Posts Tagged 'Tips'

How to handle secondary conversations



Chances are if you call a meeting then you have something important to say, but in all offices or businesses there is going to be outside conversation that leaks into the meeting room. During computer and projector meetings it is exceedingly important to have the full attention of your audience. Off-topic subjects can range from office gossip, to relationship talk, and even children. Regardless, talk between meeting participants that does not have to do with the subject matter of the meeting can distract from what is important and ruin the professional atmosphere you are trying to project. Below I’m going to go over a few tips to keep all eyes and ears on you, and ensure whatever you are trying to convey in the meetings is heard and absorbed by all.

Be non-verbal and non-threatening

There is no reason to embarrass someone for a first offense, so when two or more meeting participants are chatting on the side, make eye contact with each of them to let them know their conversation has drawn attention. Let your cues be non-verbal so that the speaker is not interrupted. Signal the offenders to quiet down with a clear hand signal and leave it at that. Speaking up or calling someone out has the negative outcome of making the offenders only dwell on getting in trouble, and not the subject of the meeting.

If chatter continues, call the talkers out in a non-threatening manner

On the off chance that the people holding the sideline conversation do not stop after a non-verbal cue is given, it is appropriate to call the talkers out in a manner that does not put them in a negative light with their peers but forces them to pay attention. One method is to ask the opinion of one of the people holding the secondary conversation. Ask things like, “Do you feel that this is a good idea, Margaret?” or “Do you have anything to add, Joe?”. By grabbing attention in a non-threatening manner the participant in the secondary conversation is made to pay attention or risk the embarrassment of being ignorant on the subject matter. Another tactic is to ask to borrow the notes of someone involved in the talking. Say that you missed the last part, and ask if they could give you a quick rundown of what was just said.

Keep control without getting angry

Sometimes things can just get out of hand, especially if the person who has the floor has a meek personality or does not know how to handle a large crowd of his or her peers. If competing conversations continue to the point where multiple conversations are being held, it may be necessary to bring the conversations to a halt by addressing the room. Avoid sarcasm or anger so that no one feels intimidated or embarrassed. Comment on your own inability to hear whoever has the floor and calmly guide attention back to the presentation. With the whole group’s attention it is very unlikely anyone’s thoughts will stray to other conversations again.

Keep the presentation entertaining

When running a computer and projector presentation, the biggest key to keeping other conversations from springing up is to hold everyone’s interest. Make sure the projector screen is large enough that everyone can see and that everything on the computer is running smoothly. Keep the presentation engaging and fast paced while still being informative. Incorporate humor and ask lots of questions of the audience. If you do not have the floor, make sure to be engaged in the presentation being given. Laugh at the jokes and ask questions. Hopefully everyone will follow your lead and enjoy the presentation instead of viewing it as a chore.

Using these tips it should be easy to control the crowd and keep everyone focused. Low stress, highly interactive meetings are good for business and good for employees. Successful meetings help reestablish a feeling of group pride and motivation in offices and it is important to have a firm handle on these meetings to keep your work environment a happy one.

Staying on Budget When Planning Your Meeting

Staying on Budget When Planning Your Meeting When you’re in charge of planning a meeting, staying within your budget is probably one of your biggest worries, but it shouldn’t have to be.  With a little extra effort, staying within budget can be the easiest part of meeting planning.   Here are a few tips  to help you out with the financial aspect, so that you can spend more time and effort on the important parts of your meeting.

1.  Make sure you know your budget.  If you know your exact limits verses a guess or estimate, you are more likely to stick to it. 

2.  Stay organized.  This one seems simple, but before you even begin the planning process, make a list of items you’ll need to pay for.  These might include transportation, entertainment, refreshments, technology rentals, accommodations if your meeting will involve out-of-town guests, renting a location if it won’t be at your office, and more.  Figure out how much of your budget you can afford to assign to each aspect and try to leave a little extra room in case something comes up.  

3.  Be flexible.  If you have specific expectations about dates and locations, you may find yourself having to shell out a little extra money to pay for those expectations.  Some places, such as hotels, might give discounts if you’re not 100% set on a date. 

4.  Have a back-up plan.  Something can always go wrong when you’re planning a big meeting.  Consider the possibilities and decide what you can do in the event of an emergency.  Not having a back-up plan could result in spending tons of extra, unnecessary cash. 

5.  Rent any necessary technology.  In today’s world, technology is king, and any successful meeting requires at the bare minimum a projector.  Renting a projector is a great alternative to purchasing one when you’re trying to stay within a budget.  You’ll pay a small fraction of what you would when you purchase a new projector and you can rent it for as long as you need.  Many meeting planners also rent laptops so that each meeting attendee can use one to access websites, take notes, and perform other tasks related to the meeting.

Choosing the Right Font for Your Presentation

Choosing the Right Font for Your Presentation

You’ve got a big presentation coming up for your company’s next meeting.  You know your topic like the back of your hand and you’ve contacted your Tech Travel Agent to secure a projector rental for your meeting, but now it’s time to put together the actual presentation.  You want it to be appealing and attention-grabbing, but you don’t want to overdo it, right? 
 
