Posts Tagged ‘presentation’

Flexible Focus #70: The Carp of Creativity

by William Reed on September 22, 2011

If you have ever been in Japan in early May then you will remember how the landscape is covered with carp streamer kites (koinobori), suspended on high poles and streaming in the wind. These are to celebrate Children’s Day (Boy’s Day) on May 5th, and are flown in hopes that boys will grow up strong and healthy. This national holiday follows the Girl’s Day Japanese Doll Festival on March 3rd. The symbolism of the koinobori is based on the legend that the carp swims against the stream, climbs a waterfall, and becomes a dragon. It is a powerful picture of the power of swimming against the stream, the very opposite of going with the flow.

Author Steven Pressfield wrote a book called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which describes a process by which writers, artists, musicians, and anyone engaged in a creative endeavor can overcome the internal and external resistance which comes of swimming upstream to create something new. In some ways, the stream acts and filters out all of those who lack the resolve to press through and create something new. After all, it is much easier to simply allow yourself to be swept along with whatever else goes downstream. As Pressfield says, it takes a special mindset to overcome resistance and achieve the unlived life within.

You need something other than sheer will power to help you navigate against the stream. You need fins and a strong tail to weave your way against the current and overcome gravity. When it comes to publishing and presenting, the Mandala Chart can give you an added advantage in this process. There are 8 key words that can help you see it through.

  • Passion. This is the driving force, the tail of the carp. Without passion your project hasn’t any hope of meeting or overcoming resistance. People without passion are mentally and physically set adrift in the stream, and subject to its whimsical nature. However, if you know what you want and are driven to achieve it, you have what is called a “fighting chance”. If you don’t yet know what you want, look deeper to see what drives you.
  • Perspective. This is the eye of the carp, which provides a sense of direction and helps stay the course. Any creative person must have a vision, a point of view, a perspective. The creative task of the artists is to give shape to what he or she has seen, and thereby transport others to it. The witnessing precedes the rendering. If you lack a clear perspective, you can deepen what you have by exploring the perspectives which other artists have rendered, and then search for your own.
  • Preparation. These are the muscle fibers of the carp which strengthen from use. It is the daily search and struggle which builds creative staying power. Because creativity rarely proceeds in straight lines, it is the muscular zig zag which finesses the current and allows the carp to swim against it. It is like this in the creative process, which is constantly in search of ways to weave its way back to the source. If you lack ideas and inspiration, you can more easily find it by keeping a daily log of your ideas of insights, which will develop your creative muscles and keep your thoughts in flow.
  • Pressure. This the current of resistance against which creative people must swim to create anything new. It comes in all kinds of forms physical and mental, and is the undoing of all who give into its subtle force. The current is actually not strong enough to stop you, if you manage to master the creative process. But if you yield to it and surrender your creative spirit, it can cause you to procrastinate, compromise, or even give up. If you feel you are weakening to the pressure, think of the resistance as your ally and don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Think of it instead as the rope ladder which will help you to climb higher.
  • Platform. This is the riverbed, which supports the stream and provides all kinds of interesting shapes and variations in the current. It is in these that you can find opportunities to express your ideas and develop your creativity. It is also the media through which you publish and present. Today there are many options and formats for a personal platform, either in print or online. You may start with a blog or Facebook account, or you may wish to create works in tangible form that you can share with others. A platform is a place where people can find you, experience and enjoy your work, as well as comment on it. Using such platforms to talk about what you had for lunch will only interest a very small audience. Why not use it as a means of practicing and improving the way you express ideas, the way you capture them in titles, the way you express them in visual or auditory form?
  • Productivity. These are your writing tools and techniques, the fins of the carp that steer and shape your path. Every artist, every writer, every musician, and every creative person has discovered ways to be productive, to give more fidelity to their message, to express the finer nuances. If you follow or befriend a creative person, you will find that they are often more than happy to share their secrets, as others have done for them. To be productive is to produce, to continuously create and give shape to your ideas and insights. It is an essential part of the process, and that which gives you momentum for the big leaps ahead.
  • Presentation. This is the carp climbing the waterfall, the thrilling leap that transcends the limits thought impossible. It is the goal of swimming upstream, and represents the performance, the big stage, the formation that precedes the transformation. It is not a single event, because truly creative people continue this process as long as they live, and leave behind a creative legacy that in some cases is treasured for generations to come. Not everyone can be a Picasso, but each person can achieve something of creative value, if you overcome resistance and bring to life that which is inside struggling to come out.
  • Payoff. The character for Carp 鯉 consists of two radicals, that of fish 魚 and that meaning home or place of origin 里. In a sense the payoff for the Carp is returning to its original form, freedom achieved after persistent creative efforts to overcome resistance, to climb the waterfall, and to transform into a Dragon. For many artists, this is enough, although they may and should also be able to earn a living, gain recognition, and help spark the creative spirit in others through their work.

