Sep 28, 2010

Increase your credibility by being exact

You can increase your credibility and convince more people by being exact. Consider various pairs of statements below:

A: I went and met 5 potential clients today but could not sell to anyone.

B: I went and met
some potential clients today but could not sell to anyone.

Which one is more credible?

C: The sales growth in the last month was 20.42%
D: The sales growth in the last month was
around 20%

E: The total advertising spend on TV is $1,044,329.
F: The total advertising spend on TV is 1 million dollars.

By being a bit more exact you can sound so much more convincing. The listener starts to feel that you know what you are talking and not cooking up or guessing. When we guess we talk in round numbers (100, 1000, 2500). We never guess when we say 108.66.

One more example.

G: You forget! We had changed the rates of our product on April 11, 2010.
H: You forgot!
We had changed the rates of our product long back.

In our daily lives we make lot of statements which are generic, approximate and not concrete. They are not false. They are not misleading but they are less convincing. If we become more specific in the way we communicate, we can become much more convincing.

Image source: graur razvan ionut

Sep 26, 2010

250 posts... Time to Retrospect

This is my 250th post. It has come in 621 days (1 year 8.5 months). I started the blog on January 14, 2009 when I had quit my job and was preparing for life as a freelancer. I had chosen to become a Communications Consultant. I wanted to train people to make awesome presentations and also make presentations for them (outsourcing).

The purpose of starting this blog was to share my point of view with the world. The only place where I could write how I felt presentations should be made.
The blog helped me establish authority and build expertise (the more I wrote the more I learnt). It was my CV on the web. Having no background on Presentations (being an MBA does not mean you can claim to be a presentations expert), I used to approach prospective clients and ask them to check out the blog (as a proof of my expertise). This worked and I got business.

3 months later I took up a job as a marketing manager. I realised down under that I loved marketing more than I loved presentations. I was also scared if my venture would ever take off.

17 more months have passed. Even now the purpose of the blog remains the same. I want to share with you what I have learnt about making presentations. I also get to learn while I write. The more I write, the more I learn.

After 621 days when I look back, I feel contented. I am happy to have interacted with so many people through the blog. People have reached out to me from all across the world, shared their views, given me feedback and added to the learning of all of us here.

A few more snippets about the blog are shared in this small presentation:
Celebrating 250 posts on all about presentations
View more presentations from Vivek Singh.

Loads of thanks to all the readers. Keep reading and enjoy the journey with me.

Image credit:
graur razvan ionut

Sep 22, 2010

Download the new rupee font for your presentations (and your computer)

This post is applicable to readers who have got anything to do with Indian rupees.

Indian Rupee has got a new symbol. What earlier was denoted just as Rupees or Rs. or INR is now denoted by a new symbol. This change happened two months back. People have already started using it. You can see it in advertisements and posters all around you. It is time you got the symbol too and started using it in your presentations (and excel sheets and word docs).

Click here to download the font

Installation steps

You need to download the font file and paste it in the Fonts folder of windows. This is how we do it.

Download the font by clicking on the link above -> The font name is Rupee Foradian -> Cut the font file (Ctrl+X) from the folder where you have downloaded the font -> Go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Fonts -> Paste (Ctrl+V) the font file in the fonts folder -> Done!

Now open MS PowerPoint -> Choose the font 'Rupee Foradian' -> Click inside a text box and press ` (the key left of 1 and above Tab). Bingo! There is your rupee symbol.

Sep 19, 2010

Book Review: Switch by Chip & Dan Heath

Switch is the second book by Chip & Dan Heath, authors of my all time favourite book Made to Stick. Whereas Made to Stick (read my review here) was about making your messages stick into the minds of the audience, Switch is about change. How to change things when change is hard? reads the cover of the book.

My recommendation: Compulsory Buy (Don't miss this book)

Objective of the book

Switch, like Made to Stick, is full of real life examples and based on years of research. The main objective of the book is to help us carry out a change. This change can be in our own life (wanting to get up early and go to gym) or changing the behaviour of others (boss, subordinates, colleagues, family or your company).


