Webinar excellence: Slide forward with style

A webinar audience is a special challenge. They are at work. Therefore, your presentation must answer the question: How does this benefit me? Otherwise, they will go right back to work. Ideally the slide should illustrate your idea in a word or an image. A slide should be easy to comprehend and command immediate interest; it’s a dramatic way to use content and keep your audience engaged. Otherwise, when each new slide comes into view, the human reaction is to start reading them. The more complex the slide, the greater effort your audience must make, fracturing their attention even more. Your slides will be understood visually, with the bulk of your audience's attention on you, the speaker.

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Have you any coupons today? Check your phone.

Coupon clipping? Most of us have, at least once. Receive a discount price for something you were going to purchase, regardless. That's a good thing. You’re ahead of the game by a few cents or more –and the sponsor gets customer loyalty and feet through the door. Business Week reports on a version of the grocery market circular on e-roids—how McDonalds is testing the concept of pushing coupons into your smartphone with an app called “McD”, and pulling customers through its golden arches. Kevin Newell, chief brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s U.S. calls it product engagement. Technically, the roll-out is easier for company operations to implement than mobile payment apps like the one introduced by Starbucks, or one requiring even more sophisticated operational changes like an app that allows one to order for takeout via smartphone.

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Effective communication is added value

Did you ever use a phrase, then realize that you are no longer sure what it means? Like “added value.” We learned in Management 101 that added value was what happened during manufacturing. For example, take a piece of copper and roll it into sheets. Then cut it to length, put it through a sheet metal bending brake, and you have customized copper flashing. That’s added value in manufacturing. Time, materials, machinery, and expertise. Looks good, works as it is intended. Lasts forever.

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Designer’s roundtable: PRI’s design team weighs in on Yahoo!’s new logo

After 30 days of previewing logos, Yahoo! finally presented their new logo design. PRI’s design team—Elena Nazzaro, Allyson Murphy, Dany Petraska, Rebecca Terranova, and Sara Reffler—weigh in on what they felt worked and what didn’t.

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Be true to your brand: How to choose the right image for the job

Whether you are a graphic designer, a content manager, or on your company’s marketing team, choosing the right image to complement your company’s message is an important job. There’s a reason the old adage insists that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It is one of the main things your audience will connect with.

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Social media with style: Protect your brand

Readers of The Works! understand that one’s brand identity is, in essence, a promise. “Look at us. Consider these positive attributes every time you think of us.”

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The day we stopped listening

The problem with rote or clichéd communication is one of attention. When your audience stops listening, the urgency of the situation—the consequence of success or failure —is lost.

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Duly noted: Breaking news from Las Vegas!

Uh oh. What happens in Las Vegas . . . gets written up in a blog post? Quick. Someone call legal!

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The struggle to be understood

We struggle to be understood.

Two elements include the ability to be clear and concise. The more they work together, the more likely others will understand. Too many words may create a muddled message. It will turn off your audience; your children, your parents, your employees, or the board of directors. They’ll simply stop listening. Too few, and you may not get your point across.

We watched this tension play out in autumn 2012, amid preparation for the presidential election debates. President Obama had been criticized for being long-winded and professorial. Fine when you’re a professor. Not so fine when trying to make a point to 300 million listeners. It is the difficult task of saying what needs to be said, and being listened to.

Presenting complex information, correcting misinformation, or presenting a rhetorical argument requires time. It may include the need to present a premise or philosophy, i.e., “the protection of retirement benefits,” followed by a multi-stepped plan, and countering an opposing point of view.

If information is not presented clearly, that is, complete, orderly, and tailored to your audience—the message may lie somewhere in the spectrum between incomplete and incoherent.

Take too long—you lose your audience. But brevity may result in a poorly formed argument.

It is said that the average listener can hold three ideas at once. Add a fourth, and one drops out. Others say the average attention span lasts about 17 minutes. Across the duration of a 90-minute debate, you may only have eight minutes to communicate what’s necessary, before your opponent drives them to the point of distraction.

The moral is not unlike an Aesop fable. Tell a story. Make it memorable. Rehearse. And consider brevity part of your rhetorical arsenal.

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