As a reminder of the elements of the creative process, you can download here a Mandala Chart entitled The Carp of Creativity. Whatever your media or message, a wonderful way to ensure your creative growth is to overcome resistance and find ways to publish and present your ideas and insights. When you awaken your creative spirit, you will find all kinds of resources and resourceful people come out to support you on your path. In time the resistance you felt in front of you seems to be replaced by a counter current pushing from behind which drives you forward and keeps you in creative flow.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Now is the time for you to begin using video to market and sell your books and build your personal brand. Video is easier than ever. In fact, the cost of getting started has dropped to zero.

That’s right: free!

I’d like to show you can start building your online video presence today, even if you haven’t had any previous video experience!

What do you need to get started?

You probably already have what you need to get started. You need:

  • A Twitter username and password. The solution I’m recommending, Screenr.com, is based on your Twitter.com username and password. Screenr will automatically notify twitter each time you publish a video. After that, you can manually ReTweet your video on your blog and website. You can also embed the HTML code for the video.
  • Microphone. You’ll also need a microphone, or headset, connected to your computer. Headsets are better because they free your hands to advance the visuals. If you already use Skype, you’re all set.
  • Presentation software. I recommend using a presentation program like PowerPoint as the foundation of your initial videos. PowerPoint makes it easy to plan, illustrate, deliver your videos, pacing the delivery of your message.

You can, of course, use MindManager mind maps, or a desktop publishing to illustrate your points as you describe them.

What is Screenr?

Screenr.com is a web-based recorder integrated with a hosting platform and close ties with Twitter.com.

Screenr eliminates the need to:

  • Buy, download, and install new software
  • Learn new software
  • Choose a hosting platform
  • Upload files after recording
  • Manually create links to each video

Screenr is part of the Articulate Group, an established e-learning firm. Articulate publishes leading e-learning software. You may already be familiar with their Rapid E-learning Blog and their Articulate Word-of-mouth Blog.

What can you do with it?

As I see it, the most important tasks Screenr helps authors do for free is:

  • Build anticipation for your book as you write it, walking readers through your book’s table of contents as you discuss your goals
  • Preview the front and back covers of your book as soon as they are finalized, showing different options and discussing why you made the decisions you did.
  • Prepare for your book launch by sharing the details of your book launch with your marketing partners
  • Walk readers through each chapter, describing the goals of each chapter as well as previewing the illustrations and reader engagement tools, like exercises and questions, to help readers put your ideas to work

The number of ways you can use Screenr to promote your book is only limited by your imagination. You can also use Screenr to share audio and video testimonials from experts and readers. You can share new information as it becomes available. And, you can drive readers to your website and build your e-mail list by showing the bonus materials you offer to readers who register.

How do you use Screenr?

Start by visiting screenr.com and watching their 1-minute video. Then, register using your Twitter.com username and password. Screenr will verify and remember your Twitter information.

To begin your first recording, press the Record Your Screen Cast Now button. This takes you to the Screenr record screen, where you’ll be prompted to resize your screen to highlight just the portion of the screen you want to record. In my case, I set the recording screen to the size of my PowerPoint presentation, as shown in the picture.

When you’re ready, press the red Record button. When you’re finished, press the green Done button.

Screenr then takes you to the Publish Your Screencast page, where you can:

  • Preview your screencast
  • Describe your screencast in 117 characters, or less
  • Tweet! your screencast and add it to the screencasts displayed on Screenr
  • Delete your screencast, so you can start all over

What’s the most important thing to remember?

