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In a previous post we discussed reasons why websites under-deliver revenue, even when Web analytics show significant traffic. What strategies can businesses take to perform beyond their efforts in SEO, Paid Search, and Social Media?

Consider these ideas:

1. Improve content, by delivering information that immediately relates to target prospects. Create
headlines that offer something special. Is it attractive pricing? Is it a unique capability? Is it some other kind of reward for reading more? Tell them.

2. Emphasize interactivity. Make your page a conversation, instead of a one-way lecture. But interactivity needs to be more than asking people to answer questions or filling out web forms. Enable them to control what they see, and inject their own opinions.

3. Embed high quality video. Many people ignore extensive text, but will sample the first seconds of a video. Those first few seconds are critical. They need to make a personal connection with the viewer and offer a reason for continuing.

4. Embed a voice-narrated “Smart PowerPoint” presentation to deliver your message. Smart PowerPoint is a relatively new kind of presentation that bears little resemblance to the dull, text-intensive vehicles that are ignored by many viewers.

5. Create a hybrid Interactive Video, by embedding a PresenterNet Showroom presentation. Running in auto-play mode, this voice narrated presentation may pause occasionally to offer the viewer an opportunity to redirect the ongoing discussion. The presentation may also pause after certain points to ask the viewer questions or request evaluation of points that the narrator has made. Viewers therefore stay engaged, choosing the content they see and hear, as well as and scoring it. This kind of presentation also offers viewers an opportunity to request more information, or to otherwise respond immediately onscreen to the presenter’s call-to-action.

Note: We will offer more complete information on “Smart PowerPoint” in an upcoming post, and explain how it supports a PresenterNet Showroom presentation.

 

Many of us love social media advertising, but selling a line of products or services online requires an effective website. Big companies with gigantic budgets create web presence primarily for branding. But most of us expect websites to produce direct business.

We spend hours on wording, graphics, photos, and catchy headlines. Then push social media, online advertising, SEO, paid search ads and anything else that may drive website traffic. Web analytics may then indicate significant traffic gains, yet business doesn’t increase nearly as much.

Why? It’s because we haven’t considered the behavior of web visitors. Here are some facts to help us understand and engage them:

1. Even if people visit your site based on something for which they have searched, they usually spend only a few seconds on the page they reach, unless something compels them to pay closer attention. Many reach your site expecting something different, and exit immediately. Many others are simply curious, and are not even remotely qualified to become your customers.

2. Many read only headlines. If your headline doesn’t inspire them, they may be lost forever. Few read long blocks of text, no matter how well you have written it.

3. Photos are usually glossed over, particularly if they are just shots of attractive people. Viewers see stock photos on virtually every site. If your photos don’t tell a unique story, they won’t be memorable, or even noticed.

4. Pages filled with text bullets are treated like boring PowerPoint slides and seldom rate more than a quick scan.

5. Videos may rate an initial click, but visitors won’t spend more than a few seconds unless quality is excellent, messaging is crisp, the video is short and to the point. And unless videos have a call to action that people can follow immediately, they don’t impact business.

So what formula will deliver your message and stimulate business? In our upcoming posts we’ll explore some answers.

PowerPoint presentations vary in quality, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

Sales people, instructors, corporate managers, consultants and network marketers deliver an estimated 40-million PowerPoint presentations every day. Many of these are totally effective, meeting the needs of both the audience and the presenter. But many more are only moderately successful, with monotonous media that leaves the audience bored and unfocused. And many others appear to be thrown together, undermining the presenter and destroying his or her entire message.

Many presenters have access to professionally designed media, but create their own, despite an obvious loss of quality. Although they may take this route due to time constraints, their choice is often because they are not comfortable with stock media that is available to them. Although it may have a professional appearance, it usually doesn’t fit the individual presenter’s personal style.

Most presenters personalize stock presentations, usually by eliminating some slides, adding a few new ones, or editing wording. The result unfortunately is often a patchy presentation that spoils an otherwise professional appearance.

Either approach—professional design or “roll your own”—has definite advantages and disadvantages. Professional designers can produce attractive slides with aesthetic appeal for audience members. But many presenters feel that they don’t tell the story in a way that matches their needs. Yet few front-line presenters have the training, patience or time to produce high quality media.

Some professionals argue that the best way to improve quality is to provide PowerPoint training for presenters. This approach may sound OK to people inside of company headquarters, but has little appeal to people on the front line who don’t have the time or patience for additional training.

