Saturday, May 31, 2008

The 3 Golden Rules Professional Graphic Designers Dont Want You To Know About

Writen by Horatio Farquaar

Ever wondered how some graphic designers always manage to produce beautiful looking designs for their brochures, website designs, logo designs? Talent...yes, it helps but there are a handful of more important things you can do that will have even complete beginners producing award winning design.

Forget everything you've ever been told about Graphic Design There are some hard and fast things that graphic designers will insist are to be obeyed. Only use limited fonts on a design for example or never use green on a magazine or book cover as people will not buy it. Stuff and nonsense. You can pretty much do whatever you like but you must apply these STRICT GRAPHIC DESIGN RULES and you will soon be walking away with graphic design silverware.

Somewhere on the page you MUST put in a subliminal message This can be done in a multitude of ways for example if you are producing a brochure selling wellington boots then start every paragraph spelling out 'buy our wellington boots' or better still 'you have no choice but to buy our wellington boots now get out your cheque book and buy them - NOW!' Another crafty method is to doctor images in photoshop so that on an innocent picture of a tree for example carved into the bark is a message along the lines of 'U Luv Wellington boots' You get the idea. just make sure it's hidden away on a subliminal level and watch your sales go through the roof, quite literally

You MUST include a picture of a pretty girl smiling on your document or webpage This works for 95% of products. Put simply would you rather read and look at pictures of industrial machinery or would you rather look at a pretty girl? It's a no brainer right? Research has proven that mens brains are wired up to focus on girls smiles and of course their breasts and backsides. If you can somehow convince your client to put a naked girl on there somewhere you can pretty much laugh yourself down to the bank. However, never ever put a muscle bound hunk on any design thinking it will work conversely for womens products. Research has shown that womens brains are only wired to think of shopping for clothes and chocolate, so putting a bare chested chippendale on the cover is going to see your business go down the dumper. Unless your product is for homosexual merchandise in which case go ahead.

Shock and Awe - the guaranteed way to get your design work noticed and talked about Perhaps the best example of this trick can be found widely used in the modern art world. Sharks in formaldahyde, unmade beds and plastic dolls melted together to sodomise each other. All these pieces of art have been much talked about and whether you find them to your taste or not are widely percieved as being breath takingly original. The same principal can and should be applied to your graphic design work or website design. Add a blood splattered severed willy in the centre of the page for example or how about using an excrement smear as a backdrop. Remember the important thing is to get people talking about your design work. Bad taste soon becomes acceptable once commonplace so be the first to do something outrageous and reap the rewards.

If you remember to apply at least one or two and ideally all 3 of these golden graphic design rules there's no reason why you shouldn't be a millionaire/billionaire within one or two months. Now get creative!

Mindtap Graphic Design Resources is your single point entry into the UK creative industries. We are looking to create a unique site where you can access information on UK graphic design, UK flyer design, graphic design tutorials, graphic designer careers, graphics software, graphics tutorials, graphic designers, logo creation, freelancer resources, graphic designer jobs, employment, web page design, free graphics, website designers, artworkers, graphic clipart and any other associated graphic design resource.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Keeping Your Audience Involved During Powerpoint Presentations

Writen by Thomson Chemmanoor

Giving a good PowerPoint presentation is a tough job, but getting the audience involved in it is even harder! It is only through some tactics and methods, can you get the audience to get involved in your PowerPoint presentation. So try them out and see the effects!

The first and foremost thing to remember when making a presentation is to make the audience engaged and listen to you by asking them good questions. Make it a point to ask the audience a challenging question in the middle of the presentation, and wait for the response. If someone calls out an answer, repeat it for other's benefits

Try getting more than one response, as this really wakes up an audience, and makes them more focused on your presentation. If at all you come into a speaking situation wherein the audience has been lulled into a passive state by some previous presentation, you can create an immediate impact by starting some interesting question. You could ask them a question like how many people drive more than ten miles to work everyday, if you are starting a presentation on telecommuting.

If you ask a question, always make sure to raise your own hand to encourage a response of a show of hands. Another thing to remember to get the audience involved in the presentation is to make sure you give your presentation in their language. Meaning, it is better to use simple words as if you use words with five or more syllables, you will only end up in making the audience walk away with a completely different message from what you were trying to communicate. If the audience cannot understand what you are presenting, how will they get involved in the presentation?

You could also start your PowerPoint presentation by getting the audience to think right away. Make them think about, or perhaps enact something related to the presentation you are about to make. To keep your audience with you throughout the presentation, organize the presentation in an easy to understand format. Limit the main points to three or four, as most people do not remember more than four points at a time. Most of the times, the PowerPoint presentation you give will be related to selling some product to the audience. As most of us tend to become uncomfortable with the selling process, the presentation tends to dwindle off at the end, when they should instead, close with a clear and bold call to action slide.

A call for action is a term used in advertising wherein it tells the audience what you would like them to do. Therefore, in case you are making a fundraising presentation, the call-to-action slide should ask the audience for financial commitment. If it is a new project you are presenting, then the slide should tell the managers the exact steps they need to take to help you start the wheels rolling. A well-designed and simple PowerPoint slide takes the burden off you as the audience gets involved reading whatever is on the slide.

Thomson Chemmanoor a powerpoint background template designer who runs the following websites. a article submission site and Web design company

Effective Oral Presentation Skills

Writen by Jennifer Selland

There is a myth that great speakers are born, not made. This is based on the misconception that somehow certain individuals have the innate ability to stand in front of an audience with no anxiety and give a moving, dynamic speech. The truth is, however, that great speakers generally spend years developing and practicing their art of communication. All great speakers had to learn the basics of organization, preparation, delivery and dealing with anxiety. In order to do anything well, it takes constant practice and a mastery of the basics. Speaking is no different.

One of the most important techniques you can apply to become a more confident and effective speaker is to reduce anxiety. If implemented, the following tips could help reduce your anxiety before your next presentation:

* Organize – Focus on your presentation.  * Visualize – Mentally rehearse a perfect presentation with questions and answers.  * Practice – Standing up, out loud, using visual aids.  Obtain feedback from others.  * Breathe – Sit up or stand erect, not relaxed.  Inhale deeply a number of times.  * Focus on Relaxing!  * Release Tension – Try isometric exercises.  Tighten and release your muscles.  Start with toes and end with fists.  * Move – Flex your muscles – don't lock!  Use a cordless microphone.  * Eye Contact with the Audience – Think one on one.  Connect with the audience and make yourself personable.  Use the feedback and energy you receive from your audience.

Planning your presentation is another component to becoming an effective speaker and presenter. There are essentially two steps that should be followed prior to delivering a presentation: 1) develop your objectives and 2) analyze your audience. In preparation, one must identify the values, needs and constraints of the attendees and the level of knowledge of the audience. For example, do not use slang, jargon, acronyms, or technical terms without explanation. It should also be determined in advance "what will work" and "what won't work". In other words, what will gain you the most favorable reaction. In order to ascertain these items in advance, you should put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be listening to your presentation.

The next phase towards improving your effective oral presentation skills is organizing your thoughts. There are a number of steps to this process:

Step #1: Brainstorm main ideas.  Use index cards or post it notes and only use one idea per card.  Step #2: State the sub points.  Ideally there should be between 2-5 sub points in your presentation.  Be specific using explanations, data and evidence to back up your points.    Step #3: State the benefits.  Specifically state the benefits before and at the end of the body of your presentation.  Step #4: Develop handouts.  Handouts should reinforce important points, summarize action items and include supporting data.  Step #5: Develop visual aids (PowerPoint slides, charts and graphs).  Visual aids should be used to focus the attention of your audience, reinforce the verbal message and to stimulate interest.  Keep in mind that effective presentations are people-centered, not media-centered.  Too many presentations rely on the media to carry the message.  While the media can certainly help, it's your interaction and rapport with the audience that makes the difference between an effective or ineffective presentation.  Step #6: Main idea preview/review sentence (i.e. Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them).  Step #7: Develop the introduction.  Get the audience to focus their attention on you, provide background information and introduce yourself – who you are and why you're qualified.  Step #8: Develop the conclusion.  Your conclusion should be persuasive like a "call to action".  Spell out what specifically they need to do, when and how.

