Category Archives : Blog


6 Simple Tips to Revitalize Your Boring PowerPoint Slides

Revitalize Your Boring PowerPoint Slides

Presentations are all about communication and visual communication is one of the major ways we receive that information.  In the culinary world there’s a saying “We eat with our eyes first”. And it’s the same with presentations. Your PowerPoint slides need to capture the viewers’ attention with clean consistent slides that engage them visually so they stay attentive until they have received your message and call to action.

In this article I’m going to show you a pretty typical PowerPoint slide and with a few simple changes how to make it into something more memorable.
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If while looking at the slide on the left and reading my notes, you spot some of your own mistakes; then please be reassured that there is not a single mistake I will mention here that I have not, at some time, made myself. Also, remember that I have no formal graphic design training either and that this post represents my opinions and what I have studied over the last 6 years.

So, let’s take a look at this slide as it has a number of errors:

  1. Take a look at the sidebar. You’ll see that it and the slide title are vying for attention. It’s hard to know where to look first. It’s important to have one main focal point. Use a large photo or full bleed image.
  2. And speaking of that sidebar, it is using a good 20% of your screen space. That’s huge acreage which you can’t use for anything else. In earlier versions of PowerPoint, many of the templates have the title at the top and they often use up even more area. Don’t use these for video. Start with the blank PowerPoint layout.
  3. Your logo is also using unnecessary space. And what is that logo doing there on every slide? Do you feel that the viewers really need a constant reminder of which company is presenting to them? A logo belongs only on your welcome slide or in an animated intro.
  4. Typographically, there’s a lot going on for a single slide, including text oriented at different angles. As a general rule, no more than two fonts should be used per slide and be sure they are consistent between slides. Any orientation other than horizontal, left to right should be used very sparingly. Tip: If you need to know which fonts ‘go’ together, do a web search for ‘font families’.
  5. When using bullet points, it’s best to have them animate in one by one, otherwise consider putting each item on its own slide. Use bullet points sparingly! Slide after slide of them are tiring and result in the phenomenon known as ‘Death by PowerPoint’ in which the audience’s attention is gone after just a few slides.

What I would do with this slide (image on the right) is to create a full bleed image background with just the one message at the top in a large font.  If you want, you can take each bullet point and make it into its own slide with its own image or simply speak the bullets during your presentation and then include them in the handout in the notes field. That way the audience can use the handout of the presentation slides as a reference when they get back to their jobs.

In closing, let me remind you that over the years I have made all of the mistakes I have pointed out above, some of them many times. But I like to think of myself now as a reformed PowerPoint abuser and I hope my confession can show others that it is definitely a learning process.
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Your No Fluff Formula for Pricing Your Webinar Assistant Services

So, you’re ready to provide Webinar Assistance as a service – smart move! There are thousands of clients who want to deliver webinars and their popularity is constantly growing. That means the opportunity to earn good money providing webinar services is wide open.

Before you can offer your services for hire, you must choose your rates. Here is a checklist to help you decide what rate to charge:

Consider Your Market’s Budget

There’s no point charging a rate higher than your market can afford. It can also be a bad idea to highly undercharge in a market that expects a certain price point. If you are lower or higher than they expect, it can cost you in lost clients. I generally work with Internet Marketers, not corporate clients, so I charge less than if I were helping, say AT&T or IBM. If you’re able to break into that market, you should make a lot more than I do, but I don’t want to work that hard. 🙂

Webinar Assistant Services

Consider How Much It Will Cost to Reach Your Market

  • You’ll need to market yourself to reach your ideal clients. Consider the cost of reaching this market and build that into the return on investment you need to make through your rates.
  • Research your direct competition and their rates. Of course, one of the first places you should look to determine your rates is your competition. Check out what they are charging and determine where you fit in comparison. (See my Webinar Assistant page.)
  • Estimate a project start to finish time. (I usually estimate about 3 hours for a new client and 2 hours for a repeat client.)
  • You need to understand how much time a Webinar Production project is going to take you from start to finish before you can accurately determine how much to charge. If you’ve never done a start to finish project before, it would be a good idea to do some practice runs, volunteer or do highly discounted projects so you can track the time it takes to complete. When I first started as a Webinar Assistant, I helped my first 3 clients for free. I was so afraid of messing up that I figured if I did, I could at least say “Well, it didn’t cost you anything!”

