The request often brings shivers to any producer assigned the corporate history project. But these projects can be fun to work on and a great opportunity for creative expression. The “SAS Corporate Timeline: A History of the Analytics Leader” covers important company highlights in an entertaining way. Produced by Todd Johnson with animation done by Jeff McFall and the graphic and multimedia team at SAS, the program follows five solid design principles.
1) Keep it Short – In the age of on-line video keep the program short. That means prioritizing the most important information to go into the program. For organizations with a short history that might not be too much of a problem, but for organizations that have been around awhile it can be a challenge. Suggestion: When more information needs to be presented, propose a secondary project and build out a more complete timeline in multimedia format. Create a web deliverable to allow users to dig as deep as they like into the organization’s history. Develop a spin off project in print format that can be offered as a PDF download. Your client will appreciate the suggestions and it demonstrates the added value you bring to the project.
2) Select Interesting Content – This is fraught with as much political posturing and agendas as anything that goes on in the UN General Assembly. This is where having one client is so important. These projects will never please everyone, so be sure to please at least one client. The content should lend itself to development of interesting visuals. Text can be used in interesting ways to deliver specific messages while compelling visuals deliver the backstory. Suggestion: This format is ideal for creating multiple versions (i.e. new clients, additional projects, multiple billings!). For those parts of an organization that feel their content/message did not receive enough attention, sell them their own version!
3) Build New – Organizations with a long history are likely to have a storeroom of old photos, films, documents, awards… the list goes on and on. All of this stuff means something to someone. As the producer, it’s important to maintain creative control of the presentation and use, or not use, these materials. Nothing will drag down a timeline project faster than visual discontinuity. Without explanation they can be confusing or meaningless. You might be able to weave them into a background montage, but primary visuals should be constructed new. Suggestion: Historical assets can help bring to life web-based infographics and publication material where written information can detail their relevance.
4) MOS or Narrated – Why not both? Here is another opportunity to add value and build a stronger client relationship. Most clients requesting these projects will have a narrative in mind. However, in most cases these programs find their greatest value in environments where sound won’t work, such as at a trade show, within a demo center, or on a display wall. Build the program so the visuals can stand alone; accompanied by an optional mix track. Create a separate version with a narrative track for situations that are more presentation than environmental. Suggestion: A narrative track should not just drive text visuals. Allow any narrative to supplement the visual elements and add an additional layer of information.
5) Update/Change Flexibility – If an organization is successful the timeline project will need updates. If additional client departments want a modified version, that’s a change request – same with foreign language translations. A year or two after release there will be new history and most likely changes to the corporate message. The changes might be subtle, but changing any video project requires work. Changes need to be planned for ahead of time. Build the project in layers so selected elements can be more easily changed. And archive, archive, archive. Keep everything, label it well, and file it so future updates can be made simple and seamless. Suggestion: If the organization is global, text and language changes are likely requests resulting from a successful project. (Especially true if you market the program to others within the company.) If properly constructed, changes to these layers can be easily accommodated. Less obvious are changes to background imagery. Build into the original presentation the ethnic, gender, and geographic profile that best represents the company as a global organization.
For the corporate producer or the independent, these projects can provide visibility and showcase your abilities. They can be the springboard to additional projects and future opportunity.
At the DMA 2010 Conference, Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, spoke about the importance of listening as an enabler of social web marketing. Active listening is a critical skill in both life and business – just ask anyone who has a spouse or a boss. [Fill in own joke here.]
What is active listening? It’s a process that requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. In the context of the social web, active listening is what enables a business to understand, measure, and take action. It’s the foundation upon which are built the four Cs of social media: Connect, Content, Capture, and Capitalize.
During his presentation, Brogan gave a personal example of the social web and the wisdom of crowds. An impulse shopper, he used the collective intelligence of his broad network of followers to research an electronics purchase. His search started on Google, friends offered their suggestions, and a tweet from H&H Photo in New York closed the deal. “The next thing you know, I’m shopping. I’m shopping, when I was just kind of complaining.”
In this short video clip, Brogan offers some very practical advice on how people socialize and interact with each other across the Web. Learn how business can engage in the conversation, better connect with consumers, and nurture relationships.
Social media veteran Chris Brogan is a prolific blogger and co-author of the best-selling book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.
PowerPoint is the tool marketers love to hate. At least that’s what I hear at almost every conference, seminar, and workshop. At a conference I attended this fall, the moderator of the two-day event declared it a “PowerPoint free zone.” Within five minutes he called up the event agenda… on a PowerPoint chart… so much for a PpT free zone.
