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It’s not THAT often when successful presentation tips can make a 6-figure financial difference in your career, but that was the case recently in Kansas City. I attended the Gigabit Challenge Finale in Kansas City recently where 17 finalists (individuals or teams) made the last presentation pitch for winning $450,000 in cash and services. Organized by Think Big Partners, the Gigabit Challenge was a global competition centered on the prospects for taking advantage of the Google Fiber initiative under development in Kansas City.

While I admired the creative ideas and hard work that the Gigabit Challenge finalists demonstrated, the PowerPoint presentations were, for the most part, underwhelming.

Presenters faced a panel of 17 contest judges (mostly from the legal and financial worlds), another 250 members of the live audience, and an online audience that averaged about that same number. Each presenter had ten minutes to present their idea and five minutes for questions from the contest judges.

Here are seven successful presentation tips on how many groups could have scored better with all of those audiences:

1. Make sure we know who you are.

Make your name and contact information the first slide in your PowerPoint presentation and make it the last. The judges may know who you are, but why not make sure? Also, the rest of the audience could contain people who have the financial resources, the intellectual piece of the puzzle, or the contacts that you’ve been missing. Make it easy for them to remember you and find you later by repeating your name and contact information.

2. It’s Showtime, Folks.

If you are asking people to invest in your creative idea, they need to be excited about your creative idea. Somewhere in your presentation, you need some drama, whether it is from your performance, from the images on your PowerPoint slides, or from the audacious brilliance of your idea. All three would be good.

3. Use the power of PowerPoint.

Nearly every finalist had some process story to tell – either in how they were going to develop their idea or it was going to be used. But almost no one used the power of basic PowerPoint capabilities. It does nice builds, visual effects, sound effects, reveals, takeaways, etc. It has limitations, but basic PowerPoint capabilities will do a whiz-bang job of focusing the audience’s attention on just what you want them to see when you want them to see it.

4. If we can’t read it, you don’t need it.

Many, okay most, of the presentations had PowerPoint slides that contained way more words than anyone could possibly read during the time they were displayed. That level of verbal detail is what your business plan is for, not your presentation. Words on slides should be cues for the points you want to make in your presentation.

5. Play it safe(ty) margin.

Sometime during the day, the projector went a little off kilter and began cutting off the edges of the slides. That’s not uncommon. Account  for it by making sure that your slide content stays inside a safety area that covers no more than 75 percent of the PowerPoint slide’s area.

6. Have a plan.

This applies to two areas. Many of the presenters presented ideas rather than business plans. If I was looking to invest, I want to know who would be interested in buying your  product/service, how you were going to develop and market that product/service, and what the cost and revenue projections were—pretty much in that order. If that level of detail isn’t available or possible at this point, I would suggest an organization scheme that borrows from the SPIN selling method.

7. It’s your time in the sunshine, enjoy yourself.

Just being on that stage means you done good. Act like you want to be there.

To learn more about the possibilities of Google Fiber you can download the free report sponsored by the Social Media Club of Kansas City and prepared by The Brainzooming Group. – Barrett Sydnor


How can ultra high-speed Internet speeds drive innovation? 
“Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report by The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed Internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

 

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#BZBowl Is Moving to #SBExp for Super Bowl XLVI

With the Super Bowl this Sunday, I’ve been getting questions about #BZBowl, the Twitter chat The Brainzooming Group hosted the last two years to critique Super Bowl ads, the game, the Super Bowl hoopla, and all the popular culture surrounding the Super Bowl.

Here’s the #BZBowl update for Super Bowl XLVI.

During last year’s #BZBowl, author and good friend Jim Joseph participated during the game from New Orleans, shared his perspectives in a post-Super Bowl blog post, and was a guest along with Nate Riggs, Chris Reaburn, Alex Greenwood, and Barrett Sydnor during a special #BZBowl edition of Kelly Scanlon’s radio show I hosted. Since last year’s Super Bowl, Jim has hosted live Twitter chats for a variety of events, including The Grammys, Oscars, Oprah’s last show, and most recently, The Golden Globes.

This year, The Brainzooming Group is shifting its strategy and focus for the Super Bowl. As a result, we’re putting our #BZBowl energy behind Jim Joseph and his #SBExp Twitter chat event this Sunday. With Jim’s new book “The Experience Effect For Small Business: Big Brand Results with Small Business Resources” coming out this week, he’s getting a lot of well-deserved attention, and it just makes sense for us to play a supporting role for Super Bowl XLVI.

Watch for more details later in the week, but expect #SBExp to deliver the same Super Bowlicious smart, insightful, snarky, and intimate (i.e., spammer-free) Twitter chat you’ve come to experience with #BZBowl.

