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Do you spend three or more hours most weeks creating and modifying Power Point decks? If so, I found something you really need: a short workshop that will reduce the amount of time you spend creating and modifying Power Point decks by two thirds. Really. For every three hours you spend now, you will probably spend no more than one hour, and your decks will look more professional. Taylor Croonquist of Nuts and Bolts Speed Training has created an on-line “watch and do” workshop that shows you how to do that.

Full disclosure: Taylor reached out to me and asked me to review his workshop so I did not have to pay the $98 for the course. But the course was well worth the list price. Wish I had taken it years ago.

The workshop is designed around the 2013 version of PowerPoint for Windows, although most of his techniques work on 2007 and 2010. Mac users cannot use many of Taylor’s techniques directly, although I think the workshop is worth the price even for them. Many of the ideas Taylor demonstrates work for the Mac version of PowerPoint, you just won’t get the full speed benefit. I ran much of the workshop in parallel with a Windows 2010 and Mac 2011 version up simultaneously. I spent about six hours going through the workshop, following along with Taylor on my Windows machine and often also on my Mac. I’m already using many of the tricks and techniques.

His main concentrations:

  • Use the keyboard instead of the mouse. The majority of the speed changes come from the simple fact that you can type a couple of characters a lot faster than you can pick up the mouse, find what you want, click or drag or whatever, and get your hand back on the keyboard. Aargh, you think, I have to remember a whole series of chords. Remember Word Perfect? Taylor has a very well thought out way to configure your PowerPoint environment to virtually eliminate the need to remember chords; you just need a few common points about how alt and control keys work that you probably already know. Everything else is on the screen. You will get a significant speed improvement immediately, and as your muscle memory becomes established it will all quickly become automatic.
  • Format an object once. Reuse it often.
  • Align everything perfectly. When you look at a slide and it does not look “right” it is probably because elements are not properly aligned. It can be a pain to get things to align right, but Taylor shows you how to do it perfectly and quickly. Your slides will stand out largely because misaligned objects will not distract from your message.
  • Use connectors correctly. Taylor shows you how to quickly set up even complex connector lines that are easy to maintain as your deck changes over time.
  • Take advantage of Ninja lines. Don’t look for them in your Excel help file. Ninja lines are just what they sound like: they appear out of the dark, do something magical, then disappear. Got a tough alignment problem? Call in the Ninjas.

Remember that every deck you create will probably go through a series of updates. Taylor emphasizes how to create each slide so that it can easily be updated over time, and how to take someone else’s messed up deck and quickly get it properly aligned and easy to maintain.

The user-interface of the course is quite intuitive and effective. Taylor is fun to listen to, even for a multiple hour stretch. He has a lot of enthusiasm for doing PowerPoint quickly while achieving professional results.

I strongly recommend this workshop. It will reduce your frustration with PowerPoint, and your managers and co-workers who constantly suggest “minor” changes, while giving you more time to do the important things.

Even after taking the workshop, you can still create a bad slide deck. It will look professional, and you will have done it in in one third of the time, but it will still be awful. Check out my earlier post on My Favorite PowerPoint Tips.

The last word:

I hope you had a Happy Independence Day celebration, waved a few flags, thanked a few vets, ate a few burgers and hot dogs, and “ah”d at some great fireworks. We don’t live in a perfect country, but we live in a great country. There is no other country I would rather live in. It was worth fighting and dying to create it, and periodically we have to fight and die to keep it great and free.

Comments solicited.

Keep your sense of humor.

Walt.

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A few months ago I participated in a phone interview role playing session.  One at a time participants went to another room and called in for a job phone interview with a professional interviewer.  Those of us remaining in the room would then critique the conversation.  Because I had been on the other side of the desk I was asked to talk about the process from the interviewer’s perspective.  As I have been growing my own business, I realize that those same techniques work not only for a job interview but also for a project interview for a consultant.  Often your first real contact with a potential customer is over the phone, and the same opportunities and issues occur.  In both cases you are selling yourself.

Here are some things to think about when you are preparing and while on the phone.

You and I (the interviewer) have different goals.  You clearly are qualified, and I need to make a decision on whether to continue to consider you for the position or project.  In reality, my goal is to eliminate you.  I have other candidates who are just as good, at least on paper.  This process takes time from my real job, and I really don’t like to interview any more than you do.