The best approach is for design professionals to provide media that has strong, ongoing input from presenters. Although they may get their initial marching orders from internal managers or marketers, they need to have presentation content that actual presenters have approved and want to use.

Small companies—even home-based businesses—may have the best opportunity to use high quality presentation media. Since they don’t have in-house design departments, they can find a professional service that meets their budget, yet customizes presentations that are directly defined by the presenters who will use them.

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(Click Image Above for Demo)

This is the age of YouTube, with entertainment and information for billions of viewers every day. However, many businesses upload short videos to promote their products and services, and experience very little impact. That’s because simple videos alone can’t really tell a detailed business story.

But YouTube videos viewed within PresenterNet’s interactive presentations tell a story more much effectively. This combination creates a high impact presentation that strengthens both and creates a new kind of business tool.

YouTube videos are perfect for numerous applications within online presentations. They provide full motion animation of customers, company spokespeople, or celebrities delivering authentic messages. Within an online presentation they blend with images, text, presenter narration, and background music to tell a powerful story.

Presenters are using the PresenterNet YouTube app in both live presentations like webinars and on-demand pre-recorded presentations. (Click the Image Above for an on-demand demo.)

Some presenters take advantage of existing YouTube videos. The short demo (click image above) illustrates use of a famous, charismatic figure to provide an inspirational moment in a training presentation. Other use publicly available video like famous movie scenes, and short comical pieces that inject lighter moments to break up a detailed presentation.

PresenterNet’s YouTube app enables presenters to end a video at any desired point. Presenters can therefore show only a few seconds of a video, rather than delaying the presentation through an entire performance.

Many presenters make their own simple videos and upload them to a private YouTube channel. Integrated into PresenterNet, these videos become effective for customer testimonials, product demonstrations and messages from company executives.

Creative presenters can integrate full motion video from YouTube with animated text and images to produce on-demand presentations similar to very high-cost commercial productions. That’s why this PresenterNet app is rapidly gaining popularity with small and home-based businesses.

Cloud Computing is one of technology’s hottest and most important new online capabilities. PresenterNet is the first and only presentation platform to offer it. This new operating method enables users to store, manage, and process their media on a remote server network instead of using programs and storage on their personal computers.

Users store an unlimited number of PowerPoint presentations, images and other media in the PresenterNet Cloud and can then use them immediately, 24 X 7. Since processing is entirely online, they can spontaneously use any computer from anywhere to present to online audiences of any size. They have no need to carry a laptop with a specific presentation version, since they can rely on the Cloud to have the latest version anytime they need it.

Even during a casual conversation, a user can make a snap decision; borrow a handheld device like the HP Slate, Blackberry Playbook or Samsung Galaxy; and present animated slides to highlight the discussion with pictures, graphics and text.

Users can also pre-record narrated presentations and make them available from the Cloud, to be viewed on-demand from anywhere.

What Does Presenting from the Cloud Mean to You?

If you are part of a team, all teammates can present the same presentation at the same time, and be assured that they are all presenting the latest version.

If you are managing the team, you can know that all of your team members will be using media that you have approved as being correct and current.

If you are an individual presenter, you can turn a phone conversation into an online presentation, without any need for set-up, system testing or PC search. Or you can borrow someone’s laptop in a face-to-face meeting, and immediately put your best foot forward with a local presentation.

Presenting from the Cloud is a revolutionary change, enabling anyone to spontaneously present without fussing with technology. With just a few clicks, you’re good-to-go.

Social media like Facebook and Twitter provide excellent methods of expanding your contacts and keeping people interested in your activities. But social media alone can’t tell a sales story that generates new business.

One way to tell a richer story is to embed a video or link to a YouTube video on your Facebook page. A professionally produced video can tell your story and present the right style and tone. Unfortunately an effective video by a professional studio is usually too expensive for a small business. Businesses that can’t afford that kind of service need a cheaper, better solution

Use Web Conversations Embedded in Facebook

A more cost effective alternative is a low-cost, high-quality medium called a Web Conversation. You can embed a Web Conversation on a Facebook page, in the same way as a video. And once the Web Conversation player is embedded, you can easily edit or change the presentation without professional help.

Small businesses create Web Conversations using PowerPoint. The results however, feel more like a high-quality, professional, interactive video. They utilize a constant flow of animated photos, graphics and text that tell a story smoothly, narrated by a business owners recorded voice with a musical background.

