Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Simple Tips For Presentation Skills

Presenting to prospective clients, shareholders and colleagues is part of many peoples' job descriptions these days. These tips will help you to look like a much more polished and professional presenter. Some of them are just common sense, but you would be amazed at how often they are often overlooked.

1. Know what your message is and make sure your audience knows too

If you don't know where you are going, how do you know when you have arrived? It is vital to know what your message is and continually ask yourself whether it has been delivered clearly. At the end of the presentation everyone should know instantly what you were trying to convey with your presentation.

2. Let your audience know what to expect from your presentation and then deliver it

It is great to ask your audience questions like, "Do you want to know the best way to guarantee certain success?" You may see people sit up and listen more intently. There is nothing worse than seeing them slump back down and return to their texting when they don't get a clear answer to that question. Deliver what you promise to.

3. Don't be afraid to use your notes

It is OK to have your notes with you when you present as long as you don't let them distract your audience. Don't roll, crumple or play with them. No one will think less of you if you look down at your notes, as long as you aren't reading from them.

4. Pause to let your audience reflect on what you said

This tip ties in with the previous point. Stopping to look at your notes creates a natural pause that allows your listeners to reflect on what you have said. Adults need to reflect to apply what they are learning to their own experiences.

5. Make sure you can be heard

If you are in a large room, or if you have a soft voice make sure there is a sound system that you can use. Check into this before your presentation starts, not once it has begun.

6. If you use PowerPoint, make sure it follows the principles of good design

a) The rule of six

b) Don't read your slides

I won't take the time to cover design principles in this article, but your slides should complement what you are saying not duplicate it. Keep text to a minimum. Read from your notes if the text you want to share is too long to memorize, but don't put it all on a slide and then read it out loud. The rule of six suggests that you should keep words within bullets and bullets to a maximum of six per slide.

7. Don't think that drawing on a flip chart can replace PowerPoint slides

Not everyone needs to speak with the assistance of a slide presentation, but don't think that writing on a flip chart is a good alternative. If you are merely writing or drawing a finished word, phrase or diagram you are wasting time doing it as part of your presentation. It is much more effective to bring up a slide with the finished product already in place.

If creating the word, phrase or diagram is a process that the audience are going to be a part of, then a flip chart may be the better choice.

8. Practice, practice, practice

I cannot stress this tip enough. Reading through your presentation a few times in your head doesn't begin to replace standing up and rehearsing out loud in front of people or a mirror. Shutting yourself in a bathroom not only lets you see what you look like, it gives great acoustics to hear what you sound like.

When you think your presentation is getting to a good level, video yourself and watch it back. This is the best way to really critique how you are doing. If you have people who are willing to listen to you speak, ask them for honest feedback.

9. If the energy in the room seems low, get everyone out of their seats

I've seen this used to perform happy dances and yoga moves. It doesn't really matter what you choose as long as it suits your personality and your audience.

10. Get your audience involved

a) Humour is a great way to get your audience involved, but bear in mind that one person's humour is another person's horror. Know your audience!

b) Ask questions rather than just giving the answers.

Presenting takes a lot of energy and preparation. Give these tips some thought next time you are asked to give a presentation. You will look more professional and your audience will appreciate your efforts.

Reen Rose is an experienced Microsoft Certified Trainer as well as being Myers Briggs certified.

She has been described as 'focused, fun and very effective'. Reen is an enthusiastic life-long learner who believes in guiding people to become the best they can by giving them the skills they need to be successful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Packaging and Marketing

Packaging is one of the most overlooked aspects in the marketing of any product. When consumers approach a product, its packaging plays a crucial role in influencing purchase decisions as there may be a myriad of reasons for consumers to consider not buying the product. Packaging considerations may range from specific designs to the use of colour themes for captivating the interest of buyers. There are countless aspects to a design that may be identified and almost all of them need to be aligned with the overall theme of the product and the brand. Since brand image plays a significant role in developing long term consumer relations, the packaging needs to be "perfect", irrespective of whether it is packaging material suppliers for online retailers or for any physically distributed product.

Defining "Good Packaging"

Defining a good package can be difficult given the fact that there are multifaceted aspects of a package's design and build. However, the key focus remains on one sole component - the protection of the contents in the desired form. A good example of this consideration would be the products in the food and beverages segment. Vending machines are widely available in developed countries and most developing regions.

Due to this, packages for beverages and some pre-packed food need to be compatible with the storage dimensions of vending units. They also need to conform to the standard guidelines for preservation of the contents up to the mentioned date. Packaging in this respect can also refer to the way a product is made available to the end users. Dominos and Pizza Hut have come up with proprietary pizza boxes which preserve heat for a longer duration and this helps to keep the contents warm if not hot. This is a good practical example of the importance of packaging in protecting the contents.