The authors Chip & Dan Heath propose a simple framework to help us make the change we desire. Before proposing this methodology they dispel the myth that people avoid change. It is often believed that we all resist change yet the authors give examples which prove that by nature we are not opposed to change (couples welcome what is perhaps the biggest change in their lives; their child). The authors also make the point that big changes do not require equally big actions. Often small actions can lead to major changes.

Here is the change framework which the Heath brothers propose. If you want to make any change you should do these three things together:

1. Direct the Rider
2. Motivate the Elephant
3. Shape the Path

This might sound weird but is actually easy to understand. This analogy has been used throughout the book and serves us well. When you make a change, you make someone change her behaviour. Which means you have to make her act differently. This can only happen when the her brain accepts to act in a different manner.

The brain has two sides; the emotional side (elephant) and the rational side (rider). Imagine a rider sitting atop an Elephant. Change is when the elephant and the rider move in the direction you want them to move.

The Elephant is the emotional side. It wants instant gratification. It thinks short term. When you buy a chocolate or ice cream on impulse and eat, its your emotional side in action. When you snooze your alarm at 5.30am and dont get up, blame it to your Elephant.

The rider is the rational side. It thinks long term. It analyses a problem and comes up with solutions. When you want to go on a diet from tomorrow, it is your rider in action.

A change happens only when the rider and the elephant move in the same direction. Shaping the path means making the change easy to happen. If you recommend a healthy lifestyle to your kids you are making a generic statement. What is a healthy lifestyle? There are a thousand ways to become healthy? So the rider of the kids is confused. Instead if you ask your kids to go to gym everyday and workout for 30 minutes you are giving a very clear direction and making it easier for kids to implement the change. That's what is called shaping the path.

The book goes on to explain how to direct the rider (tell the rider where to go), motivate the elephant (so that it does not oppose the rider) and shape the path so that a change can take place. The book is full of real life examples where people brought about change.

Can you change everyone?

The book does not claim that change is always easy and possible. If you want to change others you have to have a genuine reason and logic for that. Using this framework you cant make everyone change and make them to do anything.

Relevance to presentations

In most of our presentations we expect people to change or act in a manner we desire. When a salesman makes a presentation, he wants the buyer to say yes. When an entrepreneur make a presentation, he wants the investors to fund his business. In these situations, where we want to influence others, this book is of immense help.


The only two things which is not so great about this book is the length. It is a bit long (around 300 pages) and it does become repetitious at times. This can be a problem if you understand the methodology the very first time. The authors keep revisiting the methodology so that no reader is left behind and the understanding is not compromised. But given that the content is so solid, one should manage around these issues and read (and use) the book in their lives.


The book can be bought at $13.99 (Amazon Hardcover) or at Rs. 521 (flipkart paperback). It is available in Landmark stores in India at Rs. 599.

Want to know more?

Check out the book's website here. You can read the first chapter here for free (recommended if you have second thoughts about buying the book or not).

Sep 17, 2010

7 tips on how to get sponsors for your event

This is a guest post by Abhishek Gupta and a very important one. The most read post on my blog till date has been on making sponsorship proposals. While I have been exposed to sponsorship proposals as a sponsor I had been waiting for an event organiser to share his experience with us. Abhishek has successfully organised IIM Ahmedabad's largest cultural event and raised millions. (IIM Ahmedabad is the best & biggest MBA institute in India).

Although raising sponsorship money seems like any other sales process, there is a huge
difference in no existing product or service being there to sell in this case. The similarlities - Buyer is sponsor, Seller is the event organizer and Product/ service is the event. Following are a few tips on how we go about it.

Know your offering

First & foremost, believe in your product/ service! You should be
thorough in all aspects about your product/ service. What is the idea? What resources, including people & finances, required? What timelines? Past examples? You got to know all. This might sound cliched but SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) could be the most handy tool.

