Friday, December 20, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Secrets of Self-Publishing Presentation December 19th

Are you an aspiring author looking for a publisher? 

Look no further than the closest mirror! 

I will be leading a class and discuss to help you simplify the self-publishing system, whether you’re excited about e-books or hard-nosed about hard copies. 

You’ll learn about a wide variety of author services, DIY tools and creative platforms while deciding which method of print and distribution fits your circulation aspirations. And the best part is, you’ll love who you’re working with: yourself!

This free class will be held at one of the community classrooms at Next Door Cafe in Chicago. We'll begin at 6:30p and I'm planning on leaving enough time for Q&A. Next Door Cafe is located at 659 West Diversey. 

In case you can't make this live event, I have prepared an, Self Publishing: Navigating the Process; loaded with description of service providers, tools and pages of resources. 

Available for viewing/downloading via Slideshare.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Celebrating Thanksgiving this year quietly with my family; giving thanks for so many blessing this year. 

Best wishes to you and yours.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pitch Session Evaluation: Technori Pitch Chicago (Part 2)

Last month I attended a PechaKucha Chicago and Technori Pitch both very impressive and kudos to all who stepped onto the stage with a story to tell. Both community based, with PechaKucha more entertainment versus Technori business oriented. 

My interest was in the presentation styles, the delicacies of ‘how to say it’ and ‘get to the point’.  The following observations rely heavily on my Toastmasters evaluation protocol.

See my review and 'takeaways' in my PechaKucha article. 
Technori Pitch is a monthly showcase of innovative starters, showcasing what they have just launched.
Designed to be a showcase of launching startups, Technori Pitch gathers 550 people together in Chicago, every single month, to watch as five startups launch on-stage. With a production quality that far exceeds comparable events, Pitch is designed to elevate the startup showcase to a level on-par with theater experience.
October's theme was non-profits and/or social conscious companies. Arriving a few minutes late and standing in the back while the keynote speaker, a fund manager gave her introduction about the marketplace for such investments.

Upon reviewing my notes, I began to notice a pattern:
  • Taming Your Bridge Words
  • Move Away From the Lectern
  • Graphics/Images Connect with Your Ideas
  • The "Ask"

Ah, Oh, and Um–Taming Your Bridge Words

The keynote presenter was highly educated. However, I somehow sensed that she might have been called upon at the last minute to participate and lacked adequate rehearsal/practice. And, her use of bridge or filler words ("so", "um", "ah") was extensive.

Move Away From the Lectern

Chase Auditorium, where Technori Pitch is held, has a lectern on stage; which might be a permanent fixture. Recalling it was in the same place during a taping of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" show last year. This lectern or podium was an anchor for most of the presenters throughout the Technori evening. Thus, you are standing in one spot, hugging onto the lectern and creating a barrier with your audience. Only one presenter stepped away from the lectern, expanding his space and connecting with the audience.

Graphics/Images Connect with Your Ideas

A presentation (speech or keynote address) requires planning. Period. Once you have your idea and outline, it is time to work on the slides. Writing your speech and planning the slides should you hand-in-hand. This process cannot be rushed. The rewards for all the advance planning are a clear message, confidence and an attentive audience. 

Here are a couple of things to consider when working with your designer or presentation coach with regard to graphics.
  • Refrain from downloading images from the web unless you have purchased or acquired via appropriate usage licensing. A fuzzy, blurry, out of scale image is amateurish and should be avoided.
  • Select images that best convey your idea and invoke emotion
  • Avoid using tables of numbers. Instead stay focused on a key number or outcome and display it boldly with a few words. 500,000 Acres Saved in 2013
  • Charts: Unless your writing a scientific paper, use charts simply and elegantly. Far too many presentations overload a slide with a chart, add data points, footnotes, explanations, etc. 
  • Keep it simple.

The "Ask"

Elise Zelechowski, Rebuilding Exchange, is a young female executive director operating in an industry dominated by men; she was extremely clear about how much money her organization needed and how the money would be invested/used. Clear and direct. While a few others were ambiguous or chose to rely on their financial model. 

