The Poster Child for Ending DST...
I live in the western part of the Eastern Time Zone, which means that I will "Spring Ahead" and lose an hour of sleep this Sunday. It also means that I will be just a little more dopey than usual...for about a week.
How about you?
You'd think that at my advanced age, the beginning of Daylight Saving Time every spring would cease to phase and confuse me. Especially considering how all my computer clocks automatically change the time for me... and remind me that we've sprung forward.
Computer automation should make the time change a snap.
So why do I persist in having a poor sense of "inner timing" the week immediately following a time change? Am I the only one? For me, it's worse than jet lag. And I don't know why.
I find myself wanting that coffee a little more desperately in the morning. I've been known to show up early (or late, depending on the time of year) to standing appointments, meetings, and presentations. And marvel that in the middle of summer, it's light outside until after 10pm.
Is that really necessary? Are we really saving energy?
And do we really need to go through this twice a year? My body votes "no".
In the mean time, does anybody have any tips for me to accept the time change a little more gracefully than I have in the past?
Free Animated Easter PowerPoint Template
I heard the first robin of spring this morning...that means it's time to post a free animated Easter PowerPoint template
, complete with a fluffy yellow baby chick and blinking yellow Easter eggs that can lighten up the room.
Spring is a lovely time. Use it to hatch new ideas!
Password Protect your PowerPoint
If you are in charge of designing a PowerPoint presentation for a group, take control of the design/content process with password protection.
Let’s say a panel is going to present in Atlanta in April, and panel members are flying in from all over the world to present. You’re responsible for designing the group presentation.
When you post the PowerPoint file online for draft review, password protect it. This lets the team know that the design and its contents are not yet ready for public consumption…it’s a working draft that you want to keep confidential.
Further, PowerPoint’s password protection makes group version control much easier. Ask your team to post written descriptions of what they’d like to see changed…so that everyone knows what requests were made for version2, version 3, etc. No duplication, no wasted effort – and you maintain version control over the presentation while inspiring team collaboration.
And it’s simple to password protect your PowerPoint presentations. Here’s how:
- Go to Tools and select Options… then click on the “Security” tab.
- You have two choices: “Password to open” and “Password to modify”.
- To password protect your file for team member viewing only, select “Password to open”. Enter a password, and click “OK”.
- To disallow team members from making changes, select “Password to modify”. Enter your password, and click “OK”.
- When prompted, re-enter your passwords to confirm. Click “OK”.
- Save and close your presentation.
- Test your password protection by re-opening the file. You’ll be prompted for your password. Enter it and click “OK”.
- Next, you’ll be prompted for your “modify” password. This is where you tell your team members to click on “Read Only”. Keep your “modify” password to yourself – until the presentation is in its final version or ready to go live.
- To remove password protection at final draft stage, simply go back to the “Security” tab in Tools / Options again…and delete your passwords.
What other uses do you have for PowerPoint’s password protection feature?
PowerPoint and the Poddy Mouth
I signed up to be an audience member for a webconference. The presentation was a PowerPoint sales pitch for a fairly well known software product. I reckon there were about 30 of us listening on the phone while viewing the online PowerPoint presentation via WebEx.
I was rather taken aback when the saleswoman sprinkled mild profanity throughout her presentation. To her, it was no big deal. Now, the presenter wasn't upset about anything -- it was just part of her vernacular.
But her choice of language made me question how seriously and respectfully the company would treat me if I became a client.
And it wasn't that I was offended or shocked by her words -- believe me, I've heard far worse.
Rather, I made a connection between two thoughts:
- It is highly unprofessional for a presenter who is looking to make a positive impression to use profanity to a general business audience.
- Her language made me wonder about the wisdom of corporate management -- because profanity flowed so effortlessly from her lips, the company simply HAD to know that Ms. Poddy Mouth would spray her colorful comments all over new prospects, and make a less-than-stellar impression.
I didn't buy her product. I went with a competitor.
