Three Slideshare Presentations For The Communications Expert

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Sometimes, Slideshare is jam-packed with beautiful slide decks featuring not only good information but also good design.  Today, I’d like to share three top-notch Slideshare decks with you.

The first comes from Carmine Gallo.  “Talk Like TED: 3 Unbreakable Laws of Communication” is such a powerful resource for communicators and presenters.  The Slideshare presentation serves as promotional material for Gallo’s latest book: Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds.  I love that TED has been become such an important part of pop culture and that the organization has been featured in so many new business and communication books.  We can learn so much from TED presenters, which is exactly what Gallo covers in his book and Slideshare deck.  Check it out below:

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The second is a visual presentation by Illiya Vjestica, The Presentation Designer, and is called “How To Become A Better Speaker.”  I love this deck because of its simple design and important advice.  Vjestica tells us there is not a quick fix or a detour to becoming a strong presenter.  Being a powerful speaker takes practice and dedication to the craft.  “How To Become A Better Speaker” lays out simple advice on how to begin putting in the time and effort it takes to delivering better speeches.  Click through the deck here:

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The third and final deck was created by the folks at Placester.  Called “The 12 Tenets of Content Creation,” this presentation is for business, marketing, and communication specialists who want to learn how to develop and distribute powerful content to share with others.  Advice includes learning how to listen, making a list, addressing questions, researching, focusing on titles, and other expert advice.  As the incoming Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Junior League of Greater Orlando, I will definitely be taking this advice to heart as we develop our content creation and distribution plan for the 2014-2015 League year.

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What great Slideshare presentations have you seen lately?

Building Your Brand Mantra

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This week, my students are working on their Visual Resumes.  One key piece of this visual resume is an identifying statement that helps them differentiate themselves from their competition.  A helpful way to do this is to create a brand mantra.

Chiara Ojeda introduced me to “The First Step To Building A Personal Brand” by Megan Marrs a few years ago.  Marrs says that to create a brand mantra, a person should determine their emotional appeal; determine a description; and determine a function before putting it all together (Source).  For example, Forbes wrote a piece on a legendary fashion icon and designer called “Coco Chanel: Personal Branding Legend.”  Author Simon Graj lists four traits that defined Chanel’s brand.  Read them here.

My students struggle with this idea of a brand mantra because they’re students – not yet professionals – and don’t have all of those answers to the big picture questions at this stage.  So today, I began looking for other articles to help them define their brand mantra.

First, I found an article in The New Yorker called “The Person versus Personal Branding: You Are What You Tweet.”  This insightful piece explains that we can learn personal branding tips from Facebook by “managing your presentation—your behavior, appearance, reputation, online persona—to stand out in your professional and personal lives” (Source).  Now this can be difficult for college students with Twitter streams ranting about an ex-boyfriend or Facebook pictures from last weekend’s kegger.  What I liked about the article was that The New Yorker gives us ways we can strive for WOW-ness.  Our social media, our online presence, everything we do should seek to WOW others – in a strong, professional, positive way.  To get that WOW-ness, the article teaches us, we can consider what we wear, how we shake hands, how your home looks, what charities we give back to, and others (Source).  Though it may sound superficial, the point is “you must collapse your personal and professional life into static, pixel-perfect unity [...] Your entire personal life now factors into your employability. Your livelihood increasingly depends on being likeable and well-documented, and just like a branded product, your basic worth is assessed by the WOW-ness of its image” (Source).  What you post on Facebook, on Twitter, online anywhere is a forever-captured single snapshot in the big movie of who you are… and if your professional persona doesn’t align with your social media persona, your personal brand is in trouble.  I tell my students this, and they say “I know,” yet they don’t live by this advice as evidenced by their social media pages and profiles.

More practically, I found “Personal Branding For Dummies,” which proved perfect for sharing with my class this week.  This piece contained the building blocks for communicating a personal brand; how to create a promise of value; and how to reach your target market along with tips on how to spread brand awareness of your newly-created mantra online.

What great resources would you share with someone trying to create his or her brand mantra?

Leading Effective Meetings

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Presentations and meetings are similar in that both mediums are broken.  The average presentation is boring, worthless, and a waste of time, and so are most meetings I attend.  Before I starting studying effective presenting in 2010, I accepted death-by-PowerPoint as the standard for presentations.  Fortunately, I had a wake up call after being introduced to Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds.  From Duarte and Reynolds, I branched out and began reading books by other people such as Sunni Brown and David Sibbet as well as articles on Forbes and INC, and I had an “ah ha” moment about meetings, too.

Jeff Haden sums up my thoughts perfectly.  Haden says, “Information should be shared before the meeting. If I need to make a decision during a meeting, shouldn’t I have the information I need to make that decision ahead of time? Send documents, reports, etc. to participants in advance. Using meetings as a way to share information is unproductive, a waste of time and, well, lazy” (Source).  So many meetings devolve into a time to share what we’ve been doing, and during these get-togethers, I can barely keep my eyes open.