Consider Additional Costs Such as Editing Software

If you plan to offer webinar editing, you need to build the cost of the editing application into your costs. Camtasia Studio software, for example, costs roughly $300. So if you don’t already have it, figure that in to the cost.  There are other video editors you can use that are less expensive, they just don’t record the computer screen.

Consider Admin Time For Emails, Phone Calls, Etc.

Many Webinar Assistants don’t consider the time they’ll spend consulting with clients over the phone or through email. Build these into your rates. I’m pretty bad about this. I always underestimate the number of emails back and forth.  So here’s what you need to do…

  • Determine your rate structure – Hourly or Per Project. I charge a flat fee per webinar. Will you charge hourly or for a full project? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
  • Interview potential clients to determine if they want extra editing. For example, I charge extra to take out all their filler words.
  • Can you connect with people who’ve already paid for the services you want to charge? People like me 🙂
  • Determine your minimum expected rates. I know that I need to make around $75/hr. because I have a huge amount of experience.  If you’re brand new, you should charge less.
  • What is the minimum you are willing to work for? This is your starting point.
  • Determine your ‘Beyond Expectations’ rate. What is your dream rate? What would be a rate that is greatly beyond your expectations? Keep this in mind and go for it by creating a high value package. If I offered a “Gold” package, for example, it would include things like removing all the ums, ahs, you knows, etc., adding a little intro music, and embedding the video on their site. I’m thinking about doing this soon. But some potential clients won’t be able to go for your full package, so create a standard rate for those who need a taste of your services.

Determine Your Ideal Client & Create a Questionnaire to Qualify Potential Clients

Don’t forget to figure out exactly who you want to work with. Then create a questionnaire that will allow you to decide what potential clients will be best to work with you. This will help you find your ideal clients and allow you to recognize clients who are not your best fit.

Determining your rates as a Webinar Assistant can be a difficult process. Just be aware that you can change them later. Sometimes the easiest way to figure it out is to just get going and test out what works for you.

There you have it. Use this checklist and you’ll be well on your way to working with some great clients to Produce and Assist with their Webinars.

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The Three Types of Software Demos

Did you know there are three very different types of screencast videos that are all important when you have a client with a software application that they’d like to market on the internet?

I find that people often get confused about the differences in the following videos so I have to ask a lot of questions about who will be watching them. So take a look at the three types and think carefully about what your client really needs as you begin to work on their project.

Learn to Create the Three Types of Software Demos every Website Needs

Front Page Attention-Grabbing Screencast

For the front page of their website you’ll want to suggest a short, punchy screencast which grabs the viewer’s attention. I’d suggest something 1-3 minutes, with a voice-over, stepping through your software’s main features and discussing your unique sales proposition.

The aim of the screencast would be to pique the viewer’s interest and to make them interested in learning more about the product. Ultimately you’d aim to make the user so interested that they try a demo, resulting in a higher conversion rate for your client.

Longer Feature-Demo

Once a user is investigating your site, the benefit and feature-lists will make more of an impact if the user can see a 3-5 minute walk-through which demonstrates these points. Each walk-through should aim to show common use cases in action, so the user immediately understands why your product solves their problem. The aim of each screencast is to increase the chance of their user deciding to buy their product.

Tutorials and Training

After the potential buyer becomes a customer and user of the product, you may want suggest your client  provide them with a training course or at least some video tutorials that will walk them through the features in greater detail. These types of videos are great for helping users get the most out of their product and reducing calls to customer support.
Now that you know exactly what types of videos your client needs, as a Camtasia Screencast Specialist you’re ready tto walk them through the process.


Got Complicated Procedures to Explain? That’s Exactly Why You Need a Screencast Video

If you’ve ever found yourself tearing through your whole house looking for an instruction booklet to fix a phone, tablet or other device that had the audacity to stop working just when you needed it most, then you know how important it is to know the procedure for things.

We’re all familiar with videos and know that they help us learn, visualize and, occasionally watch cats doing silly things on the internet.  And, best of all, if done well, they can add tangible learning benefits to eLearning courses.

When something can be better explained by showing vs. telling then you have a chance to use video very effectively.

