5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Superheroes! Mike | May 19th, 2014

To many people out there (investors, business students, politicians) entrepreneurs are heroes of the first degree. They are lionized, studied, imitated, and held up as shining examples of American ingenuity and creativity. But truly, entrepreneurs are heroes of the second degree. Although their creativity can not be denied, their energy borders on legendary, their resourcefulness is unmatched, and their passion boundless, they still have a great deal to learn. And who better to learn from the Superheroes!

When it comes to strength of character and ability to persevere through tough times, no entrepreneur can even start to compare to the likes of Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, or Captain America! These heroes are the archetypal crime fighters, the justice slamming vigilantes, the saviors of all that is good and valuable in our society. They represent the powerless and strike down the evil! Kinda makes running a small business seem tedious by comparison, no?

This doesn’t mean that we can’t draw lessons from these selfless paragons of virtue. After all, aren’t entrepreneurs also intent on creating businesses for the benefit of humanity? Here are 5 lessons we can draw from our Superheroes!

1. Powers. Superheroes have powers galore: secret powers, supernatural powers. They posses extraordinary powers of strength, agility, and flexibility, not to mention the crazy weird powers to set things on fire, stretch themselves to unheard of lengths, perform gymnastic contortions, and deflect just about any projectile hurled their way. Entrepreneurs powers may pale in comparison, but that don’t mean we ain’t got em; the trick is in understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. Entrepreneurs need a healthy dose of self-awareness in order to know what they are great at, what they need help with, and what they downright suck at. This awareness helps us to build better businesses, create stronger teams, and (when necessary) turn to others to ask for help. Matter of fact, that humble ability to know when they need assistance can be the mark of a true super-entrepreneur.

2. Branding. Seriously. Superheroes rock at their ability to create and sustain a brand image.  The costumes, the logos, the instantly-identifiable masks and capes! One of the hallmarks of a great superhero is their ability to be recognized instantly, whether in person or by something left behind. Who wouldn’t recognize Spider-Man swooping through the urban canyons in a flash of red and blue? Who on this earth would not know that the bat silhouette icon projected on the night skies is not the world-famous logo of the Dark Knight? Entrepreneurs must focus hard on creating brand value for their own companies through creating strong visual iconography that differentiates them from the competition and creates an indelible image in the minds of their customers.

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Twitter Link Roundup #223 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | May 16th, 2014

spacefelix

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The above image shows Felix Baumgarnter before his famous jump from a helium balloon in the stratosphere (where he set an altitude record for a manned balloon flight, parachute jump from the highest altitude, and greatest free fall velocity). You will find more examples of epic photos in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

What Influences People To Buy Products or Services? Top 10 Factors – crowdspring.co/1jWAkij

Small Business and Startup Tips: Enjoying Your Customers For Profit and Fun – crowdspring.co/1jy0bxm

7 Magic Words (And 10 Negotiation Ideas) For Entrepreneurs | Forbes by Cheryl Snapp – crowdspring.co/1uUleyG

The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs | Entrepreneur – crowdspring.co/QIOBDJ

Founders Can’t Scale: Fact or Fiction? – crowdspring.co/1iGeQlb

What Zillow Learned From Setting Unrealistic Goals | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1uUZ9zW

startupsblog

Small Business and Startup Tips: Enjoying Your Customers For Profit and Fun – crowdspring.co/1jy0bxm

Very good overview from Chicago Tribune on Chicago’s coworking spaces – crowdspring.co/1uUmhyF

The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs | Entrepreneur – crowdspring.co/QIOBDJ

7 Magic Words (And 10 Negotiation Ideas) For Entrepreneurs | Forbes by Cheryl Snapp – crowdspring.co/1uUleyG

The Startup Mass Extinction | The New Yorker – crowdspring.co/1jTnSQs

Interesting insight for entrepreneurs raising seed rounds (best/worst times of year to do so) – crowdspring.co/1iGe0EW

What fuels great design (and why most startups don’t do it) – crowdspring.co/1nFcUi7

What Influences People To Buy Products or Services? Top 10 Factors – crowdspring.co/1jWAkij

4 crucial principles for a compelling startup website | Webdesigner Depot – crowdspring.co/1iGkzr9

How Much Can You Really Spend on Marketing? (And The “Problem” With The S+M=ACV Axiom) | saastr – crowdspring.co/1nEMgpF