If you’re new to video, the biggest surprise you’re likely to experience is how quickly 3 or 4 minutes go by! Because time flies when creating a short- -i.e., 5-minute, or less- -video, you have to limit the number of ideas and points in your videos and you must limit the number of words used to address each point.

To master the power of conciseness, I encourage you to follow a 3-step process:

  • Step 1. Use PowerPoint to create a structure. Begin each video by creating a short PowerPoint presentations, like the one shown here, to storyboard, or organize, your ideas and provide a pacing tool for narrating each slide.
  • Step 2. Prepare a “script” for each presentation. Use your favorite word processing program to select the words to accompany each of the PowerPoint slides. The script is not for you to read word-for word during your video, but simply to drill the main ideas into your brain and guide your discussion of each point.
  • Step 3. Record, preview, delete, and re-record. Don’t expect to get it right the first time. You’ll probably require multiple takes to get it right, but, that’s OK. (That’s what Screenr’s delete button is for!) Do it again and again, each time eliminating a few ideas or unnecessary words, or replacing long words with short words. Pay attention to the elapsed time indicator as you record, if you find yourself spending too much time on a slide, do some editing!

Like so many of the other skills needed during your Author’s Journey, video success is a matter of doing it over and over again until it’s right. As you work, your comfort with this new medium will quickly advance.

My first video, for example, took me about five hours to prepare. My second video, however, took less than 3 hours! Most important, the more I work with Screenr, the less time I need. I need less and less time because I’m becoming better able to judge the number of words needed to accompany each slide.

Have you been putting off video until you “have the time?”

If you have, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to build your personal brand and sell more books. Screenr is not the only option, of course, and- -at some point- -you may select a more powerful video platform. But, right now, it offers you an easy way to get started creating an online video platform and building anticipation for your book without spending any money. Share your experiences with Screenr, or any other online video solution. Share your experiences and lessons-learned with other Active Garage readers as comments, below.

Visit my Active Garage Resource Center, where you can download the script I created for my second video, plus additional worksheets for previous Author Journey topics

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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In many ways, teleseminars are the ideal tool to launch your book to great success. Teleseminars make it easy and affordable for you to generate advance orders for your book, leading to a successful book launch.

Why teleseminars?

Here are some of the reasons teleseminars work so well for nonfiction authors:

  • Free. Let’s start with the obvious; most teleseminar services are free. Combine this with the “free market” opportunities of e-mail and social marketing (blogs, Twitter, etc.) and you have a dynamite marketing tool that far surpasses the free tools available to authors in previous decades.
  • Easy. Teleseminars are easy to prepare and deliver. All you need to do is prepare a simple outline, or mind map, or outline, of the topics you want to discuss.
  • Personal. Teleseminars build enthusiasm and early “buy in” for the launch of your book. Teleseminars not only build familiarity and trust, but listening to you discuss your book as you write creates a community that wants to see your book succeed.
  • Pre-publication testimonials. Discussing and sharing drafts of your upcoming book with teleseminar attendees will inevitably lead to live and e-mailed pre-publication quotes which you can use on your website and for promoting your book.

But, perhaps the most important benefit of a teleseminar series about your book is the opportunities they offer for pre-selling copies of your book before it appears.

Advance sales

There are two benefits of advance sales. If you’re self-publishing, advance sales can generate cashflow before your book appears. To benefit from advance sales, you’ll want to create a meaningful incentive- -beyond just a pre-publication discount- -such as audio copies or transcripts of your calls, or PDF copies of bonus content, such as special reports or worksheets.

Advance sales are equally important if your book is being published by a trade publisher for bookstore distribution. Bookstores pay careful attention to advance orders; titles with strong advance sales on Amazon.com and other online retailers. Bookstores will view advance orders as evidence of strong market interest in your book, increasing the likelihood they will increase their initial orders.

In addition, evidence of strong advance sales might also free up some additional marketing support from trade publishers.

Promoting your teleseminars

Promoting your teleseminar series is easier today than ever before.  Today’s authors have access to a wide selection of free, online, marketing tools that will make it easy for you to promote your teleseminars.

