PowerPoint is bad for your brain

Seth Godin points us to this article which says PowerPoint is bad for your brain.

To be fair, the problem is not PowerPoint itself, but how people use it.

This quote says it best:
"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."

Video Conferencing versus Business Travel

Companies spend a lot of time, money, and energy on business travel when they could accomplish the same goals with video conferencing. There are outstanding benefits to video conferencing -- some of which you may not have discovered.

The first benefit is that you save time. With video conferencing you can eliminate the time-consuming business travel process. Avoid searching for a rental car, hotel or flight and don’t waste time flying or driving to your meeting. Instead of spending an entire weekend away from your office or home, get it over and done with quickly.

The second benefit of video conferencing – reduced cost.  Hotels, car rentals and flights can be surprisingly expensive, not to mention the other miscellaneous expenses like lunch and dinner. Video conferencing technology and equipment has become much more affordable in the last few years (whereas restaurants and traveling has become more expensive!).

Video conferencing is also better for your health. Why? Business travel can be stressful because you spend time away from family and you are forced to operate outside of your regular routine. This is also why video conferencing also make you more productive because you can work out of your own office, at your own computer, on your own time. Working out of your own office gives you access to important information the moment you need it.

Do you still need more reasons to start video conferencing? How about the fact that you can video tape and record your meeting for future reference? Or how you can enhance your meeting experience by using polling and file sharing features? Or the great impression you’ll make with your associates because you are utilizing cutting edge technology?

The next time you’re sitting in an airport for a three hour layover, or you’re in a hotel paying 25 dollars for internet access --- give us a call or visit our website for more information.

Are you drifting, surfing, drowning or sailing?

Roy H. Williams quoted Mike Metzger from the Clapham Institute as saying:

 “You meet 4 kinds of people on the ocean of life:

Those who drift just go with the flow. The wind and the waves control their speed and direction. The drifter quietly floats along and says, ‘Whatever.’

Those who surf are always riding a wave, the next big thing. They stay excited until the wave fades away, then they scan the horizon for something new. Surfers don't usually get anywhere, but they make a lot of noise and put on a good show."

Those who drown seem to stay in the center of a storm. It doesn't matter how often you rescue them, they'll soon be in another crisis, crying, ‘Help me, save me, it's been the worst week of my life. I don't know what I'm going to do.’

Those who sail are navigating toward a fixed point. They counteract the wind and waves by adjusting the rudder and shifting the sails to stay on course. But without an immovable, fixed point in your life, there can be no sailing. There's nothing for you but drift, surf or drown.”

Are you drifting, surfing, drowning or sailing? What is your immovable object?

Web Cameras - Smaller and Sophisticated

Seeing people on screen while talking with them by phone has its advantages, but consumers have been slow to take to the video technology and its often grainy images. But there are now better cameras and video services that can change all of that.  There are also portable solutions which are very helpful, as discussed in this New York Times article.

So if you’re in the market for a new web cam, check out these web cam reviews at CNET.com.

A Free 411 Directory

If you’re like us, you’d rather not store a giant phone book in your glove box. Instead, try using a 411 directory service. There are many companies who charge for this but we’d suggest using a free service like 1 (800) FREE 411 or 1 (800) 373-3411.

You will be required to listen to a brief advertisement which is painless and certainly doesn’t outweigh the convenience of a free 411 service.

If you’re a professional on-the-go, you need to have the right tools to get the job done. Consider checking out our 800 call forwarding and international call forwarding services.

Why a “live” operator is not enough

We’ve often talked about the importance of reaching a “live person” on the phone. But have you ever been connected with someone who was truly incompetent? Technology has made everyday tasks easier, but it has also enabled unskilled people to handle important jobs. So does this really make life better?

For everyday transactions, this isn’t so bad. But if you have a special request or need a problem resolved then a competent person is what’s needed most.

If you were to buy an item at a store, it doesn’t really matter if you receive service with a smile. What matters most is that you get a smile when you are returning the item and that they know how to do it fast.

It’s important to talk with a “live person,” but it’s even more important that they’re competent.

Commuting and conference calling

It’s that time of year when gas prices start creeping up. Yesterday we had someone in our office pay $60 dollars to fill up their mid-size SUV. That’s high considering we’re located in Texas where gas prices are traditionally low. 

So since we are in the business of saving people money, here are some helpful links:

http://www.gasbuddy.com/

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml

You can also earn a $20 gas card for any conferencing referrals. And if you’re considering commute for a business meeting, remember that a tank of gas ($60) is the same as two, hour-long conference calls for five people

PowerPoint Tips for the “Presentationally-impaired”

Bad presenters are like toned-def singers… they don’t know how bad they reallyare. So just in case, here are some tips that will catapult you to becoming the next presentation guru (…or at least point you in the right direction)!