The Anatomy of the Perfect Technical Interview from a Former Amazon VP – crowdspring.co/Rswumt

How To Use Portfolio Theory At Your Startup | by Chris Yeh – crowdspring.co/1jkfmFu

Mobile Commerce Sales to Top $100 Billion In 2014, Forrester Estimates – crowdspring.co/1iGdIy3

Another billion dollar exist for a Chicago tech company (Fieldglass) – crowdspring.co/1g4kMtQ

Founders Can’t Scale: Fact or Fiction? – crowdspring.co/1iGeQlb

Apple buying Beats could radically transform the digital music business – crowdspring.co/1nELuZC

Knockoff products … an increasingly growing problem at Amazon – crowdspring.co/1g5t0By

The Mind Does Not Belong in a Cubicle | Atlantic Mobile – crowdspring.co/RsA6Fh

What Zillow Learned From Setting Unrealistic Goals | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1uUZ9zW

socialmediablog

What Influences People To Buy Products or Services? Top 10 Factors – crowdspring.co/1jWAkij

Andrew Sullivan on native ads: Journalism has surrendered | Digiday – crowdspring.co/1kSVlZl

A Framework for Maximizing Startup Marketing Effectiveness | by Tomasz Tunguz – crowdspring.co/1g5sEuQ

Asking why is not always the best strategy | Inside Intercom – crowdspring.co/1jkkJ7A

How Much Can You Really Spend on Marketing? (And The “Problem” With The S+M=ACV Axiom) | saastr – crowdspring.co/1nEMgpF

How to Plan Your Content Marketing Strategy Beyond the Blog (Part 1 of 2) – crowdspring.co/1uUryGu

designblog

70 New High Quality Free Fonts For Professional Designers | InstantShift – crowdspring.co/1iGknYZ

What’s new for designers, May 2014 | Webdesigner Depot – crowdspring.co/RHLHQY

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What Influences People To Buy Products or Services? Top 10 Factors Ross | May 13th, 2014

decisionfactors

Why do people buy one company’s products or services while ignoring the products or services of a competitor? What influences people’s purchasing decisions?

Some, like Clay Christensen, argue that customers “hire” products (or services). It’s a novel theory –  one that requires you to carefully listen to your customers.

People’s purchasing decisions – both online and offline – are influenced by many factors. The following infographic from BigCommerce summarizes the key factors.

Quality dominates people’s purchasing decisions. That’s not surprising. Brands like Apple have gained substantial market share by introducing high quality products. More surprising was the finding that more than half of all shoppers research big-ticket items in-store before buying them online. This offers retail businesses a tremendous opportunity to find ways to convert those customers in the store.

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Small Business and Startup Tips: Enjoying Your Customers For Profit and Fun Mike | May 12th, 2014

When a customer walks through your door, be it a bricks-and-mortar door or a virtual one, it is paramount that they be greeted and feel welcomed into your business. Not just making them at home, or perhaps offering a little espresso, but rather making them feel that you are there to help them, to answer their questions, to find what they are looking for, or to chit chat about whatever is on their mind. There is no reason that the conversations you or your team have with customers should not be enjoyable for both of you. The best conversations are the fun conversations and these are the ones you want to actively encourage.

This means being accessible, being knowledgeable, being thoughtful, and being helpful. Every member of your team, whether it is a front-line cashier or a back-end coder, needs to understand your offering and be able (and willing) to help any customer. A baseline level of availability is necessary to build relationships with your customers; this can be achieved by positioning salespeople on the floor where customers can see them, by adding live chat features to your website, by displaying your customer service phone number prominently on every page of your site, or by communicating proactively through emails, newsletters, or mailings.

But aside from simply being available, of equal importance is how you are available; the quality of your communications count. What possible good can come with a surly or rude counter-person? How do potential customers feel if they are ignored or treated coldly? Here are five things any front-line employee can do to welcome customers, make them feel wanted, give them comfort that you are here to serve, and actually enjoy the interaction!

1. Understand them. The first step in communicating with your customers is to understand who they are, why they came to you, and what the problem they’re trying to solve might be. The basics of this are simple: if someone walks into a hardware store, chances are excellent that they want to buy some kind of tools or supplies, right? But it is impossible to know exactly which aisle they need unless you ask. Anyone in your business who is entrusted with speaking to customers needs a level of empathy and understanding that allows them to help that customer find exactly what they are looking for, advise them on their choices, and arrive at a decision on what they will buy from you that day.

