Fourth of July And Fried Chicken

Please enjoy the best non-historical account of the Revolution I've ever seen.

Happy Fourth of July, friends!

We will be closed today in observance of the holiday, but we will return to normal hours tomorrow.

I thought I would take a few minutes and show you a little recipe that is a favorite in my house.  I'm a country girl, born and raised my entire life in some of the most "southern" minded places.  Naturally, one of the first things I ever learned how to cook was my Granny's fried chicken. Now, a lot of people know how to fry chicken, but I'm going to share with you the tricks she taught me to keep your breading from getting soggy, falling off, and to keep the chicken on the inside from getting tough.

What You Need

  • 2-3 eggs (for larger chicken breasts you'll need more)
  • Flour
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • A non-stick pan (Some people like using a cast iron skillet, but I find the non stick to have a more even fry)
  • Chicken breasts

The Perfect Breading

When it's time to bread the chicken, go ahead and turn on the stove to get the oil nice and hot. You're going to want about 1/3 - 1/2 of the skillet filled with oil. Before battering - season your flour. I have a bevy of dry spices that I dump into the flour. I can't tell you all of them but I use some Lowry's seasoning salt, pepper, and some other things. It's important to give the flour some flavor so that it doesn't just taste like fried flour wrapped around some chicken.

Coat the breast in the egg mixture, then dip into the flour, and for the perfect breading do it again. The double batter helps to seal in the juices of the chicken breast and will give it a delicious crunch once it's all cooked. Drop the battered chicken breasts into the hot oil and then observe the next step like your life depends on it.

Leave It Alone

The biggest thing my Granny H taught me about frying chicken is that when you are constantly turning the chicken to fry, this is what makes it tough.  So if you want tender breasts of chicken, you have to leave it alone, and you only flip it once.  It's usually ready to flip once you see that the breading has fried about halfway up.  Now you can flip the breasts and at this point, you may need to put a cover on it to make sure the chicken cooks all the way through. Use a piece of aluminum foil instead of a lid to allow moisture to escape.

Let it Rest

Once the chicken is cooked all the way through and your breading is a beautiful golden brown, line a plate with paper towels and put the chicken there to rest.  It will catch any of the excess oil so that the breading doesn't get all soggy sitting in the oil while you finish up your side dishes. Enjoy!

(Extra Note: Some perfectly southern side dishes include mac and cheese or potato salad.)

Have a Happy Independence day!

Should I Switch to VoIP?

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a popular phone service that is currently implemented across businesses and homes. In 2011, the revenue for VoIP services was up 16% to $58 billion, and the growth is expected to continue. While VoIP is a cost effective means of phone communications, it might not always be the best choice when it comes to making a change.

Am I On VoIP?

Popular communication services like Vonage and MagicJack are some of the most obvious providers of VoIP services, but the migration and acceptance of VoIP providers has occurred across the board. If you’ve signed up for phone services through your cable company, you can tell if you have VoIP by looking at your modem and identifying a phone line plugged in. If you use a dialing pad on your computer or must be connected to an Internet connection to make your call, you have a VoIP service.

What’s a Packet?

Think of a packet like a tweet. You have a limited amount of space (140 characters) to send at a time, so with a longer message, you have to send multiple tweets. In order to adequately communicate, all of the tweets must be received / read in order. A VoIP package is a small piece of your message that is broken out from your communications.

Why Do Packets Matter?

The proper delivery of these packets is essential to communicating with VoIP. When the packets aren’t delivered correctly you get interference on your call like voices that cut in and out, or sound like they are under water. Some VoIP providers do a practice called “redundancy” where they create duplicates of the same package to safeguard against lost pieces of the message.

Internet Speeds Matter

Because your phone call is broken down into these packages and travel across the Internet transmission lines when the transmission speed is slow or clogged by other transmissions it can affect the quality of your call. Imagine you have opened ten YouTube videos and they are all loading at the same time, each new video that you are trying to load slows the time of the first one. It’s the same thing when your phone calls are traveling across data lines. As you try to do more on the web while trying to make a call over VoIP, the lower the quality will be. When making a call using a VoIP provider, limit your internet activity to ensure that your line is dedicated to transmitting your call.