Create Visual Product Segmentation with Individualistic Package Design

Designs can be used creatively to aesthetically as well as functionally differentiate product segments. A good way to go about this is to incorporate the latest technical information about packaging material. Shopping outlets and retail facilities usually have lots of products on display and in order to visually make the product stand out, it is important to pack it in eye catching designs that give the customer an idea whether the product is a general offering or a premium product. Such packing styles also help to establish the brand image which consumers may relate to.

A good example for this would be rice. We usually get lose rise as per requirement or we can also buy pre-packed rice. When we buy rice that has been packed in specific quantities then the only way to differentiate premium ranges from regular ranges is to change their packing presentation. While regular rice may come in jute bags or cheap plastic bags, premium variants usually come in vacuum sealed pack with multiple layers of packaging materials being used to keep the contents safe from natural damage.

Let the Package Represent the Brand

This is by far the most important feature of packaging designs - they create value for the brand with which people tend to associate. Pepsi is a world renowned brand and its packaging may have changed over the years, but its theme has always been Blue. The particular combination of blue themed logos and relevant images have become rather iconic and every customer can easily recognize it even if the products are stashed up in a pile. This is the power of packaging - the one aspect that should never be overlooked if any business needs to target its consumer base more effectively.

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How To Branding a New Product

We already know the significance in branding a product/service. By giving our customers a brand, we are giving them the perception of who we are and what we stand for. Your brand should be a symbol of the all-in-one experience your business provides and it should stimulate the emotional response that your customer's connects with you. There are many distinct tips to consider when an established company/business wants to brand a new product or service.

Before we start with branding a new product or service it is important to remember the fundamentals of branding. These include:

    Brand names should be unique to what your product or service offers to its customer. Its name should not be similar to competitors, and should stand apart from anything that has come before it.
    Brand name should be easily pronounced. Often times, shorter names have more memorability.
    Brand colors should be picked based off of the product or service provided. Colors evoke emotions and set tones.
    Brand consistently throughout every aspect of the process. This starts with the name, logo, website, and advertising.

Now we will want to focus on branding for an established business. This is done differently than branding a new company/business. Your business is operational and you already have clientele, a website, and marketing but you are getting ready to launch a new product/service that deserves its own brand. Here are some tips to keep in mind while getting started.

Tips

    Before creating your new product/service brand, you will want to remember to think big. Do not underestimate your new project. Consider the growth possibilities with future product lines and shoot for the stars.

    Choose a brand name that incorporates both your existing business with your new product or service. This newest product/service could be the next big thing, so you will want your business name to be tied into it.

    Consider what about your newest product/service will tie into to your customers emotionally. This means thinking about what value your product provides to your customers and the emotions those values will evoke in them. You will want these emotions to be tied not only in your new project but in your company as a whole.

    You may want to consider hiring a professional designer who could collect the information you provide and offer a variety of branding options. An alternative would be to have open discussions with your employees regarding ideas. Branding is something you will want to invest time and consideration into.

    When launching your new product/service always use your business brand along with your new product/service brand for advertising, marketing and promotions. Customers should always see the two brands connected until the sight of one brand provokes the thought of the other.

    Always test your branding on people who could gain from the value your product or services provides. You will want the most important test questions to be focused on the execution of tying your existing business in with your new product/service brand and memorability of the new brand.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Best Tips for Successful Networking

Networking is key for your business to grow through relationships and contacts! Networking groups can consist of a formal group or a group of colleagues; the main factor to a successful networking group is communication, education, support and referrals. Entrepreneurs need to network! Knowing what to do and what not to do will differentiate between if networking will make or break you.

To Do Tips:
1. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations.
2. Research networking groups online.
3. Try out one or two groups for a few months in a row to get a "good" feel for the group.
4. Carry your professional printed business card to hand out if asked.
5. Have marketing materials or your products along in your car; you can get them upon request.
6. Be sociable and outgoing. If you are new to the group, introduce yourself and ask questions about the group.
7. Listen attentively, repeat their name or ask again politely if you forget.
8. Ask group members about their business and how you can contribute.

Do Not Tips:
1. Do not join a group and pay a yearly fee because someone tells you to, check out a few meetings and see if the group is a "fit" for you.
2. Do not hand out business cards you have printed yourself.
3. Do not give out your business card if the person hasn't asked for one.
4. Do not flit from group to group. Find one or two you like and become a regular. Just like advertising, it is repetition and building relationships with others in the group that will help you grow your business professionally.
5. Do not talk longer than you are given. Most groups have a time limit - stick to it. If people want to know more about you or your business, they will ask you.
6. Get over your shyness or insecurities! This is not the time to sit over in the corner and hope others approach you.
7. Never try to guess someone's name -ask him or her for his or her business card.
8. Do not try to sell someone anything unless the person has asked to buy your product/service.

Networking groups are about establishing relationships, education, support and referrals, not "fast sales". Engage yourself in group discussions and speak with members about how you can assist them. By building strong and trusting relationships you will gain important and useful contacts. This will help your business grow and gain more clientele.

