Summer in Marketing? Opportunity to Prepare for Busy Autumn
Summer in the office can be pretty lazy time. There are less urgent projects running, it’s low season for sales, fairs or conferences. Half of staff are on holidays anyway. However, for marketing department, this is an ideal time to prepare for busy last quarter. My advice is to take advantage of this period without interruptions, whether you are a marketer in a corporation, a smaller company or you are self-entrepreneur. Now is the excellent time to tidy up marketing resources, renew marketing and sales materials. Presentation Materials Checklist Here are a few ideas how a good marketer can prepare the company for busy autumn and winter: Gather all presentations that managers and sales people use in our company. Review the slides – are they up to date? Are they using company standards properly? Ask your colleagues What presentation content they use? What are they missing? What new materials they will need for the autumn sales period? Collect all those expectations and respond appropriately – Update presentation slides, if they use outdated style and content (see this Trends in Presentation Slide Design presentation). Write template usage intructions, record guide videos, for your team. Add Do’s and Don’ts of using company PowerPoint templates and visual identification. The topics you can consider Good and bad logo use Proper use of company colors Recommended fonts to use Refresh your company presentation template, if needed. Now it’s the best time. Prepare practical slide deck of frequently used slides. Such a repository of slides allows people to reuse slides in busy times. Share the updated presentation materials: Store the files in the shared folder and let people know. Below I propose some practical things you can use for this process. “5-minute Presentation Survey” questions: What slides topics do you frequently use in your presentations? (this will give you hint what to put in the company slide deck) What causes you the biggest challenge when preparing your presentation (e.g. structure, data charts or tables, images … Rank the items, if you select more.) Do you use company presentation template? Do you know where to get it? What would help you to make better presentations slides in this autumn? What would save you most of the preparation time? Topic areas for extending your slide deck can include: Company overview slides (key facts, operations and office locations, contact slide) your products portfolio lists highlighting graphical elements (arrows, markers, icons …) country maps where your company is active frequently used photographs related to your products and services project and history timeline slides Resources you can use Depending on what resources you already have in your company (you may have an internal set of icons and pictures already), those are sites I use for getting new graphics: Pictures: Fotolia.com iStock.com Books Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds Blah Blah Blah, by Dan Roam Presentation Trends Slideshare.net TED.com PowerPoint icons and graphics infoDiagram platform for hand drawn marker shapes, vector maps, industry icons I know getting it all together in this lazy period can be a challenge. However, it’s worth the effort. Your sales colleagues will appreciate such help when busy September will come, and they will rush from one conference to another sales meetings. And your marketing peers will be glad to have templates ready for autumn campaigns. How’s your experience with summer period in the marketing office? Should you have questions or need help with this presentation review process, let me know. I will gladly help. Best to reach me via my Twitter or our contact page. Have a wonderful summer.
3 Diagram Mistakes to Avoid in a Presentation
If you are presenting about a complex topic or writing an article of how something works – then diagrams is a visualization tool worth to use. Diagram are a great tool for explaining processes, dependencies or structures of any kind. What do I mean by diagram? A simplified definition would be: diagram – any geometric symbolic representation of information. Or more boldly – set of items (e.g. rectangles) and relations (e.g. arrows) illustrating a concept, like these: In the world of typical text-heavy presentations, any slide with a diagram is a king :). It will attract more attention than others. However, there are some typical errors we tend to do, especially when preparing presentation under time pressure. Here are three hints to ensure your diagrams will be professionally looking. The hints are based on some basic graphic design rules and they only take a few minutes to use. 1. Lack of white space on a slide with diagram Firstly, check if the slide with a diagram is not too crowded? Is there enough margin – empty space around diagram? Can you slide “breathe”? From the usability point of view, it’s better not to fill slide from edge to edge, not to write text inside from border to border. Have a margin. If needed split diagram to several slides. 