There is a lot of good information on-line about PowerPoint design principles. Here’s a tip about how to structure a good PowerPoint chart deck. Use the onion approach, build content layer-upon-layer. This approach can be especially helpful when as a presenter you may not be in control of your time on the agenda.
Chart 1 Title Slide: Often thought of as a placeholder, this could be the most important chart in your deck. Use it to own the topic. If this is the only chart people see from your presentation, it should convey your organizations expertise and leadership. It should include your name and contact information as the thought leader on the topic. If presentations are made available following an event, the only chart from your presentation some people might see is the title slide. Make it good, capture attention, and take ownership of the topic.
Chart 2 Presentation Summary: Skip the agenda and bio slide, make this chart the elevator pitch. Everything the audience needs to know about your capabilities should be summarized on the second chart. That doesn’t mean using 3 point font and cramming in dozens of lines of text. All the rules of effective design still apply. (Large font, limited words per line, etc.) Use images and bold text. Drive home a single take away message about: 1) Features or Background; 2) Benefits or Opportunities; and a 3) Call-to-Action. I’ve been in meetings where the audience (usually a group of executives politicking for advantage) has interrupted the presenter who never got past the second chart. Structure your talk so that if your time on the agenda is hijacked by others in the room, you can still deliver the central message.
Charts 3-5 Key Points: Expand on the three points from the second chart. If time is running short, these three charts provide a bit more detail and can quickly highlight your most important take way messages. If time is not an issue, they can serve as an overview for details to be discussed later in the presentation.
Charts 6-20 Main Talk: If as a presenter you’ve reached this point in your talk, time on the agenda is yours. Use the remaining 15 charts in your presentation to finish your talk. In most cases, 20 charts should be enough to cover your topic. Remember, the charts are not your presentation, you are the presentation. Charts serve to illustrate and reinforce your message.
Charts 21+ Supplemental: If your talk is very technical in nature you may want to have a collection of charts that provide a very detailed, deep dive on the topic. These can be helpful if the presentation ends with a closing Q&A. They can also be useful information if the chart deck is provided in PDF following the conclusion of your talk.
PowerPoint is only a tool. In my workshop I have hammers, saws, wrenches, and a lot of tools I have no idea how to use. I don’t hate my collection of hammers. When I need to drive a nail a hammer works quite well. When used correctly, it’s the right tool for the job. It’s not much different with PowerPoint.
This week I had the opportunity to attend The Economist conference on human potential and developing ideas that matter to both society and businesses around the world. There was great debate on the big issues of how to boost productivity by harnessing the potential of individuals and societies.
During the conference a new report released by The Economist Intelligence Unit focuses on many of the challenges faced by global organizations in the coming decade. Sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the report is a wake-up call for what corporate leaders must do to prepare their organizations for the challenges of operating with a workforce spread worldwide. Survey respondents report their organizations will become larger and more global in the next ten years. They will be less centralized with local operations having the freedom to pursue opportunities that fuel the global organization. Organizational hierarchies will become flatter. At an earlier stage of their career, employees will have more responsibility and greater decision-making responsibility. More contingent workers will reduce traditional organizational loyalty, leading to an increase in employee churn.
What does this mean in practice for how organizations will be managed now and in the future? At Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Joerres spoke passionately about how the role of leadership must change, with senior executives serving as coaches – replacing the traditional role of mangers that control every aspect of their operation. With an increasing number of younger workers, organizations must operate in new ways. That is exactly what Scott Cook, Founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee, has done at Intuit Inc, North America’s leading payroll service supplier. Cook believes the role of the CEO is two-fold: first, set strategic direction and goals; and second, make available the resources necessary to enable employees to deliver on the objectives. Creating such an employee-empowered organization is increasingly essential for workers worldwide to develop a common sense of purpose and belonging. Dr. Jim Goodnight, Chief Executive Officer of SAS, believes in challenging employees to achieve great things and drive the company forward. At the height of last year’s economic downturn, Goodnight made a commitment of no employee layoffs because of economic conditions. The result, in 2009 SAS grew revenue through a dedicated global workforce, despite the most severe economic conditions in a generation.
The economic collapse of the past couple of years points out the difficulty of forecasting how market forces will affect companies over the next decade. Regulatory changes, scientific breakthroughs, and geopolitical events will greatly influence how business executives set strategic direction and goals as Scott Cook is doing at Intuit. Who will succeed? Over the next ten years the businesses that thrive will be those that successfully manage the complexities and paradoxes of operating on a global basis.