Why I love PowerPoint – Part Two

Chantal

If you read my blog post on Wedneseday (30 June) you’ll have seen that I’m a big fan of PowerPoint, when it’s used properly. If you’re not yet convinced, here are three more tips to help you create professional presentations to promote your business.

When I arrived at the networking event where I’d been asked to speak, I went straight to the room to check the set up and make sure the presentation was working. There was a laptop and projector on a table to the side of the screen. This was ideal (and I would have rearranged the equipment it if hadn’t been that way.) Why? Tip four is that you should be able to see your presentation without having to look at the screen and ever have to turn your back on your audience. Make sure you can see your slides on a computer, or have notes on a table in front of you.

Tip five is that you should create a summary of your presentation for your audience. Don’t print out all the slides – no one will remember what the images meant after the event (and anyway it uses up too much paper). Create a one page summary of the key points (mine is a list of the 10 things you can do to integrate your online marketing). And don’t give the summary to anyone before the presentation, because they’ll spend more time reading it than listening to you. Instead, offer it afterwards in return for a business card; or offer to email to anyone who wants it. Both are a great way to collect contact details and keep in touch with people!

My final slide showed details of how the attendees at the lunch could get in touch with me and what was on offer. Three bullet points and my website address. This final slide stayed up during the questions at the end of the presentation and while people finished lunch and networking. So tip six is that your final slide says on view and has a clear call to action.

If you’re still not convinced that you can use PowerPoint to present your business then it is best if you keep away from it. If, however, I’ve given you a few ideas about how you could make PowerPoint work for you, then give it a go and let me know how you get on!

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Why I love PowerPoint – Part One

Chantal

I often hear people saying they’ve been subjected to ‘death by PowerPoint’ at some event or other. Lots of other people advise against using PowerPoint because it can be the death of a presentation.

I’d like to stick up for PowerPoint and tell you why I think it’s a great tool and how to use it properly!

In June I was asked to give a 20 minute presentation to a Chamber of Commerce networking lunch. The topic was online marketing and how to integrate it, to make sure that whatever tools you use, they have the same message and all pull in the same direction for you.

The best way for me to illustrate how this can be done was by using PowerPoint. I started with a slide that outlined what I was going to cover, with just three bullet points. I then went through 10 different aspects of online marketing, using one slide for each. That’s my first tip – one key message on each slide; and just one slide for each element. If you can’t fit it all onto one slide, then you’re trying to say too much!

Tip number two is to use more graphics than words on your slides. We use one side of our brains to read words and the other side to listen, so unless your audience is really good at using both sides of their brains at once, they’ll find it difficult to read and listen. This means that if you carry on talking, the people reading the slides won’t hear what you say. In addition, some people take in information better if it’s presented visually, so graphics and images will get your message across better than a list of bullet points. Each of my slides has one image on it and most have no words at all – see the examples below.

These two slides how you can integrate your online marketing by maintaining your branding across all platforms. How else could I have done this, if not with PowerPoint?

Tip three is keep it simple. All my slides are static – no flashing images, no titles whizzing across the screen, no fading in or out. Just because you can do all that with PowerPoint doesn’t mean you have! If it doesn’t add anything to your presentation and doesn’t help you to get your message across, then don’t do it.

Have I convinced you yet that used properly, PowerPoint can lend a professional air to your presentations? I’ll publish another three tips in another blog post.

How to write a book

Chantal

Last Friday morning I took myself out of the office and away from its distractions, so I could spend some time working on my book. Unless I set aside specific time and go somewhere peaceful – like my kitchen table – I just don’t seem to find the time to write. My poor book isn’t getting the time and attention that it deserves, so I’ve decided to treat it like a client and allocate time and space to it each week.

Last week’s task was to finish the proposal for my book. I want to find a publisher who will take it on, to handle all the setting, printing, promotion and distribution of the book, so I need to write a good proposal – a sales pitch – for it. My proposal talks about who should buy the book, what they will get from it and why any publisher would be mad not to take it on, because it’s going to sell so many copies! It talks about how I’m going to promote the book – through this blog, my newsletter, twitter and through running workshops on topics I’m covering in my book.