2. Stay off-script. Last week, I had another of those incredibly frustrating calls with a customer service agent on the other end of the line insisted on reading to me (over and over) from the scripted response she was required to deliver. What this particular company (OK fine – it was People’s Gas) clearly didn’t understand, was that every customer is different and every customer’s problem is unique to that person. This is why we train our customer service agents to be natural in their conversations, to be themselves with our customers, and to understand that every response is must be distinct. Building a culture of service starts with the people who deliver that service and teaching them to communicate effectively without relying on a script is a good lace to start. Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #222 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | May 9th, 2014

strava

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The image above is an interesting project from Strava, showing a heatmat of bike paths in the Chicago area. You can look at similar data for any geographic area in the world on the Strava Labs site for biking and running. Here’s a link to the Chicago map, but you can easily navigate to another geographic area.

smallbusinessblog

Raising the Minimum Wage: Why it Matters to Small Business – crowdspring.co/1iitwqt

Founders with Kids – crowdspring.co/1rW91oS

U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created – crowdspring.co/Rr3vPY

startupsblog

Entrepreneurship and Women: How We Can and Should Make “Female” an Unnecessary Adjective | by Kelsey Recht – crowdspring.co/1j0I8Qg

Surprising Trends in Startup Founder Equity Stakes | by Tomasz Tunguz  – crowdspring.co/1njnhbl

The Unraveling of Miami-Based Gui.de | Tech Cocktail – crowdspring.co/1i671VI

Founders with Kids – crowdspring.co/1rW91oS

The math behind why Midwest is a promising place for venture capitalists – pic.twitter.com/43K7jXW9MO

Top Venture Capitalists Leave Silicon Valley, Bet Their Careers On Midwest – crowdspring.co/SEC1rh

The Anatomy of the Perfect Technical Interview from a Former Amazon VP – crowdspring.co/Rswumt

Three Musts to Retaining Superstar Talent | by Jeff Weiner – crowdspring.co/1lVbAHT

Fantastic essay by @abbymyles on the current obsession with design/designers & market realities – crowdspring.co/1lWpMjT

Why Square Needs To Sell Itself–And Do It Quickly – crowdspring.co/1nQ2H4E

How to Know When Your Great Idea is Ready for the World – crowdspring.co/1mAl75N

A Discussion on Material Choices in Mobile – crowdspring.co/1lYw8iS

Unfortunately, SaaS Start-Up Valuations Are About To Fall by 50% | saastr – crowdspring.co/1j3n4bO

U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created – crowdspring.co/Rr3vPY

With IPO Hopes Fading, Square And Box Face Reality Of Commodity Products | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1rWbako

The Collaborative Economy Raises Over $800m In One Month | by Jeremiah Owyang – crowdspring.co/1j0IXIT

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Future, From Virtual Reality to Anonymity | WIRED – crowdspring.co/1rWbCzf

“The sharing economy is on a path to reinvent our economy, our culture and the way we live and work.” – crowdspring.co/1j0HTod

Words of wisdom from Bonobos: don’t hire for experience – crowdspring.co/1nQ25Mo

socialmediablog

21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015 – crowdspring.co/1rTXJ4A

NY Times: 57% Of Online Video Ads Unviewable – crowdspring.co/1mzrq9u

10 ways to fix the unseen video ad problem | Digiday – crowdspring.co/SEBENl

Why It’s Time To Re-Think Real-Time | by David Armano – crowdspring.co/1s04die

The Answer to the Organic Reach vs Advertising Problem on Social Media Channels – crowdspring.co/1rTUmdM

Why Users Aren’t Clicking Your Home Page Carousel | UX Movement – crowdspring.co/1nQ1J8r

Why the social networks are falling apart | Computerworld by Mike Elgan – crowdspring.co/1mAjDIB

designblog

Typography Lovers Rejoice: Font Town Offers More Than 30,000 Free Fonts | noupe – crowdspring.co/1jfIt19

23 Inspiringly Beautiful Portfolio Designs – crowdspring.co/1mVP03W

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Raising the Minimum Wage: Why it Matters to Small Business Mike | May 5th, 2014

In his new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty argues that the gap between the wealthiest members of our society and the poorest has widened significantly over the past decade. Much of this increasing discrepancy is accounted for by the global recession that began in 2008, but much of the blame lies with the policy-makers in the world’s great capitols. For much of the past 6 years, governments responded to the rise in unemployment by instituting austerity measures that did little to reduce the effects of the recession but, it can be argued, actually made the problem worst by magnifying the reduction in demand that led to a downward spiral.

