Category Archive: Tips

Speaker Program Challenges, Speaking Tips

On Your Mark, Get Set, Present (Well!)

Speaker Program Challenges, Speaking Tips
There are a few challenges that speakers face when executing speaker programs.

Some strategies that can be applied to anyone preparing for a speaking engagement include improving the educational value of the session you are holding as well as performing as an effective speaker.

Here are some general tips that you can apply to improve your performance in front of a crowd.

Engaging the audience is done best with your body language and communication. PowerPoint slides should be used minimally for emphasis of key information and diagrams, and should not be overly packed with information. Asking questions of the audience can inspire participation, even if those questions are rhetorical.

Regardless of how comfortable you are on a topic, practice really does make perfect. It is the only surefire way to be sure you have your timing and material down pat. There are all sorts of takes on how long a person should spend getting comfortable with a slide, but a good frame of reference is to be able to speak to each slide for one minute. What it takes to do that may be up to an hour of practice per slide. Don’t be discouraged. If you’re speaking on a topic that you may revisit and speak to multiple times, this effort will be well worth your while.

Keep in mind, there are minor things that you can avoid that will keep your presentation on track. Transitions between slides are important. Having clever verbiage to get you from slide to slide will put you in an excellent position to continue with your deck without fail. Be ready for the audience’s mood. Having a strong comfort with your material should allow you to shift according to your audience’s response. This is important, while your deck may work in all instances, the way you work with it may need to be flexible. The better you know your material, the easier it will be to shift with your audience’s response.

The up front effort with your preparation goes a long way. Practice in front of your peers when you feel ready to present. See how your content flows by testing it in front of people who understand your topic and work through the feedback.

Try these tips before giving your next presentation. Pulling off an engaging and effective presentation doesn’t have to be difficult – we’ve all seen a performance that missed the mark, but simple steps to prepare your script and iron out your material and slides make all the difference. Break a leg!

Keys to Success: CMW’s Quick Guide to Meeting Theme Design

Hi! CMW here again. We have another bit of wisdom we want to share with you. As you probably know, we have been working in the design/production space for life sciences for a long time, and it goes without saying that throughout that time we have seen our fair share of logos. In fact, everyone has – we take for granted just how many we see every single day, on our products, on storefronts, in emails, on social media. That’s why today’s sheet is a questionnaire to consider when building a meeting theme logo.

Every logo is different for a hundred different reasons: coloring, symbolism, text, dimensions. Logos appeal to different demographics; they’re displayed in different places; they exist along a spectrum of aesthetics and moods. And a meeting theme logo is for an even more specific audience, for a particular purpose. While a graphic designer and their expertise will handle the technicalities, you need to be able to communicate just what you’re looking for to them, and all of the considerations can be difficult to keep track of. You can run into missed details, miscommunication, and costly do-overs. Asking all the right questions solves these problems, saving you time and money.

Create something striking, memorable, and, most importantly –representative of you as a company and a brand. If you’re developing a meeting theme logo, download this Meeting Theme Logo Questionnaire that you should review with your graphic designer.

Find Your Tide Pool: Benefits of Specializing in an Industry

Have you ever stopped to kneel down and look at a tide pool at the beach? Crabs, starfish, snails. They’re very, very small, easy to step over – but each one is its own fascinating, beautiful world, full of creatures singularly adapted to live in that very niche ecosystem. Okay, I’m sorry – I’m not bringing up the beach to make you wish you were on vacation. I bring it up because of a bit of CMW history. Years ago, CMW focused on the work we did (slide presentations, event signage, graphic design, etc.) far more than who we were doing it for. But the truth is, each industry is its own ecosystem – its own beautiful tide pool; each one is nuanced with little details that you only discover if you really get to know it. Why take the time? Well, here are some of the rewards CMW has found in specializing.