I really don’t care about your weekend or what you do in your spare time.  I want to know how you will help me.  If this is for employment, I will ask you why you left your last job.  In any case I will ask about what you are most proud of, and I will ask you to tell me about a time when the wheels came off.  How did you handle it, how did you try to get thinks back on track, and did you succeed.  I don’t care whose fault it was, and to a certain extent I don’t care if you actually did succeed – I want to know how you reacted.  I will then pick two or three things from your résumé and do a deep dive.

Hint #1: If you can keep these answers related to my business, and even better the reason I need this position filled or project completed, I am much more likely to be really paying attention.

I get easily annoyed by someone who forgets that this is my meeting.  Keep your answers short, no more than 30 seconds or so.  Make sure I can get in with my next question, and let me lead the discussion.  Don’t try to anticipate my next question.

Always tell me “why” and “how” and “what happened” for every question.  Why were you doing what you were doing, how did you do it, and what were the results.

Hint #2: Make sure you can talk for a minute on anything that is in your résumé.  Practice.

I believe the stress of the interview should match the stress of the job.  I can add stress in a number of ways:

  • Jump among different topics.
  • Interrupt you.
  • Ask multiple questions in one breath.
  • Ask confrontation questions (Why did you do it that way?).
  • Propose a problem with insufficient information and ask for a solution.
  • Talk faster.
  • Use silence.

Silence can be a weapon.  Most people have a need to fill silence.  Just for grins sometime when you are on a phone conversation, stop speaking and see if the other person can wait seven seconds without jumping in with something.  Most people can’t.  Resist the urge.  It’s OK to ask something like “Would you like more information on this?” but don’t just start up again.  It is too easy to get off your “script” and say something that hurts you.

Hint #3: How do you handle stress?

  • Breathe.  Often, but quietly.
  • Stay calm and don’t react.  If I start talking faster, you shouldn’t.  Keep talking in your normal voice.
  • It’s not personal, and it is OK to clench your fist – I can’t see that.
  • Smile – I can hear this.

You are at a real disadvantage with a phone interview.  You really don’t know who is on the other end of the call.  You should assume there are silent listeners.  Don’t be surprised if a new voice suddenly appears.  It is OK to ask who it is, but answer the question first.

Hint #4: If you are given a phone bridge to call in, try to call in two or three minutes early.  You can often tell when people join and get a better idea of how many are on.  If the other person is on a speaker phone, there may be other lurkers.

The worst thing about a phone interview is that there is no body language, and body language is about 55% of communication impact.  You can’t see me, and I can’t see you.  You need to listen for verbal clues.  Watch for negative or positive reactions, and pay attention to where the questions or comments seem to be going.  Listen for clues that indicate they didn’t hear what you really intended to say, and take an opportunity to go back and rephrase an answer.

Hint #5: Pay attention to what is not asked.  For example, if I don’t ask you about some recent experience that seems to match the job or project, then either I have already decided “no” or I have already decided that you have the technical qualifications and I’m exploring whether you are willing to do the job and will you fit into my organization.

Your voice has to become your body language.  It has to indicate your interest, enthusiasm, confidence, and initiative.  Stay focused.  Don’t plan your answer to my next question while I’m speaking.  You probably won’t guess correctly.

Don’t tell me things you shouldn’t.  I had an interviewee tell me unannounced product details from his previous employer, a competitor.  I guess he was trying to impress me with what he knew, but the conversation ended right then.  If you will tell me someone else’s confidential information, you will tell someone mine and I won’t hire you or contract with you. Talk about past projects that could be confidential in general terms, not specific.  “I increased sales by 30% the first year” instead of “I increased sales of the Kalinka Model by $5M in the first year.”

Hint #6:  Always act as if you are still employed at your last job and I work for a competitor.

Control your mental and physical environment for the call.

  • Help your mindset by smiling and dressing for the interview.  While you may not need to wear a suit or equivalent, dress like you would for a meeting with the executives of your last job.
  • Control your environment.  Make sure you won’t be interrupted by family, someone knocking on the door, extraneous noise or other phone calls.  If your neighbors or family are likely to come calling, put a sign on your door asking that you not be disturbed for the next hour.
  • Turn off your email.
  • Make sure you are comfortable.  Personally, I prefer to stand during the interview.  It makes it more like a presentation than a casual conversation.  Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t make noise moving around, including don’t use a chair that squeaks.
  • Use a headset, but test it.  Call someone you know and make sure you can hear and be heard clearly.