In order for an economy to remain healthy and to grow over time, demand for goods and products must be sustainable – remember small businesses are dependent on the customers who buy their products or services; when those customers no longer have the means to do so, small business suffers. And because small businesses are also customers themselves, consuming lots of products and services  offered by other businesses large and small, they too will purchase less over time, magnifying the problem and quickening the downward spiral. In other words, we are each other’s customers and when one of us can’t pay her bills, all of us suffer.

The minimum wage was established under President Roosevelt in 1938, when congress legislated that no worker should earn less than 25¢ per hour. This increased over the next three decades, such that by 1968, the federal minimum wage was up to $1.60. The last increase in the minimum wage was in 2007, when it was increased to $7.25 per hour. For three decades, policy makers used the minimum wage to slowly decrease the gap between the richest among us and the poorest, but in the past 4 decades since 1968, inflation has steadily decreased the value of the minimum wage, such that it is now worth less than it was at the end of World War 2. The chart above illustrates the gap between the “actual” minimum wage (in gray) and the inflation-adjusted value (in blue). It is this erosion that most hurts small businesses over time; if our customers (and their customers) can afford to consume less and less over time, business suffers. Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #221 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | May 2nd, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above is a phenomenal and fun short performance by four musicians who perform some incredible stunts while masterfully continuing to play their instruments.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business, Culture and Pancakes – crowdspring.co/1mR8eb1

Empower Your Small Business, latest crowdSPRING newsletter: managing remote vendors, marketing tips, culture – crowdspring.co/1hS8brU

The Sharing Economy Is About Desperation | NYMag – crowdspring.co/1k6bGZ4

6 Tips for Reluctant Negotiators | by Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1k6nQRA

Why a standard resume is not enough for hiring – crowdspring.co/1k6oLBD

I always find useful info for Small Business in Gene Marks’ NYT column – crowdspring.co/1fr34QU

startupsblog

Larry Page: The Untold Story | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1k8QdzZ

Why startup biz dev deals almost never get done – crowdspring.co/1fmCrMM

Start-ups are all Naked in the Mirror – crowdspring.co/1hxDXdJ

Some Reflections on VC Investment Decisions – crowdspring.co/1k68xbJ

The Hard Truths of Entrepreneurship – crowdspring.co/1k6tXVS

“The most valuable compensation for working at a startup … is a dramatically higher rate-of-learning (ROL).” – crowdspring.co/1fmEnVQ

Cycling IS the new golf for entrepreneurs! – crowdspring.co/1ftv1Y3

80% of Your Culture is Your Founder | First Round Capital – crowdspring.co/1lk0ZGm

6 Tips for Reluctant Negotiators | by Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1k6nQRA

The Sharing Economy Is About Desperation | NYMag – crowdspring.co/1k6bGZ4

Hottest Pre-IPO Adtech Startups | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1k6cUmV

10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal | 99U – crowdspring.co/1iD9lIC

Who Gets Into Accelerators? Persistent Men With SaaS Apps, Says Study | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1lk1C2o

A Critique of “Don’t Fuck Up The Culture” – crowdspring.co/1mPAZVz

Why a standard resume is not enough for hiring – crowdspring.co/1k6oLBD

Startups Anonymous: Things founders say to investors that are complete BS | PandoDaily – crowdspring.co/1lSUyZ9

Interesting trend at VC firms … design partners | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1k67wjJ

One Startup’s Struggle to Survive the Silicon Valley Gold Rush | WIRED – crowdspring.co/1fmuIOO

Data Doesn’t Speak for Itself | Thomas C. Redman – Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1kf1Xzu

How Founders Can Fight Through The Great Fragmentation Of Talent | Haywire – crowdspring.co/1hxFsZn

The Bubble Question | AVC – crowdspring.co/1mPBizM

The New Role Of Leaders | Digital Tonto – crowdspring.co/1fmuVlc

If Management is the Only Way Up, We’re All F’d – crowdspring.co/1fms5wx

socialmediablog

Marketers Not Prepared for Negative Feedback: New Research | Social Media Examiner – crowdspring.co/1mVP5ES