You’re probably already using most of the tools, such as:

  1. E-mail marketing
  2. Blogging and guest blogging
  3. Social media, like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  4. Online press releases

Your ability to manage your time is an important predictor of teleseminar success. Success comes from promoting your teleseminars the same way you use tools like a Google Calendar to schedule your writing time. Successful authors view their writing time as time commitments, or appointments, they make with themselves. A couple of 30-minute sessions each week should be enough to use e-mail and the Internet to promote your teleseminars and promote the launch of your book.

Teleseminar Planning

Preparing for your teleseminars

Most authors find teleseminars easy to prepare, since it is often easier to talk about a topic than it is to write about it.

There’s no reason to “script” your teleseminar, as this will inevitably cause you to speak in a “reading” voice. Instead, prepare an outline, or a mind map (download sample), that displays the topics you want to cover, and in what order.

Avoid sentences when planning teleseminar content

Resist the urge to include full “subject, verb, noun” sentences in your outlines or mind maps!

Instead, simply list the keywords, or phrases, you want to cover. Include enough information to jog your memory, and keep you on track, but keep your notes as short as possible. This will result in a much more lively teleseminar for both you and your attendees.

After all, your teleseminar attendees are adults; they’re not children who want you to read to them, they want to hear your talk about your upcoming book, and be able to comment and ask you questions!

Presentation tips

Here are a few teleseminar tips that have helped me over the years:

  • ŸMuting. Always mute your callers to avoid distractions like vacuum cleaners, dogs barking, background conversations, or- -worst of all- -answering machines.
  • Beginning. Always begin by describing the relevance of the information you’re about to share, and how it aligns with your book and your market’s information needs.
  • Middle. Don’t try to tell everything about your book in a single teleseminar. Instead, focus each teleseminar on a single chapter, or topic, covered in your book. Limit teleseminar content to 3 main ideas, followed by a short bullet list of tips. Avoid spending too much time on any one point.
  • Question & Answers. Never end your teleseminar with a request for comments and questions. If callers don’t respond, your disappointment and discomfort will be obvious, and it will sap the energy of everyone on your call. Instead, open the lines with an invitation for questions and comments well before the end of your call.
  • Resist the urge to panic when callers don’t immediately respond. No one wants to be the first caller to comment or ask a question. Give them time to respond. Once the first caller asks a question or comments, the others will follow.
  • Conclusion/call to action. End your call with a summary of the important points, and a call to action. Your call to action can be an invitation to pre-order your book, or you can direct callers to a landing page where they can download a bonus PDF and learn more about you- -or take advantage of your latest offer.

Teleseminar frequency

As in so many other aspects of marketing, success rarely comes from an individual teleseminar; instead, success typically is the result of a series of teleseminars that build on each other and reinforce each other.

It’s up to you to decide how far ahead of your book’s launch you want to begin your teleseminars. There’s nothing wrong with committing to a pre-publication teleseminar series to launch your book the day you sign your publishing contract or the day you begin writing your book. However, once you commit to a teleseminar series to promote your book and attract pre-publication sales, set up a schedule of events at consistent intervals. The commitment of a scheduled teleseminar series will ensure the success of your book launch promotion.

Visit Roger C. Parker’s Active Garage resource center, where you can download mindmaps and resources available only to Author Journey readers. (No registration required)

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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Leveraging Comfort

by Yakov Soloveychik on August 4, 2009

leverageassetsMany of us have been to a vacation time share presentation to get a free vacation, but with the clear intention of not purchasing it… and admittedly, have found ourselves on the edge of the purchasing decision! They did not close the deal, but did come close… very close… and for that, I have to give them credit – their sales process is very good. It is based on the centuries old four stage AIDA sales sequence:

1. Attention

2. Interest

3. Desire

4. Action

The concept of AIDA comes from the perception of a buyer going through stages of first becoming aware or Attentive to a proposed product or service, then, if it is relevant, it provokes Interest and willingness of the buyer to learn more about it. If the buyer perceives it to be valuable and unique or special, the state of Desire develops, and most likely leads the buyer to take Action to purchase or accept the offer.

In essence, the classical AIDA model is: Get ATTENTION – Create INTEREST – Make it DESIRABLEACT to Close the deal.

This looks logical and simple, but does not always work as intended. The main breakdown usually occurs in the transition from (stage 3) Desire to (stage 4) Action. What makes this transition difficult is the inception of the “decision making point” that may often change the dynamics of the selling process as the reality of the consequences of the buying decision overpowers the desire to acquire.