American Marketing Association Virtual ExchangeAMA Virtual XChange: Changing the Game – Innovations for Future Success

It’s exciting to let you know I’ll be one of the speakers for the American Marketing Association Virtual XChange virtual event on February 9, 2012. Other speakers include authors Brain Solis, Jeffrey Hayzlett, and Graham Brown. The virtual event’s theme is “Changing the Game – Innovations for Future Success,” and I’ll be covering the content behind “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” at 1:45 pm central standard time (US).

“Changing the Game – Innovations for Future Success” is free for all attendees, even if you’re not an American Marketing Association member. Past AMA virtual events have been tremendously valuable with fantastic content, and this one should be no exception.

Please take a moment to register, and I look forward to you joining us Thursday, February 9!

Why Creativity? from Aspindle“Why Creativity?” – New Aspindle eBook with David Meerman Scott, Julien Smith (and me)

Tanner Christensen, founder of Aspindle, a resource and incubator of creative ideas and former guest blogger on Brainzooming, has published a new eBook called, “Why Creativity?” with brief essays by “Trust Agents” co-author Julien Smith, “World Wide Rave” author David Meerman Scott, and Patrick Algrim, Matthew E May, Gregg Fraley, and Frank Chimero.

I’m honored to have an article included as well, talking about my lifelong fascination with creativity, even when I don’t have the chops to pull off the creativity I might like. You can download “Why Creativity?” for free, without even having to supply any info at Tanner’s Aspindle website.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Listening to some folks talk recently about business development and client opportunities in social networking prompted these questions directly related to social media expertise:

  • Would you want to make plans to meet for a networking event with someone who registers but never shows up?
  • Would you choose a surgeon for your medical procedure who doesn’t perform the type of surgery you need?
  • If you had a child needing help with calculus, would you select a math tutor who has never bothered to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, or divide?
  • Could you depend on a sports reporter to provide insightful analysis of a baseball game when they left in the second inning of the game?
  • Would you expect to learn much about life in the Broadway theatre from someone claiming to be an actor who doesn’t personally know any other actors, let along any producers or directors?

No big surprise if the answer to each of these questions is a resounding, “No.”

Yet when it comes to social media expertise, how often do you run across individuals selling social media strategy who:

  • Sign up but never actually use social networks?
  • Can’t demonstrate an experience-based, strategic understanding of the very social networks they recommend?
  • Claim awareness of the newest social networks yet have never carried out the basics of devising, integrating, and implementing a social media presence?
  • Have launched social media presences they quickly abandon or neglect for months or years afterward?
  • Don’t cultivate an active network of people who invest time and effort across major social networks AND relevant business processes?

Why Should Social Media Expertise Be Any Different?

Just because you think someone is young enough or has more social media expertise than YOU do doesn’t make them the right person to shape an effective social networking strategy and realistic implementation plan for making social media work as an integrated component of YOUR business.

In a world of social networks where it’s incredibly hard to AVOID creating an online social network presence, why would you want to have someone who can’t point to one lead you in creating a social network presence for your organization? – Mike Brown

 


If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download 6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!

 


Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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One of my blogging mantras is always be listening for blog content because you never know where content will appear. Maybe listening for blog content is easier said than done, but when you’re having to come up with 235+ blog posts a year, you can’t afford to miss great content just because it comes up in an unexpected situation.

Last night, I dropped in on the sold out “Achieve Your 2012 Goals: Social Accountability Happy Hour” presented by Michael Gelphman of Kansas City IT Professionals. While big happy hour networking events aren’t the first thing I flock to, I had a great time catching up with a number of Kansas City social media and IT folks.

Michael Gelphman asked everyone to bring three 2012 goals we were expected to socialize with other attendees. I put together my list before heading over to the event. Although I didn’t run into that many people talking up 2012 goals, I shared mine with Dee Sadler, who provided helpful comments on moving ahead with them this year.

In the course of talking with friends Aaron Deacon and Jason Harper, Jason made the comment below which screamed to be a blog post. I quickly wrote it down on the back of my 2012 goals sheet:

The Hipster Like Button

 

There’s the lesson: even if it’s handwritten with a Sharpie on the back of a piece of paper, when you hear a great idea, figure out how to turn it into a blog post! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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There are many interesting opportunities floating around out there and all kinds of people who would love to spend time talking about them. Opportunities can be exciting, sound great, and very attractive to pursue. Interesting opportunities can be tough to turn down when they are presented to you all packaged up and shiny.

It is clear you cannot pursue every opportunity someone has decided should have your name attached to it. But when does the next interesting opportunity with lots of potential become a strategic distraction?