Hint #7: Make sure you have the phone number or email of the admin before the appointed time in case there is a problem with the phone number, especially with a phone bridge.

Unless you are a trained actor, I can tell when you are reading something, and it is a big negative to me.  I want someone who can think.  I know you have prepared answers for many questions, but don’t write scripts, write notes so you can talk naturally.

Hint #8: Use positive words and action verbs.

Try to minimize the “ah”s, “er”s and “you know”s.  If you can without adding even more stress, listen to what you are saying.  I watched the same senior person give a similar presentation three times. The first time he had lots of “you know”s, the second time a lot of “well”s but not a single “you know,” and the third time he seemed to start every third sentence with “so.”  He didn’t notice while he was giving it, but I did.  If you can listen to yourself in real time, you can usually stop the behavior.

Have a set of questions ready.  Hopefully you have done your research and know what my company does, and if you have someone in your network that works for me or my company, you may know a lot about what the real problem is.  Ask questions that show you have done that research, and show that you are interested in my problem.

Hint #9: Ask what the next steps are.  I probably won’t tell you if you don’t ask.

When I’m the interviewee, I try to have a list of what I would do first.  The list should be designed to show that you can be productive immediately, that you understand what the main goals are, and that you know what things are important to keep the organization functioning while you do learn.

Hint #10: Smile and enjoy it.  I can hear the smile in your voice.

The last word:
Sometimes, unfortunately fairly often, you will get the clueless interviewer.  In that case subtly take over.  Ask questions about the job or project.  Use the interviewer’s answers as invitations to provide information about your related experience, enthusiasm, and leadership capabilities.

Comments solicited.

Keep your sense of humor.

Walt.

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You have just created a new product.  It might be something you can touch, some software, or a service. You know the market your product is aimed at, your general target market.  These are the people you will approach after you get that first reference account.  How do you find that first customer?  Who do you go talk to?  How do your choose your first Target Market?

You already have your web site, your 10 minute high level power point deck, and your thirty second elevator statement.  You have focused these on business value, of course.

Let’s talk some more about that elevator statement.  It is called that because it is the message you can give in an elevator between the lobby and the other person’s floor.  It has to be directed to someone outside of your area of expertise, with no jargon, acronyms, or technical details.  It should be easy to understand by almost anybody.  Have you tried it on your child’s teacher?  That strange uncle in another state?  The cashier at the coffee shop you go to every morning?  They may not be interested, but they should be able to understand what you have.  You may meet someone you haven’t seen in years who asks “what are you up to.”  She may end up being a customer or know someone else who will be interested.

The elevator statement should have four components:

  • What your product is.
  • What problem it solves.
  • What makes it different.
  • What the business value is.

It needs to be vague but compelling.  Don’t dive into the technology, tell the person “why.”  Practice until you can give it without sounding like you are reciting something.  Make sure it is short.  Thirty seconds is a long time.  Say it out loud and time it.  Keep tweaking it and trying it out with anyone who will listen until you get the “aha” response.

Finding that first customer may be easy if there are other existing products that are very similar (but yours is much better, naturally), or if you already have a large customer base for products that are related to your new product. What if “none of the above?”

Use your network.  Update your LinkedIn status, put it on your Facebook wall, tweet about it, send a “what’s new” email to everybody in your address book, ….  Don’t just go to those in your target market.  Bet you didn’t know your spouse’s hairdresser/barber lives next door to the CFO of a company in your target market.  I suggest you check out Social Steve’s Blog.  He recently posted a seven part series on “Social Media: How To Go About It.”

If you know someone in the likely market or can get a good introduction, one technique is to ask for an advisory meeting. “I’ve got this nifty new product and I would like to get an opinion from an expert in the field.  Can I have an hour for a conversation?”  I have found that conversation often leads to a pilot with that organization or another lead.  Plus you get good information that will usually allow you to improve your product and confirmation that you understand the real customer requirements.

I have seen companies who waited until they had the perfect product before going to market.  I have never seen a successful company do that.  As I have said before, “Perfection is the enemy of the good.”  Or, more importantly, “Perfection is the enemy of revenue.”  Strive for good enough. Strive for what satisfies your first potential customer’s requirements, but no more.  In the early days, strive for what will convince your customers that you will be able to satisfy their needs quickly.  Drive your development to meet those few who look like they will be your early adopters.  Make them your focus.

