Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Preparing Presentations: 5 Ways to Practice ’til Perfect

20 Jul

“Practice makes perfect.”

We’ve all heard it.  Many, many times, in fact.

Although it has been repeated many times over your lifetime, it still rings truth.  In any skill that you choose to pursue, if you practice it enough, you will be nearly perfect at it.  There’s no way to get around it.  Unless you are naturally talented at something or get extremely lucky, odds are the only way to “sharpen your sword,” so to speak , is through repetition.  Now, we’re not going to lie to you.  It takes a lot time and dedication to be a disciplined practitioner of anything.  However, if you can sit down, focus and try your best, you will see clear results.

This mindset also applies to presentations.  For most people, presentations make them nervous, which is natural.  However, you can significantly decrease your nervousness by taking certain steps, carefully preparing yourself for the event to come.  At Big Fish Presentations, we encourage our clients to practice a variety of methods that ease nerves, which makes them more successful and confident in their presentations.  So, we’ve gathered five of these tactics to share with you today.

Here are five ways in which you can practice your presentation skills.

1. Rehearse in front of a crowd

Standing in front of a group of people, giving your speech and seeing their reactions is a great way to boost your confidence in your material and delivery.  Whether it’s a small group of your friends, co-workers, family or even a random group of strangers, the action of giving your presentation allows you to see reactions and get natural human feedback.  This will calm your nerves and make you more comfortable with the entire experience.  Many times, you’ll find that your worst mistakes will surface on this first go-around, leaving you with plenty of time and feedback to correct mistakes and re-organize your thoughts.

2. Take notes

As you practice, it’s very useful to stop immediately whenever you notice a mistake or an uncomfortable moment and jot down a few notes.  In any practicing situation, don’t hesitate to analyze and re-analyze your presentation as you go.  After all, this is why you’re practicing in the first place.  You can write down things like cutting down on time on certain parts, making sure you enunciate tricky words or refining the structure of your talk.  You’d be surprised by how many issues you can find when you take the time to look at yourself closely.

3. Experiment

Don’t keep repeating the same lines over and over again if you think it sounds boring or awkward.  Let loose and find ways to make your presentation exciting for your audience.  Experiment with variations of words, include a funny story, make a joke or two.  Relax!  Remember, the two most important things in your presentation are being clear and being relevant.  Use the stage or props to your advantage.  Ask a particular audience member a question.  Keep your audience guessing.  You can have a lot of fun if you free yourself from the boring presentation structure and have a little fun out there.

4. Time yourself

Timing is crucial in presentations.  It takes practice to nail down a solid time, but the general rule of thumb is to keep it short, simple and to the point.  Since your goal is to decrease time while maintaining quality, practice trimming your message to include the most important and relevant information without the fluff.  Set up a goal of the amount of time that you think is appropriate for your audience, then refine or beef up your talk accordingly.  The more comfortable you are with your time, the more flexible you can be as you give your presentation.

5. Record yourself

By hearing and seeing yourself, you can judge the inflection, speed and enunciation of your voice.  You always want to put yourself in your audience’s position, seeing and hearing yourself as they would see you.  It’s not so much about perfecting your orating skills, although that is important, as it is about showing your personality through your words.  In order to come across original and confident, you want to show your true character and that you’re comfortable in your speech.

All in all, it comes down to carefully observing yourself and constructively criticizing the elements of your speech.  You’ve got to take the time to truly grade yourself before you can expect to deliver a solid presentation.  The true masters of presentations, such as TED speakers, train themselves and prepare extensively in advance for their talks.  If you want to truly engage your audience, be yourself, but most importantly be comfortable with yourself. It’s all about blending your personality with your message and finding the happy medium between your goals and the outcome.

What do you think?  Was this helpful?  Do you have any additional tips or guidelines about preparing for a presentation? Let us know what you think in the comments below, on our Facebook page or tweet us!  Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more awesome content from the Big Fish team!

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25 Awesome Public Speaking Quotes

3 May

Public speaking is the number one fear in America.  Death is number two.

From sweaty palms to cracking voices, speaking publicly can be terrifying, yet it is a crucial skill to have in the business world.  We’d like to alleviate some of this stress by offering up some inspirational, informative quotes.  These quotes are in no particular order, and the speakers range from well-known orators to presentation gurus.  Some are serious, some are classic, and some are short and funny.  Feel free to spread these around, write them in your journals, whatever you want! Enjoy!