Another method, used by Rich Johnson, Spark Ventures which connects organizations and to children in-need, he cited results already achieved and then stated, "I need your help." Explaining the breakdown of the investment (rule of 3!) to help raise children out of poverty. Sharon Schneider, Moxie Jean an e-commerce upscale resale children's clothing, also illustrated "why do I need the money?" and how the investment will be put to use.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pitch Session Evaluation: PechaKucha Chicago (Part 1)

PechaKucha vs Technori (Part 1)

Last week I attended a PechaKucha Chicago (Monday) and Technori Pitch (Tuesday) both very impressive and kudos to all who stepped onto the stage with a story to tell. Both community based, with PechaKucha more entertainment versus Technori business oriented. 

My interest was in the presentation styles, the delicacies of ‘how to say it’ and ‘get to the point’.  The following observations rely heavily on my Toastmasters evaluation protocol.

A PechaKucha (pronounced “pe-chak-cha”) is a rapid-fire presentation in which the presenter used 20 slides, each on-screen for 20 seconds. (20X20 = 400 seconds (or 6 minutes + 40 seconds)) When I say slides, I’m not referring to the slides you’d see in a business presentation. Slides for a PechaKucha are images! Images! The speaker has can either talk speak directly about each image or craft a story for the 20-slide presentation.

This month's PechaKucha was a special event, co-hosted with Chicago Tribune, held at the House of Blues. All, but two or three, of the eleven speakers were associated with the photo department of Chicago Tribune; staff photographers, freelance photographers and a photo archivist.

Overall finding: Presenters who crafted a story tended to invoke the most emotion from the audience.

Chris Walker, a foreign correspondent/photographer, told his behind-the-scenes story of war torn Somalia and meeting a bright young photographer–a young man who didn’t make it out of the country before the situation turned catastrophic.

How does an architect like Scott Rappe tell a story of buildings? He combined his passion with his community...Chicago. Incorporating illustrations like you would see in a children’s book to illustrate the evolution of city and suburban developments.“Old buildings connect us to the past just like our elders connect us to our past.” A beautiful testament for Chicago and other cities around the world.

The photo archivist/conservator, Erin Mytowski, her job is going into the “belly of beast” of the Chicago Tribune archives to catalog and digitize the glass plates and negatives of this historic institution. In 20 slides we experienced her daily descent into to the lower level of the tower into the storage vaults and a glimpse of her archival responsibilities. PLUS examples of why she does it. Including seeing: Al Capone, John Dillinger, street cars on State Street, entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and many more. Her message: preserving the past for future generations.

I could go on to describe the other presenters, including crime scene photographer Terrence James, Zbigniew Bzdak who grew up in communist Poland and broke the rules displaying his street photography publicly, or Alex Gracia’s 20 things he thought he’d never see.

Pointers for your PechaKucha 400 seconds:

  • Six minutes and forty seconds isn’t a lot of time.
  • A presentation for this format must be well planned and rehearsed.
  • Use full size, bold image images, scaled proportionately.
  • No text on your images.
  • Storyboarding is essential to be on-time and on-point.
  • Passion for the story (message) while engaging the audience.
  • Invoke emotion. 
  • Initiate action.
  • Have a sense of humor.
Participating in a PechaKucha is an opportunity to connect with community. Visit the Chicago website for upcoming events.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Autumnus" Presentation Template ~ Free

Despite my location along Lake Michigan, Chicago just doesn't have a dramatic fall color show. I commented to my husband the other day that the I missed the autumn spectacular of northern Michigan. Yes, we had to rake the leaves every weekend for six to eight weeks. The sound of leaf blowers continuously. Our mighty oak in our front yard was the last to let go of its leaves around Thanksgiving. 

I don't miss the yard the work but I sure to enjoy the splendor of the fall color palette. Thus, the inspiration for this month's free Powerpoint template. The hint of color for the interior slides is just enough for an added 'punch' of color for your content.

