Archive | April, 2012
Video

Congrats to our Client Red River Bank!

29 Apr

Check out this fun project we did for Red River Bank on their success for hitting the $1,000,000,000 asset mark!

It was the first time our video team did an illustration/time-lapse video, and the response we got from Red River Bank debuting it at their gala was very positive.

Thought we’d share with our readers their success!

5 Small Business Tools We Love:

29 Apr

DISCLAIMER: So I know this is a presentation blog, but hear me out; I just love the sport of business and the subject of entrepreneurship. A friend recently asked me about some tools I use in my business and that inspired me to do this blog post.

While I would love to write about the latest new business tools available, the tools I write about below are actual online tools we use daily to run Big Fish Presentations.

If you would like to chat further about tools I didn’t talk about below, feel free to shoot me an email at kenny@bigfishpresentations.com. I’d love to chat and maybe we can both learn something!

– Kenny

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As any owner of a growing startup, your job title may be CEO, but sometimes you may have to play other roles to get things done (such as accounting, sales, marketing, and, sometimes in our case, fish tank cleaner). Large corporations often have the “luxury” of having large departments handle their day-to-day operations while small business owners, like myself, are left multi-tasking quite frequently.

Luckily, there are some online tools out there that make life a LOT easier when it comes to handling finances, managing projects, tracking employee hours, and communicating with your customers.

While we’re sure that there are other great tools out there, below are 5 awesome online tools we use daily that we can vouch for:

1) Wave Accounting:

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Category:

Finance

What is it:

Wave accounting is a free easy-to-use online application that helps small businesses manage their accounting.

Why’s it awesome:

  • It pretty much can run as your small accounting department.
  • Generates organized and easy-to-read journal entries, balance sheets, expense reports, etc.
  • Very easy to use, even for accounting amateurs.
  • Syncs with most banks and updates automatically with your banking transactions.
  • Gives you an option to insight into your own personal finances.
  • It’s free. Period.
  • Offers great deals from various advertisers.

Bottom line:

Awesome tool for small business owners wanting to keep track of their finances.

2) Clockspot:

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Category:

Payroll

What is it:

Online application that lets employees clock in or clock out from any computer or phone.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Easily track employee hours.
  • Employees can post progress reports to show what was done for each clock-in session.
  • Generates payroll data to excel with online employee time sheets.
  • Free 30 Day trial with different pricing options for size of team.

Bottom Line:

Awesome web application that provides a very convenient way to track employees time records from multiple locations. Even more awesome this platform generates payroll reports.

3) Asana

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Category:

Project Management

What is it:

An easy-to-use customizable project management tool that tracks projects while keeping your whole team in the loop.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Great way to keep track of projects and prioritize tasks.
  • You can update tasks through email.
  • Receive email updates when projects are updated
  • Shortkeys make it very intuitive to use.
  • Can assign tasks to certain individuals
  • Other individuals can follow tasks to receive updates on progress
  • Activity feed provides chat-room like updates on projects or tasks
  • The attach file feature is pretty handy.
  • It’s free for up to 30 users!

Bottom line:

Founded by a former co-founder of Facebook, this web app provides a great way to track projects, reduce email clutter, and manage tasks with teams. We also love the clean interface.

4) Dropbox:

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Category:

Cloud Storage

What is it:

Cloud storage for files that can be accessed through almost any computer and mobile device.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Great tool to access files anywhere on the go.
  • Syncs great to your desktop computer or mobile phone.
  • I can’t honestly ever remember a time when the servers were down.
  • Shows a track record of actions done on folders.
  • Can share dropbox to collaborate on projects with friends, family, team members, clients, etc.
  • Syncs with other apps like dropitto.me & Asana (see above) to provide better project management.
  • Starts off free with 2GB, but also gives option of various payment plans for more GB storage.

Bottom Line:

Literally one of the handiest tools we have ever used at Big Fish Presentations. Keeps all our files accessible for all of our team members to access anywhere. Very handy also when wanting to send large files to clients.

5) Google Voice:

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Category:

Communication

What is it:

One of the Google App features that allows users to register a free number that can be used to reach you no matter where you are. It also keeps track of your voicemail through an online portal.

Why’s it awesome:

  • Provides one number that can reach all your phones (i.e. cell,home, office) at the same time.
  • Can make calls with number through phone app or online portal.
  • Customizable voicemail greetings for different groups.
  • Can send free text messages with the google voice number.
  • Voicemails are transcribed and can be sent to your email.
  • Syncs with your google contacts.
  • Low rates for international calls.