Is Native Advertising Even Profitable for Brands? | Copyblogger – crowdspring.co/1kl099w

Interesting Facebook post on the viral potential of rumors … The strange truth about fiction – crowdspring.co/1rJBrCv

Are Brands Measuring the Wrong Type of Engagement? (Red Bull as a Case Study) – crowdspring.co/1kf1c9K

The Evolution of Digital Media – crowdspring.co/1ixsITp

Data Doesn’t Speak for Itself | Thomas C. Redman – Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1kf1Xzu

This Advice From IDEO’s Nicole Kahn Will Transform the Way You Give Presentations – crowdspring.co/1k8OWbU

8 Powerful Takeaways from Eye Tracking Studies – crowdspring.co/1iDkmJs

designblog

Cool Stamp Designs | Abduzeedo – crowdspring.co/1iDjYdM

An Utterly Subjective Guide To The Best Chairs At Milan Design Week | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1iDkxUU

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Small Business, Culture and Pancakes Mike | April 28th, 2014

Remember when you were a kid and mom would hang one of your drawings on the door of the fridge? How good did that make you feel to be recognized? To have your wonderful talents displayed for everyone to see? When we celebrate the work of a family member or a team member it is an affirmation of belonging and a recognition of the contribution any individual can make to the group. A great team truly is stronger than the sum of its parts and this goes for companies just as much as it does for families.

Lots and lots has been written about the importance of company culture; how it is critical to growth, to innovation, and to creativity. Too often culture is simply used a buzzword — a simplistic way to say that our company is cool. Culture is not about cool, it is about respecting the contribution of each individual, empowering them to do their best, teaching them that they can and should empower others and, most importantly, making each member of the team feel that they are a part of something bigger, something important. How a company goes about doing this has everything to do with the values they promote and the atmosphere they create.

The values a company works to instill and nurture have to be owned by everyone who works together at a company. Managers can not simply make statements about values, they need to take time to teach values, to live by those same values, and to encourage everyone to do the same. This can start with simple affirmations of each team member’s contributions to the company. A great example of this is how a few years ago Ross started a wonderful project: whenever a customer would write to us with kind words about how one of our folks helped them, he would print it out and tape it to the front door of our office. Over time it came to include dozens of these customer testimonials and it is always noticed and commented by visitors and guests. Every time a new compliment is hung on the door, the entire team beams and the individual recognized has a wonderful proud moment. What this teaches is one of the values we try hard to live by, which is that we are customer-focused and every one of us has a responsibility to serve our users as best we can.

Recognizing that the ‘team’ is the most important asset a company has means showing, every day, that we value one another. Company culture needs to reflect this simple truth and there are easy ways to do so. Start by spending time with your fellow team members: outings, parties, special events, and special projects are great ways to help build strong bonds. It can be even simpler than that; for instance when the team came to my home recently for several days of work together I promised pancakes for all. By taking 30 minutes out of my busy day to cook for everyone I delivered the sincere message that I valued them, liked, them and wanted to have fun with them. Plus, pancakes are delicious.

Every company, every manager, must look for ways to build bonds, support one another, celebrate every worker’s accomplishments, and instill the core values that a company is built on. Plus, can you think of a better way to message how you value your team than by hanging their drawings on the fridge and eating pancakes together? I can’t.

Photo: Dio, Bianca and Yang enjoying cS culture!

Twitter Link Roundup #220 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | April 25th, 2014

streetart

 

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The image above is a piece of cycling awareness street art created by Peter Drew, an artist based in Adelaide, Australia.

smallbusinessblog

7 Reasons You Can’t Be Friends With Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1jrrWok

The Ultimate List of Customer Development Questions – crowdspring.co/1nHT6tS

Run Your Meeting Like a Boss: Lessons from Mayer, Musk, and Jobs | 99U – crowdspring.co/RNro4N

startupsblog

Salaries Startup Founders Pay Themselves | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1nHU2OK

San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Explained | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1mt5kZR

The Ultimate List of Customer Development Questions – crowdspring.co/1nHT6tS

A 3-Day Weekend…Every Weekend? This Company Makes It Happen – crowdspring.co/1i7ejbt