Successful sales people differ from those who do not close effectively in their ability to keep the energy and emotional levels of the desire stage high through the transition stage to close the deal often at or over the borderline of ethical norms by hiding or minimizing the impact of consequences or risks and thus deceiving their clients.

Let’s take an example from a familiar domain – you are trying to convince your child to complete the homework. You got their Attention – that is relatively easy (whatever methods you might be employing) – now your child is sitting in front of you and you are working on getting them interested to do the work. You proceed to talk about the benefits of education trying to build up the Desire (to get to a reputed ivy league school rather then working in the local fast food chain) … and then you go for the kill and at that very moment the whole structure collapses as your kid starts crying as they realize they have to give up TV or playing with the kids outside.

So, what just happened? … The transition from Interest/Desire stage to Action was not prepared – there was no COMFORT zone in the transition and all high emotional content achieved during first three stages simply collapsed.

This transitional issue became obvious to many in recent years and lead to the modification of the century old process of AIDA to what is now known as AIDCA. The “C” stands for the Comfort stage. This stage bridges the gap between the Decision making stage and the Action stage; the very gap that cause the breakdown we observed in the earlier AIDA process. Helping the customer reach this comfort zone is essential in the modern sales/negotiation process.

The old notion: “make me an offer I can’t refuse” is still very powerful in leveraging this comfort, but it is not always possible. “Make me an offer that I can comfortably accept” becomes more realistic. Both require one important piece of information – what is important, the “deal makers” and the “deal breakers”, the risks and the benefits perceived by the buyer, not the seller. Obtaining this information becomes critically important in order to create the comfort zone and close the deal and that requires a discussion rather than a monologue.

Sales presentation becomes Sales conversation.

The Vacation time share industry developed a great approach to the creation of the comfort zone. After showing you all the nice places you can go and most beautiful spots you can reach – they turn the table and start asking questions like:

  • how you spent your vacation time in the past?
  • what do you want to do in the future?
  • what are your key requirements in regards to price, activities, types of destinations etc?
  • All this with the purpose to find out and make you feel comfortable with what they have to offer and your decision to purchase.

    There are three distinct stages in the process:

    1. Development of Comfort zone:

    (i) Early in the Interest-Desire stages, start the interactive exchange with the purpose of identifying and developing the comfort zone structure for your client.

    (ii) Do not assume anything as no two customers are exactly the same.

    (iii) No previous experience is applicable (even with the same individual).

    (iv) Ask questions and be (not just look) sincere.

    2. Reaching the Comfort state:

    (i) When you are ready, get confirmation from the client about what you just learned of their interest and their comfort/discomfort with the decision to act.

    (ii) Talk openly about pros and cons and risks as you think they perceive it.

    (iii) Summarize and ask for confirmation or modifications to this understanding.

    3. Leveraging Comfort:

    (i) Using what you just learned in the process add something to your offering that makes your client decision making process easier and your offer more acceptable.

    (ii) Extend the warranty period, give additional guarantees, add refund benefits, etc – use whatever you discovered is important for this client to customize the offer, instead of providing them a generic prepackaged offer everybody gets.

    Now, let’s return to the example with your kid. After you told them about the choices of Harvard vs. McDonald and the importance of doing their homework, engage them in a discussion and ask questions of what they feel is important for them and where doing homework belongs in the level of importance. Ask questions of what would make them comfortable to complete homework before watching their favorite TV show. You may learn that taping their show and allowing them to watch it later may make the whole difference as that introduces the Comfort stage for them. You may then “leverage” this comfort further by offering to DVR the entire show every day and letting them to watch it any time they want after their homework is done.

    Here are a few questions that will help you in your thinking on the development of Comfort zone:

    (i) What do you like about the product/service/offering?

    (ii) How do you see the benefits, if you make the decision?

    (iii) Where do you see the risks and difficulties?

    (iv) What would make you feel good and enjoy your purchase a year from now?

    _____

    Yajov SoloveychikYakov Soloveychik is a business advisor, mentor and a personal coach to CEO’s and business owners. Yakov’s professional and entrepreneurial career includes VP,  COO, CEO positions and service on board of directors with a number of technology based companies in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley

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