Bottom Line:

Very handy for small businesses when phone landline cost are deemed unnecessary and you would rather just designate a mobile phone as your office phone.

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While I’m sure there are tons of other great small business online tools out there, the tools featured above have proven to be very useful in our business.

We would love to hear about any useful tools that have helped changed your business below in the comments section. If you personally use any of the tools we mentioned above, please mention any creative ways you use them to get the most out of it.

We’re always open to learn over here at the Big Fish Presentations office.

Happy Sunday and be sure to subscribe to our blog (in the top right corner) for future presentation tips + updates!

[UPDATE] Other services we utilize that was not mentioned above are online calling platform Skype and file-sending service Yousendit.com.

Big Fish take on Innov8: How the Presentation Guys Presented on Presentations Without a Presentation.

26 Apr

Photo courtesy of BBR Creative:

Hey it’s Kenny. So I normally don’t write blog posts (I leave that to our brilliant copywriter Luke), but I thought this week is special. Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking at one of the LAUNCH hour luncheons at Innov8, Lafayette’s week-long festival highlighting the city’s growing entrepreneurship scene, innovation, and community. I was asked to deliver one of my “How to Create a Kickass Presentation” keynotes to the audience, which I speak about frequently, so I didn’t bother too much on changing things up. But unbeknownst to me, I would soon be giving a very different version of my keynote. All due to a lack of preparation and a slight dose of carelessness.

You see, one of the worst things happened right before I took the stage; something that I hope would never happen to any rising entrepreneur before their big moment.

The electronic display system went down.

What that basically means is that Kenny is about to deliver a presentation on presentations WITHOUT a presentation (For fun, here is the original presentation I intended to give: Presenting an Experience).

While I thought getting an hour early there would help with the setup,  it ended up teaching me a huge lesson: You can only control what you can control. As a presenter, it’s YOUR fault if you can’t deliver and the show must go on. Would I be so sick to deprive this wonderful audience knowledge that can possibly help pitch their next $1,000,000 idea all because of a lack of a slideshow? Hell no. I know what I’m talking about and took this as a personal challenge to make a huge point to the audience- audiences are more likely to remember the presenter over the presentation.

So, taking a deep breath, I went up there and gave a presentation on presentations without a presentation. And it felt great. Presenting without a slideshow made me feel liberated and even more conversational. Some even thought I did the lack of a slideshow on purpose. After all, who’s crazy enough to talk about proper slide design without any slides?  Apparently this guy:

I felt great afterwards and the audience’s response was very warm. I felt like this ended up being a blessing as I got to still show the audience my passion on presentations without any visuals. I even got the nickname “mad genius” from one of the audience members. Life was good, momentarily.

However, on the way home, I realized I might not be so lucky next time.

I realized I was lucky because I knew my material extremely well and rehearsed and presented this particular presentation multiple times. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through my experience, so I pondered most of the day on things I would recommend any presenter to do before their next big presentation.
Here’s my list:

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1) Check audio visual at least 24 hours in advance.

This one is a no-brainer, but I still managed to screw it up.

I only checked my equipment needs prior to my event, but in retrospect I should have tried a quick run through of my presentation the day before. I quickly found out that one hour was nowhere enough the time needed to fix things.

With at least a 24-hour response time, this should leave you ample time to find a substitution or solution.

However, if it’s last minute disasters and things are really out of your control…

2) Don’t back down and make excuses if things go wrong.

Sometimes you can’t help it if things go wrong and you’re left slideless. Something tells me I earned more respect from the crowd by not backing down what I promised to deliver to them. Unless this slideshow contains extremely critical information you can’t present with, my advice is to always have a backup plan to deliver. 

Which why it’s important to…

3) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Now while it might not be our fault that the venue’s system couldn’t display our presentation, it is 100% our fault if we didn’t know the material. We took the lack of visuals as a challenge and an opportunity to prove 1) audiences are more likely to remember the presenter more than the presentation, 2)  your presentation is meant to be a visual aid, not a presentation crutch, and 3) rehearsing and practicing your presentation is the most important preparation factor to a great presentation. 

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Now, me and my team would love to hear about your biggest presentation mishaps below and how you handled them. Perhaps we’ll compile the best responses in a blog post and share them to our readers in the future. I bet that would be one funny blog post!

All in all, just remember what I said in preparing beforehand on your presentation. Hopefully this blog post will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made today.

I’ll also be sure to update this post with footage of the event when my videographer Dave gets a break. Poor guy got a speeding ticket on the way back to Lafayette.