Identify your buyer

Although carpet bombing helps but target bombing can't be avoided.
Find out the agencies planning to enter into market or launch an IPO, as they would have extra budgets for sponsorship. Large sized agencies or agencies with lion's market share already also could be targeted as they have the moolah. Fit between your product/ service user and the buyer target segment is very important.

Know your buyer

It goes without saying that the buyer is listening to only what he/
she wants to. Sell what they buy not what you have. This involves modifying your product/service to suit the requirements or presenting it differently.

Sell & tell something extra to each

Each buyer should feel that something extra,
something innovative is being sold to him/ her. This extra/ innovative could be your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) which no one else is offering. Communicate about your effort to do something extra 'Only for You'.

Be persistent

Don't lose hopes if the first response is not encouraging. Ensure that
you have talked to senior management before taking a final no. Look out for the right hand person of the decision taker and convince him/ her first. Create levels in your organization, such that to show your seriousness to buyer you takeover from your deputy whenever needed.

Lookout for latecomers

Most of the times, 20-30% of the sponsorship comes in the last
few weeks. This is not to advocate wait & watch but just to ensure we don't close putting in our efforts a month or two before.

Leave room for negotiations

Since we approach the buyer and no particular value could
be attached to a sponsorship level, buyer would certainly want to bring down your quote. However, convince them on others buying higher and lower level at higher and lower prices respectively. In other words, make a comparative pitch.

A word of caution

Ensure that everything you talk about/ discuss/ agree is in black &
white and also look for at least 50% payment in advance.

"Know what you sell and Sell what is bought."

About the author

Abhishek Gupta organized the largest business school cultural fest, IIM Ahmedabad's Chaos in 2006 and almost single handedly took the event to new heights. He is now a Principal Consultant in Government Advisory division at Ernst & Young, Delhi. He has over 7 years experience in the consulting industry. His educational qualifications include PGDM from IIM-A and Chartered Accountancy.

Image Credits: graur codrin

Sep 13, 2010

TED Talk by David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

Here is an interesting (and very new) TED Talk by David McCandless which I discovered while randomly surfing the TED website. If you happen to be taking a break (say in office) or browsing the net just after dinner and have 20 minutes to spare, visit and click on any TED talk which you find interesting. Chances are, you won't be disappointed.

So here we go. David talks about data visualisation in his talk.

His talk is essentially very simple. I have summarised my 3 important take-aways here:

1. Data in isolation is not very meaningful. It does not reveal the total picture. You need to present data in some context. Suppose you are presenting this data; India's military budget is $ XYZ billion. This makes less sense in isolation. But once you look at it in relation to some other data point (say military budget of US) then you get a better picture. Comparison makes data more meaningful.

2. When you visualise data you see patterns and trends which were hidden till then.

3. Colours and shapes are the language of the eye. Data and numbers, the language of the brain. If we combine the two with data visualisation, we can understand and analyse better. Data visualisation brings in more clarity.

Sep 6, 2010

What is the ideal image size for PowerPoint?

Images are available in all kinds of sizes on the internet; 640x480 pixels, 800x600, 1024x768, etc. When you download images from Google or from websites like flickr, you have a wide choice. In Google you can filter your search (4 Tips to make the most of Google Image Search) by image size (large, medium, etc). While buying images from any stock images site you have the choice of various sizes. If you download an image from you are given three choices:
  • medium (640 x 425)
  • large (1024 x 681)
  • high resolution (2858 x 1900)
How do you then choose which size to download?

My experience tells me that users just Google for an image and choose the one they like. Rarely do people worry about the size. The outcome: A small resolution image when brought onto PowerPoint becomes hazy especially when you stretch it to full screen.

What is the ideal picture size for PowerPoint?
Any image size above 640 x 480 pixels is good enough for PowerPoint. The higher the resolution the better. If you stretch an image of 640 x 480, it will fit the screen and look good.

To search an image larger than 640x480 on Google try this. Go to Google Images -> type your keyword and search -> Click on 'Larger Than' (it is on the left of your screen) -> Choose 640 x 480. That's it. All the images which Google will show will be suitable for PowerPoint.

Remember: If your digital camera or your mobile camera has a resolution of even 1 megapixel, that is good enough for PowerPoint. I will discuss more on resolution in my next post.

Special Tip 
Remember that the width : height ratio of PowerPoint slide area is 4 by 3 (which is the same as 1.33 by 1). So images whose width by height ratio is 1.33 by 1 will fit in the slide area perfectly. Examples 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768. Images whose ratio is not 1.33 by 1 need to be cropped to fit the slide area completely.

Tape image: m_bartosch

Sep 3, 2010

Take The 1 minute Billboard Test and be amazed

Today I will ask you to take a test. A simple test which will take no more than 1 minute. There are no scores but there is a lot of fun. Without much ado just see the presentation below. It is better to view full screen.

RSS & email subscribers might be required to come to the blog to take the test. Do so because it is worth it. After you take the test, share your answers, comments and experiences with me by leaving a comment.

Sep 2, 2010

Can you present in your mother tongue?

This post has been written for people living in countries like India. Our mother tongue is not English but we communicate in English all the time.

Which language do you use to make presentations? English, of course. This is so obvious to us that the question might seem ridiculous. English is all pervasive in our lives. Most Indians speak their mother tongue at home but when it comes to business communication, we always speak English.

Imagine presenting in your mother tongue. Just imagine... go back to the presentation you gave last week. Would you be comfortable presenting it in your mother tongue?

I work as a marketing manager. Few months back my company launched its products in Orissa (one of the states of India whose language is Oriya). Most people in my organisation belong to a different state (Andhra Pradesh) and hence I was given the responsibility to present to the audience in Hindi (my mother tongue) because no one knew Oriya and Hindi was understood by almost everyone in the audience. The decision not to present in English was taken at the last minute and hence there was no time to prepare. The audience knew simple English but Hindi was a better choice if audience understanding had to be increased. The slides were in English and I was trying my best to talk in Hindi. I found it very awkward because I had never done so in the past. It was tough.

This situation is rare but not impossible. At times it can be better not to talk in English if your audience understands the native tongue better. If you are into sales & marketing or in training you can look at this as a better way to make your audience understand your message.

If you are faced with a similar situation the following tips can take help you deliver a good speech/presentation.

1. Practice: You are not habituated to speak in your mother tongue and hence the situation becomes very tricky. You need to practice hard. Do a complete mock run of your presentation at least 3 times and speak only in the native language. If possible, get someone to hear you speak and give feedback on your speech and body language.

2. Cocktail:
You will keep mixing English words in between your native language.This is absolutely fine as long as they are words which have no easy alternatives in your native tongue. Presenting in Hindi does not mean not using English words at all. Simple English words which your audience will understand can be freely used. Remember, the objective is to make your audience understand. That's it.

3. Slides in English only: Do not try to make the slides in your native language. It does not help. Keep content limited and keep it in English. Any good presentation ensures audience looks at you more than they look at the slides. Keep presenting in your native tongue while the slides are in English.

4. Don't read from the slides: Reading from the slides is a sin in presenting. Yet presenters keep making the mistake. It also happens because people do not remember their content. When you present in your native tongue reading from the slides will make your life even more miserable. You'll have to read from the slides and try to translate for the audience. The better way out is to prepare so well so that you need not look at the slides and read out content.

5. Share a Handout: I would strongly advise getting a handout made in the native language. Your handout will communicate your message and more (you can add detailed explanation there which you could not cover during the presentation). Your handout will ensure your audience understands your message properly and carries your message home.

If you have had any similar experience, I would like to hear from you. To share your experience or your views on this post, do leave a comment.

Image: Arvind Balaraman