Is VoIP Bad?

The answer to this question is not a clear cut yes or no. The best way to answer is to say that it really depends on what kind of VoIP system you are using. The major names in the phone industry (AT&T, Qwest) typically provide pretty reliable services, where the “plug in to your computer” devices may cause more problems than the money worth in what you’re saving. We’ve provided an in depth break down of what constitutes Good VoIP and Bad VoIP.

So should you switch to VoIP? The honest answer is that it really depends on who you are choosing as your service provider and what kind of speed you have with the Internet.

Crisis Management Skills Learned in a Crisis

Have you ever hit anything on the interstate? Of course you have! Until last week, running over something in the highway was always one of those moments where you pray that it’s nothing awful and you hope that whatever it is won’t cause a major accident.

Last week, I got to know what it’s like to hit something that isn’t “nothing awful”. While traveling at 65MPH, I hit a gas can the size of a propane tank. To make a long story short, it flew out from under a concrete mixer along with some other debris that caught my eye. The gas can flew into the air and slammed back down into the world and I had two choices: hit it or swerve into traffic.

Boom! The tank lodges under my SUV and I have no choice but to stop in the middle of the interstate or risk a spark that could, considering the fact that it’s a gas can, cause a giant explosion. So there I am at rush hour, hazard lights blinking, on the phone with the emergency operators, telling them I can smell gas and staring into my rearview mirror as cars and 18-wheelers go whizzing around me at 70 MPH. I’m waiting on the police to respond when a man pulls up and stops in front of me, aiding in getting the can free and sending me on my way.

Now that I’ve had some time to breathe, cry, and think about my response, I realized a couple of very key points of crisis management.

Know How to Respond

Large businesses have a coding system to let employees know of an issue and have pre-planned responses. For example, a “code blue” in a hospital situation refers to a patient that needs immediate medical attention. Knowing how to respond to a crisis is vital to ensure that staff members know proper protocol to project the livelihood of themselves and the people around them. After coming to a stop on the highway, my brain just went into action – I put on my hazards, kept my seat belt on, called 911, knew where I was so that I could get help, and knowing what to do helped keep me calm.

Understand Some Things Are Out of Your Control

When it comes to managing a business in times of crises, there is only so much that you can do. There are some things that you won’t be able to prevent – media leaks, rumors, speculation, and those kinds of things. Combat these types of occurrences by limiting the number of people that know the true ins and outs of what is going on, at least until you can fully assess the situation.

Don’t Make Things a Bigger Crisis

When you sit down to lay out the response plan don’t make any knee-jerk reactions. These kinds of reactions can make things worse when they don’t need to be. The last thing you want to do in the middle of crisis situation is create a larger problem by responding in an inappropriate manner. Make sure the response plan is distributed to the people who know what to do with it. There may be a crisis where you have to choose between unattractive options and you don’t want that decision to make it worse. Sitting in my car and waiting for the police wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was better than trying to play Frogger across the interstate.

Nothing will prepare you for when a crisis actually comes up and I now believe it’s a little bit of planning and a lot of instinct. But it’s that plan that will have you ready to trust your instincts. What’s your crisis management plan? Do you have one?

Beat The Boring Meeting With Our Book

No one is born a pro speaker. It takes a lot of practice and preparation to nail it. Conferences and meetings can be downright boring causing participants to lose focus and not pay attention. So how do you avoid the drab and the dull?

Our first book Lessons from the Bored Room is now available.This collection of short articles shows you:

  • How to break the ice before a meeting
  • What makes a good PowerPoint presentation
  • How to effectively plan for a conference call
  • Many other helpful tips that will give your meeting a boost 

It's a quick, informative read that will give you an insight on perfecting your conferences and meetings.

Whether you are trying to inspire or just inform, issues like monotony in your voice and how long the conference should last are important.

With practice, preparation, and a little help from our book you will be able to improve your meetings across the board.

And more than likely, you will receive positive responses from your participants as well.

Purchase a copy of our book, Lessons from the Bored Room, and we will credit your account $10.00. Just email your receipt and account number to accuinfo@accuconference.com.

Order the paperback from Amazon.