2. Diagram Layout – Incorrect position of diagram shapes Does your diagram look tidy or a bit chaotic, are the shapes well aligned? Check the layout of diagram shapes – verify the alignment of all your rectangles, arrows, circle shapes. Are they vertically or horizontally aligned? Are they equally distributed? Even a small misalignment creates a bad impression of your presentation. Use the alignment tools or smart guides that are present in PowerPoint. It takes only a few second and result is immediately visible. 3. Inconsistent diagram styles Check how many colors, fonts, and fill patterns are there in Your diagram? Not too many? The diagram illustration (as well as the whole presentation) should use a limited set of styles and fonts. To be graphically unified. It’s better to choose one style of diagram filling (simple flat, an outline of one color or none, the same shadow type or none). Use also one – two fonts. Don’t go wild here. Avoid obsolete looking fonts as Times New Roman, Comics Sans. Arial is also getting too default font. If you want to go for safe readable fonts that are present on every computer go for Calibri, Calibri Light (on Windows PCs and in MS Office apps) or Helvetica (for Apple system family). If you want to be different (some fonts require to be installed separately), then my font tips are Lato, Segoe UI, Open Sans. That’s all – simple three things to remember, when you will be creating your next presentation:White space, alignment, consistency. White space between and around diagram Alignment of all diagram elements Consistency in design (fonts, colors, shape style). Check the full presentation with diagram mistakes and improved slides my SlideShare: Diagram Mistakes in Presentation Slide Design from Peter Zvirinsky Slideshare. Do you have diagram challenges you want to solve? Or advice to share? Let me know in comments. Peter
Power of Pictures and Diagrams in a Business Communication
My personal discovery path to visualization In my previous job (I worked in an IT field, in data science company), I always admired brochures of other IT company that contained a nicely designed schema visuals. Such materials stood out, especially in a field of IT, where it’s common to write lengthy articles. Later I started adding more and more such visual diagrams in brochures and presentations I produced. And I could see a huge the difference. The materials were easier to understand, plus they have been more eye-catchy. From that moment I discovered that this is a think, I want to work on. To help other people communicate better using the simple visuals. When I discovered and read a book by Dan Roam: On the Back of the Napkin, I found there is a whole movement in this direction. I am glad that today it became my hobby and profession too. I run my own company, changing texts into visual diagrams. I am happy when I can apply this visualization passion within our presentation slide design projects, or teaching it or creating tools other people can reuse to create own diagrams. I believe such concept visualization is a very needed skill for any business communicator, be it manager, marketer or salesmen. My personal mission it to encourage others to draw on every occasion. Just to name a few: When explaining ideas to clients or colleagues over a table When making presentation on a team meeting When presenting to a wider public, at a conference or webinar Many names, one message Using drawings and pictures in a business communication has different names and forms: visual thinking sketchnoting information visualization data visualization simply drawing visual problem solving flipping slide design … In all those fields, there is one core idea behind: A picture is worth a thousands words. It’s a well-known saying. However, we keep on forgetting it. And the results are numerous “Deaths by PowerPoint” :). Because of lack of time we create quickly a heavy text only slides. Look at this research done of over 1000 people, that reveals that majority of presentations are considered to be boring. But there is a cure to such presentations. Enriching by a visual representation of the content – adding pictures, drawings, diagrams. It’s not that hard and time-consuming. As Dan Roam mentions it in his book, we are born artists, drawing is more natural for us than writing. Just as we got older, we forgot using it. However, if we want our article or PowerPoint presentation to pass the message, it should be easy to consume. The easiest form of visualization Visualizations can have various forms: photograph pictures – great for adding an emotion to a presentation, to set a mood. However, they convey less information. data visualization – Excel charts, data tables, typography – text itself can be used too as a way to convey additional information, e.g. various font can create a different feeling (formal, light, heavy, handwritten). Some examples on using handwritten fonts in a presentation are in this article. diagrams – various flow charts, organizational charts, structure visualizations or simple infographics. I focus on using simple diagrams. Why diagrams? Because diagrams are the form of concept visualization, that everyone can create. Everyone can draw a rectangle and arrow, can’t you? If you need some hints, check my Slideshare below. How to Change Text to Diagrams from Peter Zvirinsky Slideshare And what do You think about using pictures in Your presentations? What’s your visualization form you use the most? I’d love to hear your comments. Peter