A small business e-commerce website owner asked me for a site review.
At first glance, anyone might say, "Wow! Gorgeous! What a beautiful, rich design!"
But there is a huge problem with this lush, design-heavy, utterly beautiful presentation.
No one is buying anything.
And that's the problem when you build anything with mere "beauty" in mind:
Beauty alone is shallow. (Any 8th grade girl knows that!)
Beauty may initially attract attention. . . but beauty alone does not help anyone deepen a personal, audience, or customer relationship.
The hyper-focus on stunning design is a classic blunder I have seen repeated by countless new internet entrepreneurs, ad agencies, and business presenters.
So what's better than beauty?
For starters: a winning personality. Confidence. Competence. Talent. (Any 9th grader knows this, too.)
Of course, it's nice to be beautiful on top of being charming, talented, and/or competent. But it's not necessary for success. Take a look at the Top 500 most popular websites in the world (according to Alexa.) How many design awards or beauty contests do you think these websites would win?
Life lesson, learned by age 11. If you focus on beauty before you focus on the core values that really matter, you are going to be disappointed with the quality of your relationships (be it audience, customer, friends, or family.)
But here's the thing: Paul makes his living as a web marketing guru and speaker.
So why the chef's get-up?
I called Mr. Gibler to ask him for the inspiration behind his "web chef" persona.
"Well, I like to cook," said Paul. "And I look at the web like cooking. You need creativity, an effective recipe, great visual display, good taste -- all those things."
But what's more, Paul said that while people might remember your name, they are more likely to remember visual cues.
And let's face it: an internet marketing consultant wearing a chef's hat is certainly going to stand out and be memorable! Plus, Paul's outfit underscores his presentation's key metaphors and "get cooking" themes.
So let me ask you this: what do you wear when you give a presentation? And how might your costume enhance your content and delivery?
PS - Mr. Gibler also offers web visitors a presentation resource guide in ebook form - a handy, 7 page pdf guide that you can download for free! Go check out his blog, download his free guide, and enjoy "great taste!"
What is more inspirational than a profound quotation from a great creative or intellectual soul? How many times do you pepper a presentation with a pithy quote? And what visual techniques do you use to make your quotation stand out -- or blend in -- with the flow of your PowerPoint presentation?
Yes, terrific graphics -- photos and images -- also make for visually compelling and inspirational slides. But inspirational PowerPoint slides frequently contain great words -- headlines and quotations -- as well as graphics.
And what about sound and music: what kind of songs inspire your audience?
Thanksgiving is more than a feast for the palate, noses, and eyes. According to American novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder:
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
When you are presenting or performing, it is a wonderful opportunity to be conscious and alive and aware of the moment, to focus intently on every detail of the here and now. Presenting and performing are particularly passionate moments: a time to treasure.
Perhaps that is why so many folks are afraid of speaking in public. It's not necessarily self-consciousness that causes panic; it could very well be consciousness.
One of the books on my night stand is "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. In it, Tolle writes (and I am paraphrasing) that most human beings are seriously mentally ill because we let our minds live in the past or in the future, instead of guiding our consciousness into truly noticing and appreciating what we have in the present moment.
Of all the things in the universe you could be doing right now, you are reading these very words.
So it could be that this is a message from the universe, intended especially for you.
Be thankful for this moment, for this very here and now.
When I think of hearts, I think of Valentine's Day. So why would anyone want a heart PowerPoint template in October and November?
I must be daft. The list is long.
David Byrne (I Heart PowerPoint, anyone?)
Anyway, it turns out that funny Valentine-heart PowerPoint romance is a year round phenomenon. Why give your sweetheart a card for her anniversary, when you can use PowerPoint to stand and deliver your sentiment?
When it comes to PowerPoint presentations, what if less really is more?
Maxwell Cooter suggests that this is so in his article at Techworld, where he proclaims that the MS people seem v. proud of all the nifty new features in PowerPoint 2007. But Mr. Cooter worries that PowerPoint is not responsible for most poor presentations.
In fact, more whiz-bang features could indeed be problematic.
More features and a more complex interface might encourage yet more sloppy thinking -- which goes to the very heart of many poor business presentations.
What improvements / disasters will 2007 really yield?
Wow. A new online service called Slideshare is positioning itself to become the YouTube of PowerPoint presentations. I just uploaded a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation as a test, and 39 seconds later, my presentation was available for online sharing.
That was easy.
And it is also free to sign up and store your under 20 MB PowerPoint file.
If free and easy is not impressive enough for you, the Slideshare Beta also offers a hefty array of viral sharing tools. You can point to your presentation through email, Digg the slideshow, save to favorites, offer html links to your presentation from your site, or even embed your show directly into your blog post. (See below.)
How are services like Slideshare going to change the way you share presentations over the next year?
Think about it: why send PowerPoint presentations through email, when you can point to them online? Why clog up your site's bandwidth, when Slideshare is happy to host your content?
And why not use powerful viral marketing tools to create more awareness for your PowerPoint message?
While Slideshare is still in Beta, it is still very impressive. And the viral implications of its business model cannot be ignored.
Most of the time, I strongly dislike the little logo in the lower right hand corner that you see on so many corporate PowerPoint background templates. And I especially dislike little logos that you see in the lower right hand corner when you watch TV programs.
Here are two situation where I particularly dislike seeing little logos:
I dislike them when I see a presenter speak, and she is using a front-projection system. As she stood on stage, her corporate logo was unwittingly emblazoned on her chest about 75% of the time.
I dislike them when I watch TV, and the little logo suddenly morphs into a full-fledged animation that takes over about 25% of the screen real estate. Similarly, I don't like it when the logo otherwise blocks a significant part of the on-screen content.
Distracting, those little logos. Not really clever marketing, more of a thoughtless "we're slapping our logo on everything we produce, and we'll call it branding."
But there are two situations when I like the little logo in the lower right hand corner:
I like the logo when I am in a hotel room in a strange city. As I flip the channels on the TV remote, I can understand rather quickly which channel or network product I am viewing.
I like the logo when I am online, and I am watching a PowerPoint presentation out of context -- when the presentation is on YouTube or SlideShare, for example, and I want to know who originally produced the content so that I can visit the creator's website.
As syndicated content explodes online in the coming years, expect to see more little logos embedded into video and PowerPoint. Until someone has a much better idea, the little logo is a part of our communication evolution, I suppose.
Until the better idea arrives, could we at least agree to keep the little logos a tad more subtle?
Watermarks are less distracting than a four color job or a logo that suddenly bursts into flames and spins around the screen.
There is enormous power in subtlety. Learn to harness it effectively.
Reign in the idea that an exploding logo has more power and deserves more weight than the actual presentation content!