Also available on the Kindle

5 Myths that Make Meetings Unbearable

Were you told to set up a conference call today? Did you groan, roll your eyes, or curl up in the fetal position on the floor? That’s a shame – meetings aren’t bad, it is the way that we think they should be conducted that are.

Here are six myths about meetings that mean participants will be bored and as the presenter, you can’t wait for it to be over with a tip to bust the myth and get your participants engaged.

  1. The more people that attend the better your meeting will be.
  2. Wrong. If you’re putting a meeting together to follow up with a development project, you may not need to invite the sales department. The Modern Meeting Standard suggests asking if the presence of one person would dramatically shift a decision making vote. If yes, they need to attend, if no, then they can probably skip this one. (Al Pittampalli put together a great book and you can check out a more in depth interview with him in our April Newsletter)

  3. Everyone is paying attention.
  4. A lot of presenters think that once they send out the invitation and conference call information that their work is done. The truth is that it takes a lot of work to keep participants engaged during the conference call. Many participants just put their phone on mute so that the rest of the conference doesn’t hear them working or playing games on their phone. Things like Q&A sessions, polling, or even getting interactive on social networks during your presentation are great ways to keep participants engaged.

  5. Reading from slides is the same thing as “making a presentation”.
  6. No. The golden rule of presentation is never read from your slides. Slides are a guide to prevent the speaker from losing their place and to visually stimulate your participants along the way. Instead of filling slide after slide with bullet points, use images and short statements to clue the participants into the information, but if you give it away on the slides – they will tune you out.

  7. Your agenda is a script.
  8. Much like the slides in Myth #3, the use of an agenda is sometimes distorted into being used as a script for the meeting. The agenda should be more of a guide to let participants know how the conference call time is going to be spent. For example, an agenda might say that from 9:00 – 9:30 will be Introduction, 9:30 – 10:30 Speaker, 10:30-11:00 Q&A. A meeting agenda works best when used as a short check list of how presenters plan on the time being used.

  9. Meetings that are blocked out for an hour must fill the whole hour.
  10. Don't fill time for the sake of taking up the entire hour. If you wrap up early or get through questions quicker than anticipated, go ahead and close out the conference. People will appreciate your effectiveness and be glad they have some extra time where they can get some other things taken care of. Nothing kills a meeting faster than when your participants feel like you're wasting their time.

Part of the thing that makes meetings and conferences a bit of a drag is the way the meeting is viewed. If we start small, dispelling some myths, and move on from there we are guaranteed to have more productive meetings and happy co-workers.

Lost in Translation? 5 Keys to Being an Expert Communicator

If you step back and analyze the process of communication, you will realize that it’s actually a fairly difficult one, where a lot can get lost in translation. The upshot, however, is that the communication loop between one person and another can be decoded and improved upon. In pursuit of this improvement, we’ll take a look at what goes in to a communication loop—be it written, drawn, spoken, etc. And then we’ll go over five ways to make yourself better at simply getting your point across.

The Communication Process (Via Mindtools)

Source > Message > Encoding > Message > Channel > Message > Decoding > Message > Receiver > Feedback

The above communication process details each step that must occur for a piece of information to be communicated. It starts in your brain (the source), is put in some sort of message form, like the written or spoken word (encoded), and then passes it through a channel (blog, telephone, book, television), where the receiver interprets it (decodes), and then gives feedback.

Now that you see everything that occurs in the transaction between source and receiver, you can better understand the ways in which your communication often gets garbled, distilled, altered, or lost. The opportunity, as mentioned above, is understanding this loop. Part of this understanding is just seeing it fleshed out—like you just did. But here are five keys that can help you take advantage of the communication loop.