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” -John Ford  

“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.” -D. H. Lawrence  

“Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.” -Dionysius Of Halicarnassus  

“What we say is important… for in most cases the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” -Jim Beggs  

“If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.” -Dianna Booher  

“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –Dale Carnegie

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” – Mark Twain

“A good orator is pointed and impassioned.” -Marcus T. Cicero

“Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.” – Joseph Chatfield

“He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.” – Joseph Conrad

“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.” – Alexander Gregg

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” – Lilly Walters

“If you don’t know what you want to achieve in your presentation your audience never will.” – Harvey Diamond

“Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.” – Michael H Mescon

“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” – Mark Twain

“No one ever complains about a speech being too short!” – Ira Hayes

“90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” – Somers White

“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.” – Wayne Burgraff

“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.” – Sir Ralph Richardson

“Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.” – Martin Fraquhar Tupper

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner

“The problem with speeches isn’t so much not knowing when to stop, as knowing when not to begin.” – Frances Rodman

“Words have incredible power.
They can make people’s hearts soar,
or they can make people’s hearts sore.”
-Dr. Mardy Grothe

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain

Kenny Nguyen: Simplistic Design + Passion in Presentations

2 May

Here’s a clip of our CEO/Founder being brave and presenting to a crowd how to deliver a presentation on presentations…without a presentation.  Darn technical mishaps. In the clip below, Kenny speaks about simplistic design, passion, and his story of entrepreneurship.  Check it out:

Note to self…always have a backup plan as the show must go on.

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.

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!

The 3 T’s of Entrepreneurship

5 Mar

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en·tre·pre·neur / äntrəprəˈno͝or/

Noun:
  1. A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so.

Entrepreneurs are game-changers.

By their very nature, they are re-inventors, originators of fresh ideas.

In their day-to-day activities, they take risks and pursue their dreams so that they can continue to push the boundary in their chosen industry.

We believe Baton Rouge is a very healthy environment for entrepreneurs.  There is a community here that truly embraces the entrepreneurial spirit.  Big Fish has been fortunate to grow up in this area, learning from and interacting with the various entrepreneur groups and businesses.  Along the way, we have picked up a few tricks of the trade that have worked for us and that we believe can help you in your ventures, whether they are entrepreneurial or not.

So, here are a few tips we’d like to share with you: The 3 T’s of entrepreneurship

Talent

Simply put, great work comes from great talent.  If you want the best for your business you need the best skills on your team.  You want the best hired guns to get the job done. You want quality, not quantity.  However, this doesn’t mean that you should always hire the brains over the personality.  It means that not just any group can succeed.  The group functionality depends on many variables.  A five-star team can be built in many ways, which leads me to my next “T.”

Team

A company is only as strong as the many elements of which it is made up.  The efforts of a single person or small group of people is definitely influential.  However, in order to make a true impact on the world, there has to be trust (which could be a fourth “T,” but odd numbers rule) throughout the entire organization.  One bad attitude or lazy work ethic can “ruin the bunch.”  Having a cohesive crew of hardworking people makes a bigger splash than a few extremely talented ones.

Trends

Most entrepreneurs exist because they want to change something.  We noticed something in our daily lives, and at one point said, “Hey, I can do that better and differently!” It is important to follow trends because it’s a great way a company can keep re-inventing itself.  Without change, without adaptation, companies would keep following the same business model, and eventually become stale and stagnant.  Now, the other side of this “T” is not always following trends, but setting them.  This is the more powerful side of trends.  Being a trendsetter is very risky, but if pulled off correctly will pay for itself tenfold.

So, there you have it, the three T’s of entrepreneurship.  Again, these aren’t commandments or even rules, but simply tips that have worked for us in the past and which we definitely look to in our ventures.

Keep in mind, these are only our takes on entrepreneurship.  We aren’t so arrogant as to think we know more about it than most.  No, not at all.  In fact, we have much, much more to learn in our business practices, and are on the lookout for the latest ideas and concepts.  We have put some of our ideas to the test, and it has paid off thus far.  We have entered several contests, and have been lucky to have been mentioned a few times in the Baton Rouge area, as well as a bit of national attention.

After some time and hard work, we are in the final round for Inc.com‘s “Coolest College Start-Ups” contest.  We made it through 200 companies and are now in the top 18 nationally.  The voting process to be labeled the coolest college start-up has begun, and we are trying to rally everyone to vote for us.  We entered a pitch video based on a Goodfellas scene that pitches our company for the contest.  If you get a chance, go “like” our video here.

Big Fish Presentations 2012 Inc.com Pitch Video

We are giving it our best shot, using these 3 T’s along the way.  We are always optimistic about the future, and we love our community.  Baton Rouge has played a crucial role in our growth and our passion.  We believe that we are surrounded by young, talented individuals that help us to understand what it takes to be successful.

So, what do you think?  What are your “T’s”?

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?