How about when . . .

  • Pursuing it is more about feeling good than feeling rewarded for your efforts.
  • The same opportunity has not worked in the past, and there is NOTHING to suggest something has changed this time.
  • It causes you to do a whole series of things whose benefits are not clear.
  • The results would not really matter for your organization.
  • There will not be an opportunity to expand your network.
  • Whatever is next after this opportunity is a dead end.

Okay, here is an admission.

This is my running checklist of things to watch for when there is a new opportunity because I can get too fascinated by all those interesting opportunities floating around.

I wrote out this list earlier in the week when an opportunity that looked initially problematic, then looked like it was going to work, all of a sudden didn’t . . . just as we thought when it was initially presented to us. In retrospect, it was a strategic distraction.

That’s why this is a running list.

What things do you look for when sorting through opportunities to pursue and those to avoid?  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I was surprised  during this month’s #Ideachat session covered in last week’s piece on creative spaces to meet several people from Kansas City and another from my hometown of Hays, KS during the international Twitter discussion. One of the Kansas City-based participants, Bradley (Woody) Bendle, reached out to talk innovation last week. We had a great conversation about his efforts in developing insight and process-based innovation, and he agreed to share his thoughts on creative spaces to provide another viewpoint from #Ideachat. Here’s Woody Bendle on three different types of space which shape creativity:

Space and Creativity

No, this isn’t a discussion about creativity in Star Trek’s “final frontier” – although I suspect that might be a rather interesting topic for a later blog. This is a discussion about three “Spaces” which affect creativity: Physical Space, Temporal Space, and Mind-Space.

I decided to weigh in on this topic after the January 2012 #ideachat, moderated by Angela Dunn (@blogbrevity on Twitter). One of the questions posed to the participants was whether physical space affected creativity. I, like most others participating in the discourse, believe physical space does affect creativity. As the #ideachat discussion thread continued, I began to expand my thinking about “space” and “creativity”. I started to also think about “space” in terms of time, as well as “space” in terms of a state of mental openness. Let’s look at each type of space.

Physical Space

I believe Physical Space can inspire creativity. That is, there are some spaces that are relatively more conducive for creativity while some can have an adverse effect.  Contrast Kansas City’s new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with any home from an episode of A&E’s Hoarders. There is just something inspirational about spaces that were created through creativity, imagination and ingenuity. They allow, or even encourage the mind to wander into the realm of possibilities. While there is little published on the effects of physical environment upon creativity and innovation, I’m firmly in the camp, along with David Kelley (founder of Ideo), that believes there is a strong relationship. In his foreword for Make Space, Kelley writes, “Regardless of whether it’s a classroom or the offices of a billion-dollar company, space is something to think of as an instrument for innovation and collaboration. Space is a valuable tool that can help you create deep and meaningful collaborations in your work and life.”

Temporal Space

I have long believed, due to my own personal experiences that time is an important ingredient for creativity. That is, when one faces severe time challenges, it is very difficult (if not perhaps impossible depending upon the circumstance) to be creative. Sometimes, things just need to percolate a little.

With extreme time pressure, people tend to revert to making decisions based on their prior knowledge set and experiences in order to accomplish the goal or task at hand. When time is very limited (perhaps at a critical crisis level) individuals fall back upon instincts. Author Tim Hurson in Think Better would call the former the Elephant’s Tether and the later, Gator (reptilian / instinctual) Brain. Conversely, however, if one has too much time and lacks at least some focus, I feel that can have an adverse effect on creativity. Hurson refers to this as Monkey Mind, a state where one is easily distracted (which isn’t totally a bad thing) and the mind races and jumps from thing to thing with little awareness. I think of Dog in Pixar’s 2009 movie “Up” when I think of having too much, unfocused temporal space. Squirrel!!!

Perhaps one of the most cited studies related to time and creativity was conducted by Harvard University’s Teresa Amabile. Her study analyzed content from 12,000 aggregate diary days involving 238 individuals on 26 project teams across seven companies and three industries. In a 2004 Fast Company interview with Bill Breen, Amabile stated, “People were the least creative when they were fighting the clock. In fact, we found a kind of time-pressure hangover — when people were working under great pressure, their creativity went down on not only that day but the next two days as well. Time pressure stifles creativity because people can’t deeply engage with the problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up.” That leads me to my thoughts on Mind-Space.

Mind-Space

For me, Mind-Space is perhaps the true “final frontier” and rarest space of all. It is an expression I’ve come to use to describe the union of creative mindset and time.