  1. Talk clearly, with fewer details rather than more. Seeing the communication loop, you now recognize that there are many stages along the path from source to receiver in which information can be skewed or lost. If, however, you articulate short, succinct chunks of information, the main ideas are less likely to fall through the tracks. This requires that you plan your communication out, which may take a bit more time. But doing this will pay off in the long run.
  2. Select the most appropriate channel for delivering your message. Nowadays, we’re inclined to email and text, sending our messages in short, quasi-written form. For many types of communication (rapid-fire, informal) these are appropriate mediums. Nonetheless, email and text simply cannot get to the bottom of things as effectively as a conversation. Talking face-to-face or over the phone, both people in the communication loop can ask questions, listen for tone of voice, explain and re-explain until the point is both made and taken. This works best in describing details or for items covered in meetings. On the other hand, certain types of communication may take more nuanced or structured arguments (think letters to attorneys, bosses, editors) and are best if composed and edited.
  3. Become adept at giving feedback. A big part of communicating is being the receiver of communication. To be good at this, you need to get good at showing the speaker that you’re understanding what they’re saying. For an example, I’d like to talk about my dad, who is a dentist and has a tendency to drill, not just teeth, but information, too. By that I mean, he wants so badly for the listener to understand what he’s saying that he will repeat and repeat the same piece of information over and over again. This can get frustrating over time. Being his son, and thus the receiver of a great deal of his information, has taught me how to convey very obviously that I understand what he’s saying. I do this first by taking what he’s told me and rephrasing it in my own words. This typically works. If it doesn’t, then, I literally repeat what he said word for word and say, “Dad, I get it.” There are other, more subtle methods to use as well: quickly nodding the head, saying things like “true,” “I see,” “that makes sense” and “uh-huh,” or asking questions that indicate your understand of points made.
  4. Train yourself to be an expert decoder. In other words, be a good listener. It seems simple, but failure to listen properly is the bane of the world’s information flow and the greatest creator of the world’s misinformation. In many conversations, we are so eager to weigh in or to give off the vibe that we understand—when, truly, we don’t—that we don’t take time to decode what’s actually being said. In order to listen, you must do all that is in your power to not lose concentration. Also, unless you are in a debate, do not try to formulate your response in the midst of their conversation. Our brains are good at switching tasks but not at multitasking, so you will undoubtedly lose some information if you try to formulate a response in the midst of another person’s talk.
  5. Step five is to practice the above four. It’s easy to think of these once or twice after reading a blog post, but to really get good, you must be a diligent steward of your communication. That is, you need to be conscious of these steps as you go about your day talking to friends, family, coworkers and whomever you may encounter.

Becoming a courteous and coherent communicator can take you far in this world. Perfecting these steps will get you on the right path.

Why Do We Accept Bad Behavior Online?

Spend a little time on the Internet and you'll run into one of two things happening in conversations: either people are being respectful and understanding, or they aren't. We spend so much time using text messages, email, and even message forums where our tone and meaning are lost. We've become a bit desensitized to the way we sound thanks to the Internet and other technological forms of communication, and sometimes we forget what the proper, polite rules are when it comes to speaking to someone directly.

The rules of communication on the Internet do not apply in polite face to face conversation. It's interesting to me some of the things we do online that (most) of us would never consider taking to the offline world. Our level of acceptance to some behaviors is increased or perhaps we just really like having access to that "ban IP" power. I've complied a little list of things that happen online that we would never accept in the offline world.

  • Writing in all caps is basically screaming. Would you walk up to a person and just go toe to toe with them and start screaming in their face? If your answer is anything other than 'no' then you're not emotionally equiped for face to face communication.
  • Pretending to be someone else is never acceptable in face to face communication. This is simply lying. It's one thing to be anonymous online but it's another to embrace a persona or a character and develop relationships along these lines. Eventually, you will have to fess up to the people that are in your community about who and what you really are, or someone will find out.
  • Asking a total stranger for a date (or worse) when you first meet them. Walking up to someone on the street and saying, "Hey, do you want a cup of coffee", will probably get you punched.
  • Call someone a name just because you can.
  • Starting arguments while using the name "anonymous". Imagine someone walking up to you on the street with their face covered in a Richard Nixon mask and trying to get you to talk politics or religion. I'd have a couple of knee jerk reactions, but none of them would be to share my thoughts on the upcoming election.
  • Using a repeat of you're stupid to validate yourself or your argument. Our conversation would not go far if we were face to face, so one has to wonder why we continue to "feed the troll" online.
  • Bring up a completely off topic and horrible offensive subject. Have you ever been standing in a group of friends and have a nice pleasent conversation when someone walks up and says something so horrible that it completely derails the entire vibe of the evening? No? Well, go spend an hour or two on a message board and you'll come across that eventually.
  • Stalk someone. The phrase "stalk" is thrown around on the Internet, but imagine for a moment if you followed your favorite celebrity around offline the way you did online. Twitter is their favorite coffee house, Facebook is their home, and I'm pretty sure at some point, you'd get reported to the police.
  • Threaten someone. Disagreeing with someone in the offline world happens, but it seems like sometimes online those interactions often end with a threat.