  1. Those little details. Barnacles. As far as sea creatures go, they’re…not the most fun. Compared to a tide pool’s brightly-colored sea sponge, they’re dull wallpaper. As it turns out, there are over 1200 different species of barnacles. And did you know they have tiny hairs on their limbs? Did you even know they had limbs? One of CMW’s current services is scientific posters, and with scientific posters, knowing those hairy little details of the industry is essential. We were once laying out a poster and the client supplied to us the board dimensions. We made the poster smaller than the board. Our client questioned this and we assure them that this is our normal process. When the congress supplies the board size that isn’t necessarily the available space on the board. If the poster is larger than the available area the hanging of the poster becomes difficult and there will be tacks covering the content of the poster. We would have never known this had we not been well-versed in the industry, from making scientific posters like this one.
  2. You can’t be “general service.” The ocean is huge – I’m not making a breakthrough here. And while that does mean it’s full of possibilities, it also means – as anybody in Finding Nemo can tell you – that it’s very easy to get lost in. The idea of being a general service model can be appealing; there’s the potential of reaching more clients in more industries, and seeming more adaptable. But it also hinders you in creating a stronger, more unique, more personal brand. With that level of specificity, you don’t get lost in a sea of businesses with similar faces and you shed that vague label of “general service.”
  3. The industry can view you as the best. When a species spends its whole life in an ecosystem, it’s only natural that it grows to be the best at surviving in it. Turban snails draw into the shells and shut their doors to avoid drying out come low tide. Starfish have hundreds of suction cups to cling to the rocks when strong waves crash in. CMW? We invested in color-matching technology to ensure we can exact the splash of our client’s brand down to a science. It’s industry-specific quality control, and clients will take notice – hopefully spreading the word.
  4. Pricing. So, I’ll be honest – there’s not a great tide pool analogy for this one. Sea creatures don’t deal with money or even know what it is. That’d be the easy life, huh? But for us business humans, it’s important. When all these things are combined – your attention to detail, your unique services, and your excellent reputation within a specific industry, firmer pricing for expertise is almost guaranteed. You want a return on investment for the effort you’ve put into getting to know this industry inside and out – and you will get it.

As a business, you want a clear brand, you want a great reputation, and you want your client to see your work as the best that they can get. Specializing in an industry is a perfect way to achieve all of these. Get to know those crucial, product-saving details. Show clients you’re unique, and not only unique – but above the rest. And expect an excellent return on investment. Next time you’re at the beach (I know – I hope it’s soon, too!) take some time to really admire one of those beautiful little, living tide pools. Then, come back to the office and find your own.

The 1-10-100 Rule 101: How to Manage Quality

Picture this: it’s the night before a big conference one of your clients is hosting. They’ve requested eight different handouts. You’ve got them all printed out, shimmering with the perfect glossy finish your client requested, and have sent them off…and then your client tells you the printed domain address is wrong. Your stomach somersaults, and it should; not only will the reprints cost you, but the extra delivery will cost you. You’ll have to drive to deliver the reprints yourself by the morning. Not only will the reprints and the extra delivery cost you, but the overtime labor will cost you, and the supplies lost along the way will cost you. Now your employees have to pull an all-nighter correcting this mistake, and all the expensive material you used for the last erroneous batch? Wasted.

And not only will the reprints, extra delivery, overtime labor, and lost supplies cost and cost and cost and cost you…but this could have all been avoided in the first place. Because “quality is free”, as Phillip B. Crosby said in his seminal guide that (you can be honest) is gathering dust on a lot of business people’s bookshelves…and if “quality is free”, why isn’t there more of it? Here at CMW, where quality is consistently a top priority, we feel that nothing prevents costly quality correction better than understanding the 1-10-100 Rule.

$1 – The cost of catching and fixing problems in the work area.

$10 – The cost of catching and fixing problems after they’ve left the work area.

$100 – The cost of failing to catch, and fixing problems after they’ve already reached the client.

The further down the line a mistake like that incorrect domain address gets, the harder and more expensive it is to make right — it’s exponential. And that $100 isn’t just costly. It’s embarrassing, too. You can almost see Ben Franklin’s hand going to his forehead. It very well could be the difference between you maintaining a long, fruitful relationship with a great client, and losing them over one giant flub. So how do we at CMW avoid quality disasters and the loss of clients?

We train each of our employees in a very simple process. Here are the steps.

  1. Check. When a project is started in the work area, look over the specifications closely. Precisely. Don’t take anything for granted. If you need to ask a clarifying question to a client, do so — sooner rather than later. You both benefit from making sure you’re on the same page. Then, follow those specifications throughout the working process; continually revisit them and check yourself along the way.
  1. Double check. When whoever started the project hands it off to its next phase, make it what we call a firm hand-off. Have both parties’ eyes on both the product as it stands and the original specifications. The more eyes, the better (just think of it as having the same rules as a Halloween costume). Between stages is a great place to catch and fix mistakes before more work is done. Remember — each time it’s passed on, the damage of error increases exponentially. Don’t let it reach 100.
  1. Triple check. Once a project is done, check it against the original specifications…again. And again. It’s complete, for all intents and purposes, but it’s still in the working area — this is the least costly place to catch and fix errors. Only after a thorough examination is it ready to leave.