Networking Tips

Perhaps you have attended a successful networking event. You made great contacts and were able to follow up and get good business or resources to move forward. Do you ever properly thank the person (s) which assisted you. Sure, we can say: "Thank you" or "Let me know if there is something I can do for you." or "Your help is greatly appreciated." But is that all you do and feel that is sufficient? Another way to continue to build your network, gain referrals and leads and brand yourself is to take those words, "Thank You" and turn them into action words.

Listed below are ways that savvy networkers can effectively show gratitude and appreciation for their colleagues and counterparts.

Go the Extra Mile

If someone has taken time out of their schedule to meet with you, introduce you to a contact or give you professional advice, find unique ways of returning the favor. Invite them to a networking event as your guest and cover their charge if there is a registration fee. Send them a hand written thank you card and include a gift card. Continue to follow up with them and let them know your progress or advancement.

Spread the Good News

Take on the role of referring them to gain additional business or contacts. Write a testimonial or endorse them on social media outlets. Even if you are not a client or customer, you can comment on their willingness to help, professionalism, or how their resources/advice improved your business. If they have a blog or website, follow them and contribute positive feedback to their posts and online community.

Of course, it is always good etiquette to say, "Thank You" and show gratitude, but it is even better to show appreciation. Following these tips can greatly add value to meaningful relationships and make you memorable and trusted within your networking relations.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Benefits of Network Marketing

For the iconoclasts and pioneers today, there is no containing them in a cubicle or an office for 40 hours a week. You may be squirming in your seat right now, looking for a path to join them because you have more to offer than to stay put in a dead end job, and maybe today is the day that you break free. If you're feeling that you can really make serious moves with network marketing, or any other type of home based opportunity, than you'll want to look at the amazing benefits that await you. The following will only cement the need to get out of your comfort zone and participate in what millions are already doing, blazing their own trail to financial glory.

No Glass Ceiling - When you work inside the confines of a set career path you will have a limit as to how much money you could earn. You'll start at a salary and then work your way up over the years, and after you've done the same job or even received several promotions, you will hit a limit as to how much a company will pay you. They call that the glass ceiling and some people are OK with that, but others choose something different. When you invest in a home based opportunity, even if it starts out as a small side project, you will transcend limitations because they will be lifted away from you. There will be no limit to the income that you can make, and that's perhaps the biggest benefit.

Freedom To Chase Your Passion - Ever wonder what it is like to just do whatever you want for a day? A week? Even a year? Well, that is exactly what millions of people are doing right now, whatever they want, after a successful run with network marketing. You'll find that when you succeed in small business on the internet today, you can take more time off to do the things that you love and are passionate about. If you do a search right now for the benefits of this type of opportunity, freedom will rank almost as high as unlimited earning potential, and that's something worth exploring.

Transitional Training - For those that are concerned with moving away from the traditional employment options, consider that when you work within any type of home based or internet project, you will gain important training that will follow you throughout your life. That means that when you decide that you don't want to work from home anymore, and you want to chase another dream, you will have the training to jump into other arenas and have the confidence to succeed. Imagine what you could do if you had no fear? That is what you will earn after succeeding in this type of role for some time.

The amazing benefits that are outlined here are just a few of the more common things that are being said about the opportunities that are available today. Test the market out for yourself and see why so many are leaving the workforce in favor of greener, brighter, and more successful pastures.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Management and Leadership

Leadership in an organization is the ability to influence the actions and behavior of others towards the achievement of organizational goals. Throughout the years, many volumes have been written which list and elaborate upon the personality characteristics of past and present leaders. One only has to check the literature on the subject to discover that there are as many characteristics and combinations of characteristics as there are leaders.

Some of the qualities that describe leaders are: goal-directed, positive, determined, loyal, results-oriented, empathetic and strong. They are also good communicators and are skilled in human relations. In order to clarify your image of a leader, you may find it helpful to list leadership qualities which you value. Then examine your list and determine which of these qualities are inherited and which are developed. It should become apparent that the vast majority of leadership skills are developed. LEADERS ARE MADE - NOT BORN! Now take an inventory of the qualities you know you possess and not those qualities you want to develop further.

Leadership is situational; A good leader responds appropriately to the needs of the situation at hand and to the needs and expectations of those involved. In today's business world, this means developing a keen insight into the changes that occur daily; in your market, your industry, the economy and your business environment. You must realize that your work force has and is also changing, and make the fundamental changes in your attitudes and approaches to effectively lead them. The leader of today and tomorrow must be a facilitator - not an order giver.

As a manager, you must be many things to many people. In order to perform effectively, you must be able to diagnose a situation and lead in response to it. Your leadership response may and should vary. By becoming increasingly aware of your own needs and the needs of others, you more effectively "influence the actions and behavior of others toward the attainment of organizational goals." What can you do to improve your effectiveness as a leader? First and foremost, identify those qualities that describe an "ideal" leader, then focus on those skills which you want to develop. Be specific and set goals and plans that will insure the achievements of you goals. The degree to which you develop your leadership skills depends solely upon YOU and the effort YOU put forth into creating your own destiny.
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