Camtasia Studio

Videos are wonderful visual tools that can really help some learners understand and remember complex procedures. And screencasts created with Camtasia Studio are great at showing how software applications run, how to use the features of a website or membership site and just about anything you can record on your computer screen. Here are other examples of procedures that would benefit from screencast video:

  • How to fill out a form or an anything with fields and options.
  • How to navigate through a web application
  • How to demonstrate the features and benefits of a new software tool. 

Note: If audio is available where your student will be watching the video, you can also include a screencast demonstration  with a voice recording.

Videos are an area where good quality is more important than with other resources. The last thing you want is to produce a low-budget, groan-worthy video.  Hire professionals whenever possible. Bad audio and editing can really be distracting and prevent learners from engaging in your content. There are thousands of online resources to get you started!

Creating Procedures Videos with Camtasia  is a service I offer but if you’d prefer to learn to do them yourself then take a look at my “Screencasting Essentials: From Lame to Fame” course.  It is on sale for 50% off until Friday.  Use the coupon code “notlame”.

 

 


How to Create a Proposal for a Marketing Video

Have you ever had to create a flat bid price for a video you were doing for a client? I have a new client who wants a sales and marketing style video but is not sure exactly what “look and feel” they would like.  Over the last couple hours I have been putting together some ideas  to help him decide. He has a set budget of about $1,000 and just wants to get as much creativity as possible in 2 minutes for that set amount.

Now my little brain is going to work and I get to have some fun.

Some Options for his Video

How to Create a Proposal for a Marketing Video

He mentioned that he liked the organic feel of  hand drawn images in a video so I may introduce him to what we can do in Video Scribe. Or use a technique I recently played around with using a Bamboo tablet and drawing over some images so it looks hand drawn.

He wants to keep it to about 30 seconds which is very short but I always tell my clients that under 2 minutes is perfect for a marketing piece because most people really don’t want to watch anything longer. You also want to keep the visuals moving.  Notice how quickly the visuals change in this TechSmith Screenchamp winning video. It keeps you completely engaged.

What to Charge

My plan is to show him 3 options.  If the client wants me to

  • create the script
  • do the voice over
  • choose a concept that demands a lot of PowerPoint animation and special effects

the price will be closer to the $1,000 mark.

If he chooses a theme with more still photos and very little animation and writes the script himself it will be much less.

I generally write all the items that will be included in the full scope of the project (and what won’t be included-out of scope) then give a flat price. I rarely work by the hour any more because I’ve gotten very fast with PowerPoint and Camtasia, so, not only would I not earn enough that way, but clients usually like prefer to know up front what the final cost will be.  It is much more professional.

Here’s a sample of a video proposal I created a while back. You are welcome to use it for your own projects.  If you have any tips about writing project proposals that you would like to share I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Making a Screencast – Client Deliverables

Every once in a while I like to feature a client screencast and share a bit about some of my interactions with the the client while creating it. Today I just got great feedback from my latest client, Ann Smarty, over at MyBlogGuest.com on the video we (I say we because this was a team effort) created for her business. First take a look at the video, then I’ll share with you the high level plan for creating it.

 

First, I want to thank Debbie LaPointe, who joined my team a few months back for doing all the visuals in this screencast. I think she did a wonderful job and did the whole thing while suffering from the flue. Now that is dedication!

The High Level Plan

Whenever I start work for a new clients I always send them an e-mail with my list of deliverables.  Most clients don’t care about all the little details about how you or your team will get the work done.  Those types of project plans work internally but are it too much detail for your client.

Here is what I send the client.  The dates depend a lot on my workload and when they give me feedback on what I have already sent them to review.  I’d say it’s pretty typical of the timeline for a 3 minute video.

 

Deliverable Date
Script 3/1
Storyboard 3/4
Narration 3/5
Video Draft 3/10
Revisions Completed 3/15
Final Video Uploaded 3/17

 

If it is just you or one other person creating the video and it is only one video you may not need anything else to keep you on track.  Especially if you have been doing these for a while.  Of course if you have a few people working on the project or you are fairly new you will want to have lots of tasks below each deliverable to share with your team. For example the item “Video Draft” Has about 10 tasks below it on the Project Plan I use internally.

I also find that if a few days go by between deliverables the client appreciates a simple e-mail letting them know the status of the project. It can be as little as one sentence. Otherwise, they wonder what is going on and if you are really working on their project.

Hope this has given you a big picture look at how I work with a client. If you are interested in having me create video screencasts for you please take a look at my screencast portfolio then contact me.