You can see how just these simple checks and balances is much easier — and much cheaper — than a full-on disaster. Make sure each of your employees is aware of the risks of error, and the prevention process. If there’s a larger group of people working on a single project, hold a group meeting; get them in a room together and make sure everyone is on the same page. Give them the old 1-10-100 101.

Quality is free! So let’s make more of it.

Keys to Success: Adobe Acrobat Tip Sheet

Hello again! CMW here again. As you probably know, we work a lot with design; we have, for 30 years. From web, to graphic design, from scientific posters, to PowerPoint presentations. And between templates and drafts and instructions, and – hey!– the very tip sheets you can expect from us to share our tricks, we sift through lots of PDFs. That means we use Adobe Acrobat.

Any new or updated program can take a while to get the hang of, especially the vast array of features in Adobe’s extensive catalog. There’s a reason Photoshop is like an art form of its own – it’s complicated! You can leave that to the experts, but Acrobat is for viewing, creating, manipulating, printing, and managing PDF files, so it’s an important platform to familiarize yourself with it. If messy, poorly formatted files or frustration with the technical side of things are a problem for you, we’re here to help.

It can seem intimidating at first, but hopefully this info will save you much-needed time and patience. So…download this Acrobat-approved PDF! We get asked a lot of questions about Adobe Acrobat, and we’ve taken the most common questions we hear and provided the answers in one easy-to-access Adobe Acrobat Tip Sheet.

Keys to Success: FedEx (Deadline) Shipping Tips

Hello! CMW again, checking in with another tip sheet. As you know, during our 30 years of experience, we have endured trial and error, figuring out what and what not to do – so it’s only fair that we share with you some of what we’ve learned. Today, we pull from that pool with information on FedEx shipping.

Have you ever gotten a birthday card two months after your actual birthday? It’s…appreciated –but it doesn’t quite cut it. Now up the stakes. Deadline maintenance is one of the most important aspects of our service. And when it comes to shipping, that can get very stressful. Timelines, human error and delays, unexpected costs. Best case scenario, you’re worried over nothing but you’ve still got a headache. Worst case scenario, a deadline’s actually missed. Not only is it aggravating – it’s a poor reflection on your company too. Unprofessionalism and missed deadlines won’t be a hassle if you know your stuff. That’s where we can help!

You can avoid a mentally and financially taxing shipping situation by having all the information. Meet your deadlines with minimal stress or concern with these best practices for timeline and package preparation on our FedEx Shipping Tip Sheet.

Keys to Success: PowerPoints that REALLY Communicate!

Hey! It’s CMW here again, and we want to share another sheet we’ve created to help you improve your process. PowerPoint presentations are something we see so often here at CMW, and we know that each one has important specifications that need to be taken into account. Luckily for you, we’ve put them all in one place!

Much like a great logo, or a eye-catching email, your PowerPoint presentation needs to stand out among the others — because it communicates something important. Its design, slide size, transitions, animations ˆ and more – are all considerations to keep in mind when crafting your perfect presentation. A boring PowerPoint risks losing interest. Even worse, a confusing PowerPoint risks miscommunicating essential ideas. What if you only have so much time to brief a group on an important project with a narrow deadline, and the requirements were lost in translation? This simple sheet of elements for your slick and effective PowerPoint presentation will bypass all of those costly problems.

Don’t overlook the small stuff; take a minute to thoroughly review your presentation so you won’t regret it later when it’s too late. This checklist includes critical details that can be used to streamline project details, reduce back-and-forth communication and help ensure your project is completed perfectly the first time.

If “Quality is Free”…Why Isn’t There More of It?

Years ago, I read a book — a 1979 business classic — called Quality is Free, in which author Philip B. Crosby said that the solution to a quality crisis is just “doing it right the first time.”

I always liked the simple sound of that. I was thinking about Crosby’s book recently after one of our clients told us how appreciative they were that we able to deliver on a pretty difficult project for them. And I say that not because I’m tooting our own horn, but because it made me look out at today’s marketplace, at how other companies get things done and what I deal with on a day-to-day basis…and realize that not everything is the highest quality it could be. Sometimes, far from it. Now if forty years ago, millions of businessmen and women had a book on their shelf telling them that they could produce top-quality material for their clients for free — why haven’t they all done it?

Here are five reasons why I think quality isn’t consistently available, whether you’re ordering a large pizza just for yourself, or buying a new hybrid for the whole family.