I thought long and hard about the meetings I attended on a weekly and monthly basis.  Meetings were a constant part of my life – even more so than presentations – since about 2002.  I’d attended countless meetings for work and for volunteer organizations, and I realized that most of those meetings were disappointing because they were only about information sharing.  And as I transition into a leadership role myself as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, I realize I don’t want people to dread my meetings.  How can I use the meeting medium more effectively?

First, I ordered Bryan Mattimore’s Idea Stormers: How To Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs.  The book should arrive this week, and I am excited to read and then review it.

Second, I began researching meetings (again) to collect some ideas on leading effective meetings from experts.  One of the resources I found is GoGamestorm, a website that corresponds with Sunni Brown’s Gamestorming book.  I began combing through the site to see what kinds of meetings I wanted to hold.

In Fast Company’s “11 Simple Tips for Having Great Meetings,” some of my favorite leaders give advice on how to lead a meeting.  Richard Branson says we should keep it novel, and Guy Kawasaki believes we should pretend like we’ve failed.

Third, I considered the purpose of meetings.  Simon Sinek teaches us to start with why.  So why do I attend meetings?  In a world of email, texting, and instant messaging, I can quickly find out information.  I don’t go to a meeting for information.  I go to a meeting to feel inspired, to collaborate with people, to share ideas, and to move people or to be moved myself.  When I compare the purpose of meetings, the “why” is so similar to why we hold and attend presentations.  I cannot WAIT to study meetings for the next few months and hold my first official (and hopefully successful) council meeting this summer.  I will let you know my first meeting agenda once I read Mattimore’s book and GoGamestorm.

How do you lead effective meetings within your work or volunteer organization?  What have other people done to lead a meeting that you considered effective?

Defining My Communication Research Interests

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When I graduated from high school, I attended a community college in my hometown.  At the time, I loved reading and writing, so I decided to pursue my A.A. degree in Communication.  My coursework included many public speaking classes but also many literature classes, and my passion for dissecting novels and short stories grew.  In addition to this love of books and of thinking and writing critically about books, I developed a passion for leadership.  My small community college offered me many opportunities to grow my leadership potential.  I joined and actively participated as a Student Ambassador, a Senator in the Student Government Association, and with Phi Theta Kappa among other clubs and organizations.

When it came time to transfer to a university, I knew I wanted to attend the University of Florida.  I decided to seek a B.A. in English, and I took a wide variety of literature classes.  My favorite course was Irish Literature, where I read The Autobiography of Maud Gonne; Elizabeth Bowen; and, for the first time, a whole lot of James Joyce.  Irish Literature quickly became my favorite genre.  After graduation, I pursued a Master of Arts degree from the University of North Florida because of its many course offerings in Irish fiction, drama, and poetry.  Outside of the classroom, I read Southern authors like William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, and Truman Capote.

RESEARCH

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After graduating with my M.A. in 2008, I took a few years off from attending school as I transitioned into a teacher role.  I taught classes at a community college and then at a university.  Four years later, I returned to higher education for a second M.A. in Communication from the University of Central Florida.  I’ve been taking one class at a time since 2012, which moves slowly but gives me ample time to read, study, and consider my path.

This semester, I am taking a communication theory course which comes at the perfect time in my academic career.  I am considering PhD programs as well as the kind of research I want to do in the future.  Now that I have almost completed 15 graduate COM hours, I can also begin thinking seriously about my thesis.  But there was and still is a problem… I haven’t quite figured out how my previous interests while pursuing my M.A. in English will intersect with my current M.A. in Communication.  Where would the research collide?  How could I mesh both worlds together?

Answering these questions started with an important first step.  In my discipline, scholars are either qualitative or quantitative researchers, and I knew after only a few semesters that I am 100% qualitative.  Since most of my professors were quantitative scholars, I knew I had to network to find people with similar interests to guide me.  My classmate suggested I talk to Dr. Sandoval, and as soon as I stepped into her office, I knew I’d found a mentor.  Her work, her thought process, and her focus inspired me.  After 45 minutes of talking with me, she sent me on my way with three books on critical theory that I haven’t been able to put down.  In addition to my favorite professor, Dr. Hastings, I’ve now connected with the people who will shape the researcher I plan to become.

Learning about all kinds of communication theory this semester has gotten me closer to identifying exactly what I want to research and study as I continue with my PhD.  I am interested in critical theory, social constructionism, feminism, dialogue, and identity.  I want to learn much more about ethnography.  I also want to keep looking for where those communication interests meet with my favorite literary works and authors.