What if the first really interested person is not in your general target market but in some market you hadn’t even considered?  If your product can be quickly tailored to satisfy that customer and there aren’t other obstacles like special certifications, I suggest you go after it.  A reference account is good, even in another market.

The last word:
Don’t give your product away.  Even if you decide that it is worth it to not charge that first customer, give him an invoice with the list price and a 100% discount.  Make sure they understand the value. Make sure they will be a reference account if they are satisfied with the product.  If it is a software product, make sure they sign an evaluation EULA (end user license agreement) that at least limits the time frame they can use the product at no charge and protects your intellectual property.

Comments solicited.

Keep your sense of humor.

Walt.

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Some of us are old enough to remember presentations B.P., before PowerPoint.  The first version came out in 1984 for the Apple Macintosh from Forethought, Inc.  They renamed it “PowerPoint” and sold it to Microsoft in 1987 for $14M.  Prior to that, we hand-lettered on clear acetate with a set of colored fine-tip markers.  Since the ink was water-soluble, we hoped no one spilled something on them.  Luxury was using a copier to make almost legible slides from a book or typewriter.  My wife tells me Kodak had a special acetate sheet that would literally draw the ink off of a glossy magazine page onto the acetate by soaking it in tepid water.  They called it “contact paper.”  A common practice in education, apparently.

Then we advanced to a Kroy Tape Machine.  You turned the dial to the right letter, clicked the button and presto it printed on clear sticky tape.  You manually positioned the tape on paper, then copied the whole page onto the clear acetate.  The next big step was to 35mm slides.  You could give a rough sketch of what you wanted to the graphics team, and two weeks later you would have a draft.

Now anybody can create a really awful slide deck in a matter of hours.

Some companies use PowerPoint for all communications.  There is nothing quite as bad as the weekly status report on a slide with 8-point type.  There isn’t much you can do about those situations.  Personally, I give myself no more than 30 seconds to rant about it, hold my nose, and get it done as quickly as possible.  I realize I don’t have the right compensation package to change it.

So let’s pretend we are using PowerPoint for its original purpose: to deliver a message that causes someone to do something.  These are my favorite tips I have gathered from many sources and based on my experience in giving hundreds of presentations.

Creation.