To ensure business effectiveness, Web Conversations are interactive. The narrated voice can request responses and ask questions like: “How much does this interest you?” “Would you like us to call you? Please enter your name and phone number.” “What would you like to hear about today? Please select one of the following.”

Web Conversations are natural part of a Facebook-based business strategy. Facebook helps to expand your contact base. Web Conversations tell the actual story which receives multiple “Like” button endorsements seen by friends of your friends. Then the interactive features of Web Conversations collect contact information from viewers who choose to speak with you.

The picture above links to a sample Web Conversation. It tells a story about a cosmetic business, using professional stock photos. Click here to view this short, effective presentation.

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Most of us watch television and claim to ignore the commercials. Yet even small companies spend a great deal on TV commercials for one reason: they work. Large national or global companies spend an average of $350-thousand dollars to produce elaborate videos with sophisticated special effects. However, small companies in local markets with much smaller budgets still create effective commercials by following some of the same rules on a much smaller scale.

Online presentation creators can learn a great deal from small-scale commercials that produce substantial financial returns. Whether we present through live webinars or on-demand website presentations, TV commercials offer valuable lessons.

Lesson number one: Keep it simple. Successful commercials—even infomercials—seldom introduce multiple ideas. Whether they are promoting a restaurant, a tax prep service or a tire store they state their basic message in as few words as possible and then offer several proof statements to support it. Invariably they end with a call to action like, “call now”, or “stop in and talk to us”. They don’t make the fatal mistake of many PowerPoint presenters who try to tell a complex story by including a deluge of details.

Lesson number two: Use multi-media to deliver ideas. Some viewers absorb information from a narrator’s voice. Many people need to see the same words written onscreen. Still others relate only to pictures. Most effective commercials use all of these, along with graphics because each of these media forms strengthens understanding of all of the others. Most commercials also use background music, because the human brain retains more information, both consciously and subconsciously, with musical accompaniment.

Lesson number three: keep some form of motion on the screen. Low-budget commercials can seldom afford cartoon-style animations, but they continually change parts of the viewer screen by fade-in or fly-in of new pictures, new text, or new graphics. These changes keep viewers focused.

Online presenters can follow all of these rules with effective use of PowerPoint. That usually means that we need to eliminate some of the typical parts of PowerPoint presentations, especially the ones that bore audiences. Smart commercial creators never use screens full of static text bullets. When they use text it fades in or flies in to support the narrator’s message and disappears in a few seconds. Good commercials never dwell on a single picture, but constantly change to multiple views. Graphs and charts are used in their simplest forms and seldom dwell onscreen for more than a few seconds. If charts need to make more than one statement, they appear in segments as animations.

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The most effective on-demand PowerPoint presentations tell a story online. And the most effective stories benefit from rich background music.

Used properly, background music can transform relatively humdrum subject matter into a compelling presentation. Like moviemakers who use music behind scenes to create different moods, online presentation creators need to select music appropriate to their subject matter. For best results it’s important to select music that fits each presentation. Music chosen only according to a presenter’s personal taste can make an entire presentation feel out of balance. For example, serious classical pieces might be out of place behind a presentation around contemporary subjects like social media strategies. So-called “big” pieces that seem to signify earthshaking announcements are incompatible with relatively simple material.

To ensure that music doesn’t violate copyrights, presenters can select royalty-free licensed material for their backgrounds. Online sites like Music Bakery (http://musicbakery.com) provide a rich selection of music catalogued by type and available for instant audition. Most pieces are available as inexpensive 30-second clips. PresenterNet users can upload short clips to their online Showrooms and set them to continuously loop during an online presentation. The result is a low-cost musical background that offers the same results as purchase of a more expensive piece.

Effective use of background music provides a polished effect that makes all presentation elements work harmoniously. Presenters creating on-demand material need to act somewhat like movie producers. A major element of their success is coordination of disparate pieces within their presentations. Background music is one of their strongest tools for pulling together voice, text, photos, and graphics so that they all fit together smoothly.

By using tools like music, concise voice narration, fast auto-advance, well-timed animations, and high-quality photos, presenters create an on-demand product that is entirely different from a typical PowerPoint file posted on a slide-sharing site. A fully integrated multi-media presentation flows smoothly and maintains viewer attention to meet the presenter’s goals.