I’ve put together a table of contents for my book and this was a really good exercise to go through. It got me thinking about the main issues I want to write about – the chapters – and the topics within those chapters – the sections. Now each of the ten chapters (one for each year of my business) has four sections. I’ve written a summary of each chapter, explaining briefly what each chapter and section is about.

Now that I have that structure, writing the book is going to be much easier. Any time I have an idea of something to write about, I look for where it fits into the structure and write it into that chapter and section. If I’m stuck for inspiration, I can just pick a section and work on it. And all the time I’m writing, I remind myself that this book is about how to survive the first ten years in business; and that I want to inspire and motivate others to do the same. With that focus, I’m less likely to go off track and forget what I’m writing about and why!

Have you thought about sharing your experience and expertise through a book?

Is your marketing joined up?

Chantal

Last week I ran a couple of workshops at a business event and we talked about all sorts of different marketing activities. We talked about the fact that whatever marketing you do, it should all be joined up, planned and on going.

By the time I got to my desk the following day, numerous people who attended the event had tweeted about it, to say thank you for the advice we gave. We sent a special issue of our email newsletter to people who came to the event, giving them a link to free Marketing Plan template on our website. (Click here if you’d like the Marketing Plan template.) Then we tweeted about the template, so anyone could download it. As a result, the number of people who visited our website last week shot up, as did the number of subscribers to our newsletter.

Since the event, we’ve blogged about it, and the posts have been automatically tweeted. Our latest tweet goes onto our website and our LinkedIn profile.

A couple of weeks ago we had a call from a potential client, who had been referred to us by someone I met in 2006 at a workshop I ran. She subscribed to my newsletter, Scribbles, and has been reading it for the last 4 years. I saw her again at another presentation in January  this year.

Before last week’s event, we listed it on our website to attract more delegates. Our potential client saw the listing on the site and asked to come along, to listen to the presentation and talk to us afterwards.

So that’s a website, a blog, some tweets, a newsletter and some presentations! Lots of marketing, all giving the same message and all working towards the same end.

Is your marketing joined up?

How do you make a great networking impression?

Chantal

I went to a networking lunch earlier this week, where I heard some great one minute introductions. One lady stood up and said that her ideal clients are dead! Then she told us that she’s a solicitor who specialises in wills and probate! Someone else chanted a Tibetan prayer (he takes people on spiritual journeys).

Telling a room full of people what you do in just one minute isn’t always easy. Sometimes a minute is all you have, so you need to think of ways of making a great impression. If you’re at a lunch or breakfast meeting, not only do you have to compete with everyone else in the room; you also have to compete with the food.

Instead of starting with your name and company name, why not trying asking a question or making a statement – it can even be controversial. Then, when you’ve got the attention of your audience, you can tell them who you are and what you do.

How about using a prop or two? Think of a visual way of communicating what you do so that people can really see what you’re talking about.

If you’d like more ideas on making a great impression when you go networking, come to a workshop I’m running in Oxford on 27 April. Email me or post a comment for more details.

When not to network

Chantal

Is there a time not to go networking?

Yesterday we had a really busy day in the office, with some tricky issues to sort out. By 5pm I was ready for the TV and a glass of wine. Before I left the office I checked my diary for today and realised that I’d booked to go to a breakfast networking meeting at 8am this morning. That means getting up earlier than usual; a 20 minute drive to the meeting, instead of the usual 5 minute walk to my office; and being bright, interested and enthusiastic, instead of warming up gently in front of my computer. Given the day I’d just had, I didn’t see this happening, so I sent the organiser an email with my apologies.

Does it matter if you turn up at a networking meeting and you’re not on top form? I think so. If you’re not able to present yourself at your best, show interest in everyone there and put some enthusiasm into what you do and say, you won’t get the best from your time (and money); you could also do yourself and your business reputation more harm. Do you want to spend time with people who are yawning into their breakfast and not listening to what you’re telling them?

So, the next time you’re planning a networking meeting, think about how you’re feeling. If you’re up for it, go for it; if not, treat yourself to a dog walk in the rain and a peaceful morning in the office!

And if you need some help with your networking – including knowing when not to go – come to one of our interactive workshops in March and April. Click here to find out how not to network.