I can’t wait to finally find my path and to forge ahead with new research that will invigorate me and maybe even inspire others!  Are there any other Communication graduate students out there struggling with identifying their research interests?  I’d love to hear from you!

Chip and Dan Heath’s Advice For 2014

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Ever since I read Made To Stick in 2011, I’ve been in love with Chip and Dan Heath.  They released Switch, which I read in early 2012, which was a great take on persuasion.  I signed up for their mailing list, and I received a great email on the last day of 2013 with advice for the new year: 4 research-backed tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolution.  To join the Heath brothers’ mailing list, sign up here.

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What I loved most about the email was the reminder of all of the free stuff on their website!  If you sign in, you will see the free resources divided by book title.  They have 8 items that go along with their book Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work including the entire first chapter, a workbook, a podcast, a book club guide, and a 1-page WRAP model summary for your desk.

You will also find resources for both Made to Stick (“Teaching That Sticks” is an amazing pamphlet for superteachers) and Switch as well as a completely free e-book and audio book for The Myth of the Garage, a collection of columns the brothers wrote from 2007 to 2011.

Do you know any authors who offer free resources on their websites?  Share with us in the “Comments!”

The Ultimate Guide To Unplugging

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Unplug

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I am a big fan of unplugging.  I gave up Facebook years ago and recently quit Twitter this summer.  Living without social media is incredible.

Last year, I tried something I called “Solitary Sundays.” My goal was to go without computer, television, and telephone for one day a week.  This worked very well for about two months, but then I let work and grading for my online classes get the best of me.  I would love to go back to spending one day a week without technology.

What ways do you “unplug” on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?  Any recommendations?

Charisma As Something You EARN…

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My students learn about charisma when we discuss delivery.  Some scholars have found that delivery influences audience’s perceptions of charisma more than any other factor (such as content).  Some people buy into the idea that charisma is a gift bestowed on the precious few.  I firmly believe in this idea that charisma is an action, something we do, something we work toward and develop through our interactions with people over time.

We can have a nature versus nurture debate all day.  Certainly, yes, some people learn at an earlier age than others how to appeal to the needs of people.  Even so, I believe a personality trait is something we can all grow over time.  While we may never all be at the same level – the pinnacle of “charismatic,” we can work to develop our charisma over time.  Therefore, I believe charisma is a combination of both nature and nurture, and I believe it is something we can develop.

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The BBC News recently published an article about charisma.  Researchers claim that charisma boils down to three things: 1) showing passion, 2) inducing passion in others, and 3) avoiding the influence of other charismatic people (Source).  Researchers also claim “charisma” is 50% nature and 50% nurture.  While I don’t know that we can specify charisma as 50/50 in every single case, I support the idea that we can grow our charisma.

Jeff Haden discusses charisma in “How To Be More Charismatic: 10 Habits Of Remarkably Charismatic People.”  I like Haden’s approach.  He says charisma isn’t something we are but is something we do, a collection of people-centered actions.  He describes 10 ways we can be more charismatic.

First, we can listen more than we talk.  Second, we can really hear people and listen closely to their needs.  Third, we can put our “stuff” away – our devices – so that we really connect with people.  Fourth, we can give before we receive and sometimes never receive at all.  Fifth, we can stop acting as if we are self important.  Sixth, we can make other people feel important.  Seventh, we can shine a spotlight on others.  Eighth, we can carefully select our words.  Ninth, we can stop discussing the failings of others and gossiping about people.  Tenth, we can readily admit our own personal failings (Source).

Even if we weren’t born charismatic, using Haden’s tips, we can make a choice to grow and cultivate this personality trait in our everyday lives.  After all, haven’t we already learned from Amy Cuddy that we can fake it ’til we become it?

What are your feelings on charisma?

Deactivating Twitter

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During my vacation, I realized I could live without Twitter.  So I deleted my account.

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I used and enjoyed the social media site for many years, and I much prefer Tweeting over Facebooking.  I also found that Twitter was a great way to share my professional work: blog posts, Slideshare presentations, and interesting articles.  However, I also found that I was wasting quite a bit of time each day scrolling through my phone or computer to see updates from other people.

Since I have a really tough few months ahead of me with school and work, I wanted to eliminate some unnecessary “time-wasters” from my life, and I found that Twitter had become one of those.

Did you recently delete your Facebook or Twitter accounts?  How did you feel after deleting?

The Science of Persuasion

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“The Science of Persuasion” is a terrific look at advertising, marketing, and persuasion in the 21st century… I love the Influence at Work YouTube video, and there are so many things I want to teach my students about persuasion based upon this angle.  While I have been using Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick as a vehicle to explain persuasion, I think this could be another version of a strong persuasive lesson…

How do you teach “persuasion” to your business students?  What resources work best as opposed to the standard Aristotle ethos/pathos/logos approach?