Don’t Fuck Up the Culture – crowdspring.co/RNs9uF

Avoiding common data-interpretation errors – crowdspring.co/RNprpc

Corporate Acquisitions Of Startups — Why Do They Fail? – crowdspring.co/1hrlsaI

Foreign Startup Founders Face Unique Struggles To Break Funding Barrier | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1mJ9Pjd

How Corporations Can Innovate Like Startups | PandoDaily – crowdspring.co/REKKZX

Early Stage Startups: The Biggest Killers | Forbes – crowdspring.co/1mtenKl

7 Reasons You Can’t Be Friends With Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1jrrWok

Run Your Meeting Like a Boss: Lessons from Mayer, Musk, and Jobs | 99U – crowdspring.co/RNro4N

Freemium vs. Free: Why We Ditched Our Free Plan At Trak.io (SaaS) – crowdspring.co/1jrpLBf

Etsy, Home of the Handmade, Takes On a Wholesaler’s Role – crowdspring.co/1mt5DDO

Here’s Why Box’s Aaron Levie Is A Genius | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/RNoInL

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/RNp263

How Google Screwed Up Google Glass | by Gene Marks in Forbes – crowdspring.co/1mus4Gd

Growth rates for Apple’s four major hardware product lines – pic.twitter.com/apLp6PsiHX

Amazon and Google are in an epic battle to dominate the cloud—and Amazon may already have won | Quartz – crowdspring.co/1eVLm7M

socialmediablog

How to Build a Billion Dollar SEO Empire – crowdspring.co/1jrrtm7

Why Search Volume Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think – crowdspring.co/1nHSu7x

Fresh Collection Of Creative Ads | Top Design Magazine – crowdspring.co/1iDk59l

Facebook Launching Mobile Ad Network At F8 Conference | Re/code – crowdspring.co/1musoF6

Freemium vs. Free: Why We Ditched Our Free Plan At Trak.io (SaaS) – crowdspring.co/1jrpLBf

Presentations: Why I Hate Them | by Mike Samson – crowdspring.co/1nCq2nz

designblog

Glossary of Design Jargon – New & Old (Part 2) | Design Shack – crowdspring.co/1m4khi8

20 Compact and Sporty Sans Serif Fonts – crowdspring.co/1ijERL3

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Presentations: Why I Hate Them Mike | April 21st, 2014

I am fortunate enough to receive a handful of invitations each year to speak at various gatherings, conferences, and trade shows. I take these opportunities seriously and understand that I have a responsibility to the event organizers as well as an obligation to the audience.  My goals when speaking are 1) to educate, and 2) to entertain.

Over time and with practice, I have gotten better at both and truly look forward to these engagements when they arise. When I attend these events I always try to watch a few of the other presentations to see what I can learn for myself, and to pick up some ideas from other speakers about how they go about engaging and entertaining the crowd. However, on virtually occasion I am uniformly disappointed. The speakers are boring, the material uninteresting, the presentation lackluster. I sit there in the audience as the bullet points and charts wash over me, fighting sleep and wondering if these speakers have ever heard the word pizazz.

Engaging audiences is not easy. The first step is in taking some time to understand them. Who are they and why are they here in the first place? What are they hoping to learn? With these answers in hands, it is best to think abut what NOT to do, and it’s pretty simple, really. Don’t be boring. Don’t lull them to sleep with endless bullet points. Don’t clog their brains with dense and complicated charts. Don’t drone on and on about the facts and figures that you might be interested in, but that they find irrelevant.

People like stories. If your presentation can tell a story, and if your story is accompanied by  rich, clean visuals  you will draw your audience in and open them to whatever it is you are trying to teach. For instance, if your goal is to teach them about a new method for teaching a foreign language, tell the story about how one person was able to do this effectively and how it changed her life. Give your audience a hook, something that they can easily get their minds around and something that relates to their own lives and it will allow you to deliver the information in a way that will be easy to absorb and will keep them entertained and engaged.

So about those rich, clean visuals? The trick is to keep them simple and uncluttered. Choose a background that will not distract, use a large font, avoid cluttered headers and footers, and use your voice to deliver the information with the slide supporting what you are saying. In other words, the more information you deliver orally and the less you deliver visually, the more successful you will be. Lastly, never, ever stand there and read the slides to the audience. Remember, most of them can read for themselves – they’re looking to you to teach them what they re there to learn; your slides are there to supplement your words and not vise-versa.

Here then (in presentation form) my rules for great presentations:

Read the rest of this post »