Creative Mind-Space is when the mind achieves a certain harmonious state and the ‘juices’ flow – almost perfectly. Perhaps the best way to think about this is that state which leads to those ‘Eureka’ moments we’ve all had. For some, it happens in the shower, while for others it occurs in their car while driving down an open stretch of interstate. Often for me, I can regularly get into my Mind-Space on an airplane. It seems however that a common thread is being in a physical space that is a familiar enough, non-distracting, or perhaps even “vanilla” – a physical space that allows, or perhaps even facilitates one to escape into their mind and just process.

I think about Mind-Space as the place/time/mindset combination where prior stimuli, facts, ideas have the ability to assemble, disassemble and reassemble, associate, disassociate, and re-associate, building up to those coveted “ah-ha” moments. As Steven Johnson describes in Where Good Ideas Come From, “To make your mind more innovative, you have to place it inside environments that explore the boundaries of the adjacent possible. Certain environments enhance the brain’s natural capacity to make new links of association.”

With today’s continuous onslaught of anti-creative stimuli and never ending competition for time, Creative Mind-Space is a rapidly depleting resource that we need to protect, restore and cultivate.

The next time you encounter a creativity challenge, seek improvements to your three spaces – Physical, Temporal and Mind. If that fails, go ahead and watch an old episode of Star Trek. Might I recommend “The Trouble with Tribbles”, episode #44, production #42. Woody Bendle

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Jonathan Finkelstein of Learning Times did a great job during his Virtual Event Summit 2012 presentation in San Diego, addressing “Ten Ways to Create Lasting Memories in Online Events.” His presentation, mine on “Social Media Strategy for Events,” and many others are available free on January 26 as part of the follow-up virtual event.  It’s definitely worth investigating the “Epic Event” for great content relevant to virtual events, in-person events, and other marketing topics.

Speaking of virtual, digital, or online events, here are Jonathan Finkelstein’s recommendations for ten ways to create lasting memories:

1. Create a lasting visual image of an experience.

A fantastic way to create a lasting visual image of an experience is by putting visualization in the hands of an audience. Bren Bartaclan’s Smile Project involves leaving free art work around cities for people to find and share around the world. Of particular interest to me, Dan Porter does graphic facilitation of discussions to add a visual dimension, as does John Caswell, who I’m hoping to get back to Brainzooming for another guest post on his work. Jonathan Finkelstein recommended Google Docs Drawings as a way to stimulate visual, virtual collaboration.

2. Gauge participant sentiment, assessing it and adapting in real time.

Finkelstein recommends using online polls and survey tools to gauge feedback during online events, although there is always the opportunity to do it in an uncomplicated way by simply asking for feedback. He suggests allowing different places for questions from newbies vs. experts, and another space that allows participants to help answer the questions of others.

3. Make a connection.

Since online events don’t have the same cost and infrastructure of in-person events, Finkelstein recommends organizations use them more frequently than annually to increase connections with audiences. Online events can also create connections with audiences not in a position to interact with the organization frequently. The Smithsonian uses free online conferences to reach current and new audiences more regularly.

4. Embrace participants’ surroundings.

Since online event participants – both presenters and audiences – are somewhere physical, Finkelstein recommends incorporating their in real life surroundings into the event. For instance, he’s participated in virtual events from the beach while on vacation and has given attendees a sense of what they’re missing.

5. Let participants win something.

Gamification brings out the competitive nature in all of us. Using games can drive participant engagement. Danette Veale from Cisco provided a very helpful overview on gamification in her presentation.

6. Let participants earn something.

Provide participants a way to earn rewards and display them for others to see. This boosts beneficial behaviors of both the earning participants and is a motivation to others as well. Digital badges are an example of this principle.

7. Let participants lead events.

Finkelstein acknowledges it can be scary to turn the control over to the audience, but what better way to make lasting memories and impact. In “Battle Decks” or “PowerPoint Karaoke,” participants are given 10 slides, but they don’t know what the slides are. From there, they have to improvise the presentation to the slides. Using “Crackerbarrels,” audiences change quickly within virtual events, moving to rooms with facilitators helping the address new topics.

8. Use video meaningfully.

Participants form perceptions on small amounts of nonverbal behavior, so it’s important to effectively show presenters and content being shared.

9. Move people.

Here, Finkelstein isn’t talking moving people physically; he’s talking about tapping emotional cues. It’s vital to understand emotional drivers among the audience and play to those appropriately. As he mentioned, many participants in online events are listening with earphones, allowing presenters to essentially whisper into their ears. Finkelstein encourages thinking about that level of closeness and vulnerability when presenting to an online audience.

10. Be transparent.

Especially in digital presentation situations, you need to provide a sense of the real person – with honesty, openness, and a true representation of who you are.  – Mike Brown

 The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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