  1. A lack of a clear mission for quality. Quality needs to be a top priority, plain and simple. At the end of the day, nothing brings clients and customers back more reliably than having their needs met. When businesses let that fall to the wayside in favor of another priority — like saving money — they suffer for it.
  2. Improper checks and balances. Spell check is your friend. Okay — obviously that’s a minor example. But not an inaccurate or unimportant one. Commas and colons in the right place make for strong, professional written materials, while wipers and windshields designed to the sleekest perfection make for an outstanding car. If work isn’t being double, triple, and quadruple checked, quality will deteriorate — fats. Sorry — fast.
  3. Poor communication with the client or customer. If you don’t know what you’re making, you don’t know how to make it great. Whatever service you’re providing, you need to know exactly what’s required — not wanted, but needed — by whoever you’re providing it for. Lose track of the vision, skip ahead until you’re not on the same page, and you’re going to end up with an unsatisfactory result — neither party benefits.
  4. Shoddy work ethic. Thinking about the bigger picture of how your company runs can distract from smaller, devilish details on the ground level: laziness and carelessness. It may seem to go without saying, but without a person-to-person dedication to top-tier work, the smallest mediocrities bring overall quality down.
  5. Unwillingness to invest in quality. One of the key points of Crosby’s book is that obviously quality is not literally free. Managing, perfecting, and investing in quality so as to get everything right the first time (saving money) and creating a result that is sure to to impress (building lasting relationships with clients and customers) is how spending a little extra on resources to ensure quality ultimately leads to spectacular return on investment. Being stingy when it comes to creating a great product is just one step forward, three steps back.

But enough negativity. Knowing what to avoid isn’t so productive as having an active plan to improve. Here are five things I find really work to make quality happen.

  1. Focus on quality in every project. You can include quality in everything! Operational expert Rebecca A. Morgan says, “Constancy of purpose means that quality decisions are not situational.” From graphic design (which is what we work on) to a new MRI machine for a hospital, it doesn’t matter whether the result needs to be safe, fast, pretty, or pink — attention to making it the best it can be will always make for a strong return on investment.
  2. Encourage effective leadership. A strong, competent, and invested leader is beneficial for improving a number of areas. Good leaders facilitate communication, have high expectations for the work being done, recognize the individual strengths of their staff, and overall catalyze productivity and quality.
  3. Make quality charts. Your definition of “quality” can’t be vague. Visualize it in distinct categories: production process, workforce, adherence to requirements — pay due attention to each individual facet of what makes the larger clockwork of quality run. Keep track of shortcomings, and what is in place to correct them. Make your mission for quality precise, deliberate, and targeted. And make your charts colorful! Honestly, nothing boosts morale like a colorful pie chart.
  4. Provide strong after-sales service. Sometimes you get your wifi router to work. Sometimes you don’t, and the times when you don’t are when the guy in the Netflix rom-com you’re watching is about to propose, and the site starts to buffer. It’s not always the product’s fault — with technical products, not every user is a tech whiz. Providing a high-quality service is one thing, but continuing to be available for assistance long after the transaction is made builds customer trust and extended quality assurance.
  5. Listen to feedback. Don’t let the office become an echo chamber. Even after you’ve followed a client’s requirements to a T, double and triple-checked your work, and put your heart and soul into a quality result, it’s still to an extent based on your own standards. For well-rounded results, feedback is an excellent tool. This can vary from business to business — for tech enterprises, it can roll out in the form of beta and test products. But whatever shape it takes, feedback provides fresh perspective on how to improve quality in ways you’d never thought of.

So, if Quality is Free…why isn’t there more of it? You can never stop revisiting quality. It’s something we believe is an utmost priority at CMW, and there is always more you can do to make it one of your own company’s strengths. Crosby said it before, and it rings true: produce great work, and you’ll get great results. You, and the people you serve, deserve nothing less!

Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Power Proofreading

Hey! It’s CMW, and we have something we want to share with you. In our years of experience, we have endured trial and error, learning what and what not to do — and drawing from that, we have compiled a series of tip sheets with our best tricks and suggestions to improve your work. First up? Proofreading!

Misplaced commas and mistaken line breaks may seem petty, but a bad typo’s your poker tell. And proofreading isn’t just spelling and grammar either — it’s your visuals, your display, your data! The difference between 1,000 and 100,000. If a simple slip-up happens because someone didn’t double check, it can vastly misrepresent a point or purpose, and small errors like that have a domino effect. There are several problems that excellent proofreading can solve: miscommunication, disorganization, inconsistency and, of course, unprofessionalism. Proofreading is the most basic layer of professionalism, but that means it’s one of the most important. Your content can be spectacular, but unless it’s presented in a way that can be understood, it’ll hurt more than help.

Let a polished proofread product distinguish you, and make your clients, your patrons, or your colleagues know that your business means business. Proofreading requires patience, concentration and time. For helpful suggestions to improve your process, download this tip sheet.

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