The 10 / 20 / 30 Rule – This stands for ten slides, twenty minutes, and thirty-point font. This is a formula you can implement as you develop and revise your next power point. Remember that the average person can only comprehend about ten different concepts in one sitting. Keep your presentation under twenty minutes to ensure that you leave enough time for Q & A and that you don’t bore listeners with too much information. Lastly, using 30 point font will force you to use fewer words and make your slides easier to understand. This tip comes from Guy Kawasaki (http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html), who’s blog points us to this PowerPoint competition.

Six Words Per Slide – So why use fewer words? Seth Godin, best selling author and marketing consultant, suggests no more than six words on a slide, EVER (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html ). He says that PowerPoint is meant to compliment you as the speaker and not become a replacement. Instead, he suggests using captivating images and catchy headers that will blend well with what you are saying. The fewer the words and the better the image, the more memorable it will be.

Cue-Cards & Handouts – If you limit the amount of words for each slide, then you should make yourself cue-cards to remember the details. You should also create a hand-out with important information on it for your listeners. We advise however that you don’t provide a hand-out until after the presentation or else people might leave early or become distracted by your notes. 

Top 5 Outlook Plug-ins / Toolbars

  1. AccuConference Outlook Plug-in: Allows you to easily create a conference and send a calendar notice to your participants. Its free and is compatible with all conference call providers.  http://www.accuconference.com/outlook/plugin/
  2. David Allen’s Productivity Plug-in:  Lets you implement David Allen’s email productivity tips with the click of a button. http://gtdsupport.netcentrics.com/buy/
  3. Did-They-Read-It: Tells you if, when, where (geographically), and for how long your e-mails are read. (http://www.didtheyreadit.com/index.php?aff=2&affad=3
  4. Google Desktop Search: Search your emails (and files) quickly and easily. http://desktop.google.com/
  5. Spambayes: An effective anti-spam plugin. http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/windows.html
AccuConference | What Customers Want

What Customers Want

What do customers want? The answers are not hard to guess at, but if your company makes these customer wishes a priority, you'll sail through the ongoing economic storm with ease. You'll stay on target for your company goals and end up following a nice straight line through the roughest of conditions. Interested? Read on.

1. Company transparency. Clients and customers are weary of corporate greed. In other words, the bank CEOS that took taxpayer money to attend a resort to “rest up” from the exhaustion of having to be bailed out aren't real popular right now with customers. If your company shows a commitment to your clients and customers in that you consider their satisfaction with your product or service the most important issue you deal with on a daily basis, well, that's what they're looking for right now. So show it off, be completely transparent, be honest, be thoughtful and respectful, and above all, make sure your clients and customers are satisfied. If you aren't sure, ask.

2. Customer service. When your phone rings, who answers it? How do they answer? Do they have the information your customers want? Are they helpful? My pressing customer service issue was answered above and beyond this past week (yes, the day before Thanksgiving) by a very thoughtful, polite customer service rep and I was happy to take the time to call his supervisor and get a kudos note put in his file. I will purchase again from this company. I feel completely confident that everything will be done exactly as promised and I have no qualms about recommending this company to my entire neighborhood at the upcoming Christmas party. It's all the result of amazing customer service. Does your company offer it? Start now.

3. Communication. After someone buys something from you, do you follow up and make sure the service or product worked? Did it solve the original problem or issue? Did it work like you said it would? Did they have any issues with the item or service? The easiest step is a customer comment card or quick follow-up phone call to make sure everything was as ordered. Don't immediately try to sell something else. Just make sure what you sold them works. And let it go for now. You can always send a marketing message later on. Harassing a happy customer with a follow-up sale just makes you appear desperate.

4. Accessibility. Can they find you when they need you the next time? Your marketing message should have your customer service number, your web site, and your mailing address every time. Use those marketing message opportunities to offer a coupon or special promotion that does not expire. People save coupons. Be helpful by providing your contact information and leave it at that. Send regular follow-up messages with sale offers and special promotions, but don't be pesky.

5. Long-term memory. A company I order from regularly has all my orders under my name from four years ago. I can trust that they have every single order on record and will always be able to look up past orders by a quick search of my name. It's rather impressive to know that a company service rep can tell me the details of an order from 2005 so that I don't have to dig through past records to find it myself. It also is comforting to know that they care that much to make sure they keep track of my buying patterns. Plus, they offer me promos based on my buying patterns. Call it the Amazon.com effect. Hey, it works!

Anything you can implement right now in your business? Your customers will thank you (and will probably give you their business for years to come).

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