  1. In general, minimize the use of animation or builds.
    • Especially don’t use animation if you are using LiveMeeting, NetMeeting or similar conferencing software.  Even builds that move or have other effects may look strange.  Hint: before showing it to a real audience over a network presentation mechanism, have a colleague run through the slides with you acting as the remote audience so you can see what your audience will see.
    • If you use animation or builds and give handouts, print a set and look at what PowerPoint does with those slides.  Decide if you like it.
    • If you want a build slide, you can always create separate slides that do the build. This allows you to determine exactly what you want to see in the handout.
    • If someone else will be presenting, make sure the notes are explicit about it being a build slide and how many builds there are.  If you do use builds, don’t have them automatically timed — always make the presenter click to advance to the next build.  Otherwise the presenter and presentation will get out of sync.
  2. Hidden slides are wonderful.  Leave detail slides or slides that you may need depending on where the audience wants to go in the deck, but hide them (menu “Slide Show” / “Hide”).  Hidden slides show with a \ through the slide number on the thumbnail column in “View” / “Normal” mode in PowerPoint but don’t print in your handouts unless you check “Print Hidden Slides” on the “File” / “Print” window.  They get skipped if you just go to the next or previous slide.  But you can jump to a hidden slide by keying in the slide number and <enter> (see tip #11 below).
  3. Want a short printout of your deck?  Use “Print / Handouts (9 per page).”  This provides the images of, surprise, nine slides on each page.  During the presentation, you can quickly scan to find the slide number in order to jump to a specific slide.  It works better in landscape orientation, and you can set orientation, headers and footers under “Page Setup”.  Remember to check “Print hidden slides” for your reference copy.
  4. When including a spread sheet decide how much you want to reveal.  To insert a portion of a spread sheet, select the cells in Excel and “Edit” / “Copy.”  In PowerPoint, you have options.
    • You can just “Edit” / “Paste.”  Sometimes the formatting gets mangled in this process.  You can change the text in cells within PowerPoint by selecting a cell’s contents and typing in the cell.  All of the formulas are gone, just the values are visible.  Each cell on the PowerPoint slide becomes a text box, and standard formatting applies so you can change font, alignment within the cell, and other attributes from the “Format” menu with the cell selected.
    • If you “Edit” / “Paste Special” / “Microsoft Excel Sheet Object” you get the an image of just the cells you selected, but the actual spreadsheet is embedded in the sheet.  If you double click on a cell, Excel opens with the entire spread sheet, not just the cells you copied. You have all of the capabilities of Excel.  Again, the sheet contents can be changed.  Be careful if there are parts of the spreadsheet or formulas that you don’t want visible to someone with the PowerPoint file.
    • If you “Edit” / “Paste Special” / “Picture,” PowerPoint inserts a picture of the copied cells.  You can resize it, but you can’t change the picture nor are the formulas revealed to someone with PowerPoint file.  I use this method for all external presentations.
  5. Print to PDF or use a tool to create a PDF file to create a document that can’t easily be modified.  If you have scripted the presentation, and the script is not just reading the slide contents, then you can create valuable handouts by printing notes pages to a PDF file and using that as the leave-behind.  PowerPoint allows you full page formatting controls with the notes page (“View” / “Master” / “Notes Master”) so you can make an attractive document with one slide and its script per page.  Like with slide masters, you can add images and text as you desire.  Use “View” / “Header and Footer” and the “File” / “Page Setup” window’s “Header/Footer” button to format headers and footers.  To remove the line around the slide image, select the slide box and then select “No Line” in the “Line” section of the Formatting Palette.
  6. Ask “Why am I doing this presentation?”  Then ask yourself if you answered the question.  Keep in mind that most people will only remember three things from a presentation.  Figure out what the top three things are and focus on getting those across.  Make sure you end by specifically restating the three things.  Remember the old Army training adage: tell them what you are going to say, say it, then tell them what you said.
  7. Simple is good.  One concept per slide, a handful of bullets at most.  At the end of an especially long letter, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) said “I’m sorry this letter is so long.  I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”  Take the time.  See my “Vague but Compelling” blog entry for additional comments on this subject.
  8. We have all seen slides with eight columns and twelve rows, or 24 different boxes with something inside each connected by dozens of different colored lines.  If you have created such a slide, ask yourself if it is really necessary.  Is it critical to get the audience to do what you want them to?  If you may need it in case of a detailed question, then hide it and go to it only if necessary.
  9. At the beginning of the presentation, make sure you quickly make two important points:
    • Identify yourself and your organization, and explain why it is worth the audience’s time to listen.
    • Identify the audience and the problem, so that the audience knows that this is important to them.
  10. Always number the slides.  This does two things: if you remember about how many slides are in the deck you will have an idea of where you are.  Hint: always look to see how many slides there are in the deck before you start.  It also allows someone to start a question with “Back on slide 7 you indicated ….”
  11. Presenting.

  12. Enter a slide number using the number keys and press <enter> or <return> to jump directly to that slide.  Hint: remember what slide you were on so you can jump back to it. If you aren’t using your own computer, always use the number keys above the QWERTY row instead of the num-pad.  You can’t count on the num-pad always being configured as a number pad.
  13. Press “b” to make the screen go black, “b” again to restore the presentation.  Do this whenever you are answering a question that isn’t actually answered on the screen.  It forces the audience to focus on you, not the screen.  Press “w” to make the screen go all white, “w” again to restore the presentation.  I don’t use the “w” option unless the room is very dimly lit. Then I use “w” instead of “b” so the audience can actually see me.  “B” and “W” work also.
  14. Put PowerPoint into slide show mode before you display to the projection screen.  You really don’t want your email visible, or the names of other presentations you might have, or even necessarily the number of slides in the deck.  Get off the projection screen before you get out of slide show mode.  This is another use of the “b” key.  Press “b”, then disconnect from the projector (physically or through alt F8 depending on your laptop), then do your clean up.
  15. Don’t read the slides.  The audience will quickly realize they don’t need you, and especially if you have given handouts up front they will be reading ahead and then lose focus.
  16. If you are using a projector to display the presentation, try “View” / “Presenter Tools.”  This displays thumbnails, the current slide, the current slide’s notes, the next slide, and either the current time or the elapsed time on your screen, and just the slide on the second screen or projector.  This requires that you set the projector as a separate second monitor, not just a mirror of your primary monitor.  Try this before the presentation so you know how to set up your computer with a projector as a second screen.  The exact method varies based on OS, and the different flavors of Windows do it a little differently.  If you haven’t done it before, and there is nobody nearby who has, go to PowerPoint Help and ask about “Multiple Monitors.”  Usually the top entry (which may be something like “Present a Slide Show in Person”) will have a link that tells you how to set up Presenter Tools with two monitors.