Good luck and happy presenting,

– Kenny Nguyen

PS: We wanted to say special thanks to three wonderful groups: 1) to the The Graham Group for inviting us to come speak, 2) the Acadiana Advertising Federation for sponsoring our event, and 3) The Acadiana Center of the Arts for having us at their venue. What a learning experience today for all of us and thank you for letting us play a part in this wonderful Innov8 festival!

INNOV8

25 Apr

Here at Big Fish, we stick by our belief that it takes studying great work in order to create great work.  Without analyzing the masters of an art, it is impossible to produce work of the same caliber.  So, in order to give you all a sense of work that we admire and perceive as some of the greatest, we have broken down two presentations, providing commentary and insights.  Enjoy!

Ken Robinson – “Schools Kill Creativity”

 

0:36 – Begins with a joke

Starting the presentation with humor warms up the audience to Robinson’s presence and gets us acquainted with his style.  We are slightly emotionally invested in Robinson because we can appreciate his insights as being relative to our own in some sense.

 

0:43 – Jumps into the three themes of the conference thus far, explaining each and providing commentary.

We have established an outline of the presentation, which has given us direction in terms of the two major concepts that we are about to explore: Education and Creativity.

 

3:32 – Makes another joke

A pattern has emerged that illuminates Robinson’s personality.  He is lighthearted and witty. He has already captivated the audience, keeping them intrigued and laughing.

3:45 – Tells two humorous stories

Robinson’s stories are both funny and useful to the purpose of the presentation.  Robinson explains that despite being wrong, the fundamental sense of confidence that children possess, which often leads to creative solutions.

 

6:01 – Applies this concept to the current state of education and subsequent workplace of today’s children.

Robinson has given us useful, memorable examples and applied them to a concept.  This tactic of storytelling combined with humor makes the concept stick more effectively in the audience’s mind.  We remember those children and the reinforcement of the concept makes the message resonate thoroughly.

 

6:57 – Proposes the idea of a young Shakespeare

Robinson uses this seemingly irrelevant rant to subtly keep the audience’s mind engaged with the concept.  At this point, Robinson is nursing the concept, drawing the crowd in with stories and questions about various scenarios.  He has expertly blended humor, concept and story into the audience’s mind, and we are truly enjoying the learning process.

 

7:53 – Segways into a short, personal anecdote about his son’s girlfriend

This is really the first time that Robinson strays from the central message of the presentation.  Thus far, his stories have added value to his concepts, but in this section he is simply giving the audience a glimpse into his past, his experiences.  By letting the audience see and hear of Robinson’s past, we are becoming increasingly invested emotionally.  We can sympathize with his feelings through his commentary.  We relate to him as a human being, and therefore trust his judgment as he prepares to delve into the heart of the concept.

8:43 – Shifts into an explanation of educational hierarchy  

            At this point, Robinson has shifted from small stories to explaining the structure of education in modern society.  He is getting to the meat, so to speak, of the problem and addressing it head-on. 

 

11:27 – Addresses the reason for the current system of education (i.e. history, thought process, etc.)

Robinson diagnoses the problem of education by attributing its misdirection to the direct need for jobs or positions in companies.  Robinson is slowly etching away at the core issue, breaking it down into segments with stories and/or ideas in between points. 

 

11:55 – “The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.”

 We have now reached a slight turning point in the presentation.  Robinson is not introducing concepts for a base any longer.  Instead, he is using the foundation that he has created to push forward with a larger idea, a real-world application that involves speculation and requires action.

 

13:02 – Introduces the idea of “academic inflation” and the need to “radically re-think our view of intelligence.”

This term has risen as a result of Robinson’s theory of a revolution in education.  He has explained the problems by illustrating examples.  He has addressed the structure of the system.  Now, he is defining a set of new ideas that are aimed specifically at said problems and structure.

 

13:10 – Explains the three qualities of intelligence: diverse, dynamic and distinct

Although late in the presentation, Robinson’s 3 D’s of intelligence is perfectly timed.  After laying out concepts, providing anecdotes and proposing solutions, Robinson’s tactic of introducing elements of intelligence so late only reinforces, not weakens, the foundation thus far.  By re-hashing, so to speak, the ideas he has presented, Robinson is able to keep the concept fresh in the audience’s mind. 

            *A common mistake in presentations is to push the points out up front.  This leaves the audience with nothing to look forward to, but it also leaves room for the audience to forget the points.  Save your most valuable information for the latter stages of your presentation to ensure it resonates.

 

17:54 – Wraps up the presentation with a final series of statements about reforming education for the future by using and exploring creativity in our children.