So my question is this - Why do we tolerate online what we wouldn't tolerate in face to face communication? Is it easier to turn a blind eye to people being rude, mean, or just downright creepy because we know that we can simply "delete" or "ignore" them online? I also want to know your "okay online but not face to face" rules.

What Talking in Spanish Taught Me About Communicating in English

When I was in college I spent a summer in Ecuador and a semester in Argentina. Though I spent most of my time just blundering around down there, looking back on the experience, I realize now that I learned quite a few things about communicating. You see, the problem was that I didn't speak Spanish. I didn't speak it at all when I went, and after a few months of study, I learned to speak it, but few would say I learned to speak it with fluency. Nonetheless, it is often those moments of confusion, the botched conversations, the wandering lost in unfamiliar neighborhoods—in short, the miscommunication—that teach a person his or her most lasting lessons.

So, with that, here are some lessons I learned while attempting to communicate in a foreign language. These lessons, I think, can be applied to any form of communication, because whether it's in Spanish, Chinese, English, or a lingua franca, the end-goal is to get your message across.

  1. Speak Slowly– Often while I was abroad, I would be afraid that people would think I was stupid if I did not get my sentences out quickly. In my own tongue, I can speak at a fairly rapid clip, but in Spanish it would sometimes take a moment to order the words in my head. I would blurt things out, which often came out garbled and nonsensical. If, however, I told myself to slow down, I found that my message would usually get through to whomever I spoke with. In many cases, too, I would find myself utterly confused by people who spoke Spanish as if they were auctioneers. In these instances, I would remind them that I was foreign and that they would need to pump the breaks a bit. In any case, communicating abroad taught me that slow articulation in conducive to clarity in communication.
  2. Lessons on Vocabulary Usage– I took Spanish classes while abroad, and thanks to some brilliant teachers, I was able to learn the grammar and mechanics of the language relatively quickly. But what was difficult was learning the vast and rich Spanish vocabulary (which is actually small compared to English). I often found that among native speakers in my dorm, there were colloquialisms that went over my head. Whenever I heard new words, I would make a note in my iPhone and look them up later. But for the most part, I was at a loss in understanding the slang and jargon. On the other hand, my Spanish teachers were aware that their students' vocabularies were limited, so they made sure to use words that we'd understand. What I took away from talking with these two groups of people is that communicators should always take into account the vocabulary and understanding of the people they're communicating with.
  3. Become a master body-language reader– I observed in Argentina that locals tended to gesture a lot more than most folks do back home in America. Certain gestures, from what I could tell, were universal, like shrugging shoulders to say, "I don’t know." One unique gesture that I picked up was when an Argentine would conjoin all their fingers in a point, turn their wrist upward, and bounce their hand, while simultaneously scowling and pursing their lips. This gesture was meant to say, "What the heck is this? Or what on earth is going on?" As a foreigner, I used this gesture from time to time to the delight of my local friends. It taught me just how much can be communicated by studying the gestures of others and applying those gestures yourself.

Communicating effectively can be like cutting through a fog. If the message is complex, or if it needs to be translated between unfamiliar languages, you'll need to bring as many skills to bear as possible in understanding and delivering the message. Being adept at using these same skills in English-English communication will make your message that much more clear.

Five People Who Don't Need an Invitation to Your Next Conference Call

It's not always your fault when you invite a good number of participants to your conferences and then don't get many attendees. When people don't want to join your conference calls it's usually because they feel like it's not worth their time to do so and there could be a couple of reasons for that. One of those reasons could be who you're inviting to your conferences. Some attendees can cause distractions on your conferences and makes the people who need to join the conference find something else to do.