It's simply too risky to buy a product from a corporate culture that recklessly and needlessly risks offending its clients.
Now I'm not a prude. And yes, I use profanity myself.But I save it for special occasions and audiences.
A general business audience filled with people I don't know very well simply isn't one of those special occasions.
As the brilliant poet Ogden Nash wrote in his poem "Oh Shucks, Ma'am, I Mean Excuse Me
"...naughty words scream out like sirens
When uttered in the wrong environs."
To further quote Mr. Nash about cussing (from the same wonderful poem)
So tell me:
- ...know when to leave the stuff alone.
- ...circumstances alter cusses.
under what business circumstances is it proper to use profanity?
Email Jokes: Four Etiquette Rules for 2006
If you want to share jokes via email, please be courteous. But what does it mean to be email-joke courteous mean in 2006? Here are my four simple rules:
- Friendly only
- Funny only
- No "forwards"
- No attachments
Now, I've shared these four email etiquette rules with my friends, colleagues, and family -- but I STILL get people that think it's OK to attach a copy of a 15 mg jokey video under the guise of keeping in touch or making me laugh.
Even if it's hysterical...it's still not funny.
Truth is, I love laughing. But when I'm working, a funny email from a friend goes into my personal file for me to read at the end of the day or during the weekend. But here's a problem: those "funny" attachments prevent me from quickly getting to the emails that have actual work related attachments. A monster attachment can actually get between me and my clients.
In this 5 minute podcast, I outline the four above rules, and give listeners alternate methods of staying in touch via funny emails.
So friends: don't stop emailing me jokes: just follow the rules! And if you have rules to add (or subtract)...let me know. Use the "comment" link below to offer your feedback.
PowerPoint for PR Pros: the Streaming Media Solution
Last week's Google gaff
made one thing perfectly clear: carefully review your PowerPoint show notes before posting your PowerPoint Presentation online!
As a result of the Google goof, Investor Relations and other PR professionals will want to think a little more deeply about how they post online PowerPoint presentations... and the role streaming media can play in strengthening and safeguarding critical corporate communications.
Because let's face it: multimedia is becoming increasingly important for corporate communications. Most of your audience members have high speed connections. They have sound cards. They have iPods, mp3 players, Blackberries, and other hand held devices. They expect more sophistication from a corporate Investor Relations Department.
At a bare minimum, you can easily convert your PowerPoint presentations into rich, streaming multimedia content with narration, audio, video, graphics, animations, slide transitions and hyperlinks. This is incredibly easy to do...a few clicks of a button, and you can make your company's messages more powerful, secure, and relevant.
It's a wonder more publicly traded companies don't do this...not to mention small businesses. It's not like converting PowerPoint to streaming media is particularly difficult or expensive.
For a streaming media solution, consider a PowerPoint add-in product like impatica for PowerPoint
. A few clicks, and you can successfully transform your PowerPoint presentation into a multimedia file that can be viewed on any web browser, across multiple operating platforms...and even on many hand-held devices. The impatica interface will even upload the optimized multimedia file for you!
impatica not only optimizes and shrinks PowerPoint files for online delivery, it also preserves your transitions, audio, animations, and graphics...so that your online audience can experience the presentation the way you intended. The impatica folks offer a free 30 day trial
of their brilliant software, so that you can evaluate just how easy it is to convert PowerPoint presentations to web-optimized streaming media.
Let's learn from the Google IR mistake...and give our online audiences a better online presentation experience with optimized streaming media.Note:
I've used impatica for years, and you'll even see a testimonial (with my grinning mug) from me at this link
In his excellent blog, Seth Godin (author of the ebook "Really Bad PowerPoint") offers what I hope is facetious advice for business presentations. If you're bad at presenting, Mr. Godin suggests that you start with the Q&A.
Warning: don't do it. This approach is likely to generate audience confusion, rambling discourse, and chaos. It screams "I hardly prepared. And I can't present effectively."