Just a reminder, that my Powerpoint templates are wrapped around the 12-slide structure "Universal Pitch Deck." The ebook is available, here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Repackage. Repurpose. Publish.


  • Are you consistently writing blog posts or articles about your industry?
  • Is your marketing kit filled with thought-leadership pieces?
  • Are you called upon as a 'expert' to address professional audiences?
  • Are you using a self-authored book as a key marketing tool?

A self-authored book/ebook as an instrument in your marketing strategy is as old as the hills. People have been doing it for centuries. Today is the day to turn your big pile of content into your own book.
Create. Collaborate. Publish!

In today's 'always connected' digital world, your business book serves as a platform for your ideas and expertise; building on the foundation that you are already a thought-leader in your industry. Use a book or ebook to assist with relationship building of influencers, media and higher-level clientele.

Repackage. Repurpose. Publish.

Sit down, spend the time to review all the articles or blog posts that are stored on your computer or web server. Do you notice a theme?

Let's work together with an editor to organize your articles and construct a book. Freshen up content, double checking facts and sources, adding imagery to enhance the key ideas, crafting a new introduction... and you are on your way to being a self-published author.

Create. Collaborate. Publish!

Production and distribution is now available to everyone. Period. Delivery and distribution to mobile devices has never been easier. The millions, tens-of-millions of smart devices in use today dramatically broadens your reach.

There's no need to order thousands of printed books and store them in your basement. Order what you need for promotional purposes, keeping out-of-pocket expenses within your budget.

Are you ready to publish your ebook? 

Visit the Creative Aces portfolio to learn more about publishing to the iPad or tablet.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

iAuthor: iBooks Author Workshop | Registration NOW Open

Fulfill Your Potential as a Published Author!
iAuthor: iBooks Author Workshop
Thursday, October 3, 2013, 5:30p-7p
180 N LaSalle Street (Conf Room)

Apple iBooks Author application is one of the quickest and painless paths to publishing for the iPad. This workshop with introduce you to iBooks Author's features, including: page composition, type & paragraph styles, interactive elements and dynamic content. Keeping the workshop limited to a small group provides the time and attention to guide to creating your own ebook.

This class provides a thorough explanation of using iBooks Author’s powerful features, including: page composition, typography, dynamic content and interactive elements. The class concludes with an exercise that guides you through the creation of an eBook that includes many dynamic and interactive elements. No coding required!

Create interactive and multi-touch ebooks, embedding images, movies, audio clips and inks to internet. Walk away from this hands-on workshop with the tools to create your own ebook that can be shared on any iOS/Apple mobile device (like an iPad or iPhone). Additionally, we'll cover the pathway to establish your own account so you can publush your work.

Bring Apple laptop with iBooks Author installed (available here)

  • Access to your own content: text, images, video, etc.
  • Bring iPad to view your work (or mine will be available)
 * Class size will be maximum of 10. Please email me if you're interested in upcoming classes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Movement" Free PPT Template (August 2013)

I'm looking across my desk right now and imaging sweeping my arm across the top; all the papers, business cards, sticky notes, slides and magazine articles falling eloquently into the recycle bin.  Of course, I'd be lost on Tuesday when I return after the Labor Day weekend. 
Inspired by the movement of the steel ribbons of Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry, this month's Powerpoint template injects some energy and movement into your presentation. The color scheme is reflective of the reflections that surround you when walking through Millennium Park.

Free download via Slideshare.

Just a reminder, that my Powerpoint templates are wrapped around the 12-slide structure "Universal Pitch Deck." The ebook is available, here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tap Into Tablet For Your New Portfolio

Remember the days of toting your portfolio around to various offices? Designers typically had the large black "sail" which was cumbersome and awkward. So glad we don't have to do that anymore. 

A recent appointment with a prospect was an opportunity for potential business but it was also a chance to showcase my portfolio on the iPad. The results were surprising, yet not unexpected.