The last word: There is an unbelievable amount of help available through PowerPoint “Help” /  “PowerPoint Help.”  You may need to be creative in what you ask, but the answer is there.  Patience.  There are a lot of good books on how to make effective PowerPoint presentations.  I particularly like Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points, Microsoft Press.  See also BeyondBulletPoints.com and Cliff’s blog at beyondbulletpoints.com/blog/.

Comments solicited.

Keep your sense of humor.

Walt.

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A few years ago a colleague, Steve, and I wanted to start a new project.  Since we had to spend resources we weren’t authorized to spend, we couldn’t just beg forgiveness, we needed to get approval from out mutual boss.  We went to his office and had a conversation.  No PowerPoint, no drawings, no spread sheets, just conversation.  As we were walking back to our area, having gotten the “yes, do it” we wanted, I remarked to Steve that the conversation had been content-free.  We hadn’t given our boss any indication of exactly what we were going to do, just an indication of the end point.  Steve’s response was “Yeah, it was vague but compelling.”

Too often we have sat through, or even given, the one hour presentation that starts by diving into the technology and just stays there in the weeds.  A couple of decades ago when we got a new senior VP of development, he called the leaders of the three main product teams to our galactic headquarters to explain their products.  Essentially, each had one hour to justify their existence.  The first talked about the flexibility of the product, the wide range of partners who had developed solutions for it, and the growth rate in the top ten markets.  The second team talked about their dominance in the financial market and a significant sector of the defense market, and how it was the most profitable product in the history of the company.  The third team spent their entire hour talking about the technology.  At the end, the VP turns to the third team leader and asks “but what is it good for?”

When you are in any kind of a sales situation, it is critical to explain the end point first: the “why.”  What does the buyer get?  If you can’t get the listener to say “I want that,” then it’s time to say “thank you” and try somewhere else.  Lead with business value, the “WIIFM” (“what’s in it for me”) from the buyer’s perspective.

When I’m talking to a potential customer, I want to lose control of the presentation in the first 15 minutes.  I want the customer to take over, driving the conversation to topics that are important to her.  I want the customer to be telling me those places in her environment that my solution will help her.  I want the boss to say to her minions “figure out how to get this into our environment.”

Vague, but compelling.  Let the customer drive you down into the technology if they want.  Let their specific questions give you the important clues about why they don’t sleep at night, and allow you to suggest specific uses of your solution to solve their problems.  Avoid the potential issue of the customer latching on to one fairly insignificant point and creating an objection around it.

Sales situations are not just when you are trying to sell product to a customer.  It is also includes occasions when you are trying to sell your plan to management, trying to get a new partner on board, or trying to get your sales team to pay attention to your product.  It is not about a sales pitch, it is about a conversation.  It’s about starting a long term relationship and becoming a trusted advisor.

“Vague but compelling” doesn’t work everywhere.  It is more difficult to do in a formal presentation to a large group. Usually you have a different agenda in that case, and the environment sometimes does not easily allow questions.  As you are often trying to educate the group on something, a structured approach will usually work better.  This is especially true when the subject is the technology.

Unless you know everybody in the audience or around the table, you should first take 30 to 60 seconds to establish your credentials. Let everybody know why you are talking to them – what expertise you bring to the conversation. If you are representing an organization, include how that organization has credibility in the area.  You need to get the audience to believe you are worth listening to.

If you understand the technology and message, and the location supports it, I find it very effective to just have a conversation and use a whiteboard board to diagram or list important characteristics as the customer-driven conversation evolves.  Alternatively, structure your slide deck with the intro and the value proposition up front followed by a summary slide, and everything else in backup.  Use the PowerPoint trick of entering the slide number and press <return> to jump to any specific slide as necessary.

Nothing says “sales call” like a PowerPoint deck.  Nothing says “I’m here to help” like a conversation focused around the customer’s needs.

The last word: My colleague in the first paragraph is Steve Goldner, aka SocialSteve.  Steve is a recognized expert on social media. Whether you are just starting out with social media in your business or a veteran, I highly recommend you check out his blog at SocialSteve.WordPress.com.

Comments solicited.

Keep your sense of humor.

Walt.

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