3 Things To Bring On Your Next International Trip (Which Will Make You Look Like A Genius!)

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We travel for business… a lot. Sometimes it’s only for a day, but often we’re producing events across the country, into the United States, and sometimes (if we’re really lucky) we get to travel overseas. Regardless of the destination, or the reason for your travel, here are a few unexpected things we never leave the office or home without.

Travel Power Strip:

Stick with me on this one. I know packing an actual power strip may make you feel like that super nerdy AV kid from your grade school days, but this one item can be a lifesaver. If you’re travelling overseas, packing a travel power strip saves you the trouble of packing multiple adapters and allows you to power your tablet, smartphone, camera and hair straightener all at once! If you’re travelling domestically, you never have to hunt down all your gadgets (or worse, outlets) across a hotel or conference room. You can even bust out your power strip at the airport when charging your phone, and gain some instant karma/networking opportunity offering a charge to a fellow traveller! My personal choice is the super compact PowerCube Charger – which also includes USB chargers and is available at Bestbuy and Amazon.

Google Maps:

Nothing advertises you’re a tourist quiet like wandering with your arms outstretched over a crinkled map. Even now in the age of smart devices, the cost of the data to look up directions almost negates the savings making sure your taxi driver isn’t taking you on the ‘extra-scenic tourist route’ to your hotel.

But did you know that you can skip the massive data charges while travelling, and access Google Maps offline? Here’s a quick how-to:

  • Before you leave, or when you’re in a WiFi hotspot, sign into your Google account on your phone or tablet and search the address of your next trip.
  • Zoom into the area you’ll be travelling and select the area you want to save.
  • Simply touch the menu and save as ‘Make Available Offline.

This little trick will save you from massive data charges, and transform you from a map-fumbling ‘tourista’ to a savvy traveller on the go.

An App That’s Better than a Travel Agent:

A travel agent can help you find the best deals, and can save your keister while you’re travelling. However, they are limited by time zones, and you may not have used your travel agent to book all your travel arrangements and appointments while away on business travel. If only there was a way to organize all your flights, hotels, rail passes, tours and appointments into one handy schedule? Enter TripIt – the clever little app that will consolidate your Google and Apple accounts and emails; gathering your reservations and locator numbers into a clear and concise itinerary. This handy app is viewable on your phone and can be easily sent to your travel companions or sent easily to family back home! Not only will this app organize you before you leave, it can be used to track and rebook delayed or canceled flights, and can suggest nearby attractions or restaurants to your itinerary. It’s like having a hotel concierge in your pocket.

What’s the one thing you always pack when travelling for business or pleasure? Happy travelling!

 

Standout Presentation Tips – That Mean Business

It’s show time.
You’ve spent weeks preparing your presentation.
Now it’s time to stand and deliver.

Your next 20 minutes could mean a million dollar difference – to your brand, your strategy or your plan of action. As a result, the stakes can be high, but by keeping the following tips in mind you can make your presentation impactful and memorable… for all the right reasons.

Organization Tips
• Remember the old marketing axiom: tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then
tell ‘em what you told ‘em. Repetition helps retention.
• Know the focus of your presentation – is it motivation or education? For plenaries, stay
top-line. Breakouts are for details.
• Know where you fit in the big picture – who is presenting before and after you – good presentations build upon each other.
• Less is more – if you have 20 minutes on the agenda, develop content for 15. This will sharpen your message, plus give you time for audience interaction – and to breathe!
• You are more important than your slides. Let’s say that again: you are more important than your slides. Tell your story and let the slides support what you say, not the other way around.

Delivery Tips
• Preparation is key – know your material, but don’t over rehearse or the magic will be lost. The audience wants to see your passion and feel your energy.
• Tell a story, give a personal anecdote or share an example. Audiences connect with presenters when they show their personality and make it relevant.
• Work the stage and if possible ditch the podium and engage your audience.
• Know your audience – what do they want to hear, and what do they need to hear?

A Final Tip
Breathe calmly and have fun! This is your moment to shine.

Corporate Video Quality Crisis

If video killed the radio star, has YouTube, the iPad, or hand-held personal video cameras killed the quality corporate video star? My answer begins with a nostalgic generalization…

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
There was a time (not that long ago, in fact) when clients understood and valued the communication power of a beautifully shot and produced video. The process, granted, took more time than “borrowing” content found on YouTube or shot by one’s talented nephew. There was a deeper, more substantial level of thought and craft that went into its creation.

The video treatment was written and approved, the images were storyboarded and the video itself was a compilation of carefully selected music and talent, and it was shot by professionals and edited in a real video suite. And if you wanted changes, well, those changes were being made well into the night before the live event where it was going to be shown, with leftover take-out containers littering the editing suite floor.

QUALITY IN… QUALITY OUT
Notice I didn’t say what kind of quality. The “quality corporate video crisis” mentioned in this blog’s title stems from increasing client requests to download a clip from YouTube or cut together client-supplied footage shot on personal video devices. While this material can make great eye-candy to show at a wedding, retirement party or small team brainstorm, it’s rarely able to result in the type of video you can and should be showing on a huge rear-projection screen to 200 plus people at a sales meeting or launch.