Using the iPad versus a laptop or jump/flash drive turned the meeting into an interactive experience. Launching the curated and self-published ebook from the library, popping up in vivid color... right there in the palm of my hands. Letting the client take full control of the device and advancing the pages at their own speed. I incorporated a table of contents so I could quickly go to a specific section. 

While my portfolio/ebook was stored on the iPad, the conversation led to topics outside the curated content and since I have the wifi version, this did present a challenge. 

However, the potential for you as a consultant to "tap" into the capabilities of the tablet (whether it's Apple, Android, Windows or Kindle Fire) are extraordinary. A new realm of interacting with current and potential clients.

Forrester Research has some insight on business usage of tablets (link to article)
  • Globally by 2017, tablet usage overall will reach 905 million, that's 1 in 8 people on earth.
  • Company issued or bring your own device (BYOD) will become pervasive in the workplace.
  • 18% of table purchases will be by enterprises.
You may have noticed tablets being used at AT&T and other retailers, doctor offices, and even restaurants. They're here and companies are beginning to learn how to incorporate into the workplace.

We have an opportunity to examine our marketing materials, presentations, proposals, websites and direct mail campaigns from a new perspective. Ask yourself, "How can I (update) repackage the marketing kit and make it available on my tablet?"

As you ponder the question and answers, push aside the idea of a flat printed page or PDF because publishing for the tablet is far more dynamic than you've imagined.

More resources:
Six iPad Magazines That Are Changing The Publishing BusinessAnnual Report as iPad App
Nordstrom Anniversary Lookbook iPad App

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Color Mosaic" Free Presentation Template (July 2013)

"Color is to the eye what music is to the ear." 
                               - Louis Comfort Tiffany

Chicago is graced with numerous installations by Louis Comfort Tiffany Design & Decorating Studio. 

Just to name a few: Marquette Building, Macy's on State St. (fka Marshall Field & Co.), Palmer House Hilton and Chicago Cultural Center. The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is hosting an exhibition this fall that will feature sixty works by Tiffany and associates, visit the Driehaus Museum website for more information.

Today, I'm celebrating being certified for the Historic North Loop Tour, in which treasures like those mentioned above are a big part of the tour give by Chicago Architecture Foundation

Beginning this month, I'm applying my design to the Universal Pitch Deck format. Remember this my "ultimate 12-slide structure for any presentation" which I wasn't implementing on previous templates. Thus the master designer was the inspiration for this month's {free} presentation template. Download via the SlideShare link below.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to Use Right-facing Pages to Your Advantage

This year’s Printers Row Lit Fest was an opportunity to talk with several self publishing entrepreneurs or authors/artists. Bravo to all who have made this journey!

We bought books from two indie/self publishers at the Lit Fest; both books are image intensive. One photographic the other illustrative. However, one noticeable difference was the placement of (single) page images.

The book designer of the illustrative book failed to recognize that the artist’s illustrations should have been on right-facing page.

The right-facing page in ANY [printed] book or publication is the most valuable space. Our eye is naturally drawn to the right-facing page. Turn the page of a book or magazine, the physical action of turning the page reveals the right-facing page first. (Except for some cultures who’s written orientation may be different.)

Using the right-facing page to your advantage
Exhibit A: Image on left.

The illustrated book failed to create a proper title page for each section; placing the illustrations on left-facing page with no designated chapter page. The artist’s illustrations the showcase of the book.

In contrast to the coffee-table book which created a spread. Using both left and right pages to designate a new chapter.
Exhibit B: Shift the image to the right.
The noted difference between these two book designers is a designer who clearly understands foundational strategies to creating a reader-centric experience.

Exhibit C: Ideal page spread introducing a chapter or section

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Art Deco" Free PPT Template

In celebration of the Century of Progress Exposition which opened May 27, 1933 in Chicago which has come to symbolize the future of our country in the midst of global economic and political turmoil. 

This FREE Powerpoint template celebrates the bright colors and geometric shapes popular during the 1930s.