The delivery of your presentation is another key to a successful presentation. An effective presentation should be delivered in the following sequence:
• Introduction
• Preview Sentence
• Main Ideas and Sub Ideas
• Benefits
• Review Sentence
• Conclusion

In order to come across to your audience as confident and persuasive, you should consider the way you physically deliver your points to your audience. The following are some helpful tips to help you achieve a level of confidence in delivering your presentation:

* Posture – Stand up straight, but avoid being stiff. Do not shift your weight from side to side.
* Movement – Keep yourself at least 4-8 feet from the front row – don't pace!
* Gestures – Your presentation should be a form of animated conversation. Avoid keeping your hands in your pockets or on your hips, crossing your arms or wringing your hands.
* Eye Contact – Do not look at the back of the room or over their heads. Maintain good eye contact to build rapport, trust and confidence.
* Using your Voice – Avoid being monotone which is generally caused by anxiety. Also avoid talking too fast. When people are nervous, they sometimes trip on their words. Be cognizant of your volume. Make sure that everyone can hear you.

At the conclusion of a presentation, there is generally a question and answer session that should be prepared for in advance. To prepare for this last hurdle, you should anticipate the questions that you could potentially be asked ahead of time. The key is to prepare for the worst and rehearse your responses to such questions. The more you prepare your answers the more well versed and confident you will be. One tip you might employ during the question and answer session is to repeat the question being asked. This will give you some additional time to prepare your response. In general, we think five times faster than we speak! Whatever you do, it is important that you maintain your style. If you don't know the answer to the question you are being asked, be honest and say that you don't know but that you will find out. Remember to really listen to the questions, do not interrupt and make sure that you stay focused on the individual asking the question. Finally, don't forget to thank your audience for all of their excellent questions.

If you employ these techniques, you will be on your way to becoming a more effective speaker and delivering successful presentations. For information on workshops on how you or your team can deliver more effective presentations, please feel free to contact us.

Jennifer Selland is the Founder and President of Well-Run Concepts, a Human Resource Consulting Firm based in Ocala Florida, founded in 1997, whose mission is to Help Organizations Define and Develop Top Talent. Jennifer has over 15 years of Human Resource Management and Executive Operational hotel experience.

Well-Run Concepts "Helping Organizations Define and Develop Top Talent." 303 S.E. 17th St., Suite 309-170 Ocala, FL 34471 Toll Free: 877-566-2900 Tel: 352-624-2684 Fax: 352-624-2689 Website: Email:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Business Letter Write It Right And Succeed

Writen by Sacha Tarkovsky

A business letter is not an ordinary communication.

A business letter is one in which some information is passed that should be important enough to put into writing, and more, should evoke some kind of a response.

Write your business letter right and you will succeed.

The Business Letter Form

Remember the business letter is NOT a report. It is a letter.

In today' world you will be lucky to hold attention to three paragraphs, let alone a whole page.

Decide what it is you wish to say, and be prepared to say it in three short paragraphs.

If you have a long letter to write, do not write it as a letter, but as a report.

A letter is a letter. Be brief, succinct, avoid value judgments, make every word count, write nothing banal, and most of all, keep in mind what kind of a response you wish to invoke.

The Business Letter Format

The Subject.

Always begin your business letter with a subject reference. Do not mix subjects, or include more than one.

The Introduction.

Here in one paragraph you introduce your subject, as well as any crucial information about it.

Imply in the introduction what response you wish to evoke.

The Body.

The body of the business letter is the longest paragraph.

In this paragraph get down to details, but keep them brief and to the point.

Do not give value judgments and do not introduce new material.

The Summary Conclusion.

Here you sell your point and summarize all the points you have made before.

The Salutation.

Develop you own signature salutation.

You can you standard ones like Best Regards or Kind Regards, or find something new that suits you.

Let this be your signature salutation, and stick to it in all your business letters and communications.

The Business Letter vs. Email Letter.

In today's world the formal business letter is fast becoming a rarity, and is taking the new form of the email letter. However, remember its only a different form or delivery. Follow the same rules as above.

Some business like to write the business letter now on company stationary in electronic form and include them as attachments to an email. This is not a bad idea, and still retains some form privacy.

Business Letter Language Guide

Here are a few tips from communication experts that may help you frame your use of language in your business letter or email.

Speak in the present tense. Avoid a lot of "I will; it should be, and …" Use simple words. Do not show off your superior vocabulary.

There are very effective words that are commonplace. There are power words, and all of them are simple and impossible to misinterpret

Be direct.

Go to your point, and do not speak in ambiguous terms

Avoid homilies

Remember who it is you are talking to.

If you are speaking to a superior, maintain your distance of respect, while still selling your points across.

Avoid value judgments. Leave these for the letter recipient to decide for themselves.


On all aspects business advice is avialbale at our website for a huge resource of articles, features and downloads and the best online casinos to play at

Presentations To Nonprofits For Car Wash Fundraisers

Writen by Lance Winslow

Giving a business presentation to a nonprofit group is very similar to what a sales team does when it pitches its services, ideas or innovations to a corporate Board of Directors. Having done many business presentations in my life it came natural to meet when I was asked to talk to a PTA or parent teacher association about an upcoming fundraiser in which my company would be assisting the washing of cars.

It was amazing to me how the word got out around town and soon I was giving presentations to nonprofit groups all throughout the community and surrounding communities. There of course were all sorts of objections and questions from parents. Such as; how many chaperones will be needed, what do you get out of it, how much money will we make, why should we do a carwash fund raiser?

The funny thing is that we would make no money doing these fundraisers and yet I was defending the carwash fundraiser business plan for their nonprofit group. I learned a valuable lesson that day in that is sometimes not what you are selling or in this case giving away; people have to see your motivation or they do not trust you.

It is the same when giving a business presentation. If you offer to your products or services too low of cost and they don't see what is in it for you they are not interested because they think you are tricking them. It was amazing to me that people could not see what was it for me.

Exposure for my business and a chance to give back to the community which has treated my business so well for so many years. What's wrong with that? Do you know what happened after the fundraiser? They gave $200 to each other crew-members who volunteered that day to work with the kids. Because they still could not understand why we were helping the community. Go figure. Consider all this in 2006.

Lance Winslow

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Presentation Skills Proper Slide Delivery

Writen by J. Douglas Jefferys

Frequent readers know that the only way to assure your presentation audience will stay with you every step of the way is to maintain proper eye contact throughout your presentation. Proper eye contact involves delivering your presentation as a series of one-on-one conversations with each member of the audience, and holding eye-contact with members through to the end of a thought or complete sentence. Most presenters hold eye contact with any one person no more than one second – to effectively bond with your audience, you need to pump that up to a range more like three to eight.

The image to keep in mind here is that you are never delivering to a group of individuals, but rather to individuals in a group. (When people ask me what's the largest number of people I've ever spoken to, I always answer, "one".)

When delivering a PowerPoint presentation, maintaining proper eye contact becomes difficult if your slides are structured like most we see in the corporate world today – with way more information than the audience can digest before the speaker feels compels to start speaking. In order to maintain constant eye contact with members of the audience, you must restrict the volume of information that you toss up on the screen at any one time. Otherwise, you will do what most presenters do, which is to spend much of the presentation looking at the screen. In fact, you must restrict each new parcel of information to that which can be absorbed by both you and the audience in just a few seconds – ten at the very most.

That will set you up to then smoothly and coherently transfer the information from the screen to the audience. We call the procedure for doing this "Absorb, Align, and Address."


When new information appears on the screen, all eyes will follow it, and at this point it is OK, and desirable, for you, too, to look to the screen. By doing so, you "give permission" to the audience to get prepared for what's coming next. That's all the screen info should include, too: just enough information to set the stage for what you are going to discuss. At this point, because you are not looking at any individual in the group, you must be silent.

Rule Number 9: If your eyes aren't locked, your jaw must be.

When you have absorbed the data bite, you can now think for a moment on how to phrase what you want to say to start off. This would not include expounding on the point, but merely filling out the talking points to make a grammatically correct statement.


Once you and your audience have had the opportunity to take in this info, you then need to turn your attention away from the screen, and lock eyes (align) with a member of the audience. This is the most difficult part, physically, to perform, as the natural tendency is to begin speaking as soon as you have formulated your statement.


Locked on, you finally can address your selected member of the audience with your version of the talking point.

Understand that if what you're addressing is a bullet point, this address should not be the actual words. You may always say more than the line on the screen, but never, never any less. Keep in mind that the group will read everything that's on the screen, so if you put words up there but don't speak to them, you are actually insulting your audience: These words aren't important enough for me to bother with but I wanted to take up your brain's time and effort just the same.

How many times has this happened to you: You go to a presentation and see slide after slide with all kinds of footnotes and small type, or graphs with legends and data to which the presenter never refers? You're looking at all the elements on the slide trying to figure out which stuff is most important, and then the presenter never even mentions half the stuff you've read. How does that make you feel? For most people, the first slide that contains more information than the presenter chooses not to discuss is the point at which they check out, deciding to figure it all out later from the handout, which, of course, they trash at the first can they see outside the presentation room.

Once learned, the Absorb, Align and Address system is a beautiful thing to behold. Slides designed with this system never suffer from TMI, and thus never have too much for the presenter to deal with. Presenter confidence is high, and the audience feels this big time. The audience is forced to turn their attention to you, because there's not enough information to allow them to jump to their own conclusions. By the same token, you are now able to direct all of your speaking to the audience and not the screen.

But here's the really fun part: When you follow this simple plan for both design and delivery, almost anyone can look and sound like an expert on their subject, regardless of how much prep time they've put into rehearsing the presentation! We prove this in our corporate training classes by having participants deliver other participant's presentations that we have edited and revised to comply with the "rules" (next chapter). Preferably, off course, you would have a good background in the subject matter, so that you can deliver the "meat on the bones" part effectively. But if you know to what the talking points refer, and you also know that no more material than you can deliver in just a few seconds will appear, you can actually give a presentation for the very first time and sound like you know what you're talking about!

J. Douglas Jefferys brings twenty-five years of corporate training experience to his role as a principal of []. His firm changes presenters lives forever with their unique apporach to training presentation design and delivery skills. Discover how to design and deliver presentations that audiences actually listen to by visiting their website now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How To Be An Emcee

Writen by Ty Boyd

There are 12 things I have learned over the years as an emcee at hundreds of pageants, fairs, award ceremonies of every description, the annual International Retailer of the Year Awards in Chicago, and the Positive Thinking Rallies.

1. As emcee, you are the captain of the ship, the host. The members of the audience are your guests. Your job is to make them comfortable, to create a dialogue between them and the various events on the program.

2. The job calls for a sense of theater.

3. You are not the show, but you are responsible for the flow, the housekeeping, often the introductions, and the audience's concerns -- the total program.

4. You are not the star, but are still critical to the program's success.

5. This job requires preparation. Do your homework.

6. Either carry survival tools or know where to find them (flashlight, extra script, filler materials, etc.).

7. You are the fire marshal.

8. It's your attitude that shows.

9. Set the stage for real people and a worthy audience. Answer the audience's question of, "What's in it for me?"

10. You are the sergeant-at-arms.

11. Have fun.

12. Don't overstep your boundaries.

You can create a useful talent to enhance your value to the meeting professional. Work hard enough that the meeting planner will want you to return as the emcee next year. Then you can sell a speech to go with it!

Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 40 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.

Problems With The Lecture Format

Writen by Andrew E. Schwartz

ALTERNATIVES TO THE LECTURE FORMAT: How often do you use lectures as your sole training technique? Nearly always? Often? It's not unusual for trainers to use the lecture technique exclusively. After all, this is what we have all seen and are familiar with. The format is easily mastered, and innovation may not seem necessary when the traditionally accepted technique garners no complaints. Unfortunately, while there are several conditions under which a lecture may be useful to the trainer, for several reasons it is not a very effective tool for changing behavior in trainees.

PROBLEMS WITH THE LECTURE FORMAT: The format requires that trainees receive information passively, without reciprocal involvement. This tends to make trainees feel like children. In fact, this is the precise connotation that the word "lecture" calls up — an authority figure addressing children. The structure of the lesson is therefore instructor-centered rather than trainee-centered. The efficacy of the lecture also suffers from its long history—lectures are expected to be boring. Very few speakers have either training in public speech or theatre, and most lecturers, no matter how hard they try, move slowly toward either monotone or singsong patterns as they settle in. Hearing is a sense that seems to demand constant change — without it, any repetitive tone dissolves into background music. Even the addition of static visual aids helps very little—the human eye is capable of seeing, recognizing, processing, and ultimately tiring of simplistic visual stimulation with surprising speed.

Unless the trainer can make his material unusually interesting, something that few of us accomplish consistently, the constant stream of words will become monotonous to trainees. When there is no room for active participation, it is very difficult for trainees to maintain an adequate attention level. Finally, just as the term "lecture" suggests, there is no room for "back talk." In a lecture format, any trainee's expression of a different point of view on a subject matter is simply seen as disruptive or rude. The more controversial (and therefore interesting) questions will be turned aside without adequate attention.

Copyright AE Schwartz & Associates All rights reserved. For additional presentation materials and resources: ReadySetPresent and for a Free listing as a Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Vendor/Organization: TrainingConsortium

CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tech Tips Powerpoint Keyboard Shortcuts For Powerpoint Slide Shows

Writen by Dawn Bjork Buzbee

Whether you use a mouse or a remote control to navigate through a PowerPoint slide show presentation, it is also handy to use keyboard shortcuts. Here is a selection to try:

• Run a slide show: [F5].

• Advance to the next slide (any of these): [Right], [Down], N (for Next), [Spacebar], [Page Down] (or click the left mouse)

• Return to the previous slide (any of these): [Left], [Up], P (for Previous), [Backspace], [Page Up]

• Go to specific slide number: type slide number and press [Enter]. One of my favorite tips to quickly skip past slides or to return to a previous slide. To display the slide number temporarily in handouts, choose View > Header and Footer, check Slide Number, Apply to All. Repeat steps to turn off after printing handouts.

• Display a black screen or go back to slide show: B or [Period]

• End a slide show: [Esc]

• Hide the mouse pointer: [Ctrl] + H. Hiding the mouse pointer should be part of your presentation preparation to avoid the accidental display of your mouse in the middle of your presentation.

• Activate the mouse pointer/arrow: [Ctrl] + A

• Help during slide show (displays these and other keyboard shortcuts): [F1]

Note: you can also right-click anywhere on the slide show screen for a shortcut menu with many of these same actions.

© 2004 by Dawn Bjork Buzbee

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro™ and a certified Microsoft Office Expert and Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software and technology through her work as a speaker, trainer, and consultant. Visit for great Microsoft Office software tips and tricks or to contact Dawn.

35 Surefire Ways To Kill A Meeting

Writen by John Gravitt

1. Play "find the meeting" by changing the location and time of your meeting at the last minute.

2. Don't bother to book your meeting room in advance. Lead the group from room to room trying to find another place to meet.

3. Bring 5 handouts for 20 attendees.

4. Leave and say, "I'll be back. I'm going to make handouts."

5. Don't use an agenda because "everybody knows why we are here."

6. Keep an attitude that "meetings are not work."

"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything. "

- John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - )

7. Say "I don't need a microphone" and proceed to yell for the entire meeting or talk too softly for the back of the room to hear.

8. Combine two unrelated meetings into one big meeting, ensuring that half the group will not care about half of the meeting.

"Soufflé is more important than you think. If men ate soufflé before meetings, life could be much different."

Jacques Baeyens, French consul general in NYC

9. Don't serve food during a lunchtime meeting.

10. Play "find a chair" at the beginning of the meeting due to inadequate seating.

11. Allow people to bring active pagers and cell phones and stop the meeting when one goes off.

12. Use visual aids no one can see without binoculars.

13. When you are finished, keep going just because the meeting was scheduled to take longer.

14. Invite Bozo the Facilitator to conduct your meeting.

15. Spend time trying to remember what happened at the last meeting.

16. Spend time arguing about what happened at the last meeting.

17. Refuse to take "off-line" conversations off line.

18. Fail to take minutes and follow up after the meeting.

19. Disband without summarizing the meeting.

20. Start over each time a latecomer arrives.

21. Speak in "alphabet soup" and other jargon most people don't understand.

22. Announce that someone will be joining by conference call and take everyone's time while you set up the equipment.

23. Start with an apology like "sorry to get started late" or "I know you can't read this, but…"

24. Fail to agree on the purpose of the meeting.

25. Go over the allotted time.

26. Volunteer absentee team members and forget to tell them about their assignments.

"A motion to adjourn is always in order. "

- Robert A. Heinlein

27. Schedule a long meeting. Anything over 90 minutes is too long for most meetings.

"On average, a project manager spends 8 years of his or her lifetime in meetings. "

- Vijay Verma

28. Invite the wrong people to the meeting.

29. Fail to invite people who should attend the meeting.

30. Allow "monopolizers" to ruin the meeting.

31. Speak to impress rather than express. Use words like "utilize" when you mean "use" and "enhance" when you mean "improve".

32. Come unprepared. Fail to plan for a successful meeting.

33. Read agenda and handouts word for word to the participants.

34. Keep participants in the dark about their roles in the meeting.

35. Keep doing what you've always done even though you know you've had "defective meetings" in the past.

Please email your favorite "meeting killers" to

About The Author

This originally appeared in John Gravitt's "Tools, Tips, and Toys" available at;

Sunday, May 25, 2008

8 Ways To Improve Your Presentation Skills

Writen by Kevin Eikenberry

8 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills

1.  Join Toastmasters.    Toastmasters is a organization where you will get a chance to work on your impromptu speaking skills, leadership skills, evaluation skills as well as opportunities to practice specific skills in prepare presentations (at your own pace).  Clubs typically meet weekly and you can find clubs that meet in the morning, evening, lunchtime to meet your schedule.  I highly recommend this!  Find a club and attend to learn much more.

2.  Consider the Dale Carnegie Course.  The Dale Carnegie Course is about much more than speaking, but you will speak in each of the 14 weekly sessions.  This workshop is more expensive than Toastmasters but is an excellent program to help with presentation skills, confidence and more.

3.  Find opportunities at work.  You might have limited opportunities to speak at work, due to the nature of your job, but that doesn't need to keep you from letting people know you desire that chance.  Take even opportunities to talk in small meetings as a chance to practice the skills we learned together too!

4.  Find opportunities outside of work.  Step up in your church or civic group to present some information or be involved in committees or teams that might provide you a chance to hone your skills.

5.  Get feedback. Every time you speak ask someone to give you feedback.  Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what they saw, heard and observed.  Ask one of them to provide you feedback after they are in your audience.

6.  Video yourself.  You saw the value and power of seeing yourself on tape.  Use this tool yourself.  Practice a presentation at home and let the camera run - then, watch it and think about what you might do differently to make your message even more powerful.

7.  One thing at a time.  Choose to work on just one thing at a time.  For example, if you want to work on having a stronger WIIFM, make that your major goal for the talk.  Pick one thing to especially, consciously work on each time you present.  Doing this will help you improve quickly and consciously.  Be sure to tell those you are asking for feedback from to look for these key focus areas too!

8.  Go Karaoke!  A colleague of mine, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests this as a great way to work on your presentation skills.  He says that if you can use your skills to get a bunch of uninterested, rowdy (drunk!) people to pay attention to you, you have learned valuable skills that translate to presenting "non-singing" material.  I think he is right.

©2004, All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry.  Kevin is the President of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps their Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services.  Go to to learn more about customized training and workshops on Presentation Skills or contact Kevin at toll free 888.LEARNER.

How To Be Professional

Writen by Erica Armstrong

What is being professional? Do you think you measure up? What separates a professional from an amateur? In days gone by, the definition was simply this -- if one was paid for something regularly, one was professional. Something followed for a hobby, or for fun, and not paid, was considered amateur.

Through the media and at school and college we are all repeatedly encouraged to be professional in our business dealings and working lives. What does one do to actually be professional? And just as importantly, what does one not do?

The dictionary definition of 'professional' is "…engaging in an activity as means of a livelihood. Extremely competent in a job. A person who conducts his business in a field also pursued by amateurs. A person who engages in an activity with great competence."

But is it just competence enough in isolation? Definitely not. Making yourself approachable and reasonable, and giving respect to other people is important. Ensuring that you present yourself in a businesslike manner, whether in person, on the telephone, or in writing, is essential. Turning up for an important business meeting with your favorite editor in torn jeans and dirty shoes is just sloppy. Being lazy and blaming lack of time or pressure of other commitments is definitely not professional. These constraints should not stop you making sure that you always project a businesslike appearance.

Perhaps the most vital aspect of being a professional is knowing your subject from A to Z. Do your homework and know exactly what you are talking about. Telling people B.S. may come easily to you, but being found out in a half-truth or bluff will lead instantly to a loss of credibility, putting in jeopardy your professional relationships while also compromising your integrity.

Something for everyone to be extremely careful about, not just writers, is not putting anything on paper unless one is completely and utterly comfortable with it. This applies equally to websites and particularly to email. Never send anything in writing when angry. Hold fire on any emails. Type out your frustration in Word, then leave it overnight to simmer. By morning you should have cooled down sufficiently to review your writing in a more rational manner. Sometimes printing out your rantings, then tearing them into a thousand pieces works well.

Another golden rule to being professional is not to commit to writing anything with which you are not totally comfortable. The acid test is to imagine your grandmother reading it. Or imagine it on the front page of a magazine or newspaper. Importantly, being accurate and taking responsibility for your decisions and actions is also the mark of a professional person. In developed countries, a firm grip on punctuality is important in a professional.

Sometimes being professional means knowing who best to delegate tasks to, and then having the courage to stand back. Being magnanimous and giving credit where credit is due is also a major part of being a true professional.

Looking professional is also part of it. To create a truly professional image, ensure you always wear clean and appropriate clothing, paying attention to grooming and personal cleanliness. Being reasonable, and fair, is important, but can be difficult if you are the only one doing it.

Being professional does not mean letting other people take advantage of you. Sometimes you may not be able to say what you would like, and holding your tongue and biting back certain comments may be difficult at times.

To sum up, it would seem that being categorized as professional means showing you have that rarest of commodities, common sense, and then, actually using it. Another major part is being adult, being considerate towards other people, and demonstrating self-control. No-one said it was easy, but it is definitely something worth striving for if you wish to be seen as a true professional, in a sea of amateurs.

By Erica of Textwriters.Net making words work

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kvetching Behavior And How It Hinders Success

Writen by Alicia Smith

Kvetching is the Yiddish word for complaining, hand to the forehead, why is this happening to me, complaining, griping, and mental misery. In marketing it's always time for us to take a serious look at how our attitude affects our business. Studies show that you become the words you speak, and that the difference between people who succeed and those who fail is their ATTITUDE. For just one day, try to rid yourself of kvetching.

1. Pay attention to your thoughts. Mindfulness is being highly aware of what you are thinking at all times. It's not easy to do, but with practice, you can master it. By being mindful, you will begin to notice how many of your thoughts are positive or negative. Each time you find yourself thinking something negative, you need to stop and replace it with another, higher quality thought. What you think about, you attract. Pay attention to what you're doing with your mind. If you wish to attract better, you need to think better. For one day, eradicate negative thoughts from your life.

2. Look for the positive in everything. Some people might think this Pollyanna. But, the truth is that we make our lives what they are. We are the sum total of our thoughts and actions. The wonderful thing about life is that we always have a choice – no matter how much we might not believe this or see it in the moment. We can always find the bad in things or we can live from a higher place and seek out the positive. Why pick the dark side when you can walk in the light? For one day, find the positive in everything, no matter what.

3. Avoid negative talk. What we say, flows from what we think. When we start verbalizing our negativity this is when we really start to "pollute" our life and that of others. Life is hard enough, why waste it talking about negative things. The more you do the less you'll attract people and opportunities. No one is interested in your problems as much as you are. As the saying goes, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. This way, you'll avoid re-enforcing any negative thoughts you might be having and the people around you will welcome the break from your intruding on their peace of mind. Just for one day, avoid saying anything negative. Speak only about positive things or say nothing at all.

4. Focus on productive things. Nothing can be accomplished by focusing on negative things. Negativity is all about stopping things, blockages, inaction, and being stuck. It will never lead you towards accomplishing the goals that underlie your vision. By focusing on productive things, you will be acting from a place of control, actively creating the reality you desire. Productive things are things that fulfill your goals. They are things that you can take charge of and direct. And, they are the stepping-stones that lead to accomplishment, success, and happiness. For one day, participate only in productive activities.

5. Take action. When you're in action, you just don't have the time, energy, or inclination to complain about what is going on around you. Your mind, body, and spirit are actively engaged in productive activities oriented towards achieving desired outcomes. In fact, if you find yourself in a negative frame of mind, taking any type of action is the quickest way to pull yourself out of your funk. Negative thinking tends to focus on the past, what could have been, and what you should have done. Action puts you in a more positive mode. When you take action, your mind is focused on the future, looking forward to results, accomplishment and success. For one day, take three actions towards accomplishing a selected goal.

6. Get clear. Often times, mental misery stems from chaotic thinking. Chaotic thinking is thinking that jumps all over the place, with no rhyme or reason. It often stems from having a poorly defined personal foundation or philosophy of life. When we have a clear sense of who we are, what we believe in, and what we stand for, we have a framework from which to operate our lives. With a strong foundation, the thoughts and experiences we have then have a place to "land". Based upon our framework, we are able to make sense of them and develop meaning from them. When we are without a solid personal foundation, everything in life seems chaotic and nonsensical. We don't get it, we don't understand, and frustration and anger are the results. By strengthening our inner core, we can better make sense of who we are and the world we live in. For one day, try to create a more clear understanding of something you are dealing with in your life.

7. Find resources and people, and get involved. Sometimes we find ourselves feeling miserable because we are operating from a place of isolation. We need to engage other resources and people to change how we feel. We can read interesting books. We can consult others or make new friends. We can try new ways of doing things. By engaging more fully in what life has to offer, we can get our minds off of ourselves and our problems and looking outward instead of inward. When we get engaged in life, we start appreciating how magnificent it really is. We focus our attention and intentions on service to others instead of focusing on our self and our ego. For one day, think about how you can get more involved in some aspect of your life and take one action in that direction.

8. Find better things to do. Our misery is often rooted in the activities in which we engage. We might not enjoy our commute to work, the types of work we do, doing dishes, or dealing with the same people who annoy us. If we find better things to do or different ways of doing the things we are currently engaged in, quite often we are able to change how we feel. For one day, think about how you might change one thing you do to make it more enjoyable. For example, we can take a different route to work or listen to books-on-tape to make our commuting more fun. We can use paper plates and plastic ware when we would like to avoid doing lots of dishes, or we can stand up for who we are and let the annoying people in our lives know that they need to change their attitude with us or leave the situation. We are responsible for our own happiness. We must make it happen.

9. Change your environment and you life will change. We are involved in all sorts of environments – communities, ideas, organizations, physical, mental, spiritual. If we change the types of environments in which we are involved, we will automatically change our thoughts and, thus, our life. Even simple changes in our physical environment, like filing paperwork, straightening up our desk, and aligning our books on the bookshelf can have a tremendous soothing effect on our mind. For one day, make several changes in your physical environment and notice the difference it makes in terms of your thoughts and emotions. You may then decide to tackle other environments and see what happens from there.

10. Get feedback from others. Often times we don't realize how horrible our attitude is until someone tells us. We are too close to the problem and not living from a place of higher awareness to realize that we complain about everything, look on the dark side, or never appreciate or express gratitude. If you want to know how you appear to the world, get feedback from others. Find out what you're complaining about, how often, and also how annoying that behavior is to others. Believe me, others can readily tell you how you act because they are experiencing you and your attitude first hand. Try to deal with their comments objectively. This valuable feedback can help you realize the impact that you are having on others and the environment. And, hopefully, this will empower you to make some changes to improve your attitude and, likewise, will create positive results for others as well. For one day, ask for feedback about your behavior and make an effort to improve upon it. What you do and think affects everyone; you have a responsibility to yourself and to others to do what is right and best at all times.

© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith is a Coach and Trainer whose specialty is helping coaches to Make Money Now. This article is derived from just one of the 90 lessons contained in her e-course, 90-Day Marketing Marathon. To learn more about that course and her other products and services, please visit the following sites. (You also can email her at


Writen by Lenn Millbower

Learning is awkward, uncomfortable, frightening. At least that's what many adults think. Learning means admitting knowledge gaps, in a strange room, in front of strangers, to an instructor just met. Factor in prior school experiences, mandatory attendance and the dizzying pace of life and it's a wonder adults learn at all.

Fortunately, humor tackles these fears and overpowers them. When people laugh, they relax. They also share a moment of togetherness. Humor should, for these reasons, be a companion to any learning program.

But what's an unfunny trainer to do: become a comedian? Hardly. It's not necessary. Everyone is already funny. Your funniness is simply undiscovered. And trainees, for their part, are so desperate for humor that they will laugh at almost anything. Almost funny is good enough.

But even almost funny requires planning. That's where the acronym L-A-U-G-H can help. If you learn how to "laugh," your learners will too. To be funny, do the following.

Lighten Up
The first step in discovering your natural humor is to Lighten Up. Although funny is a result of natural tension, tense presenters stifle humor. When you tense, your learners tense. The few laughs that occur will likely be at your expense. Strive to present a carefree but focused approach. Relax and let the learners feel your relaxation. You're not the warden. Learning shouldn't feel like prison. Life is too short for dramatics anyway. Relax and your learners will too.

Amuse Yourself
Having adopted a lighter attitude, amuse yourself. Laugh at the absurdities of life. There is plenty to be found in corporate life, government and relationships. In the learning environment, seek out the fun. Say that aside when it occurs to you (as long as you do not demolish your training time line).In general, have a good time.

Understand Humor
Once you've relaxed, created a humor friendly environment and begun enjoying yourself in the training room, it's time to learn the formulas that make funny funny. All jokes are based on surprise. Simply put, a joke leads you down a path of expectations. The humor arises when the listener realizes that the joke is about something different than the initial expectations. This formula is universal. The more an item surprises a listener, reflects a truth in life and provides unexpected insight, the funnier it will be.

The best way to understand humor is to watch the pros. Jay Leno and his writing staff are masters. They use the same formulas night after night to great laughs. You don't even have to stay up late. posts his best jokes daily. Steve Allen's book, How to be Funny: Discovering the Comic You is one of many books one that can also help you understand the basic formulas. You could also join an Internet joke-of-the-day list. Use these resources to watch, read and compare. You'll soon discover the formulas that make funny funny.

Gather Material
Once you understand the basic formula, the next step is to gather material. It is not a good idea to tell jokes in the classroom. You can, however, use the formula to come up with your own humorous asides and situations. The process most comedians use is trial and error. They will insert a new line into their show. If it gets a laugh they'll keep it. If it doesn't, they change it and try it again. If it gets a small titter, they will tweak it and try it again. They will continue honing and refining it with each delivery, searching for ways to make the line funnier. They'll add words. They'll take out words. If it gets less of a laugh the next night, they'll revert to the delivery they used the night before. They'll keep tweaking until the titter becomes a belly laugh. And most importantly, if no one laughs, they'll cut it. In this way, you can hone your material. Eventually, you'll have a line you can count on every time.

Handle With Care
Humor is dangerous. Some subjects are simply not acceptable. Religion. Politics. Race. Age. Nationality. Disabilities. Your learners. A good rule of thumb is to laugh at yourself. Never insult your trainees, your bosses, your organization or your fellow trainers. One wrong comment can ruin the whole event.

If you follow the steps I've outlined, you too can be funny. Nothing but your own fear prevents you from being the natural comic you are. So, make learning accessible, not awkward. Make it irresistible, not uncomfortable. Make it fun, not frightening. Learn how to L-A-U-G-H.

Lenn Millbower, BM, MA, the Learnertainment® Trainer is an expert in applying show biz techniques to learning. He is the author of the ASTD Info-Line, Music as a Training Tool, focused on the practical application of music to learning; Show Biz Training, the definitive book on the application of entertainment industry techniques to training; Cartoons for Trainers, a popular collection of 75 cartoons for learning; Game Show Themes for Trainers, a best-selling CD of original learning game music; and Training with a Beat: The Teaching Power of Music, the foremost book on the application of music to learning. Lenn is an in-demand speaker, with successful presentations at ASTD and SHRM; a member of NSA, a creative and dynamic instructional designer and facilitator formally with the Disney University and Disney Institute; an accomplished arranger-composer skilled in the psychological application of music to learning; and the president of Offbeat Training®, infusing entertainment-based techniques into learning to keep 'em awake so the learning will take!

Friday, May 23, 2008

10 Tips For Bringing Your Event To Life

Writen by Susan Friedmann

Your job as an event planner doesn't stop with the meeting in the company boardroom. You may be call upon to organize an employee appreciation event, an awards dinner, a product launch, the celebration of a company milestone, a gala recognizing a longtime employee's retirement, an incentive event for the company's sales force, a fundraising event, a holiday celebration…the list goes on and on.

These types of affairs differ from your typical corporate business meeting, and you face unique issues and pitfalls when planning them. Rave program reviews are generally the result of the blood, sweat, and tears you devote to the project. A well-designed and well-orchestrated event is analogous to a good stage production. It's all about getting your act together and performing the right show for the right audience.

The following are 10 tips that zero in on the nitty gritty elements that can help earn your efforts glowing reviews (and make your mom really proud of you). As you begin each planning program, a key question to ask yourself is, "how can each activity engage the participant's interest?"

Tip #1: Decide When To Stage Your Event

Timing is everything. The decision about when to hold your event is determined in large part by what type of event it is. Ask yourself, is the event better suited for the day or evening? Do you want to hold it during the week or on a weekend? If your event doesn't have a deadline, would it be best to hold it during a specific season or time of year? Make sure to check that your event doesn't overlap with any religious holidays, and it's probably best to avoid scheduling during major sporting events.

Tip #2: Map Out A Location

The first order of business is to decide whether to hold your event indoors or outdoors. However, outdoor events have several major considerations, the elements being number one on the list. Think tents, portable flooring, electric generators, and space heaters, in addition to a well thought out contingency plan. Also, be aware that speeches and audiovisual presentations are notoriously difficult to stage outdoors.

Tip #3: Consider Unique Environments

Hotel meeting rooms can get old very quickly and the thought of a unique environment can immediately add interest and excitement. Consider retreat centers, cruise ships or yachts, museums, stately home, sporting venues, and theaters. Realize that many of these venues work well for special functions, but they don't necessarily have adequate meeting facilities and equipment. Make sure you do your homework beforehand and abide by the "Meeting Planner's Golden Rule" - never select a venue without having seen it in person!

Tip #4: Set The Stage

The program plan you choose stems from the purpose and participants. Your four main considerations include:

  1. What is the main emphasis of the program – educational, business or social?

  2. What are your financial criteria – generate revenue, break even, or be a company expense?

  3. What are your participants' expectations?

  4. What is the optimum ration of educational, business, and social programming?

Tip #5: Create The Right Atmosphere

One key to a successful special event is to seek out entertainment or decorations that are unique and fun to spark excitement and add the right ambiance. Think outside the box and consider all sorts of amusements – strolling musicians, magicians, chefs' demonstrations, palm readers…anything out of the ordinary. Novelty is the key to your success. Keep in mind that entertainment that rave about can also come in the form of an elaborate coffee bar or startlingly beautiful champagne fountain. Remember to check all decorating plans with the venue in advance because many have restrictions on what they allow. For example, many establishments forbid helium balloons.

Tip #6: Create A Memorable Theme

Creating a theme for your event helps make it easier to organize food, décor, and other accessories, such as giveaway items. Select a theme that fits your participants. Consider choosing from the following categories:

  • Fashion: The Roaring Twenties or An Evening at Ascot

  • History: The Garden of Eden or A Renaissance Fair

  • Politics: Fourth of July Celebrations or Women's Lib (political and historical)

  • Popular culture: Wizard of Ox or An Evening with Dr. Seuss

  • The arts: An Italian Affair or A Night at the Oscars

Tip #7: Integrate The Theme

Don't consider a theme unless you are prepared to follow it through your entire event. Don't limit it to a few posters on the walls, which just add lip service rather than real ambiance. For the most impact, integrate it before, during and after the event. Reflect your theme in your invitations and in any party favors that guests take home. Your theme should complement the tone and content of your event. Advise speakers and discuss with them how they can incorporate, but not overuse it in their remarks. A few extras to consider when integrating your theme:

  • Make sure the theme is general enough that it is unlikely to offend anyone, and that it is meaningful to your group.

  • Develop a meaningful slogan or message to go along with the theme to add a little extra when you promote the event.

  • Consider having a special logo designed to enhance the theme and its possible message.

Tip #8: Hire A Professional Photographer

A photographer is a great addition to almost any event. Guests appreciate a visual reminder of the fun time they had at your affair. Arranging to have family portraits taken at an employee appreciation event shows your employees that you care about them as individuals. Guests at more formal affairs enjoy having their pictures taken while they're dressed up for a night out. Decide whether you want a photographer to roam among your guests taking candid shots, to set up in a central location to take posed shots, or both.

Tip #9: Entertain The Group

Participants look forward to the entertainment segment of a program. They want to have fun, enjoy themselves, and let their hair down, particularly after stressful and demanding sessions. So guess what? Your participants' stress reliever now becomes your stress maker. You have a true responsibility to choose the right entertainment for your group. Some options include the following:

  • Music: Your choices include a band with or without singers, a soloist (instrumental or vocal), a disc jockey, or even karaoke.

  • Spectacle: Consider hiring a magician, juggler, comedian, mime or hypnotist.

  • Theater: Arrange a dinner theater performance, a one-person act, a murder-mystery experience, or corporate theater (which involves using professional or amateur actors to dramatize a company's image, a new product, or the history of an organization).

  • Games: Involve your participants by planning individual games, such as a treasure hunt, or an event with a game show format, such as "Jeopardy" or "Hollywood Squares."

  • Video or slide show: A picture is worth a thousand words. For a retirement dinner, consider creating a slide show featuring the guest of honor's accomplishments. For a sales meeting, provide a video demonstration of a new product.

Tip #10: Hire The Right Talent

As you think about hiring your entertainment talent, find out where and for whom they've previously performed. Make certain that you view a demo video. Watch for the quality of their performance and the audience reaction. Check out their references and ask some pertinent questions:

  • Would you hire them again?

  • How flexible, reliable, and easy to work with were they?

  • How would you rate their act?

  • What do they do well?

  • What part of their act could use improvement?

  • What were the demographics of your audience? (You want to make sure that this act would be a good fit for your participants.)

About The Author

Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. Go to to sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Proof Positive A Good Story Can Be Telling

Writen by Chip Eichelberger

In today's business world, boring facts and empty stats simply won't make the impression on customers that a story about someone "just like them" will. True stories are much more compelling and better-remembered than other information. So to get coveted word-of-mouth advertising, start by telling your company or product story. When you do, you'll find that story-telling is a powerful tool that differentiates you from your competition.

Story-telling your way to greater profit is based on the idea of "social proof." When people are unsure what to do, they look at others' behavior and ask what others have done previously in the same situation. A behavior seems more correct to the degree that we see others doing it, and the more people doing it the better. Social proof comes into play in all buying decisions, from the most basic to the most expensive. This includes everything from what movie to see or restaurant to eat at, to what car to buy or contractor to hire.

Whatever your industry, you can essentially get your customers to write your best stories for you by documenting your successes through testimonials and pictures. Do what your competition fails to do effectively. To develop powerful stories that sell your customers, follow these ten simple steps:

1. Identify your positioning. If you don't position yourself advantageously, your competition will position you and your product in a way you do not want. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? What added value do you deliver that your competition won't? Get your customers say "wow!" Maybe it's your unique expertise, free installation, or free delivery. Whatever you offer, it should be low-cost but have high perceived added value.

2. Define your ideal customer. Contrary to popular belief, your customer base isn't "everybody." While you may have customers across all spectrums, who's going to be the most profitable customer for you, and how can you attract more of those? You don't want to be always selling to everybody. Be proactive, and let your competition suffer the consequences of giving their sales force too broad of a brush.

3. Identify what's different about you. Different is good. Create a point of differentiation between you and your competition with a story. You may have noticed this recent trend at retail when you're looking for a BBQ sauce or a bottle of wine. To get customers to pick their product off the shelf, companies use their product packaging and web sites to tell an intriguing story.

4. Draw them to you. If you've done the first three steps well, the customers you want will be attracted to you. Rather than pursuing customers, learn their key issues/pains/problems and how you can solve them. For example, top mortgage brokers work to build a good reputation and thereby attract a lot of the business. They don't have to go out and pursue clients; people come to them. Do the little things that make for a great story so your customers will sing your praises and bring the business to you. Ideally, you'll be able to choose your customers, instead of begging them to choose you over your competition.

5. Show, don't tell. One of the main principles of story-telling is to show the details of the story, and let those details speak for themselves. Effective story-telling is in the details, and the more the better. Leaving out a minute detail, which you feel may not be important, could turn out to be the deciding factor from the customer's point of view. Paint a picture with your words to bring your story to life for the reader or listener. You don't have to be a master fiction writer to tell a powerful story. Set up a problem, then work through and resolve it by offering specific benefits to the customer. Create powerful case studies of the specific problem you and the client were facing, why they hired you, what your strategy to solve it was, the terrific result and what the thrilled client had to say.

6. Feel their pain. You can use your stories to help overcome common objections you receive, such as cost. You don't want to compete on price but on customer experience and your unique ability to solve customers' problems. In life insurance and financial services, for example, many people haven't done what they should do in terms of planning. In this case, smart advisors tell their customer's, "Don't feel bad. Last week I met with someone just like you who had that same problem. Here's how we worked together to solve it."

7. Keep 'em coming. Dog-eared, over-copied success stories from seven years ago won't do the trick. Document everything and keep it current! Develop a system to follow up with satisfied clients because you can't have too many stories at your disposal. Utilize the Web, phone calls, letters, and e-mail to generate new stories, and then put them on your website in the form of written, audio, and video testimonials. Have them organized and ready to send out with e-mails to prospects.

8. Use pictures. A picture is worth a thousand more words. A testimonial with a photo shows that there is a real person behind the name, enhancing your credibility. Build your testimonials one at a time, asking clients, "If I can exceed your expectations, get the work done in time and at the budget we set, would you give me a testimonial so I can share your success with other customers?" The majority of your customers will happily say "Yes!" Then you can create a Raving Fan book that will let you select the jobs you want to do. Home improvement contractors, for example, can fill it with before-and-after pictures plus testimonials saying that they showed up on time, stayed within budget, etc. On future jobs, other bidders will show up with no social proof, just a napkin with an estimate on it, but the smart contractors will have ten success stories, impressive photos, and raves from past customers. Even if their price comes in 10 - 20% higher, if they've proven that they can meet the customer's needs, the customer is likely to pick the professional who provided social proof! You can easily add streaming video to document your success too.

9. Utilize product reviews. Vendor ratings and product reviews such as you find on eBay,, and can tell your story and offer social proof even without personal contact. The combination of customer rants and raves is highly believable.

10. Create a personal marketing sheet. Tell a good story about who you are, especially if you're self-employed. It should feature a picture of you and your product and tell who you are and what your USP is. On it, list some of your customers and include the right quotes as well as detailing your number of years' experience, special training or certifications you and your team have, and any community involvement.

Tell Yourself a New Story About Stories

Many people are hesitant to sell themselves and their product or service with stories because they don't want to feel "pushy," as if they're forcing their clients to do their marketing for them. A simple paradigm shift is all you need to see the benefits of this practice, for you and for your customers. Consider this: you're cheating people if you don't share what a great experience you offer customers. They'll go somewhere else and get an inferior product and experience.

In the end, it's simply a matter of utilizing the power of social proof: Tell your story, attract customers to you, deliver what you do best, and you won't be able to stop them from talking about their "lucky find," sending others to you and coming back again and again. Remember: A good story can change the way people think. A great story can change the way people behave.

As a speaker, Chip has a magical ability to generate enthusiasm, contagious energy and results. Former Tony Robbins international point-man. Clients include IBM, ADP, Century 21 and Bank of America. 866-224-1393, Sign up for his monthly ezine at

Presentation Anxiety Fear That Keeps You From Moving Ahead

Writen by L. John Mason

The fear of making a presentation is the most common phobia that exists. It ranks with the fear of death as a traumatic experience, probably because people unconsciously fear that the attention directed at them when they are making a presentation will somehow expose them to dangers that may lead to death! This unfounded fear (in most normal situations) paralyzes millions of people and keeps them from moving ahead in their careers or in their enjoyment of life. Certainly you can live without taking "center stage" but the quality of life can be disrupted by the possibility of being called upon to make a speech, a presentation, lead a prayer, or even confront a hiring committee.

To overcome this fear, you must become of aware of how you handle stress and anxiety. Awareness is half the battle. The other half is learning how to "let go" of anxiety so you may take back control of the way you respond in difficult situations. Presentation anxiety can manifest in the same ways that panic/anxiety often occurs. Commonly people suffering from this anxiety will: change their breathing (short shallow breaths or hold their breath), tighten muscles, tighten their gut (slowing or stopping digestion and reducing normal reproductive activity), reduce blood flow to the surface of their skin in their hands and feet, increase heart rate, increase stress hormone secretion (increase blood sugar and reduce immune system function (over time)), and increase sensitivity to all environmental changes. You can learn to control each of these symptoms either directly or indirectly. By controlling these symptoms you learn to get back in control of your life! The keys to controlling presentation anxiety are:

  • Breathe slowly/diaphragmatically
  • Remain in the present... in your body, in a positive way
  • Regular deep relaxation with Biofeedback Temperature monitoring
  • Use the special relaxation tape regularly!
  • Learn to warm your hands and feet
  • Avoid caffeine and stimulants
  • Regular aerobic exercise
  • Positive self-talk... not negative ruminations
  • Get support in confronting this fear and then desensitizing yourself to fears/phobias of speaking in public.

    1. Learn to breathe diaphragmatically Place a hand over your upper abdomen: 1. Push it OUT as you inhale... 2. Let it move IN as you exhale Let your chest, shoulder, neck, and back relax as you breathe. Only on a very deep breath should these parts move in the breath. This may be the most important Presentation Anxiety Control you can learn!

    2. Use the Stress Management for Presentation Anxiety tape 1-3 times per day for 8-12 weeks. Use some form of temperature training biofeedback on your hands to learn how to warm your hands with relaxation. When you can consistently get above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (93-95 degrees is ideal) then you can begin to master warming your feet to 90 degrees. When you can "let go" by relaxing and warming your hands and feet, you will be able to control if not prevent your panic episodes. Then you must develop the confidence in your control so the fear of panic during presentations will not control your life.

    3. Regular exercise will help you to work off the effects of life's stresses. 3-5 times per week of regular exercise that can elevate your heart rate for 15-45 minutes would be best. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program if you have been inactive for a long while. Even though elevating your heart rate can be a little scary, the release of tensions and the strengthening of your cardiovascular system will have great benefits.

    4. Eat regular meals. Low fat and complex carbohydrates are better than fast foods with lots of sugar. AVOID CAFFEINE and other stimulants. Caffeine is found in coffee, black teas, cola drinks, chocolate, some over-the-counter pain medications, and other foods/drugs. Read labels. Eating as closely as you can to natural foods (lots of: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) will benefit any one.

    5. Practice positive self-talk. Do not let your fears escalate into you losing control of your body and your mind. By breathing slowly and staying in your body, in present time, you avoid falling into the negative pattern of fear and panic.

    6. Get support from your friends, doctor, and therapist if necessary. Check your area for panic/anxiety support or treatment groups! Then consider joining a local Toastmasters group to desensitize yourself, slowly, to speaking in public. Desensitization to your fear can be started after you have mastered relaxation. When you know how to breathe diaphragmatically and can warm your hands and feet, you have the skills to begin the mental rehearsal called desensitization. After getting completely relaxed, maintain this comfort/relaxation, and begin to picture yourself preparing and then giving a presentation to a positive supportive audience. When you can do this mental rehearsal successfully, remaining relaxed, then you can begin to actually prepare for such an experience. This will take time and practice, however, overcoming your emotional fears to making a presentation will take much of the uncontrolled fear from the actual event.

    The secret to making a good presentation comes in the preparation. Repeated practice adds confidence! Humor or funny stories can help "break the ice" at the beginning of your presentation, but you need to rehearse even this part. Practice a strong closing that asks the audience for a call to action! You may even want to videotape a "dress rehearsal" so you can see your mannerisms and voice tones when you emphasize your main points. This extra work will be well worth the effort when you actually perform. You may even find that, after all this preparation, the event will be less stressful than you had expected. Indeed, the expectation of a future difficult situation is usually worse than the presentation itself. SO DON'T BE A VICTIM TO THE FUTURE! Live in the present, in your body, and under your control!

    Remember! You can get back in control of your body and your life! You must make this a priority so you can avoid being a victim to this fear of making presentations.

    For more information on relaxation, biofeedback, and desensitization, I recommend that you check out the "Guide to Stress Reduction" or the Stress Management for Controlling Panic and Anxiety (#205) at the stress Education Center's website, These two resources from this website can offer you a program to begin for control of your presentation anxiety.

    L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling "Guide to Stress Reduction." Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.

    Please visit the Stress Education Center's website at for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available.

    If you require some Executive Coaching to tailor a desensitization program for your specific needs, contact us at (888) 795-0095.

  • Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Tips For Thinking On Your Feet

    Writen by Andrew E. Schwartz

    If you really aware and alert, your audience's behavior — faces, bodies, and their hands, will literally transmit scores of "messages." It is possible to judge how well you're being received, how much attention your audience is paying to you, and often how close your objective is to accomplishment. For example, shuffling feet, yawns, general restlessness, glances at watches -- or rapt attentiveness -- all are things which should be consciously noted by the trainer. Some trainers ramble on despite every audience indicator telling them that the audience considers the presentation over. It is far better to call an unscheduled break and regroup forces than it is to continue without audience feedback.

    Never pretend that things aren't happening. Since audience attention is directly affected by such factors as ventilation, temperature, lighting, acoustics, external disturbances, interruptions, visual aid equipment failure, late arrivals and early departures, the obvious answer to coping with most of these factors is to check in advance. Thorough preparation in handling the unexpected will sidestep distractions which impede the ability to analyze audience feedback. Your confidence, ingenuity, alertness, and showmanship will enable you to make a strong presentation.

    Handle environmental distractions matter-of-factly, as a part of a real-life environment, without letting it interfere with the business at hand. If a microphone goes dead, raise your own volume or move closer to your audience. There are few rooms in which a person cannot be heard if they try. It is unlikely that well maintained visual-aid equipment will break down if checked and previewed just before a presentation, but if it does, it doesn't have to be a catastrophe. A good trainer knows what his or her own visuals contain and should be able to improvise if necessary. Podium samples that reiterate usually will save you if you have provided for them in advance.

    When facing unexpected problems due to the setting of your presentation, take the event and use it -- build it into the presentation on the spot, if it contributes to your objective or a point you want to make. Such action adds a note of spontaneity and reality to the presentation, if it is done smoothly and appropriately. After all, it is a real-life situation, so why not treat it as such? Many training presentations are far too formal to begin with. Although they are really conversations among people, more often than not they sound like recitations or readings. You can do worse than behave spontaneously and naturally.

    Copyright AE Schwartz & Associates All rights reserved. For additional presentation materials and resources: ReadySetPresent and for a Free listing as a Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Vendor/Organization: TrainingConsortium

    CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Marketing Your Business And Services Through Presentations

    Writen by Chris King

    If you have read any information about successful marketing, you know that the only way to find clients and sell your services / business is to "get the word out." One of the most effective approaches is to share information about what you do by giving presentations to groups, organizations, companies and associations.

    There are many groups and organizations that welcome free speakers who have interesting and helpful information to share. Kiwanis and Rotary clubs offer a good venue for starting, because they are usually in need of speakers, are comfortable and welcoming listeners, and also -- if you are good -- will recommend you to other Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

    I have found, however, that these groups do not have many members who will materialize into clients, but they are excellent for practicing and, who knows, they may tell a potential client about you.

    Groups that will pay off with potential clients for your business are Chambers of Commerce, Junior Chambers of Commerce, Associations and Organizations that are related to your services and products. You may even want to join a few groups where you can network, and also let them know that you have information that you would be willing to share in a presentation.

    Nowadays, it is even hard to sell a group on getting something for free,The next question is, then, how can you use this for marketing your own business? Give something away for free. Hold a drawing at the end of your presentation (you can lead up to it during your talk). For example, at a conference where I was presenting two sessions, I held a drawing for my presentation book. Anyone who wanted to be in the drawing dropped their business card in a bowl. Because I send out a bi-weekly e-newsletter, I directed anyone who wanted to be put on my mailing list to write a "yes" on the back of the card. I had plenty of names to add to my list.

    If you don't already have any products, you can create a special report that you will send to those who share their cards and e-mail addresses. These are all potential clients.

    Do not think of this as a sales presentation and what's in it for you.Think of this as a helpful conversation that will be of use to your listeners. You care about them and want to help THEM

    Chris King is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, storyteller, writer, website creator / designer, free agent, and fitness instructor. Sign up for her eclectic E-newsletter, Portfolio Potpourri, at You will find her information-packed E-book How to Leave Your Audiences Begging for MORE! at and her business website at

    What To Do When Everything Has Already Been Said

    Writen by Hans Bool

    They say that in literature everything has already been said (written). If you want to write a novel, you should differentiate on style rather than on anything else.

    And this is not less true in business. Our "Style Compass" seems familiar with elements from the model of Myers-Briggs and also with the Competing Values Framework. And perhaps with many other concepts.

    Recently I found another reference with similarities; the so-called Left-Hand/Right-Hand model being the brainchild of Professor John Donovan of MIT. This model is about managing or leading innovations:

    • ...Its main tenet is that all organizational functions can be divided into two categories-the standard quotidian efforts at status quo maintenance and risk minimization, and the riskier ventures into new fields or endeavours. The former is labelled the right-hand, while the latter is the left-hand. It is within this Left-Hand sector that innovation occurs, through the dual paths of employing revolutionary processes and leading customers. To delve into new territory, the organization must lead its customers, rather than solely listening and responding to their wants and concerns. (

    If you are interested in culture, values, personal preferences, organizational Style, etc, you should use what is close to what is already known in the organization. More important is that you use one concept from start to finish or even longer. Because the topic about managing innovation and stabilizing business success is of all times.

    If you are lucky to have ever produced a film like Shrek (innovation) you want to stabilize this success with a sequel Shrek 2, Shrek 3, etc...

    Most topics in business are not new. As in Literature. Hold on to your style and prosper!

    © 2006 Hans Bool

    Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account.

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Has Your Overhead Projector Had Its Annual Checkup

    Writen by Mark Boehm

    You go to the doctor every year for your annual checkup. You see the dentist every six months to have your teeth checked and cleaned, you take your car to the shop every 3000 miles to have the oil changed and most States have an annual State Safety Inspection to make sure that your car is operating safely. So why would it be any different with your Overhead Projector?

    Proper care, cleaning and general maintenance by a professional technician, can add years to the life of any piece of Electronic Equipment including your Overhead Projector.

    Each year our service department offers an annual maintenance program for all of the School Districts that we service. It has been our experience with any type of projector or electronic device that uses a fan for cooling acts like a vacuum cleaner for dust. Most environments that Overhead Projectors and electronic devices are subject to are quite dusty. Over a period of a year an enormous amount of dust can collect inside these units.

    Dust can become a fire hazard if enough has built up inside the Overhead Projector. Because of the heat produced by todays Halogen Projection Lamps, an excessive build up of dust can create a fire hazard.

    Dust can also decrease the efficiency of your cooling system by over fifty percent, which of course can cause damage to internal components like your fresnel lens and other expensive optical parts. We have seen projectors so dirty that the plastic case has actually begun to melt because of the excessive heat produced by poor cooling. This causes parts like latches and switches to not work properly because the case that they are mounted to becomes distorted and not fit properly.

    We all know that cigarette smoking can be hazardous to your health, but were you aware that it is also hazardous to your Overhead Projector. Not as common a problem as it was ten years ago, but the build up of tar and nicotine on the internal parts of your Overhead Projector can cause optics to become hazy and cooling systems to be less efficient or even fail all together.

    General maintenance of your Overhead Projector should include removing all of the dust and other debris from the projector with a compressor with at least forty pounds of pressure. The remaining dirt and dust should be removed with a light household cleaner or even a cloth lightly dampened with water. The fan motor bearings should be lightly lubricated with a light oil. Take special care not to use excessive amounts of oil otherwise the fan ends up blowing it all over the internal optics of the projector.

    The Fresnel Lens should be removed and cleaned only with water. The stage glass and other optics should also be cleaned with water, other chemicals or cleaners could damage these sensitive items.

    Focus assemblies should be checked for wear and replaced as necessary. Focus assemblies not aligned properly diminish the quality of your projected image and in some extreme cases have caused the plastic parts of the head assembly to melt.

    It has been our experience that Overhead Projectors and other Electronic Equipment that receives routine scheduled maintenance last fifty percent longer than equipment that does not. So go ahead, make an appointment for you Overhead Projectors checkup today.

    Mark Boehm is the president of M-B Electronics He has over 25 years of experience in the Audio Visual and Electronics Industry. He can be contacted at 800-872-9456 or More information on this subject:

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Presentations Delivery And Benefits

    Writen by Michael Russell

    After you have prepared your presentation, checked all the equipment you need, set out the venue and finalised the guest list you are now ready to give your presentation. This is your opportunity to gain credibility in your career. You must use this opportunity to build your credibility and be accepted as an expert on your subject. This is not as difficult as it may seem.

    If you have studied your brief, become totally familiar with your subject and can show confidence when delivering you will be more than half way to achieving your aims. Buyers are impressed when faced with someone who is obviously knowledgeable about his/her subject, so earning their respect. Let us look at some of the situations where you can achieve this. If you are presenting a new product to potential buyers emphasise the features and benefits of the product but make sure you mention benefits not associated with the main sales literature. It's not difficult to find some of these undisclosed benefits if you do a little research within the development and production departments. Concentrate on your in depth knowledge of the product, your belief in it and continually emphasise how YOU are involved in the success of that product.

    Take another scenario for a presentation. Let us say you are presenting a report for a department of your company to your colleagues and senior management. You will highlight any subjects and points with which you were directly involved. If a system is to be changed or a department reorganised, explain your involvement. Point out that your suggestions, innovations and efficiency moves have resulted in increased productivity and therefore profits. When making a presentation don't ever make the mistake of assuming an arrogant or boastful attitude. Such an attitude will immediately alienate prospective purchasers. Introduce your involvement in improvements as a fact, as part of your duties and as a result of your level of knowledge. Presenting your subject in such a manner helps your audience to understand and acknowledge your skills which increases your credibility.

    One other type of presentation frequently used for employees concerns changes to working practices which directly affect the employee. You can use exactly the same research and preparation as discussed for other presentations but you will need to change the parameters a little. The most important point to emphasise is the benefits the employee will gain from the new arrangements. It doesn't matter how or when the benefits are introduced as long as they are introduced clearly and with concise information and to how the employee will benefit. Many people, when giving a presentation to employees, like to concentrate on the company's history, the state of the market, the latest legislative regulations plus lots of other areas which they feel are appropriate. There is no problem with that, but you should be very careful not to offer too much background information. This could create a feeling of boredom and therefore lose the interest of your audience, particularly if you have not accentuated the benefits which they will receive from the changes. Be succinct, factual, clear and concise and you will produce a successful and beneficial presentation.

    One last point. Don't forget that all presentations can be used as an exercise to boost your credibility and acceptance as an expert on your subject. I have overcome many difficult situations by giving a presentation which has clarified points which were causing problems that could have created serious difficulties. Thorough groundwork and organisation are essential for a successful presentation and will enable you to deliver it with confidence. In doing so you will enjoy the experience, make many contacts and further your own ambitions.

    Good luck.

    Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Small Business