Jan 31, 2012

Have no text at the bottom of the slide

Yesterday I conducted a presentations workshop in Pune. It was a workshop on basics of presentations to under graduate students from all over India and was held as part of Sympulse, the annual management fest at Symbiosis Center for Management Studies UG. The workshop was successful and I too enjoyed a lot.

While I will write about the workshop and what I taught there in future posts. This post is about a simple feedback I received from two students. A lot of my slides had text at the bottom and this was getting difficult to read for students at the back (especially if a slightly taller person was sitting on their front). Here is a sample:
The lesson for all my future presentations is simple: Have no text at the bottom of the slide.

Jan 18, 2012

3 years of All About Presentations

On January 14, 2012 All About Presentations completed three years of existence. I had started the blog after I quit my job and decided to become a full time communications consultant. My business plan was to help companies and people make better presentations. While the consultant thing did not work out, the blog rolls on.

These three years have been great for me. This blog was started out as a means to increase my own understanding of presentations and share what I knew with my readers. The objective has been fulfilled. Before starting the blog, I was good at presentations but I did not know what made me so. I just loved making presentations. In these three years, I have studied about presentations, read other peoples' blogs, read books and watched so many presentations (TED, Ignite, slideshare). My understanding about presentations has grown leaps and bounds. There is still a lot to learn and I am still only a few miles into the long journey. The good thing is, I am moving.

The blog has taken a lot from me. A lot of time (from my personal life, ofcourse). I have worked several late nights to make sure my posts go as scheduled. Since I have given a lot to it, what have I got back?

Recognition, confidence, a chance to interact with presentation experts from all over the world, a chance to interact with so many readers and a chance to make a small difference to someone's life somewhere. I guess I cant ask for more.

If you are reading this and have a desire to start a blog, do it NOW. The best time is now. If you want to learn more about something, starting a blog on THAT VERY topic is a great thing to do. When you need to write about a topic, you will end up reading more about the topic. As a student you learn but as a teacher you learn much more.

Jan 17, 2012

Survey on Presentations: Your 2 minutes will help

I am conducting a workshop on 'making awesome presentations' and need you to answer just 8 questions. These will give me good inputs for my upcoming workshop. The results of the survey will be shared in a week's time. Thanks in advance.
Here is the link
Click here

Jan 11, 2012

Logo Contest: Design & win a Mac Book Pro

Micromax Mobiles, India's 3rd largest mobile phone maker, is inviting entries for designing a new logo for the brand. You need to upload your logo in JPG format by February 6, 2012. For more rules, terms and conditions click hereThe brief is as follows:

The logo must have the following:
"The brand – Micromax mobile with more weightage on micromax the tagline – nothing like anything. Creating a new entity ‘m’ – which can also be used without the rest of the logo to communicate the brand is ideal. The Nike swoosh or the Mc Donald’s golden arch are good examples to think about while creating a mnemonic.
The brand stands for Innovations that blow your mind so the logo should reflect the brand's personality i.e. Young, Innovative, Audacious, Outgoing, Dynamic, Fluid & Energetic with an International appeal."

Even if you are not a professional graphic designer, you must take a shot. Unless you try you never know. Best wishes.

Jan 8, 2012

PowerPoint Disaster: Sample Slides

A few days back I received a PPT from a leading market research agency in India. Being a presentations blogger, I critically evaluate every presentation I get. This is part of my job you can say. This PPT had so many drawbacks that it merits a dedicated blog post. "How not to make your slides." The problem was with the slides. The look and feel of it. How easy was it to understand and how 'polished' it looked. I am not commenting on the message and text.

If senior managers in India's top research agencies are making such slides, I am concerned how are other people faring. This needs to change. I am going to pick 3 slides from this presentation, change its content to maintain privacy and show you what went wrong. DO NOT READ THE CONTENT of these slides. I have typed some random words. What we are looking these slides for is the design.

Here is the opening slide

This slide was the first to hit me. The slide is badly organised. The image is pixellated (you can see the dots), the text is not aligned and the overall feel is bad. Puts you off as soon as you open the PPT.

Here is another slide

The problem with this flow chart is that it looks ugly and is tough to follow because the arrows are very thin and the arrow headers are almost invisible. The flow of a flow chart needs to be simple to comprehend. Moreover, the different colours and sizes of rectangles create a complex image. When slides are emailed and no one is there to personally explain what's happening, the simplicity of content matters more.

Here is the last one

This one beats me. What on Earth is this visual? Is this a simple arrow which goes up (depicting levels) or is it a mountain falling down? This is a classic.

I understand that slide design is just one aspect of a successful presentation and that message is more important than slide design. But if the packaging of your product is ugly, the product itself will look bad. Is it not?

Jan 5, 2012

Attention Designers: The 10 Collection is here

fotolia, a stock images website, is coming up with an innovative concept. It is called 10 Collection. It is meant for designers (amateur or professional) who use Adobe Photoshop. I use Photoshop for image editing and anyone who has ever dabbled in Photoshop should find it useful.

What is 10 Collection?
As per fotolia, "The ten collection is a unique and original project that promotes digital art to the design community with an emphasis on education. Designers will be able to download a free PSD layers file, allowing them a rare and deep look into the techniques of a top digital artist."

Sound nice!

This is a 10 month long project where every month one designer will share his composition and also share the PSD file (made in Photoshop) for free. This project starts January 10th and ends October 10th. The updates will happen on the 10th of every month.

To know more check out their website. This project promises a lot of action, we'll have to wait and see what's in store.

Jan 4, 2012

School Event Sponsorship Proposal: A Sample Case Study

Yesterday I received a sponsorship proposal from a school which is organising its annual day function in February 2012. I am a marketing manager and the school wants my company to sponsor the event. I cannot share the slides with you, but I can definitely share the overview of the presentation. If you too are making a similar presentation, you have something to learn here.

Slide 1 has the agenda of the presentation

Basic details of the annual day
Slide 2 talks about what the event is all about. When and where is the event.

Recap of last year's event
How many participants came last year and some images of the event shared.

Overview of the event
The annual day has four events; cultural event, competition for kids, kids carnival and stalls (food, knowledge and fun)

Competition details
What are the various contests for various age groups.

The pavilion has food stalls, education stalls and other kinds of stalls.

Parents will come along with their children. In all 20,000 people are expected to come.

Sponsor benefits
Build awareness about your brand, connect with consumers, gather market research, etc.

Media plan
How the event will be promoted using radio and press advertisements.

Brand visibility
The sponsor will have his/her brand logo on the stage backdrop. It can organise a customised contest around the brand. It can sponsor the gift hamper bags and have a logo on them.

Social side of the event
The school is associated with an NGO.

Thanks (Slide 13)
Contact details.

I have tried to critically evaluate the PPT and will explore what could have been added and what needs to be avoided. First, the good part.

What is good?

  1. The presentation is crisp and has 13 slides only. It does not go on and on.
  2. The key message of every slide has been summarised in one statement at the end of the slide. After we have read the slide, the essence is being captured by one line at the end.
Every sponsor has various questions in their mind which a presentation needs to address. Here is the list as I can see:

Q1. What is the event? (Event details)
Q2. Who is going to come for the event? (Audience)
Q3. What will make them come to the event? (Event promotion)
Q4. How will I target the audience at the event? (Branding options)
Q5. Why should I sponsor the event? (Benefit)
Q6. Who is the organiser? Will they deliver on their promise and organise it well? (Credentials)
Q7. Who else is sponsoring the event? (Social influence)
Q8. What is the cost? Is it justified? (Cost Benefit analysis)

You can read in more depth about these points and more by reading my old posts here and here.

What could have been better?

This presentation addresses all questions except  6, 7, 8 and it also is weaker on Q4 and 5. Let us address this one by one. Q6 is about the organisers and their quality of execution. How can the presentation convince the sponsor about the quality of execution? The best way can be share pictures and videos of last years event. The images shared in this presentation are very few and very low resolution. Another good idea is to attach a testimonial from last years sponsor.

Q7 is important when you approach a sponsor for the first time. The sponsor wants to be sure he/she is not  alone. There are other people betting on the same event. This is the power of social influence. If other companies are sponsoring the event, then it must be something useful. It helps the marketing manager to justify the decision internally.

Q8 is about sharing the cost and convincing the sponsor that it is a fair cost. This can be avoided in a PPT and it is better shared in person.

Q4 and 5 are crucial. What benefit does the sponsor get? This presentations talks about the macro ideas; the brand can interact with the consumer, do market research, get sales and things like that. While this is good, the details are missing. The presentation also talks about branding options for the sponsor. The logo on stage and on gift hamper bags. If we create a dummy image with the actual logo of sponsor on the bags and backdrop it will be easy to visualise.

In my view, even the NGO slide is redundant. The school supports an NGO does not mean I should sponsor their annual day.

There is one last tip, which is tough to follow but yields good results. Call the sponsor and understand the needs of the brand before sharing your PPT. A company sponsors an event because it is of some benefit to them. Either they are aiming to sell their products or increase awareness or conduct market research or supporting a cause. Once you know the motivation and the needs of the brand, you can customise the presentation and sound more appealing.

Image credit: photostock

Jan 1, 2012

Re-cap 2011, Welcome 2012

A year just passed by and it is a wise thing to look back both personally and professionally.

I am a marketing manager by profession and I work for an edible oils company in Hyderabad, India. I handle all brand building initiatives for my company. My brand Freedom had a great year (better than expected). I expect a better year ahead.  I upgraded my marketing knowledge through a few good books:

Media Planning and Buying by Arpita Menon
Brand Failures by Matt Haig
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Nudge by Richard Thaler

I wish to read more. Possibly 20 books this year.

My blog completes 3 years on January 14, 2012. Last year I wrote very selectively. I guess a point comes wherein you have covered most topics and now the focus needs to shift from 'writing about newer topics' to 'writing in-depth about stuff that matters more'. The agenda for 2012 is to focus on the basics and write more in-depth.

Last year was special because I became the first speaker at my city's 1st Ignite event. Check out my slides here and my talk here. Here is what I wrote about the preparation. I also read three great books which helped me as a presenter:

How to lie with statistics by Darrel Huff (shared on the blog earlier)
The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams (shared a free e-book earlier)
The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam (shared on the blog)

The readership (RSS readers + email subscribers) on the blog saw a 60% increase last year and I am delighted about it. Very soon the blog should hit the 1000 subscribers mark. The monthly page views on the blog also saw a huge jump of 135%. From 1528 page views every week in 2010 the blog now has 3588 page views every week. I am delighted to share that the blog is growing by the day. Thank you friends.

Last year I received a lot of emails from my readers. Most I answered but some got missed out. Continue to write and I will try my best to reply all.

That's all for now. Stay tuned. Wish you a very Happy and fun-filled New Year.

Source: Evgeni Dinev