Thursday, January 30, 2014

Annoying PowerPoint - and How to Avoid It

How to Avoid Annoying PowerPointPowerPoint expert Dave Paradi recently released the 2013 version of his "Annoying PowerPoint" survey.

According to the survey, here are the top 7 most annoying things about PowerPoint presentations:

  1. The speaker read the slides to us: 72.0%
  2. Text so small I couldn’t read it: 50.6%
  3. Full sentences instead of bullet points: 48.4%
  4. Overly complex diagrams: 30.8%
  5. Poor color choice: 25.8%
  6. No clear purpose: 22.1%
  7. No flow of ideas: 21.0%

I'm sure many of these are corporate presenters rather than professional speakers, so they might not have had any experience in using PowerPoint well. And I'm sure the same would be true if of other presentation tools, like Keynote and Prezi, except they just aren't as popular as PowerPoint. But this is still a scathing report on the state of business presentations.

It doesn't have to be like this!

The worst part of this is that it's so easy to prevent most of these mistakes. For example, to tackle just a few of the points above:

  • The speaker read the slides to us: Put your notes in the Speaker Notes area. Even if you have to obviously refer to them, that's better than a slide full of text.
  • Text so small I couldn’t read it: This information belongs in a handout or other reference document.
  • Full sentences instead of bullet points: Don't even use bullet points; use diagrams and models instead.
  • Overly complex diagrams: Build complex diagrams step by step using PowerPoint's animation feature (yes, animation can be good if used properly!)
  • Poor color choice: Use the built-in PowerPoint themes, which have been designed to use good colour combinations
  • No clear purpose: State the purpose early, and keep referring to it
  • No flow of ideas: Have a clear structure to your presentation, and keep referring to it

Some of these might be obvious and simplistic, especially if you're an experienced presenter. But it's still surprising how often I see presenters (even those who should know better) make these mistakes.

I recently presented a webinar, for Citrix in the U.K., about how to prepare better webinar slides. Although it was aimed at online presentations, most of the things I said applied to other presentations as well. And it also addressed many of the issues above. More than 2,000 people registered for the webinar, which just goes to show that presenters are interested in improving their presentations.

The webinar has finished, but the recording is available to anybody who wants to watch it.

Watch the recording here.

By the way, if you would like to read more about Dave's survey - and download the survey results in full - you can find it here on his Web site.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Are you an artist at work?

This weeks sparkenation.

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist."
Louis Nizer

Are you an artist at work?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Are you sending emails to people you wouldn’t send to yourself?

This weeks sparkenation.

I am sure that you like me have had emails from people already this year with subject lines like:

Sorry for the bulk email however ...
Thought you’d be interested ...
Deadline: 50% off ...

“I'm predicting that we'll finally have a computer that will search my e-mail automatically and delete every message that begins with 'thought you'd be interested,' and then give an electrical shock to the sender to remind him or her to stop sending that kind of message.
Scott Adams

This year my goal is to never send an email to anyone that I wouldn’t send to myself. How about you?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

15 Ways to Make Your Ideas More Visual

I recently ran a webinar showing a number of ways to display your content in a more visual way (you can watch the webinar recording at the bottom of this blog post). Here's a list of the 15 things I mentioned, broken down into five areas: Photographs, video, slide shows, screen capture video, and live events.


Still photographs are easy to create and share, and people love sharing good photos with their own networks as well.

1. Take and share photographs

Now that practically everybody is travelling around with a camera in their pocket or purse (it's called a smartphone!), there's no excuse for not taking more photos. Of course you'll take personal photos as well that you won't share with your business network. But also look out for opportunities to take photos that are business-related as well. Here are three of mine - which I can link to business themes of lifestyle, achievement and personal responsibility:


2. Photographs with quotations

If you add words - a quotation, some advice, or a funny saying - to a picture, it means that when somebody shares the picture, they will automatically share the words as well. There are some online tools for adding words to pictures ( is one example), but you can also do this in PowerPoint or Keynote.

3. Photo Album

If you have a number of related photos and you want to display them in a slide show, use Animoto to combine them in an appealing way. It creates a slide show with music, beautiful transitions, and animation. If you want to use it for business, there's a commercial version available.


Online video is also very popular now, because it's easy to create, YouTube makes it easy to publish, and broadband Internet makes it faster to download.

4. Speak to Camera: YouTube

Yes, everybody talks about YouTube, but that's for a good reason! You should use YouTube for publishing short videos of you speaking to camera. You should have an introductory video for your Web site, short teaching videos, and short videos promoting your main products.

5. Video E-Mail: EyeJot

Send private video e-mails using Eyejot. Yes, you can do the same with YouTube now (by marking your videos as "Unlisted"), but it takes a number of steps. Eyejot is quicker and easier, and the Pro version (which removes ads) is very, very cost-effective.

6. Teaching Whiteboard

If you're teaching something, use a whiteboard, flip chart, or even a large art book (with large sheets of white paper). I love the way Matt Church does this on his blog, where the camera shows only the sheet of paper, not his face.

Slide Shows

Sometimes, a good slide show is better than a video for presenting educational material.

7. Online Slide Shows

Use Slideshare for publishing your PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. Think of it as "YouTube for PowerPoint". For those of us who are good with PowerPoint/Keynote, it's a breeze to put together an attractive slide presentation which teaches, promotes, or both.

8. Narrated Slide Shows

Slideshare also allows you to add an audio track to your presentation, so viewers can get - in effect - an entire presentation, with visuals and audio. Another option for including audio is to record it directly in PowerPoint or Keynote, and then export the presentation as a video file, which you can then upload to YouTube.

9. Booklet

For a different kind of slide show, check out Simple Booklet, which allows you to create very attractive slide "booklets" for your Web site or blog. It's a bit like using a desktop publishing tool, but much simpler and specifically for publishing to the Web.

Screen Capture Video

Screen capture video allows you to record what's happening on your screen (including mouse movements and typing), and records your voice.

10. Technical Demos

If you want to demonstrate something technical on your screen - such as an Excel spreadsheet, how to access your membership site, or how to do something in Microsoft Outlook - do a screen capture video. You might have heard of Camtasia for the PC or ScreenFlow for the Mac, but I like to use, a dead-simple online tool for this purpose. Just create an account on their Web site and click "Start Recording"!

11. Mind Map Video

Screen capture video isn't only for demonstrating technical things. Because it just records whatever is on your screen, you can use it to demonstrate anything there. For example, if you use an online mind mapping tool like MindJet, iMindmap or The Brain, simply open it up and talk about your mind map while Screencast-O-Matic is running. That turns into an attractive visual walkthrough of your mind map, and you simply upload it to YouTube or some other video hosting service.

12. Animated Presentations: Prezi

Frankly, I haven't seen any good live presentations using the fancy presentation tool Prezi, because most of them focus on the prettiness of Prezi rather than using it for anything useful. But I think Prezi is a great tool for recorded presentations, because its visual appeal then does make a difference. As with the mind mapping example, you just run Screencast-O-Matic on your Prezi window and talk through the presentation.


Some online events are inherently visual, and this gives you a chance to engage people both with their eyes and their ears.

13. Webinars: GoToWebinar

Of course, a webinar is a visual presentation, and it has the added benefit of a live presenter, so the audience can ask questions and interact in other ways. If you're not already running webinars, sign up to GoToWebinar and get started! All infopreneurs and thought leaders should be using webinars to engage with new and existing audiences.

14. Skype Video

You can also use Skype for video conference calls, record the video and publish it to YouTube. Terry Brock did this last year with a three-way Skype video call between him, Scott Friedman and me, talking about the state of the professional speaking industry worldwide.

15. Google Hangouts

Another way to do small-group video conferencing is with Google Hangouts, another free service from Google. You can have up to 10 people in the conference call, and even open it up to unlimited others in the audience (who can watch it live on your YouTube channel). You can also record the hangout, and the recording is uploaded automatically to YouTube.

Which of these can YOU use in your content marketing?

You might not be able to use all 15 of these ideas, but do think about what might work for you - and for your audiences.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Value what you feel before what you think

This weeks sparkenation.

Value what you feel before what you think.

Value what others are feeling before their thinking too.

And value people for who they are before what they do.

“Most of us think about ourselves as thinking creatures who feel but we are feeling creatures who think, and we live in a society that values what we think over what we feel”

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a leader in the world of neuroscience

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The 3 essential roles of remarkable leadership

I can guarantee you will succeed in the change/s you lead by helping you to be breathtakingly brilliant in what I have come to see, after working with leaders in over 40 countries, as the 3 essential roles of remarkable leadership, maestro, mentor/disrupter, magnifier.

I have written a paper for you about these 3 roles. You can download it here.

#1. Maestro of gift/talent discovery and enhancement. This means continually enhancing people's gifts/talents, your own and those of the people around you. It means mastery of seeing people as they can be rather than as they are.

#2. Mentor for the motivated/Disrupter for the demotivated. This means continually preventing and removing barriers in the way of optimum performance and letting people loose within agreed boundaries. It means together with your stakeholders finding and implementing the little things that will make the big difference. It means mastery of accountability conversations.

#3. Magnifier of magnificence. This means continually catching people doing things right and doing the right thing. It means mastery of appreciation conversations. It means co-creating a culture where people feel valued, fulfilled, and loved.

Please carefully read and reflect on my paper about these three roles. And then take action. 

This year my team of mentors and myself have dedicated ourselves to taking on 90 people who want to be breathtakingly brilliant in these 3 roles.

In partnership with you we can ensure

*you are always getting the best out of yourself (all change leadership is personal first).

*your close relationships at home and at work are invigorating (relationship change leadership is second).

*the maximum number of your employees are fully engaged and consistently bringing their best to their work (organisational change leadership is third).

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday, January 6, 2014

In every imperfection lies great opportunity

This weeks sparkenation.

“There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.” says Leonard Cohen.

Look for the cracks in yourself, your relationships, and in all your transactions and interactions. See the light. Build on the good, let go the bad. Let your light shine. Look for the light in others and illuminate it.

Every moment of every day is an opportunity to do well by doing good. When you screw up a moment learn your lesson and move on applying what you learned.

Have faith in your light and the light of others. When cracks appear rejoice. In every imperfection lies great opportunity.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
Rabindranath Tagore

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Turn your expectations into reality and make this new year happy by engaging a mentor. Nothing great is achieved alone. I have been engaging mentors, particularly people free of ego and BS, to help me to see the cracks and find the light for more than two decades in my business. I regard doing so as the single best action I take to grow myself and my business.

Please try me. On Monday mornings I offer complimentary mentoring sessions. I do this for two reasons 1) is simply to help others. 2) try before you buy so that you can decide whether or not I can be your performance partner.

Find out how my monday morning mentoring works here and organise your session.