I like Blackwings…

I like Blackwing pencils. They write very smoothly. They can’t roll off a table. The pencils have their own slogan, “Half the pressure, twice the speed.” You can even replace the eraser. All of that is great.

The reason I really like them is the story behind the company. No, I’m not going to tell you the story. You’ll have to go here to find out about it.

Including stories in your writing and public speaking makes a big difference. Stories make things interesting and sell.

Stories make a difference…even with pencils.

A quarter each, 3 for a dollar.

Teachers have an on-going problem. Students come unprepared. Often, they don’t have a pen to write with. If you let a student borrow a pen, it will probably never return. If you don’t provide one the teacher is “mean.” When I was a middle school teacher I came up with a simple solution. I put a note on the chalk board that looked like this:

Selling Bic pens was not meant to be a profitable business. However, it served a purpose. And, adding a bit of humor made it a fun activity. Several students deliberately got 3 in order to take advantage of the “deal.” Adding humor can make an otherwise serious activity much easier on everyone.

Perfection

Is this picture perfect? Some people think that the background is a distraction. You can see some greenery and bricks. Other people may question the flower’s colors. They’ve seen nicer colors. A few people would add that it is in the center, thereby ignoring the “rule of thirds.” None would say it’s a perfect photo.

The good news is that it was never meant to be. I have no idea what a perfect photo is, since I’ve never seen one. Every photo that I’ve ever seen, including those by such famous photographers as Ansel Adams, has been criticized in some way.

I happen to like this flower. That’s all. If you do, great. If you don’t, sorry.

Perfection is truly in the eye of the cynic. It doesn’t exist, so try less hard to find it.

Space is valuable…don’t waste it.

It’s true. Supermarkets are much smarter than the average professional…doctor, lawyer, writer, photographer, and on and on. Supermarkets know the value of space. If something doesn’t sell, they won’t keep it on the shelf. Every foot counts.

Professionals on the other hand, give away valuable space…on their business card. The backs of most business card are empty. For a few extra dollars they can have more information that could be a value to your customers. Don’t waist the back of your business card…space is valuable.

Speakers: Do you want good or effective photos?

They aren’t the same. A good photo doesn’t mean that it will be effective. An effective photo doesn’t have to be good.

For a photographer, a photo is good if it is sharp, colorful, composed nicely, exposed properly, and artistic. When a speaker looks at a photo all of these qualities are secondary. Speakers want a photo to be effective by helping him or her make a point.

An effective photo helps emphasize a point. To do so it can be soft, under or over exposed, black and white, and composed appropriately.

Photographers look for art, speakers look for practicality. A bride gazing at her flowers is artistic, a bride looking straight ahead with a smile…sells.

10 Tips for Your First (or next) Presentation

It’s not easy to get up and speak in public. Here are 10 basic tips that may help:

1. Be nervous. The trick is to use your nerves in a positive way. Everybody gets nervous…even actors and politicians who speak for a living.
2. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”
3. Arrive early.
4. Speak to some people in the audience. When you get up to speak, you should think about talking to them.
5. Use props instead of notes…if possible. Looking down at notes is distracting. It is also a problem if you loose your place. Having props lined up in the order you need them will remind you of what you want to say.
6. If you need to use PowerPoint, make sure you are familiar with it and the equipment that will be used when you speak. Practice.
7. If you use PowerPoint, don’t read what is on the slide. However, you can use it to remind you of what you want to say.
8. If you forget to say something, only you will know it.
9. Do not try to memorize your speech. Trying to memorize a speech and then forgetting in in the middle can be devastanating.
10. The audience wants you to be successful. Nobody comes to listen to a speaker saying, “I hope he bombs.” If you have something worth saying, the audience will appreciate it.

Making Your First Presentation Is Like Going On Your First Date

There’s too much talk about the fear of public speaking. It’s not that bad. It can be best compared to a first date.

You get nervous. You’re afraid of what the date (audience) will think of you. You want to make a good impression. What do you do?

You try to find out about the person (or the audience). The more you know the better your date (presentation) will be.

You prepare what you want to say…especially in the first minute so you don’t appear tongue tied. Think about things you want to say…a few important things is all you need. Dates and audiences really don’t want you to fail. It makes them uncomfortable. They want you to succeed.

Dress nicely. Dates and audiences make quick judgements on your appearance. If you look bad, they assume that they are in for a long evening (presentation).

Get there on time…early if possible.

Take a deep breath.

Ring the bell…start talking.

The chances are you will forget some of the things you wanted to mention. The good part is that your date (members of the audience) don’t know what you had in mind to say. Unless you tell them, they’ll never know.

The chances are your date (presentation) will be at least fine. If you get another opportunity for a date (presentation), it will be that much easier. No kidding. Speaking is as easy as your first date.

Presenting without a laptop…

Here’s the presenter’s view of one of my presentations seen on an iPhone

You do not need your laptop to present. Don’t panic, that doesn’t mean you can’t use slides. You can use your iPhone almost as easily as you can use your laptop. You can prepare slides as you normally do, using PowerPoint or Keynote. Your iPhone can be used to send your slides to your projector. I use Keynote on my iPhone. I convert slides made from PowerPoint into Keynote. You’ll need the Keynote app on your iPhone, of course. The only tricky part is how to connect your iPhone and your screen. I use a little adaptor from Apple to connect my iPhone to a projector. There are other ways depending on the way you project. You should check in advance what the projector setup will be at the place you plant to present. Using your iPhone makes your presentation extremely portable.

All of my presentations are in my pocket…are yours?

PowerPoint can help overcome your fear of public speaking…

One way, probably the easiest way, to overcome your fear of public speaking is to use PowerPoint.

Important Note: First you must really know how to use PowerPoint and be comfortable with it.

A key element that causes fear of public speaking is that the speaker is afraid of forgetting to say something. If you use notes, you may not want to look down or forget your place. If you read your speech, the audience will probably not pay attention carefully. Here’s where PowerPoint comes in. 

You can use PowerPoint to remind you of what to say. I don’t mean reading off your slides! Your images or keywords on the screen should be enough to remind you of what you wanted to say. As you go from slide to slide all you have to do is glance up at the screen and be reminded of what you need to say.

Using PowerPoint is simple and very effective.

Remember:

  1. You must be comfortable using PowerPoint.
  2. You don’t want to read from the screen.
  3. You should practice your speech enough to know what you want to say…without memorizing it. Let the slides remind you.

What color are you up to?

Yes, writers write. However, successful writers also revise, or edit, what they have written. Rarely is the first version the best. When movie scripts are revised they print the scripts on different colored paper so that everyone knows if they are using the same up-to-date version. Generally, the colors used are:

  1. White (unrevised)
  2. Blue
  3. Pink
  4. Yellow
  5. Green
  6. Goldenrod*
  7. Buff
  8. Salmon
  9. Cherry
  10. Second Blue Revision
  11. Second Pink Revision and so on…

Whether you are writing a novel, short story, magazine article, or anything else…you need to revise it until it’s ready. When it’s ready…submit it.