Here is the call to action, the final request by Robinson of the audience to change the way we perceive education.  He has provided us with examples of students who have done remarkable things with their talents.  He has given us statistics, quotes and case studies.  However, the most important section of this presentation, and most all presentations, is its call to action.  Without it, this would just be meaningless musings on a topic.  The call to action gives meaning and strength to the message being presented, while challenging the audience to participate independent of Robinson or TED.

 

Message:

            The structure and practices of public education are in dire need of redirection.  Creativity is being stifled to make way for practical solutions to industry.  This pattern cannot continue.  The human mind needs imagination in order to provide solutions to world problems.  Without creativity, we will be stagnant, and our practical solutions today will be irrelevant tomorrow.

            Sir Ken Robinson charms the audience with short stories, inspiring concepts and bits of humor.  However, he ties all of these elements together with an overarching theme of education reform through embracing creativity.

 

 

Steve Jobs – “Stanford Commencement”

:34 – :50: Jobs introduces himself as a college dropout and establishes a way to relate w/ the audience.

:50 -:54:  Jobs sets a “thought roadmap” for audience by saying presentation will consist of 3 stories (Rule of 3)

:57-1:00: Explains Story Theme is “Connecting the Dots.”

1:01-2:08: Tells background of his birth to set the stage of Steve attending college.

2:09-2:11: Steve tells the audience how he dropped out of college and was looking for purpose. This is the changing point in the story and a way he can relate to college students looking to find their way.

3:30-4:41: Leads into story of how Jobs dropped into calligraphy classes. Explains how those classes affected the typography of the Mac.  (Basically the purpose of the story is how college can impact your life.)

5:00-5:37: Explains meaning of story

5:39-5:42: Announces Story Theme Two is “Love & Loss”

5:43 –7:16: Explains how he loved building Apple into a 4000 employee company. But then he lost everything when Apple kicked him out. This set the stage of him coming back and how him getting kicked out of Apple was the best thing to ever happen.

7:17-8:54: Explains meaning of Story

9:06-9:08: Announces Story Theme Three is “Death”

9:10-9:18: Use quote on death to set basis of story and how it impacts Job’s view on life.

10:11-11:33: Explains how he had pancreatic cancer and came close to dying. Managed to beat cancer and see life in a different way. This sets the stage of Jobs reflecting on how he should live his life.

11:45-12:51: Explains meaning of story

13:08-13:22 – Closes speech with a conclusion story that tells you the point of the stories. “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.” Strong close with a quote.

Why this presentation succeeds:

  • Used Rule of Three to give audience a “thought roadmap”
  • Had a consistent structure for three main points of speech.
    • State Theme of Story=> Tell Story => Explain Meaning of Story
    • Detailed how going to college was integral to a Fortune 100 company’s success (creates a way to relate with the audience and they can do it too!).

So, as you can see this can be a long process, but it’s worth it in the end.  After studying this, you can see how much work goes into mapping out the structure, choosing the right wording, etc. in a presentation.  It takes planning and timing, as well as many other small, crucial elements to present effectively.

What do you think about these presentations?  Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page or Tweet us!

Spark the Conversation!: Audience Engagement in Presentations

20 Apr

 

Anyone can stand up and speak to an audience.

Even if you’re deathly afraid of public speaking, you can squeak out a few words on stage.

However, rarely do you come across a person who speaks TO the audience and not AT them.

You may be thinking, “Well yeah, but I’m the exception.  I’m a fantastic presenter!”

I don’t want to flatten your ego, but there’s always room to learn, my friends.

The average presenter is comfortable on stage.  He or she is very well spoken, even charming in their delivery.  They make you laugh, learn and think.

All of this is great, but in order to take your presentations to the next level, it’s imperative that you reach out and personally engage with your audience.  They need to know that you care about them, that you are tailoring your message and speaking directly to their hearts and minds.  We’re all people, here! (Unless you’re speaking to a group of animals or talking to yourself…)

This idea of audience engagement is often overlooked.  The audience is usually unaware of its absence.  The presenter feels confident enough that he or she disregards or forgets it.  Like I said, the majority of presentations you will see or have seen do not involve the conversation, the engagement.

But do you really want to just be average?

No! Your audience deserves to be a part of the presentation, to be involved in the experience.

If you don’t believe in this stuff, look at it this way: If you simply regurgitate your slides or relay some tid bits of information, your audience might remember it.  That funny joke you said might be repeated at the water cooler.  BUT, if you involve them, if you ask them questions and listen to answers, they will absolutely remember the way you made them feel.  They felt important, and they felt your message resonate with them because they were a part of the explanation.

Feelings trump logic any day of the week.  Look it up!

