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Apr
30
2010
Spring Storms Maranda Gibson

Here's another great piece of art from Amber as an homage to the Spring Storm season.

If you live in an area prone to Spring Storms, do you have a tornado saftey plan? We live in DFW, so it's alwys a good idea to have a plan in place, even if you do not get a lot of tornados in your area.

Here are some great tips from NOAA on how to keep you and your family safe.

Have a great weekend!

Apr
28
2010
Presentation Power Maranda Gibson

The story that’s been circulating for the last couple of days is from the New York Times about General James Mattis saying that “PowerPoint makes us stupid”. As someone who deals a lot with presenters, I have to say that I, very respectfully, sir, disagree.

Simply using a PowerPoint doesn’t make us stupid, but it does run the risk of making presenters boring and making audiences complacent.  How many times have you been attending a web conference and you find yourself staring off into space or working on something else because you’re busy and you can “always look at the presentation slides later.”

It’s because a lot of presenters “abuse the power” of the PowerPoint. When you attend a conference or view a webinar, you often come up against the fact that speakers are reading off the slides. Just because you put your sentences into short bullet points doesn’t mean you’re not breaking one of the cardinal rules of presenting. PowerPoint presentations should be used as a guide, never as the meat of your presentation – that should be you.

With that being said, let’s talk about some of the other important things to keep in mind when putting together a presentation for a group.

Pictures should enhance a story, not tell it. I think the biggest “what were they thinking” moment comes from the presentation slide that’s been circulating the internet. Who can read that? It says nothing. If you’re relying on your slides to tell the story, you’re going to lose your audience almost instantly. It’s better to use them to support a story that you tell.

Not all subjects need slide presentations. Sure, the US Military has a lot of ground to cover and probably a short amount of time to do it in, but the everyday company doesn’t always need to have a presentation. There are some subjects that can be fully discussed just with a conference call. If you over saturate your audience with slides, they simply won’t mean anything anymore. For more presentation tips and tricks, check out some of my previous posts.

Presentations, like most things in the US, are all about the balance of power – when to use them, when to not, and how to use them in the right way. How do you determine when to use a presentation and when not to?

Apr
27
2010
The Perfectionists Procrastination Maranda Gibson

A few weeks ago it was suggested I check out The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron. Naturally, I hopped on over to Amazon to see if I could get a good deal on it and got to take a peek inside.I skimmed the first part of the book and one of the first words that stood out to me was procrastination.

I balked. Procrastination, me? Impossible. I am on it, together, and always getting things done. I feel busy most of the time and I would think that’s the opposite of procrastination. Isn’t procrastination more of a conscious thought of letting something slide so you can do something else that you feel more desire to do? When I was in college, I used to put off my Rhetorical History projects because I would rather do something for another class. That, I’ll admit, was procrastination, but I didn’t think I fell into that category now.

According to this, I am one big procrastinator. Do I fill my day with “low-task” priorities? Sometimes. Do I wait for the “right mood” to strike before tackling things? I would have to admit yes I do. I don’t believe that procrastination is a symptom of laziness, as I am sure that many procrastinators are highly skilled and successful. In fact, many perfectionists are often the ones out there procrastinating, in fear of doing a project wrong the first time.

According to the folks over at MindTools, there are a couple of things I can do to help detour my trip to procrastination town.

•  Figure out why I am procrastinating. If I can determine why I don’t feel inclined to complete the task right away, I can figure out how to tackle it. By focusing on figuring out some inspiration for what I’m working on, I might stumble on the motivation to tackle that project first.
•  Reward myself. When I do finish a project I should give myself a little treat – like a quick break from my desk or something horribly bad for me for lunch. (I’m thinking Chipotle when I finish this post.)

I am defiantly not lazy, not in any sense of the word, but I find that I procrastinate due to my perfectionist streak. What makes you a procrastinator and what do you do to rise above and get things done?

Apr
26
2010
Express Yourself Maranda Gibson

Ever wondered why saying “goo-goo-ga-ga” in a high pitched voice really seems to get a baby going with the kicks and giggles?

According to Science Daily, new research suggests that infants as young as seven months can be as sensitive to the tone of voice of a parent or loved one as another adult would be. Since infants don’t understand words they relate to the tone of a voice.  It’s easy to forget that the tone of voice you take on a subject is just as important, if not more, than your body movements.