Granted, budgets are getting leaner. We are all being asked to do more with less. But this doesn’t – and shouldn’t – be at the expense of quality communications.

GIVE MORE BY DOING LESS
If you’re spending the time to plan an event, bring people together, fly them in, feed them, provide accommodations at a quality hotel, stage the event with professionals, and plan extravagant evening parties – you should be prepared to also invest in the quality of content being shown to the audience.

In other words, don’t underestimate the power of the quality corporate video star and budget accordingly. The right video modules delivering big messages through big music and even bigger James Earl Jones-type voiceovers will not only leave a lasting impression, they’ll help set the tone for the entire event and compel everyone in the room to be a fiercely loyal part of company “x” and to chomp at the bit to sell product “y”.

EXPECT EXCELLENCE
Net-net: A properly produced corporate video created by a highly trained, experienced and equipped production team can and will make a significant difference to the quality of your communications. As the late Steve Jobs intoned… “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

What My Daughter Taught Me About Technology

Last Christmas, I bought my daughter an iPad so we could FaceTime when I travelled. She’s 11, but still likes Mom to give her a final squeeze and to tuck her in at night. I love the iPad. To be honest, I love anything “Apple”… from the commercials and sleek packaging, to the technology and the stores and environment they are sold in. And if my local Apple Store had a coffee bar alongside its Genius Bar, I might never leave. You may have an iPad yourself – maybe for personal use storing your latest family vacation photos, or as many of our clients are now experiencing to use as a work tool.

Technology, like the iPad, has really changed the landscape of live meetings and events, and the way we interact with customers face to face.

Using technology to enhance a selling program with an interactive detail aid can really set you apart from your competition. The messages are more focused, they are adaptable and interactive, and they allow the user to customize their presentation to their audience – instantly. Gone are the days of paper detail aids and leave behinds.

We’ve been using technology to enhance the live event experience for as long as I can remember. Things like audience response systems or key pads to gauge attendee feedback or test knowledge, and now live Twitter feeds for a more dynamic and fluid Q&A. These tools are very cool, and can make a presenter feel more connected with what the audience is feeling and thinking.

But as of late, with budgets shrinking or dollars being reallocated to other company efforts, the use of technology and “virtual” meetings has started to replace live events. I get it. It can be costly to fly everyone in to the meeting location, feed them, put them up in a great hotel, build presentations and an event agenda that sees your people together for only a short time. But it can be even more costly if you don’t.

Bringing your team or customers together into one room, to hear the same message and share the same experience is critical if you expect to shift a mindset, instill pride, and have your audience take action. It’s an investment in your team, your company and your future.

While technology can certainly enhance a sales message and make your job more efficient … it can’t make a connection, shake a hand or better yet, know what your audience is thinking at that very moment. Are they interested? Have they tuned out? Are they balancing their cheque book? A rousing speech from the president, a motivational guest speaker, a thrilling launch video, yup, and even a training seminar – are more captivating and moving when can share them with the people sitting around you.  Don’t underestimate the value and power of being there live.

As my wise 11-yearold told me upon my return from a recent business trip, “FaceTiming was fun, but I’d rather have you here live any day of the week. Now where’s my kiss?”

Show us your Briefs

Have you ever wondered why some projects run super smooth and yield great results, while others require a lot of time to rally the troops and get things off the ground? Or why some creative ideas seem to be a match made in heaven for your vision, and others, well… never quite come into focus?

At LOFT, we believe a project’s future success begins with the initial brief.

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The brief is your roadmap and checklist to ensure that all your team members – internal or external – stay on track. Creating a brief is also an important tool for engaging your stakeholders from the project outset, so that there are no missed insights or opportunities along the way.

Here are a few “brief” steps that will help you get started creating your brief.

CREATING YOUR BRIEF IN THREE EASY STEPS

STEP 1 – Start with the end in mind.

Think about your project or event. What does success look like the minute after it’s over? Are you trying to shift behavior, instill pride, cultivate confidence in an idea, team or product?

Know what the desired end result is, and work back.

STEP 2 – Know your objectives and your audience.

Now that you know what your desired result is, identify your key objectives, and more importantly your audience. Some questions to consider…

  • Are you trying to motivate, educate, or inform your audience?
  • What hard information do you want them to take away (and action?)
  • What’s the current state of affairs? How is your audience feeling? Are they up, down, ambivalent?
  • Who is your audience? What’s their average day like?
  • Do you foresee any challenges? If yes, what are they?

STEP 3 – Know your budget.

Value for dollar can always be delivered, but you first have to know how many dollars you have.

At LOFT we love to brainstorm and come up with creative solutions to the toughest communications challenges out there. But knowing the scope and expected deliverables – and the budget to deliver against those deliverables – is absolutely key. This being said, don’t think that a lean budget equates to lean creative, or that a substantial budget gives free reign for every crazy idea to hit the table. On the contrary.

A well-defined budget means that your creative partner can focus their efforts on delivering solutions that are within scope and that will best elevate your objectives… rather than coming up with ideas that you love, but can’t afford (or vice versa).

BRIEF SUMMARY

Start with the end in mind.
Know your objectives and audience.
And know your budget.

These are three simple steps to get your next brief underway. Follow them and your team will thank you, plus your project will be off to a great start!