Propose, Prepare, Present – How be a successful industry-conference speaker – #business #bookreview

Propose, Prepare, Present

How to become a successful, effective, and popular speaker at industry conferences
Alistair Croll
(O’Reilly – paperback, Kindle)

Entrepreneur, author, and analyst Alistair Croll has packed a lot of helpful how-to information into his well-focused new guidebook.

Croll speaks at industry conferences,  runs at least four conferences each year, and often selects the lucky few who will get to present, after he has sifted through and read hundreds of proposals.

If you think you are much too busy to read short, five-chapter text, Croll recommends you at least examine Chapter 3, “What Organizers Are Looking For.” There, he presents 11 things that can help get you chosen to speak at an industry conference and 11 hings that can get your conference proposal rejected.

“Nothing will get you refused as fast as a sales pitch,” he warns. “This is the single biggest reason for rejection in every conference I’ve run, across dozens of topics and hundreds of reviewers.”

Indeed, some conference organizers say, you should not mention your company’s product or service at all in your conference speech proposal. Instead, show that you can speak on big topics such as where your industry is going or major events or controversial trends currently affecting your industry and what can be done about them.

“Event organizers are in business, too,” Croll emphasizes. “They need to balance informative content that justifies the ticket price with provocation and entertainment that keeps people coming back.”

Si Dunn

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The Connected Company – Restructure now or die in today’s hyperconnected economy – #bookreview

The Connected Company
Dave Gray, with Thomas Vander Wal
(O’Reilly,
hardbackKindle)

If you buy only one business management book this year, make it this one. It’s that good, and definitely timely.

Whether your organization chart stretches across continents or consists of just you, your smart phone and your computer, you can learn important insights and paths for new action from Dave Gray’s and Thomas Vander Wal’s well-written book.

“Competitive intensity is rising all over the world,” they emphasize. “Global competition and the Web have given customers more choices than they have ever had before. This means that customers can choose from an ever-widening set of choices, and it seems that variety only breeds more variety. The more choices that become available, the more choices it seems that people want.”

At the same time, like it or not: “The balance of power is shifting from companies to the networks that surround them. Connected, communicating customers and employees have more choices, and more amplified voices, than ever before. They have more knowledge than ever before. These trends are only increasing with time. This means the network—customers, partners, and employees—will increasingly set the agenda, determine the parameters, and make the decisions about how they interact with companies.”

And: “By changing the way we create, access, and share information, social networks are changing the power structure in society.”

Today, one negative tweet, blog post, or video that goes viral can wreak havoc within a company (or political campaign), disrupt careers, damage or destroy expensive advertising campaigns, and turn potential and existing customers away in droves.

In an economy increasingly service-driven, your factory-model training and mentality is now completely obsolete. You must be connected, you must stay engaged with customers and the rest of the world, and you must be able to respond to rumors and actual bad news as quickly and completely as you respond to orders from your best customers.

The Connected Company is organized into five parts that clearly spell out the problems and the achievable solutions.

  • Part One: Why change? – “Customers are adopting disruptive technologies faster than companies can adapt.” And: “Customers are connecting, forming networked communities that allow them to rapidly share information and self-organize into powerful interest groups.” To survive, you have to be more responsive to what they need and increasingly have the power to demand.
  • Part Two: What is a connected company? – “To adapt companies must operate not as machines but as learning organisms, purposefully interacting with their environment and continuously improving, based on experiments and feedback.”
    Part Three: How does a connected company work? – “A connected company learns and adapts by distributing control to the points of interaction with customers, where semi-autonomous pods pursue a common purpose supported by platforms that help them organize and coordinate their activities.”
  • Part Four: How do you lead a connected company? – “Connected companies are living, learning networks that live within larger networks. Power in networks comes from awareness and influence, not control. Leaders must create an environment of clarity, trust, and shared purpose, while management focuses on designing and tuning the system that supports learning and performance.”
  • Part Five: How do you get there from here? – “Connected companies today are the exception, not the rule. But as long as the environment is characterized by change and uncertainty, connected companies will have the advantage. There are four ways your company can start that journey today….”

The traditional hierarchy model of business structure still works when your markets remain stable. But when is the last time, lately, that that actually has happened? Companies divided into functions increasingly go awry in times of uncertainty, because those individual departments cannot adapt, change, and respond quickly enough. In the world of The Connected Company, “companies must organize differently. They must reorganize from hierarchies into holarchies, where every part can function as a whole unto itself.”

Gray and Vander Wal stress: “A connected company is flexible and resilient, able to adapt quickly to change. The path from divided to connected company is not simple or easy. But in an increasingly volatile world, it is also not optional.”

Fortunately, their book lays out some clear strategies and procedures, as well as imperatives,  for getting there.

Si Dunn

Big presentation due? There’s a book for that – slide:ology #bookreview

slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations
By Nancy Duarte
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $27.99)

Bet you were hoping I was about to say: “Big presentation due? There’s an app for that!”