Conveying your emotions on a conference call is not nearly as easy as a game of peek-a-boo, but it can be if you’re aware of your tone. Here are some quick adjustments you can make to your tone so that you can make it a little more clear what you want your audience to understand, beyond saying, “I feel –this way-.”

Soft tones.  Using a soft tone, while it might seem like it would be translated as a soothing sound, in public speaking, it’s one of the worst things you can do. Not only does it bore everyone, but it also doesn’t convey any confidence in the speaker. Instead, use a clear tone while speaking, speak loudly, and don’t be afraid to be excited.

The wrong emphasis on the wrong syllable. You need to use inflection to help your audience understand the topics you’re discussing are very important to you. Just be careful of what you’re emphasizing and why you’re emphasizing that word.  Have a game plan in mind when it comes to what you might be asked and how to express yourself.

It’s not impossible to share your emotions with people when all they have to gauge is with your voice.  Try out these suggestions on your next conference call or tell me what you do to convey your emotions on your conferences.

Apr
23
2010
Going Green Maranda Gibson

Have a great Friday and weekend everyone!

Go Green

*Art by Amber

Apr
22
2010
Human Moment Maranda Gibson

I did something pretty silly yesterday. I wore a brown shoe and a black shoe to work. I didn't notice until about 10AM when I stretched my legs out in front of me and looked down. My initial reaction was, "Are you serious?" Now, I am not fashion challenged, I like clothes and shoes that match. This is not 1982 and my name is not Madonna. I had two choices to make on this one. I could either sneak while on lunch to run to the store to buy some matching shoes, and be thankful that I wore my longer pants today, or I could own it. I chose to own it and for a couple of different reasons.

First of all, it's hilarious. I mean, anyone who's a woman has a fear of a faux paus like that, and I got to live the dream today. Everyone had a good laugh and it, and I don't mind laughing at myself. There was nothing I could do about it after I was at work and being bothered by it all day wouldn't ruin anyone's day but mine, so I told everyone. "Hey, look what I did." You would call it a mess up. I would call it a "human moment". I think words like mess ups, screw ups, and the other references I won't type here should be trashed.

We are all human and we should start embracing the things we do that are humanistic. This pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect can be maddening and when it comes down to it, we all bump into corners, wear the wrong shoes, or spill coffee on white table cloths at PubCon (ahem--twice). Why can't we just back down from ourselves for a moment and respect the things we do that we learn from? Take my shoe incident - I will never grab my shoes in the dark again. I will always turn on the light and look to check that my shoes match. I learned a lesson, maybe not one that will change my life, but it's still a lesson, and they are always important.

Tell me about your human moment in the comments below. What did you learn from it? Were you able to laugh at yourself?

Apr
21
2010
The Frayed Knot Maranda Gibson

 

A rope walks into a bar, asks for a drink, and the bartender tells him that ropes aren’t served. The rope goes to another bar and gets the same response, and this keeps happening all over town. The more he goes around the town, the more upset he gets and he starts pulling apart at the seams. The rope gets angry and twists him up as he walks into the last bar in town, sits down, and orders a drink. “Are you a rope?” The bartender asks with a quizzical look. Angrily the rope snaps back, “I’m a frayed knot!”

He didn’t have a plan on the way to his larger goal. Had our little rope thought of his first step, it probably would have been to Google search “bars that serve ropes”. He could have saved himself a lot of stress.

Chris Brogan wrote about success being little “flags” along the way towards a larger goal and in order to stay focused, you have to set little goals on the way towards a big goal.

Even if the little flags you set seem unnecessary, you should still put them down. Not only will it make a guide for you to follow on the path towards success, but it will also give you a bit of motivation in the event that you feel like you’re stuck.

Celebrate the little victories along the way, briefly patting yourself on the back for the things you have managed to achieve.  Don’t just celebrate yourself, if someone helped you or offered input, celebrate with them. They earned it too.

What I think to be the most important part of Chris’s suggestion is that these victories are yours. Set your own goals, work them at your own pace, and never think that someone who doesn’t have the same goal set isn’t “doing it right”. Everyone sets their own goals and their own pace and you have to respect that.

Using this focus you are less likely to become that poor rope that got all twisted up from frustration. What do you do to keep yourself from getting discouraged? Do you have a set of goals like Chris suggests or are you just naturally laid back?

Apr
20
2010
2 Minutes to Save The World Maranda Gibson

Two minutes and then I'm done. I'm demanding you to be Superman. In tights. The expectations are high, I know, but if you don't have me in the first two minutes, forget about it.

You must be "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive.." Superman could fly, too, which make him double awesome, but Superman had something else: speed. Superman could be in a phone booth and out in a heartbeat, completely changed out of his doofy Clark Kent glasses and tie. Like bam! He was saving Lois Lane from her latest run in with the super villians.

And if he didn't -- Lois Lane was a goner.

Here are some other things you can do in two minutes:

-Sharpen some pencils.

-Check your horoscope.

-Eat yogurt.

-Transform from mild-mannered Clark Kent to spandex wearing Superman.

-Capture your audience's attention for a presentation.

Just like Superman with Lois Lane, you have about two mintues when you first step infront of an audience to grab their attention. If you're more of a Clark Kent type, it can take some work to rip off those glasses and go running on stage with your brightly colored spandex suit. While that might make people look up from their email, it might not be in the way you want. I can't tell you what to do to get us to sit up and take notice, but I can tell you some things that I've seen work.

Humor. At PubCon South in Dallas, I got to see the great @unmarketing . The first slide of his presentation read "Social Media, We Need to Break Up" and the beginning of his keynote speech was about how it's "not you, it's me." It was hilarious and everyone paid attention to see what the rest of this presentation could be.

Shock. On the first day of junior high school, my history teacher (Hi Mr. Bryant) put a chair in the middle of the room and jumped off onto the floor. It shook the walls and it broke all our conversations. It shocked us, without question and he immediately had our attention. More than that, it's a moment I've never forgotten and one that shaped how I felt about the subject of history.

There are a couple of ways that you can get your audience's attention. Remember, you only have two minutes to grab them, otherwise, they are goners. Not only that, you have the ability to make something memorable for your audience. Just watch out for Lex Luthor. He likes to lurk.

Apr
12
2010
The Learning Curve -- Part Three Maranda Gibson

So here I am, two years after the travel industry and five years after I graduated college. The way I fell into my job at AccuConference was surprising; thinking I had wasted an entire day at a job fair, only to find an email requesting an interview the next day. Considering, I was doing nothing else at the time; I came down to meet with my potential new co-workers. I got the job the next day and soon, I was given two responsibilities – customer service and writing.

Two sets of responsibilities means that I have two sets of bosses.  I report to the office manager for customer service and the VPs for my social media responsibilities. From each of them, I’ve learned different things.

Office Manager: I’ve learned that good bosses are not necessarily “hard-core”. My previous boss, as great as she was, intimidated me. No matter what she was talking to me about, I felt like I had to smile and nod. My current office manager has a much more diplomatic approach to management, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If I’m being corrected for something, I want to be able to understand why I’m being corrected. I like being able to be comfortable enough to ask for clarification.

VPs: I’ve learned there is nothing like following up with a customer. This doesn’t just apply to big things, like confirming changes on accounts or giving them more information. It applies to small things.  Even if someone calls in just to ask a basic question, but you spend a few moments explaining everything to them and making sure they understand, it can merit a follow up call or email, just to see how things went.

It’s been almost two years since my first completely overwhelmed, “oh my do the phones always ring that much, wait you want me to what” day at AccuConference.  At the risk of sounding like a cheese ball, I really do like what I get to do every day, and I like the people I get the opportunity to work with. I’ve learned something from everyone and the great thing is that I’ll keep learning, no matter how old I am, and I’ll get to teach what I know to other employees who walk through the door.

Apr
09
2010
Spring Cleaning -- Art Maranda Gibson

Since I'm not the only person in this office who looks foward to Spring Cleaning time, Amber has swooped in to offer me some back up. 

 

 

I wonder what she's going to be doing this weeked?  Have your read my recent post about Spring Cleaning and why you should apply it to your conference service as well?

 

Have a great and clutter - free weekend everyone!

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