Sign up now for my week-long Web Marketing and Social Media workshop
I'm really enthused to share that I've been working with Boulder Digital Arts on a certification program in Web marketing and social media and the first week-long workshop is coming up in about a month. It's June 28-July 2, and it'll be here in Boulder at the terrific BDA facility.
Here's what I'll be covering:
"In this one-of-a-kind program you will be immersed into the world of web marketing from one of the smartest and most experienced expert in the industry! In one week you'll be introduced to proven strategies for growing your online audience with qualified traffic. You'll learn the fundamental principals and insider tips for search engine optimization, pay-for-placement advertising, social media marketing and other more. This program will give you the knowledge and skills necessary to provide these immensely valuable and in-demand services for all organizations who need to grow their online audiences - all in one week and one place."
In a nutshell, my plan is to have a very hands-on intensive week of teaching you how to really work the modern Web to promote your business and services, all within the context of best practices and completely ethical techniques.
What we won't work on is "how to get a ton of followers" or "how to game search engines" but instead to focus on how to build your brand, gain trust and authority, and create an online community of fans that are ready and eager to purchase what you're selling.
I've taught a ton of workshops, seminars and even offered keynote talks to a wide variety of groups, but this is the first time in a very long time that I'm offering a week-long hands-on event. If you've wanted to work with me in the past, this is a splendid opportunity to come out and enjoy beautiful Boulder, Colorado and gain a ton of practical, actionable ideas and techniques to help grow your business.
More details, signup, etc: Web Marketing and Social Media Certificate Program.
I hope to see you there. Oh, and no, we won't be videotaping it or streaming it live on the Internet. This is a hands-on workshop where you'll want to be working with me for the week to ensure you gain the maximum benefit possible.
Interview with the ultra-connected Vincent Wright
I've been involved with groups managed by social media evangelist Vincent Wright for years now, and have become curious about who he is and why he's on a mission to connect us all. And when I use "evangelist" it's not in the sense of someone who is focused on self-aggrandizement, as too many "gurus" seem to be, but in the sense of someone spreading the gospel of connectedness.
Turns out his background is as fascinating as he is. Here's an interview we did so you can learn more about Vincent too. I'm honored to consider him a friend.
Q: Let's start by you sharing some of your early background. You were in the US Army band, right? Didja get sick of playing Hail to the Chief? Do you still play?
A. Never got sick of Hail to the Chief but, there were one or two dirges I could do without listening to for the remainder of my life! :-) By the way: I still play but not for outside performances... just for the pure love of the saxophone. Loved it my whole life...always will. (Adolph Sax did a wonderful job in inventing it for us.)
Q: You left the Army and became an IT recruiter for Fortune 500 companies. Tell us about that transition? What do you think you brought from your military experience and musical experience to the task?
A. Actually, I became a Computer Programmer before becoming an IT Recruiter. (I like to tease that after someone saw some of my COBOL source code, they suggested that I'd be a much better Recruiter of IT professionals than to actually be one myself! (I was always an enthusiastic lover of computers but, never was that good at programming them! :-) )
A bit more seriously: As computers were being explained to us at the Aetna Institute for Corporate Education back in the early 1980's, I think that the concepts of discipline from the Army as well as being comfortable with abstract thinking from music helped Aetna choose to give me a chance to be a Computer Programmer.
Q: Finding a job and/or finding an ideal candidate has definitely changed over the last decade with the rise of LinkedIn, Facebook, Monster.com, and many other online tools. How did you see that affect your own efforts in the IT and executive recruitment space?
A. Though corporations have the same access to them as we do, the advent of Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and other such social media tools is a great benefit to those Recruiters who use them the right way. The right way is not using tricks but, rather, interacting with professionals who see you as a human being and not as a trickster... Professionals get to KNOW their doctors, barbers, hairdressers, etc. so, I like for professionals to get to KNOW ME...Both on the candidate AND client side, those who are comfortable with me as a person, quite often will turn to me as a professional to help them with them employment needs... I encourage other recruiters to consider this approach, as well.
A. I still help companies with their recruitment activities and enjoy it tremendously. Based on a concept I call "C.I.A. or Confluence, Influence, Affluence, the process of finding a great candidate is fairly straightforward for me. Confluence essentially means bringing together LOTS of great people. Influence means getting involved with them. Affluence, in this particular instance, is comparable to "human capital" Have you influenced enough of the right people to help position you to more quickly find and get to know the professionals you need for your client companies...
A. Back in 2005, I created My Linkedin Power Forum to help answer questions for the people whom I began inviting to Linkedin. Many weren't clear on what Linkedin could do for them so, I found myself answering the same questions over and over and over. Figuring that I could more effectively answer more if I proactively answered them for hundreds of professionals CONCURRENTLY, I set up My Linkedin Power Forum. (By the way: the forum now has 8,500 members and is located at www.SocialMediaConsortium.com )
A. Well, Dave, founding those hundred of professionals discussion groups serving tens of thousands of professionals from around the world was SUPPOSED to be TEMPORARY! But, five years later, I'm just now getting a handle on reducing them to a sane number which I ultimately hope to be no more than a dozen groups in the next few months..
A. THE thing still lacking in the toolset for sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Ning, and Twitter which I wish were available is this: data portability. If data portability were around as I see it in my mind, I believe I would have been a far richer man! :-)
More seriously: Creating profile after profile after profile is such an archaic means. It's almost like having to get a new drivers license every time we went from one state to another in the United States of America. It also reminds me of the nightmare which Object Oriented Technology solved with the Y2K mess... (I wish someone would help develop www.ProfileOrientedTechnology.com :-) ) (And, too, NONE of the sites you mentioned are set up quite right...they're okay...they're workable...but, there's a LOT more that a site could do to add a LOT more power to the billions of people who need better control of the information via the Internet....)
Q: If we may, can you share how you generate revenue from these many discussion groups you've created, Vincent? You're clearly performing an awesome community service, but that doesn't pay the mortgage. :-)
A. The revenue I generate via my discussion groups is minimal. They actually weren't set up for revenue but, rather, for genuinely serving the members of my network... After donating between 7,5000 and 10,000 hours to help people get better acclimated to social media, I've overcome my apparent allergy to money and, thus, am looking at various ways of monetizing what I love doing: creating and managing professional discussion groups.
A. Next, I'm working on www.BrandSeed.com, which is designed to help individuals and companies design, develop, and deliver a stronger brand for their products and services. The coolest thing I'm working on AFTER that is a meta-methodology I created using the hand as a metaphor. Candidly, I've spent a LARGE portion of my life loving this concept which I facetiously call: HANDSONOMY or HANDONTOLOGY
Q: Finally, give us a few URLs. Tell us about the things you've done online that you're most proud of. Oh, and perhaps a link to somewhere we can hear your sax playing too?
Second: Here are a few of my favorite URL's via which I'm happy to have spent time helping thousands of professionals:
Thanks again for this terrific interview, Vincent. Readers, I encourage you to check out some of what he's doing to really push the envelope on social networking with his passion and enthusiasm!
How to Create Great Presentation Slides
A few days ago I attended a lecture on international business presented by a charming and charismatic speaker. I was interested in the topic, in a comfortable and friendly environment, yet the experience was mediocre at best. Why? Because the slides that the speaker shared with us were abysmal, incomprehensible and seriously detracted from the presentation.
If you've been to any seminars, workshops or professional conferences, you know just what I'm talking about. Speakers like to use Powerpoint or equivalent tools -- I certainly do! -- but incredibly few have even half a clue about what works when it's projected on a screen in front of an audience and it's a problem.
I'm not going to publish a screed saying that no speakers should use Powerpoint because that's an extreme position that I don't support. In fact, being able to have your key point, illustration or demonstration on screen while talking is a gift to your audience. But making it comprehensible? That's what I want to talk about instead.
Rule One: Use High-Contrast Colors and Simple Designs
Presentation tools have tons of cool themes that look really good on your screen when you're building your presentation. Yup, those flaming letters and that complicated background photo look wicked when you preview it, but when it's projected onto a large screen it's confusing, detracts from the information on the slide, and can render an entire presentation unreadable.
Simple solution: pick simple, high-contrast color schemes. This means, for example, that black text on a strong red background (as the speaker used a few days ago) are terrible and should be avoided. Black on a very faint pink background? Maybe. If you experiment with a projector, however, you'll find that light text on a dark background is typically easier to read than vice-versa, depending on room conditions.
Here's an example before and after. On the left, the purple on black looked really cool on screen, but will be completely unreadable when projected. On the right, same slide, with a far more contrasty, far more readable:
Just as importantly, pick a design that's simple and free of clutter. Sure, there are fun templates that make your slides look like a scrapbook or a cool computer display from a futuristic sci-fi film, but they're a distraction for the audience. If you really, really can't resist, use them for your opening or closing title slides, but the main slides should be free of distractions. Your audience will appreciate it, trust me.
Rule Two: Less Stuff, Bigger
There's no rule that is more annoying to see violated than the minimum density requirement for information shown to an audience. This proves to be true in just about every medium, not just public speaking, but seems to be most commonly violated in this setting.
Here's an easy rule of thumb: don't put lots of stuff on your slide.
Yow, that's just complicated!
When you're viewing it on your computer screen, it's also easy to sneak in an extra bullet point, one more pithy quote, or a few more lines from the example output you want to explain. Problem is, it's completely different when you're in the 17th row in an auditorium and it's projected on a screen.
Here's an easy way to remember this: if you have text that's smaller than about 24 point, it's probably too small. I endeavor to never get below 36 point on my slides, personally, but sometimes I let smaller text creep in (and typically regret it later).
Rule Three: More Slides, Less Stuff Per Slide
Another rule that the speaker violated in the talk was that they thought they'd be efficient by having supporting material for multiple concepts on a single slide. You know what I'm talking about, it's the slide with the financial results presented as three separate graphs, it's the montage of products or users, it's busy, busy, busy and ultimately confusing.
The best presentations have a single concept per slide and no more.
Heck, Tom Peters, the guy I studied to learn how to become a better public speaker, typically has one-word slides. Nothing else, just a single word. Awesome.
A typical Tom Peters slide
If you want to make more than one point, have more than one slide. It's okay. There are no rules that say thou shalt not have more than 10 slides!
This also means that if you are finding that you have so much information that you need to choose a smaller typeface (remember rule two?) then what you need to do instead is spread it across multiple slides. It's okay. In fact, your audience will appreciate it!
Trust me, background graphics can be distracting...
Rule Four: Don't Read Your Slides
This isn't really a rule for creating presentations but more of a public speaking tip, but you'll cut me some slack, right? With precious few exceptions, you should never have full sentences on your slides and you should certainly never face the screen and read them. Heck, everyone in the audience is looking at the slides anyway, so unless you're auditioning for a new voiceover job, you'll do better to give them a few seconds to absorb the content if you must have full sentences or paragraphs of material, then proceed with your presentation.
It's also boring to see/hear a speaker read their slide to me. I can read, thanks, and I read way faster than you are going to read it to me. Instead, I want to know why: why did you use this material, what's profound about it, why should I care about what you're showing me?
Rule Five: Sexy Transitions are a Distraction
Yeah, the latest generation of presentation tools (notably Apple's Keynote) have some super-cool transitions that make for really great demos on your computer screen, but when you're in front of a crowd, the reality is that the more attractive the transition, the more that's what they'll remember. Do you want to be "that guy who had the cool slides" or "the guy who made some superb points and knows his stuff"?
Powerpoint 2010 transition options, ready to derail you
Resist the siren song of shiny - SQUIRREL! - and stick with the basic transitions for your presentations. I suggest this rule for the same reason I encourage you to skip complex slide designs: you want people to focus on you and what you're saying, not your slides and their appearance.
Better Slides = Simplify
Let me summarize all of these points up for you, dear reader: simplify, simplify, simplify.
That's really what makes great slides and a dynamic, compelling public presentation. It's about the ideas, it's about your charisma and ability to engage your audience, it's not about your slides. Ever.
I hope this is helpful. Want to learn more? Turns out there are some pretty darn good books on the market about how to create compelling presentations, and it's time well spent learning from the pros. Just search Amazon.com for "powerpoint presentations" or similar.
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