back to the office. Make it very relatable to a key point and they will not forget what you had to say.

As you can see, there is plenty of room for creativity in your presentations. Using illustrations and photos or graphs and animations can be very powerful. But beware… overuse these tools and they will detract from your presentation, making it lose gravity and impact.

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Focus on the Message…

Whatever you’re saying is important and you certainly want it to be treated that way.

We get requests all the time for presentations to be done in the latest and greatest software program. But what it really boils down to is not how your message gets out, but what the message is in and of itself. Your focus should be on effective communication.

Of course you want your delivery to be engaging, but if you’re putting all of your energy into developing a cool-looking Prezi instead of working on the message, your audience will walk away thinking, “That was a cool presentation. What was that meeting about again?” And that’s every presenter’s worst nightmare.

So before you decide your presentation has to have amazing animation, cool colors, and tantalizing images, think about what it is you’re trying to say and focus on making it audience-worthy.

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Finish Strong Every Time…

In any given week, I see dozens of presentations come across my desk. If you look at a random sample of 100 of these PowerPoints, I would estimate that 98 of them end with either “Thank you” or “Questions” as the last slide. Who made this the official last slide of PowerPoint? I often wonder that, because it really is not the best way to finish up.

After preparing for weeks, presenting for an hour, and doing an awesome job, what exactly are you thanking the audience for? For listening to you? I hope not. Also, the hope is that you allowed questions throughout if something wasn’t clear. So, finishing up with a big question mark in the center of a slide and stating “Questions?” is redundant and leaves the audience with nothing new.

Now to the good stuff. The best way to end your PowerPoint is with a summary slide of the key take-away points and/or action items for next steps. Assume your audience understood and followed your logical arguments up to that point. Assume they are ready to take the next steps and proceed. Lay the groundwork. Set forth those next steps and be prepared to discuss them one on one. Name your last slide “Discussion of Next Steps.” This moves the discussion forward and truly makes the most of the time the audience invested with you.

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Know Your Audience…

Imagine spending over 100 hours creating an incredible presentation. The images are creative and beautiful, the words powerful and inspirational, and the animations humorous and intriguing. You fly into town, put on your finest suit, shine your shoes, fix your hair, and get ready to present. Your first opening slide comes up and you are psyched to give your high-level sales-training speech. Little do you know, the audience is full of accountants who have never sold anything a day in their lives.

One of the greatest failures of presenter is not taking the time to know the audience and plan accordingly. Do the research beforehand – ask the key questions and play detective. Where are you presenting, know what is the topic for the day (if you are one of a panel of presenters), how many people are signed up, what’s the demographic, how much they are paying, who are the other speakers, and what are their topics, etc. This is so essential and often overlooked.

Completing your due diligence will allow you to create a better presentation overall. It will be more relevant to the audience, hold their attention, and ultimately, it will bring in more business (or buy-in) for you. By knowing your audience beforehand, you can use images that are appropriate (maybe a certain ethnic group or gender), you can adjust the wording of your slides (maybe more or less technical), you can gauge the use of humor, the overall time, the amount of time for questions, the way you dress, handouts, and so on.

Knowing your audience can truly make or break your presentation, no matter how great the design and the speech may be. Do the work when you sign up for the job… it will be well worth your time.

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The Rule of Three…

When giving presentations or public talks, the Rule of Three is a powerful rule to remember. You should commit this to memory and practice writing and presenting using this rule. The rule is simple: When making a point, use three words or ideas in a row. The audience is more likely to consume and comprehend an idea when it is presented as part of a trio.

Using the Rule of Three allows you to present a concept more clearly, concisely, and memorably. In his book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Roy Peter Clark provides insights into the magic of the number three. He states, “Use one for power. Use two for comparison, contrast. Use three for completeness, wholeness, roundness. Use four or more to list, inventory, compile, and expand.”

The rule of three has created timeless speeches, stories, and historical foundations. Some examples include:

  • From the Declaration of Independence – “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
  • From religion – “Father, son, and holy spirit”
  • From movies – “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
  • From children’s stories – “The Three Little Pigs” or “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”
  • From real estate – “Location, location, location”
  • From Julius Caesar – “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”)
  • From entertainment – “Three-ring circus” or “The Three Stooges”

As you can see, the Rule of Three has a powerful history. It’s nothing new and has been used throughout time to make powerful points, in the formation of governments (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches), and to engrain concepts into the memory of generations.

So, remember in your next speech to use the Rule of Three… and that’s  the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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