So, how do you do it, this conversation thing?

Well, it’s really quite simple.  Have a conversation!  Be open to questions or comments.  Feedback is your best friend when engaging your audience.  Pose questions.  Get answers. Get the audience moving and smiling.  Keep the blood flowing!

Depending on the size of the audience, you may be limited to certain activities, but nonetheless it is still important to maintain the audience engagement whether speaking to a crowd of 5 or 5,000.  An audience is an audience, and they still need to be a part of the conversation despite their size.  You can still ask questions, and even get answers, when presenting to a large crowd.

So, in your next presentation, remember to engage your audience.  Remember to be different, to not simply sell an idea, but to create cohesiveness between a concept and a person.  Bridge the gap between talking and sharing.

Spark the conversation!

The Future of Presentations: Tupac’s Hologram

17 Apr

Tupic is alive…via hologram at least.

On Monday, the world was abuzz with the recent videos of the infamous deceased rapper, Tupac Shakur, performing on stage at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

 

 

The seemingly 3-D rendering of Shakur was created by the special effects company Digital Domain (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Titanic”), while AV Concepts installed the plate of glass and the lighting that brought the hologram to life. “Although the perception was of a 3D likeness of Shakur, the image was actually a 2D image. Shakur’s likeness was projected onto an angled piece of glass on ground, which in turn projected the image onto a Mylar screen on stage.” (CBS News) This unique approach to concerts is only the beginning, according to Dr. Dre.

So, is this the future of presentations?  Am I going to be showing holograms of my old PowerPoint slides?  Am I going to be giving presentations as a hologram myself, perhaps?

I wouldn’t go that far just yet.

This was a $400,000 project and took months of preparation and planning.  However, I would say that the future of presentations is a bright, digital one.  We are in the midst of a technological shift from smart phones and tablets into motion sensors and 3-D images.  The world is becoming more tangible. People want to feel and experience the media.  They want to be a part of it.

Now, just because there is a significant change in the way we receive our information doesn’t change the need for style and personality in the message.  People want to be spoken to and with, not preached at.  More and more, people crave to be catered to and thought about and cared for.  Technology is speeding things up, but the message can’t be dumbed down for the sake of this speed. We will continue to enjoy and embrace new technology.  We will remain dazzled at the new inventions and sleek gadgets that come our way, but we will never lose the desire to be heard and to share experiences with other people.  It won’t be all robots and screens.  It will all come back to the emotional connection that users experience and enjoy.   It won’t be about flashing cold bits of information to people, but about having a conversation and getting responses.

 

 

So, as you watch that new Prometheus trailer or see Tupac on his virtual tour, keep in mind that these are all simply methods to interact with an audience.  They are new channels with which we can engage our audiences, but they are not replacements for clear communication.  They are not alternatives, but supplements.

Remember to engage your audience, even while using the latest and greatest gadgets.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of a technological revolution or just an anomaly in the midst of our current technology?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Tweet us.  E-mail us.  Leave a comment on our Facebook page.

We love feedback!

Presentation Memes: Part Two

11 Apr

After some requests, here’s our next batch of presentation memes and ways to avoid these situations…enjoy!

Humor by far is one of the most effective things to do during a presentation. However, it’s one of the toughest to achieve. Based on your setting, mood, personal relationships with audience attendees, humor can either be a hit or miss. Don’t try to be funny, just be yourself. Comedians frequently use self-deprecating humor to make their audiences feel “more at ease” and “more relatable” with scenarios. If you are going to use humor, tread very carefully.

Want to get the audience to hate you really fast? Try pitching your business for 60 minutes. There’s nothing we hate more than we attend conferences and the whole time the presenter is pitching his product/service. He’s reeking of sales. The best salesmen are not salesmen, they are educators. Leave your audience with something worthwhile, they can already tell you’re an expert!

This is part of the 38-55-7% rule. 38% of presentation is judged upon tone, 55% is judged upon body language (facial expression being the most powerful) and 7% is verbal arrangement (what you actually say). Stand up, smile, and show that you’re excited, man.

Practice, practice, practice. It’s ok to be nervous, it means you care. Please before delivering your presentation go through a couple of run-throughs. Nothing feels better than you knowing your material and not having to read off a full text slide. An odd trick we tell clients is to film themselves presenting. When it comes to the point they can watch themselves present and not feel embarrassed, they’re ready. We normally do a lot better than we realized when giving presentations…so how does that feel like when we rocked it?

Got any other presentation vices out there? Feel free to post your own memes or horror stories. We’ll post on our facebook our favorites.