Here's a better idea: if you're a bad presenter and you MUST give a presentation... learn how to be a good presenter. Join Toastmasters. Invest in continuing education.
Communication is a critical part of life: make a point of learning to present your ideas (and yourself) well.
What's in Your "Show Notes" View?
Earlier this month, Google inadvertently released financial information during its analyst day. The company mistakenly included notes from an internal strategy meeting in a PowerPoint presentation provided to analysts. Ooops!
Google tried to "undo" the damage by taking down the presentation, but by then, it was too late. Leaked news spreads fast. Stories and speculation on the leak flooded the internet.What can we learn from Google's gaff?
It may sound obvious, but here goes: never post PowerPoint presentations in their "as-is" condition. First, read the presentation
thoroughly. And remember, the slide show is not the only portion of a PowerPoint file you can read. Do not forget the show notes.Special reminder to investor relations teams:
If you absolutely must
post a PowerPoint presentation publicly, remember to write (or re-write) the show notes for your intended audience...and then convert the PowerPoint presentation to a PDF file using the show notes format.
Go beyond making PowerPoint-to-PDF conversion a mere habit: make this your corporate communication policy
. Here are two reasons why:
- The show notes can put a presentation into context for your intended audience. You can tailor your notes to more accurately describe the content of your slides. This makes the presentation more powerful.
- When you convert to PDF, the pdf file is not easily editable. This means people can't add their own commentary (or their own show notes) -- to your packaged presentation. You can control your messaging better with a pdf file than with a posted PowerPoint presentation.
For extra impact, you can even post an audio or video file to accompany the presentation. It's becoming increasingly important for investor relations departments to fully understand the impact that blogging, podcasting, and vlogging has on disseminating key company information.
Google is known as a web and tech savvy company -- so I was surprised to hear about such an obvious breach in what should be a standard online communication practice. The good news is: you can learn from their mistake. And when a technically sophisticated company like Google makes a major blunder like that, it's a good time for IR departments everywhere to review their presentation policies.
PS: (If you're in IR and your management team needs to learn more about online presentation policies and best practices: give me a jingle or drop me a line. I give compelling presentations on state of business blogging, podcasting, and online presenting for corporate communicators!)
Free Green PowerPoint Template for St. Patrick's Day
The wearing of the green for St. Patrick's Day is something of a tradition here in the midwest...and with the coming of spring, green themes abound! If you don't wear at least one green item on Saint Patrick's Day, you're likely to get sharply pinched.
So if you're giving a presentation on March 17, you will want want to win over your audience by dressing up your presentation with at least one green PowerPoint background
or template. The free Green PowerPoint template to the left is abstractly Celtic, if you don't want to go all absurdly shamrock, leprechaun, and green-beer crazy in honor of Saint Pat.
It makes me wonder: is there such a thing as a tasteful
St. Patrick's Day celebration? (Other than the corned beef and cabbage, of course!)
Fun with PowerPoint Guides
I like using PowerPoint guides to more accurately place objects, words, and graphics on my slides. Guides make designing slides easier, and I'm often surprised when people don't
If you'd like to try designing slides using guides, here are some tips to get started:
- To turn on guides, click on "View", and select "Grids and Guides..." Make sure to check "Display drawing guides onscreen".
- You now have two guides on your design screen: one horizontal and one vertical. Move them by dragging them to wherever you want them.
- If you want more than two guides, simply hold down the Ctrl key while dragging. Presto! You have another guide! Repeat until you have the number of guides you want.
- To get rid of a guide, just drag it off the slide.
- Use guides to measure distance by holding the shift key while dragging. As you drag the guide, you'll see the distance displayed in the units of your ruler.
Remember, wherever you place your guides will show up from slide to slide as you design. In this way, you can place objects consistently from slide to slide. And don't worry: when you go into presentation mode, your guides will disappear. Guides are only visible while you are in design mode.
Give PowerPoint guides a try the next time you design!