One of the biggest things that often prevents people from even working on their presentations in a timely manner is the font.  There are so many different options when it comes to fonts these days, that picking the right one can be an overwhelming task for someone who does not usually work with programs like Microsoft’s PowerPoint.   Sure, you can use the old-fashioned standbys like Times New Roman and Arial, but that can get boring and surprisingly, it’s not always the best option. 
 
First of all, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions: 
1.  What type of audience are you presenting to?  
– Do you work in an informal office, where your presentation will be made to your co-workers?  In this case, you can probably spice things up a little bit and have a little more fun with your fonts. 
– Do you work for a larger company and plan to make a presentation to several executives from your corporate office?    Obviously, in this situation, you’d want to keep things formal.  
2.  How serious is your topic?  
– Are you discussing something important or sensitive such as accident prevention or budget cuts?  You may want to avoid using anything you would consider cute or fun in this situation.  
– On the other hand, are you discussing something fun, like the budget for this year’s holiday parties or the upcoming community project your office is involved with.  These types of presentations will allow for a little more room to get creative.   
3.  Is your presentation mainly in what you say or in what you type?  
– If you plan to let your mouth make the point and use your slides as simply a back-up tool for people to refer to or to emphasize a few key-points, then you can afford to be a little creative with your fonts. 
– If you plan to rely heavily on your slides and pack them full of information, you’ll want to stick to fonts that are easier to read and less distracting.  
 
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have at least a general idea about what types of slides you want to make and what sort of image you want to convey. 
Here are a few general tips about choosing fonts:
 
1.  Don’t use too many.  The more you use, the more jumbled up your presentation will look.  If it’s too busy, it will be unappealing to your audience and hard to follow.  Many consultants suggest using three or four maximum. 
2.  Use one main font for your main content.  Whether you have two points or ten points per slide, make sure they’re all in the same, consistent font.  You’ll also want to be sure your main font is the most plain. This would be a good time to use Times New Roman or something similar that is easy for everyone to read.
3.  For titles, captions, and other non-main text, you can use something a little more fun, but make sure it’s still readable.  Trebuchet, Tahoma, and Comic Sans are a few examples. 
4.  Be careful about using anything too “out there.”   Not just because it might drive your audience crazy to look at it, but also because some of the more unique fonts don’t always transfer well from one system to another.  
5.  When choosing font size, never go below 16- or 18-point.  Also, keep in mind that different fonts can be the same size but they don’t appear the same on screen. 
6.  If you really want to grab someone’s attention, use even bigger fonts on words like “new,” that are meant to grab attention.   32-point or higher is great. 
7.  Use bold font, italics, and underlined font sparingly.  Just like having too many fonts, having too many extra characteristics can ruin you presentation.  

Make Your Meetings Fun

Make Your Meetings Fun

Chances are, if you surveyed your employees, most of them probably aren’t going to use the word “fun” to describe meetings.  As a matter of fact, they probably don’t look favorably at meetings at all.  Let’s be honest, meetings aren’t usually exciting.   But what if you could spice things up a little bit?  Not only will this encourage employees to attend and participate, but the overall mood and production value of the meeting will probably change, too.  Here are few tips on making your meetings “fun.” 

1.  Audience Participation 

Admit it.  You, yourself, have probably started to drift off during a meeting in which the presenter droned on and on about one topic for hours.  Giving a lengthy speech about a topic usually means the information goes right in one ear and out the other.  Adding some audience participation can go a long way.  Games, hands-on activities, demonstrations, role-playing, and even trips outside of the meeting room or anything else which requires your audience to be an active part of the meeting can help keep everyone’s interest through the duration of your meeting. 

2.  Get employees involved in planning

Ask your employees what they do and don’t like about your meetings and use their suggestions to change things up.  Maybe appoint a different employee to come up with ideas for each meeting or to gather information for you.  When people have a say in what they’ll be doing, they’re often more engaged. 

3.  Offer Prizes and Contests

Good, old-fashioned bribery is always an option when it comes to getting people motivated.  Offer some sort of raffle or contest that allows meeting attendees to win a prize.   Or maybe at the end of your meeting, you can have a “pop quiz,” and the person who is able to answer the most questions, gets a prize.  The possibilities are endless. 

4.  Use Audio Visual Equipment Rentals

Projectors, plasmas, and other audio visual equipment can perk up even the dullest of meeting rooms.  Imagine your content being projected on a large screen, in bright colors, with music or other sound to back it up.  The right equipment can turn your boring powerpoint presentation into an engaging activity that holds everyone’s interest.  And if you don’t have equipment on hand or spending thousands of dollars for equipment you don’t use very often isn’t in your budget, a rental firm like Rentacomputer.com is a great option.  You can rent the equipment for just the time you need it, and even have it delivered and picked up to and from any location.  Just call 1-800-736-8772 to find out more!

Remember, meetings can easily become boring and people work better when they are energized and motivated.  Wouldn’t you rather see your employees laughing and relaxed verses falling asleep at your meetings?  I know I would!