Art Deco can be interpreted as the 'bridge' between the hand craftsmanship of the early 20th century and the mass production of the machine age following World War II.  The juxtaposition of rectilinear and geometric shapes alongside highly stylized forms of nature remains fresh and bold.  Chicago's abundant art deco buildings continues to amaze: Chicago Board of Trade, Bank of America (Field Bldg), Palmolive (Playboy), 333 North Michigan Ave and many more. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Perfect Practice, Makes Perfection"

(Corrected) Wednesday May 22 is National Musical Instrument Day.

I am surrounded by the musically inclined. Bass. Guitar. Violin. Piano.

I have attended numerous lessons, recitals, performance tests and events. 

I am not a musician. I wholeheartedly embrace musical study and play for all children (and adults). 

Both of my daughters have learned to play an instrument and acquired the appreciation of additional instruments. Learning to read (and write) music has been extremely beneficial to their academic successes; as well as the discipline of practice. Everyday. 

My husband picked up the bow and bass after decades and practices everyday. 

Have I tired of hearing the same songs over and over again? Yes. However, the reward lies in their individual achievements of excellence and the appreciation of music and those who invest in their craft. Observing and encouraging my children to play a musical instrument has reminded me of the discipline and passion that we should apply to any aspect of our growth.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring Celebration 10% Discount New Projects

For the third year in a row, I am offering a discount on creative services. 

Ten percent off new projects (please no updates to previous projects) now through June 28, 2013.

For more information, visit: Spring Celebration

Spring is undoubtedly my favorite season. When spring arrives, there are numerous celebrations in my family including four birthdays, mother & father days, and this year another high school graduation.
  • Have you been thinking about launching that ebook?
  • Catch the newest trend... proposal and pitch deck.
  • Is your pitch/presentation deck in need of a new look?

Reach out to me today so we can discuss your project and get started NOW.

One of my client's recently said the following about their proposal-as-pitch deck.
"A visually-elevated and professional presentation of our company to prospective clients, receiving positive feedback and {serious} interest in our services."
Tyler B.
Sr. VP Global Sales

Monday, May 13, 2013

UP Lincoln Park Style

Woke this morning to a few of these outside my window... 

Photo by Dominic R. Sondy

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stock Images: A Double Edge Sword

Last week I received the following pieces of mail: a über large postcard for hearing devices and the neighborhood coupon booklet. Each of these arrived the same day. 

Take a look at the handsome couple. The same two people! My neighbors in the elevator must have thought I was nuts listening to me laugh. 

What are the chances that a designer would select the SAME couple for their layout and those unrelated pieces of direct mail would land in my mailbox on the SAME day?

I use stock photos and illustrations for my clients, I do prefer custom photography but most of the time the budget just doesn't allow me to hire a professional photographer or illustrator.  I dig deep into a search, using key words appropriate for the project/message and attempt to avoid the most popular or downloaded images.

How do you handle your image searches to avoid this situation?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lilacs Are Blooming! Free PPT Template

Happy Earth Day!

Lilac shrubs lined the perimeter of the backyard of my childhood home. The lilacs were the envy and delight of our neighbors during the springtime. Large bouquets would adore our house. And we would gladly share with neighborhood ladies on Mother's Day.  That seemed so long ago.

Today, I enjoy the lilac shrubs (trees) in Lincoln Park. Unfortunately, I can't cut any and bring them home but I can stop to enjoy their aroma. 

Thus was the inspiration for this month's {free} presentation template. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cover Design: Why It Matters.

Mon. April 15, 2013 Update: I saw this article from New York Times "T" Magazine, with "an illuminating cross section of 83 years of book design" for F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."  


We DO judge a book by its cover. 

Sad, but true.

The cover is an invitation to "enter" the publication.

The most important sales tool at your disposal is the cover of your book (ebook, white paper, presentation, annual report). Make it noteworthy! 

Your cover design should be approached with the same mindset used by product marketing and creative teams. Product packaging drives purchasing decisions for the thousands of products on the market. A book is a product. The cover will be judged as an indication of the quality of the content.

Good, think GREAT, cover design will make you linger, soaking up the imagery, type and layout. You may even run you hand slowly across the cover. Even in our digital world, pausing ever so slightly to enjoy a cover design and when interactivity is added... it's still tactile. 