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Total online traffic for on-demand presentations can be huge. But if presenters don’t capture viewer interest or imagination immediately, their messages may never be delivered. Online audiences bail out quickly. So continuing our discussion of “Do’s and Don’ts” for on-demand presenting…

DO: Begin with an intriguing attention step.

The powerful ocean wave pictured above kicks off a presentation, along with sounds of crashing ocean surf. The narrator picks up the theme by using the phrase “new wave” in discussing newly launched products. Another presentation we recently hosted began with a 10-second video clip of hectic nighttime traffic whizzing through city streets, and added the background sounds of beeping horns, emergency vehicles, etc. The narrator begins by emphasizing stress in daily life, and works into a pharmaceutical product to relieve stress and anxiety.

Other examples include humorous pictures, heartwarming kids, or beautiful scenic photos. These and many other attention-grabbers create audience interest and maintain viewer focus for the main content of an on-demand program.

After delivering their primary messages, presenters can close presentations by re-visiting their opening attention-grabbers, and tying their final remarks back to the original theme. The final scene doesn’t have to be identical to the opening. For example, a humorous cartoon opening can result in an alternative cartoon closing, while obviously relating to the central theme.

Attention grabbers usually need more than a single image. Sounds, background music, animations, and other devices enhance the effect and subtly build viewer interest.

But here’s our first “DON’T.” Poorly conceived attention grabbers can also make a presentation appear amateurish, and undercut its credibility. A few examples we’ve seen include clip art depicting fireworks, gunshot sound effects, mushroom clouds or suggestive photos.

DON’T present anything that doesn’t directly relate to the central presentation theme.”

Effective use of attention grabbers is an important part of creating effective on-demand presentations. Posting a slide presentation on a website or on a public slide-sharing site seldom works well without narration, background sounds or music. And a typical PowerPoint title slide will seldom excite potential viewers.

Initial attention grabbers are only one of several items that make on-demand presentations different from standard PowerPoint files. On-demand presentation must move quickly. To effectively deliver their messages, they require more photos or graphics and less text.

Internet viewers treat an online presentation somewhat like a YouTube video. They expect slides to change automatically. If they need to click to advance them, they won’t keep watching for long. They will either move on, or click ahead looking for something more interesting. This generally means that brevity is important, and every slide must be narrated and understood in a minute or less.

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Engaging your audience during online presentations—either live or on-demand format—requires skills different from those used in a face-to-face meeting.

When we attend a face-to-face presentation, most audience members remain seated, despite a presentation that may be dull and boring. Even the worst examples of so-called “Death by PowerPoint” seldom cause a mass exodus. Audience members may mentally tune-out, doodle, or read online email from mobile phones and laptops, but they usually remain physically captive. That’s somewhat good news for struggling presenters who may find a way to recover after the first few minutes. However logistics, scheduling and travel constraints also keep their audiences comparatively small. And having all of the “right people” in a room at one time is virtually impossible.

Live online presentations and webinars provide better opportunities for larger audiences, and easier scheduling for the “right people” to attend. However, audiences can leave without being impolite. Many audience members will multi-task, since they have no presenter eye-contact. Presenters therefore must grab and hold their attention early. Online success requires attention to all aspects of the presentation: excellent script or notes, a well-practiced presenter, clear messages, attractive slide design, and perfect coordination.

On-demand presentations have the highest potential impact of any presentation medium. Often embedded on a website, they can be viewed 24 X 7 for months at a time. Along with typical web and search marketing traffic, on-demand presentations attract viewers through paid search like Google AdWords, and email marketing.

Nevertheless, every on-demand presentation must grab and hold viewer attention within the first 15 seconds or the presentation fails. Without the need to register or identify themselves, viewers treat an online presentation like any web page or video. If they’re not immediately engaged, they bail. And they are usually lost forever.

Our next few blog posts will explore the “Do’s and Don’ts” of on-demand presentation. We’ll begin here with our first “DON’T.”

DON’T ever post the slides from a live presentation on your website or a slide sharing site without embedding voice narration. Slides that may have been easily understood when supporting a narrator’s voice, do not deliver their message without narration. They are somewhat like watching a TV commercial with sound muted. And if slides are filled with text bullets, viewers will seldom read and completely understand them.

DO create a well-scripted narrative and embed it for each individual slide. Re-do the presentation to remove any unnecessary slides. Then embed narration and time it carefully to support the view onscreen, especially if the view changes through animation.

We’ll provide tips for creating a clear, professional style narrative in our next blog post.

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