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.

Photographs

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:

visually1

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 (Lunapic.com 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.

Video

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 MattChurch.com/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 Screencast-O-Matic.com, 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.

Live

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.

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