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2015

PowerPoint_Presentations_body.jpgby Robert Lerose.

 

When used with care and attention, PowerPoint can be an effective tool that helps you engage with the audience and bring your delivery to life.

 

However, before you accept your next speaking engagement, consider these suggestions for PowerPoint success from Gale Dunlap, president and founder of Standout Strategies, a Boulder, Colorado-based small business consultancy:

 

1. Keep the number of slides to a minimum.

Use slides to emphasize a point or to elaborate on something in your talk, not to repeat the talk itself. Fewer than 25 slides is a good goal to shoot for.

 

2. Use only a few words on each slide.

Long blocks of text are overwhelming and hard to read by members of the audience. Instead, use a list of short bullet points to underscore your message. No more than two to three bullets per slide.

 

3. Don't read the slides.

Audience members came to hear you speak—not read—to them. Repeating what is on the screen makes you appear unprofessional and robs you of any rapport with the audience. The purpose of the slide is to "elaborate" on something in your oral presentation and to deepen the audience's understanding.

 

PowerPoint_Presentations_PQ.jpg4. Make your slides easy to read.

It is tempting to design your slides with dazzling typefaces, but it is also distracting for the audience. Clarity and legibility should be your guidelines when putting your slides together. Choose a classic typeface, such as Times Roman, Helvetica, or Arial. Make sure that the print is large enough for the audience to read easily, such as a 30-point font size.

 

5. Use slides with appropriate graphics and colors.

Displaying information graphically can liven up a presentation, but err on the side of caution. Use simple images, such as pie or bar charts that contain a spare amount of data. Be sure to explain the chart so that the audience understands its importance. "Colors should be conservative—not hot pink and lime green," Dunlap says.

 

6. Be selective about inserting special effects.

It's usually wise to stay away from overly dramatic special effects, such as starbursts or shrinking fonts. But one effect to consider using is "appear" animation, that lets you highlight two important points on a slide one at a time. When used judiciously, they can heighten your audience's attention.

 

7. Prepare diligently for your presentation.

Conscientious speakers always rehearse their presentation until they have it down. This is especially true when you're using PowerPoint. Get comfortable coordinating the timing of the slides at key moments during your talk. To become proficient, print out six slides per page and make notes for yourself that can act as triggers when you address the audience. Asking the audience questions is also an excellent way to keep them involved and alert.

 

With a few thoughtful guidelines, you can turn PowerPoint into the effective tool it was meant to be, enhance your presentation, and serve the needs of your audience.


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

Hostile_Reviews_body.jpgBy Heather R. Johnson.

 

In the age of new media, anyone can be a critic. Review sites such as Yelp, Google, Yahoo! Local, and Angie’s List, among others, can benefit small businesses by expanding their online presence. SEO agency BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey states that 88 percent of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

 

Unfortunately, along with glowing praise can come a few disparaging remarks. Consumers will occasionally fire off uncensored, negative reviews of a product or service without considering the consequences. Sometimes, these reviews go beyond critique to hostile, potentially damaging, and factually untrue.

 

Business owners have multiple ways to extinguish this fire of negativity and foster productive communication. “It’s important to take a step back so that you don’t respond in a defensive or aggressive manner,” says Jim Hunt, partner at New York City-based law firm Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt.

 

Next, find out from your employees if the customer has a legitimate complaint. If so, it’s time to offer an apology. “You have to respond in a civil, professional, helpful manner,” says Hunt. “Depending on the circumstances, if you say, ‘We’ll do whatever we can to make it right. We’ve been in business 25 years, and we’ve never had this type of complaint before,’ you’re reframing it in a positive light.”

 

Hostile_Reviews_PQ.jpg

If your Yelp page has only a few reviews, casually ask satisfied customers to share their thoughts to garner positive comments. In particularly hostile situations, an online brand reputation company can help clean up your online presence.

 

Although it’s difficult to convince a site to remove a customer review, it’s still wise to go through the dispute process. “If you can provide proof that a competitor or a disgruntled former employee wrote the review, the site might take it down,” says Hunt. “If you can provide documentary proof that what the customer said was not true, then you have a good shot at getting the review taken down, as well.”

 

If a customer does make untrue statements or posts repetitive hostile reviews, legal action may be necessary. Opinions (“I think the hamburgers at Joe’s Diner taste terrible.”) are protected under the First Amendment. False statements of fact that harm a person or business, broadcast and published to a third party, can constitute defamation, which is grounds for a civil suit. (“Joe’s Diner failed a health inspection.”)

 

However, think long and hard, and consult with an attorney, before taking legal action. “Defamation cases are difficult to win, and it’s hard to calculate the value of a business’s reputation,” says Hunt. It’s also expensive. Aside from attorney fees, the business owner will likely spend much of his or her time with lawyers rather than running the business. In the case of the repeat reviewer, consider a cease-and-desist letter before filing suit.

 

Oftentimes, a hostile review stems from a knee-jerk reaction to a situation. The wise business owner will do the opposite. Keep calm and carry on.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

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