The next time you send out conference call invitations you should consider keeping these distractions off the list.

The Boss

Sometimes, having the boss on a conference call can be more of a distraction than benefit. When the boss gets on the line, he or she may see the conference call as an opportunity to bring up topics that they feel are very important but do not have anything to do with the agenda for your meeting. The boss will seieze the opportunity of having everyone on the phone at the same time as a great moment to update on policy changes or ask questions. If you want to stick to your agenda or need to adhere to very specific time constraints, it might be better to email your boss the highlights of the conference call after it's over.

The Notetaker

When meetings happen there is a natural flow of conversation that seems to happen and it can happen at a quick pace. When someone is trying to jot down the information that is being discussed on the conference, they can easily miss something important or have to ask everyone to slow down so that they can get all of the information. When you have a conference call, be sure to take advantage of the recording option so that all of the information is stored, and there's no need to invite the notetaker.

Your Customer

We all love our customers but many times they just need to be briefly updated on what's going on. They don't always need to be a part of your teams conference call. In fact, they may not want to be and just feel obligated to attend because you've invited them. It's another good reason to record the conference call so you can provide it to the customer later, if they ask for it, or for you to use to keep track of what you're working on for them.

The Traveling Person

Unless the person who is traveling is imperative to the success or failure of a conference call topic, they do not need to attend the meeting. Dealing with the traveling employee is another great opportunity to use recording your conference calls to your advantage. More than likely, they will be relieved that they don't have to try to attend a conference call in the middle of an airport terminal, and you'll be thankful that you don't have to hear flight annoucements in the middle of your conference.

Having a conference is important to advancing your business and your plans with customers, especially when you're scattered all over like a lot of employees are. Having the conference isn't nearly as important as making sure it was worth everyone's time to attend. The first thing to do when it comes to having better conference is trim the fat and only invite the people who absolutely need to attend.

Mike Wallace’s Death Leaves Questions for Today’s Journalists

The sad news of veteran TV anchorman and 60 Minutes patriarch Mike Wallace passing this weekend moved a lot of people to stop and remember a pioneer in the field of journalism. Mike Wallace was known for his curveball interview style ("Forgive me...."), his documentary style presentations on 60 Minutes, and a number of lawsuits filed against him. He was also known for his personal losses (the death of his son in the 60s) and a personal battle with depression.

Over the last sixty years and his personal struggles, Mike Wallace leaves the world known as one of the most respected journalists in the world. His pace set the stage for many of the men from my father's generation - the late Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and even Dan Rather.

Mike's passing made me stop and take pause about the state of journalism today - what's changed and how journalists approach news stories today. The truth is that everything has changed since the days of Mike Wallace. People don't get their news in the same way that they did in the 1960's and before, and I can't help but wonder where are all the journalists?. In forty years, will my children be able to recognize the people who brought the news to the world? Will there be archives for them to reflect upon - the same way that I watched Walter Cronkite announce the death of JFK on a black and white news reel? Who will fill the gap in the newsroom? More importantly - will there even be a news room to fill?

The Landscape of "Journalism" Has Changed

Perhaps many of us don't want to admit it but the way that news is sent and received has changed. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, it was Twitter that knew first, thanks to the messages sent by a guy who was unknowingly live tweeting the Navy SEAL operation taking place near him. When social media networks often do a better job of getting news stories out to the masses, why would we wait until six PM to turn on the Nightly News to see what is going on in the world?

The advent of the 24 hour news networks (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) has also changed the way that we receive our news updates. Again, it becomes a question of why wait for the nightly news breaks. Even if I don't want to get my news from a source like social media, I have the ability and the option to tune the television to a news network right away. Breaking news is always the top of the news - and the 24 hour networks love to follow every piece of a story.

How does a "standard" journalist keep up with the always available news streams? What do they do to make people want to turn to them, instead of the 24 hour a day channels?

Enter the Journalistic Narrative

As my husband and I were discussing Mike Wallace and his passing, he made an excellent point. Journalism is nothing more than a narrative at this point. As much as we'd all like to say that there are still journalists who present the news in a way that doesn't have a slant, or a shtick, I wonder if there really are. Well - let me rephrase, I'm sure they are out there but no one is listening. Why? Because no one wants to read the facts. Journalism has evolved (devolved?) to the point that without a narrative, no one wants to read it.