While cover design varies from business-to-business (B2B) versus consumer (B2C); the end result is still the same. It MOTIVATES.

Check out Chip Kidd's TED Talk "Designing books is no laughing matter. OK. It is."

Below are a few guidelines that can help differentiate your cover.

  • Kindle Interest: The cover is the reaction to "tell me more." It's the invitation to enter, learn more, travel to new places, explore ideas, etc. Good cover design requires research and study. Testing structure, placement of elements, image selections, fonts and color palette. 
  • Identifies With Your Audience: Understanding your target audience and sharing that profile with your designer is imperative. Your designer will develop concepts that should appeal to your audience.
  • Visual Overview: Is the cover a reflection of the theme? It doesn't matter if we're selling our company's features and/or benefits or telling a fictional story; the cover of the publication should be a visual overview.
  • Convey An Idea (Emotion): The cover should be more than an afterthought to package the contents. It should be the forethought. Sparking the motivation to turn the cover is how we get to the "tell me more" motivation.
  • Make It "Top Drawer": The accessibility to do-it-yourself is everywhere and we recognize the work of a true professional. As a minimum, invest in a professionally designed cover. After all... it will be your primary marketing tool for your book or publication.

Reference links:

Creative Blog 10 Imaginative Annual Report Designs

New York Times Favorite Cover Design of 2012

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Storytelling ~ It's In Our DNA

We’ve all been hearing the word “storytelling” in marketing and social media conversation quite frequently these days.  I'm baffled why this seems to be the latest fad. After all isn't storytelling in our DNA?

For those of us who have worked in marketing, public relations and advertising, we’ve been crafting and delivering those “stories” for a {very} long time.
  • Key messaging
  •  Investment appeals
  •  Call to action
  •  Crisis communication
  •  Competitive analysis
  •  Market overview
  •  Benefits of service(s)
  •  Long-term strategy
  •  Case studies
  •  Testimonials
I don’t claim to be a writer but I do draw upon my experience of formatting and designing “stories” for senior level management, events, non-profits, and start-ups for a variety of audiences.  Nothing new, mankind has been communicating with imagery for thousands of years.

More than 10 million Google results are listed when you search “storytelling for business." I love the lead from a prominent social media blogger, “In storytelling for business, you want your reader to take action.”  Drop the word “storytelling” and we’re back to the principles of a communications strategy.  This is where all my copywriting colleagues should be standing on top of their desks, raising their hand with a big “OH YEAH!”

Technology is Today’s Campfire
A few months ago I was in the audience listening to a Chicago Tribune photographer talk about visual storytelling in today’s über-connected environment. Assimilating technology to the time when we sat around the campfire and told stories from one generation to the next. I wonder if YouTube, Facebook or Twitter will be considered this generation’s “campfire.”

There exists, I believe, a hunger for authenticity when technology lacks warmth. As usage of mobile devices, apps and gadgets increases rapidly, stories like the unemployed college grad who made a small fortune self-publishing her books are eaten up like jelly beans on Easter morning. Or, a YouTube video going viral in a matter of hours.

I find unspoken power of marketing and communications in combining images and text to tell a story. 

Effective visuals derived from these five core principles: archetype, face, experimental, emotion and shock. 

The most widely used being archetypical and emotional imagery.

Storytelling for business has a similar structure to that of fiction. (Figure)

What story are we crafting today? I hope it’s one where I/we get to dig deep into the photo archive.

PS: I’m also diving into “visual storytelling” and how we can craft messages and allegories with imagery.  
Here’s a reference from My Modern Met, (may not be NSFW).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Goodbye Posterous, Hello Blogger

Posterous is shutting down April 30th!

I've been with the platform for several years and used it for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I despise Wordpress. Which has become a spammers playground. I must receive a half dozen spammy comments per day; funny thing... I turned off comments.

Switch to What?
I toyed with the thought of joining Tumblr, however, my 14 year old pleaded with me NOT to move my blogging to Tumblr.  OK. 

