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Globe and Mail Update

First Item: Better presentations start with some playground interactivity

Presentations work best when you can involve your audience. In his book Give Your Speech, Change The World, communications expert Nick Morgan offers four ways to accomplish that goal:


Get the audience to take what they have learned and test it against someone else, or coach someone else in their development. Urge them to pledge something to their neighbours, such as a commitment to a new form of behaviour.

Tell A Story

Have the audience weave their personal stories into the larger one you have just told. Break them into small groups to discuss their own experiences with the topic or case study you have described, and have them report back.


Get the audience to compete or play in some way to make the point of the talk real, either as individuals or in small groups. Try a debate, for example.


Invite your audience to design a specific path forward in the general journey you have described. Consider diagnostic exercises, such as a series of questions designed to elicit cost-cutting options.

Marketing: It slices and dices (and makes calls) but is it really useful?

The number of features in products keeps increasing but the result is a conundrum for companies as many consumers rebel over the complicated products that result. A study by Roland Rust, Debora Thompson, and Rebecca Hamilton of the University of Maryland found that consumers know items with more features are harder to use but before they purchase a product they are focused on its overall capability rather than usability, so the more features the more attractive the product seems.

Even when consumers are allowed to customize a product, they load on the features, worrying little about the future learning curve.

But once they have used a product, they prize usability. In The Harvard Business Review, the researchers advise managers to find a happy medium, since it's not just the initial sales that count but also the long-term satisfaction of the customer. Re-evaluate features in your products, like Mercedes-Benz, which recently removed 600 functions from its cars.

Also, consider offering a wider assortment of simpler products instead of all-purpose, feature-rich products.

Work Habits: You think you're being efficient; they think you're rude

People expecting to look efficient by keeping up with their e-mail while they're listening to a presentation may find their co-workers don't think of them as proficient but rather find them distracted, disruptive, impolite and impatient.

Research by Deborah Compeau, Fernando Olivera and Carlie Bell at the Richard Ivey School of Business found that 51 per cent of respondents perceived technological multitaskers as very impatient; 66 per cent perceived them as distracted; 61 per cent perceived them as very impolite; and 60 per cent perceived them as down-right disruptive. In addition, contrary to popular opinion, more than a third of the respondents did not perceive people who were multitasking with technologies as being efficient, competent or hard working.

These negative perceptions are worse when people are working in smaller, more interdependent groups -- in teams versus a larger class or group -- and when the multitasking behaviours are not seen as relevant to the task at hand. Looking up a website to find answers to questions is appropriate, but don't be tempted to just nip over to your e-mail while browsing.

Power Points: Password prose, keeping track and much more

Hack-proof passwords: The longer your computer passwords, the harder it is for hackers to break them. Since hackers use brute force mathematical algorithms to crack long arithmetic passwords and dictionaries to spot words like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, instead try song lyrics, favourite couplets from poems, or movie titles and the year of release since they are easy to remember and hard to decode.

Source: Knowledge@WPCarey

Following up: When you delegate something to someone, put it on one of three waiting lists that you can peruse at different intervals to keep tabs: waiting-monthly for those more than a month away; waiting-weekly, for each of the weeks of this month; and, finally, waiting-immediate for those due this week.


Married to your job: Many companies are hesitant to have married couples on staff but ever-growing and ever-profitable Southwest Airlines welcomes spouses and other family members on board believing that strongly increases loyalty to the firm.


Bigger is better: Synergy is out in mergers as companies shift away from big, strategic deals designed to add capabilities or add new business models and instead focus on consolidation designed to add scale, according to a review of recent transactions by Booz Allen Hamilton consultants.

Source: Strategy + Business

Word pro: If you are annoyed by the change bars that go beside your editing when using the "Track changes" function in Microsoft Word, choose Options from the Tools menu and click on Track Changes. If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, in the Changed Lines section at the bottom of the dialogue box change the "Mark drop-down" list to (none). If you are using a later version of Word, change the Changed Lines drop-down list to (none).

Source: Allen Wyatt's Word Tips

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont. based writer specializing in management issues. e-mail:

© The Globe and Mail

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