When we read a news story we expect to read a story that panders to our beliefs. We want to read something that confirms our beliefs and opinions. We want to read or hear a presentation that will make us feel like the way we feel as an individual is validated by a news source. The ones that do not verify our opinions are the ones that we stay away from. If we think that the news is too serious, we turn our attention to the John Stewarts and Steven Colberts of the world.

But this appeal can go too far and that's where you start to get doctored 911 calls and documents. Even the respected Dan Rather was not immune to this phenomenon and got himself into trouble, and ultimately lost his position on the CBS Nightly News.

When did we stop watching the news to get the facts and instead turning our backs on the programs or outlets that didn't pander to us? Is it why so many people are now gathering their information from smaller sources - even down to the local outlets? Has the need to appeal turned the networks that created journalists like Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite to nothing more than content marketers?

When did all the journalists become storytellers?

AccuConference | 5 Steps to a Great Presentation

5 Steps to a Great Presentation

Previously, we talked about how to be an effective speaker when doing a presentation. Everyone has different learning and listening styles; and with webinars, it sometimes becomes difficult to make sure you're appealing to everyone's sensibilities. While some people are more audible learners, some are going to thrive and really understand when they can see the information in front of them.

When slide presentation software came along, it revolutionized the way that things were done – especially when it came to large rooms and conferences. Gone were the days of thick and boring handouts that never seemed to make it to all the attendees on time. Now there's a way to create slides that are going to be effective without overloading the audience with colors, pictures, videos, and animations.

1.) Slide Cohesiveness

The hardest thing about presentations is making sure that everything looks clean. You want each slide to set the general tone for the presentation. Keeping all the slides uniform is incredibly important. In order to help this process along you should always brainstorm your presentations as well. Select a color scheme that reflects the tone you wish to set with the conference, attach pictures to the slides that make sense, and never try to overload the attendees with too many graphics. If there's ever any question on how much is too much or not enough, always err on the side of caution and do a simple presentation. Be prepared to use your words if you start to lose audience interest.

2.) Color Schemes

Colors affect moods whether it be promoting unity, peace, love, harmony, or creating a passionate environment. Different colors invoke certain types of emotions and help to create a different atmosphere. For example, the color green is considered to soothe, have healing power, and is often worn by doctors. Red is the color most used to get attention. Using colors together and creating color schemes is a good tool to promote emotions that are going to make your presentation more enjoyable. This is especially helpful in sales presentations; by tuning into your audience you can better affect that outcome of your sales pitches and presentations.

3.) Establish Focus

Focus is one of the most important things about any good presentation. The focus of a presentation is the overall message or tone that you are trying to create. If you're trying to let all the attendees know that everything is going to be okay in this unstable financial environment, you should established that theme right away. The rest of your presentation should focus on explaining who, what, where, when, why, and how. Think of establishing focus as writing a thesis statement. The focus should be the central idea, and all the other ideas of the presentation should revolve around it.

4.) Animations should be used sparingly

Just because they look pretty good doesn't mean that every slide needs to fade or roll into another. Use animations at points in the slides that matter the most. If you're showing profit growth from one quarter to another, use an animation to move through your chart. By limiting the amount of animations on a slide, you can ensure their effect is noticed, and people are taking more interest in what you are saying.

5.) Expand your mind

Don't just use the standard everyday clip art that's available on most computers. A quick Google search can show you website after website offering copyright free pictures or pictures with small watermarks on them available for public use. Check with the US Copyright office to see if your organization qualifies for the benefits of public use policies. This mostly applies to schools and teachers - however, you can never be too sure. Better quality and more vibrant pictures make slides pop off the page, and make trying to find the hidden meaning a thing of the past.

Remember, the most important thing about any presentation is that it's targeted for your audience. The difference between a great presentation and a great presenter is that the great presenter will take the time to research his or her audience and get to know them before putting his information together. Your audience will take notice of your dedication and respond to it.

blog comments powered by Disqus