Blogger here I come.  I find I'm using the Google applications more and more, so this was a logical choice. I'll get the design and structure set up once I get all my content moved over.  

PS: the back up and import option was a total fail for me. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Clean Your Presentations :: Free Template

The weather report is forecasting nine inches of snow for Chicago, I hope you'll be spared.  Regardless, Spring is just around the corner and there's no better time to clean up your presentation and/or marketing materials. This month's free presentation template is just the cure!

Quick fix solutions to improve your presentation:
  • Remove/reduce the affects applied to type.
  • Don't overwork the type with colors, and AVOID WORD ART.
  • Select bullet symbols and keep it neat, avoiding picture-based bullets.
  • Reduce the amount of text on every slide, the focus is your speech.
  • Purchase quality stock images that represent your brand/company and build your own library.
  • Graphics should fill the screen, not be a postage stamp.
  • Simplify charts/graphs to essential data, building a series, if needed, to emphasize a complex idea.
Remember, they came to hear/see YOU speak, not have the slides read to them. This also applies to web-based presentations. The presentation is the backdrop to re-enforce your message. Offer to give or send a whitepaper, e-book or marketing kit in your followup.

Free Powerpoint template, available for download and immediate use.

Crafting Your Investor Pitch :: Marketing Decks for Small Business

We're all aware of the limited time we have to grab someone's attention; 1-2 seconds for a headline, 4-6 minutes for a blog post, 10-15 minutes for a pitch.

Wow! I'm guilty. Using aggragators to tag items for reading later, scanning my inbox for relevant/need-to-know now emails, and jumping off webinars once the presenter begins reading the slide content.

Have you ever been to a Pecha Kucha (or similar) event? 20 SLIDES x 20 SECONDS EACH. Each presenter has ~ 5 minutes. It's fast-paced and differentiates those with a passion for their story and the discipline of practice. This is ToastMasters on steroids!

In my previous "deck", I outlined a 12-slide structure, Universal Pitch Deck that can be adapted for any {business} presentation. A keep-it-simple outline to help you focus your content.

My most recent "deck" contains common sense tips for planning and preparing your pitch deck. 
  1. Keep in mind that investors see/hear A LOT OF PITCHES
  2. Get to the point, be clear and concise.

More presentation/pitch resources:

Another day to find activities to keep my 14 year-old occupied while teachers and school board continue negotiations here in Chicago.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Quality Trumps Quantity

Welcome to the New Year!

Scripting a speech is hard work. 
My compliments all the writers I know who craft content for {numerous} presentations and speeches. 

I’m currently working on a 5-7 minute Toastmasters’ speech to be delivered at our next meeting. During early practice sessions, I was so hung up on trying to tell EVERYTHING I knew about my subject. It wasn’t working and lacked enthusiasm.

Cut, Cut Some More
I made the decision to cut major portions of my speech, eliminating the statistics my audience could find on Wikipedia. Focusing my attention on telling a story... the backstories, anecdotes and complementary stories that add deeper meaning.  

Soaring Heights and Stopwatches
My subject is the Willis Tower (originally Sears Tower) -- an imposing topic for anyone. But, as a docent, I knew I could weave the essential information into interesting stories to keep my audience engaged. I didn’t want to waste precious minutes reciting extensive statistics. 

Quality Trumps Quantity
I chose to put together a brief fact sheet as a handout. (BTW, we meet in Willis Tower, so my overall presentation requires a special touch.) Once I decided to curate some of the information, the stories came to together, naturally. A stronger and hopefully more interesting speech with less “text.”

“I’m redesigning my website and it will have “lots of copy.” I’ve heard this repeatedly the past few months. Using massive amounts of text/copy to improve search engine optimization is a misconception. It’s like pressing the elevator button repeatedly, hoping the doors will close before your boss steps forward.

Focus on the quality of your content and how it relates to the overall keyword strategy of/for your website or article. 

It’s time to escort the myth about using more text (quantity) directly out the door.