There probably is, or will be soon.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just phone in your PowerPoint slides and audio and stay comfortably ensconced at a Starbucks in Waterloo, Iowa, while 50 managers and executives in Boston huddled in a poorly ventilated conference room and sweated while they marveled at your presentation?

Some of you already have developed and honed an iPhone-it-in or iPad-it-in capability. But most of the world’s drafted or “volunteered” presenters still have not. They show up at work one day and are told they will have to prepare a presentation by next Tuesday that could make or break their job – or a whole department’s jobs.

No pressure. You know how to do this, right? Everyone else is tied up with projects and deadlines. So we’re counting on you. Have fun with it. Get creative! And have it ready for review and comments by 4 p.m. tomorrow.”

Published in 2008 and still attracting readers, slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations has gathered an array of pleased fans and good reviews, as well as some scathing reviews from a few detractors.

It is not a 1-2-3 how-to book that can help you throw together a slide show by tomorrow morning. Instead, it lives up, colorfully, to its subtitle: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. It delves carefully into a wide array of topics related to the process of preparing slides that can connect with their intended audience. And it is heavily illustrated with examples.

If you are starting a new job or a new position where you will be expected to make presentations, you should consider spending some quality learning time with this book and keeping it handy. Get a jump now on developing the skills and knowledge you will need when crunch time suddenly hits.

This also applies if you are under increasing obligation to wow the bosses with charts and graphs and bullet points – or if you are thinking of becoming a presentations teacher or consultant. 

Developed by Nancy Duarte, a “widely recognized…leader in presentation development and design,” slide:ology is divided into 12 chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Creating a New Slide Ideology
  • Chapter 2: Creating Ideas, Not Slides
  • Chapter 3: Creating Diagrams
  • Chapter 4: Displaying Data
  • Chapter 5: Thinking Like a Designer
  • Chapter 6: Arranging Elements
  • Chapter 7: Using Visual Elements: Background, Color, and Text
  • Chapter 8: Using Visual Elements: Images
  • Chapter 9: Creating Movement
  • Chapter 10: Governing with Templates
  • Chapter 11: Interacting with Slides
  • Chapter 12: Manifesto: The Five Theses of the Power of a Presentation

The author cautions that “presentations all too often reflect the agenda of the presenter rather than build a connection with the audience.”

And, if your job includes meeting with customers: “In many instances, presentations are the last impression a customer has of a company before closing a business deal.”

Indeed, elaborate hundred-million-dollar advertising and branding campaigns can be neutralized by a single lame presentation on a laptop computer right at the critical moment, she warns.

You will not want to be the one who created that dud slide show.

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Si Dunn‘s latest book is a detective novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry, plus several short stories, including The 7th Mars Cavalry, all available on Kindle. He is a screenwriter, a freelance book reviewer and a former technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR – More how-to from David Meerman Scott – #bookreview

The New Rules of Marketing & PR (3rd Edition)
How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases & Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
By David Meerman Scott
(John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,
paperback, list price $19.95; Kindle edition, list price $19.95)

More than a quarter million copies of this book have been purchased since it first appeared in 2007, and it has been translated into more than 25 languages. David Meerman Scott clearly has some fans and has jarred some thinking in the marketing and public relations world.

So the updated advice, examples and how-to tips in his book’s third edition may be just what you need if you are in the process of starting up a business or trying to revamp and modernize your existing marketing approaches.

The updates include new examples and ideas drawn from the author’s many sessions with audiences around the world, as well as responses to posts in his well-known marketing and leadership blog, WebInkNow.

Two timely and important new chapters also have been added.

  • “Mobile Marketing: Reaching Buyers Wherever They Are” focuses on using “location-based mobile marketing” to reach buyers via “GPS-enabled mobile applications for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and other devices….”
  • And, “Marketing and PR in Real Time” makes the key point that “[i]f you pay attention to what’s happening in your marketplace and react instantly, you can insert yourself into stories as they unfold, generating market attention not possible if you want even a day to react.” Scott shows you how to do this.

The third edition is stronger than the previous two editions on answering “How do I get started?” For example, the book includes a new “Marketing & PR Strategy Planning Template” that is designed “to help people implement strategies for reaching buyers directly.”

Writes Scott: “I believe it’s essential to shift out of the marketer’s comfort zone of preaching about products and services….The marketing and PR strategy template is built on the same principle I use throughout this book: that understanding buyers and publishing information on the web especially for them drives action.”

The goal, he says, is to publish “valuable information” so “your content surfaces when buyers are looking for help solving their problems!”

This book likely will not be the only one you will need to help launch or modernize your marketing and public relations strategy. But David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing & PR definitely should be at the top of your list and the one you read first.

Si Dunn‘s latest book is a detective novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry, plus several short stories, including The 7th Mars Cavalry, all available on Kindle. He is a screenwriter, a freelance book reviewer and a former technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist.