Posts Tagged ‘#icchat’

PowerPoint–Friend or Foe of Internal Communications?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Trent MeidingerGuest recap by Trent Meidinger.

It can inflict boredom and alienate the masses. Or it can help to inspire and win hearts. World leader? Reality television? No, it’s PowerPoint, and its use in internal communications was the focus of this week’s #icchat on Twitter.

I’ll be honest: When I hear the term PowerPoint, the boredom warning alarm rings loudly. I nearly chose to be outdoors on a perfect fall day here in Minnesota, rather than attend a chat about this widely used but frequently reviled tool. But the growing reputation of Sean’s (@CommAMMO) #icchat discussions drew me in. That, along with curiosity and a thirst for PowerPoint inspiration from special guest The Presentationist –  a.k.a., Tony Ramos – a man who’s devoted his career to communicating clearly with PowerPoint since 1993.

Our discussion confirmed there is a place for PowerPoint – if it’s used wisely.  Sean got things started with a candid question: “Why does PowerPoint suck, especially for internal communications?”

@rjfarr PPT sucks for #internalcomms because it’s boring, people don’t know how to use it well, and it tends to be really impersonal. #icchat

@tonyramos Agreed. Top reason most PPT sucks is too much text on a slide, then speaker simply reads the slides. Most common complaint. #icchat

@ZebraCracker When PPT is used well [rarely] for #internalcomms and distributed as-is to audience w/out speakernotes, it loses potency. #icchat

Solutions brought us to communications fundamentals.

@tonyramos Moving to stronger imagery, less text, story structure aid in better #PPT for #internalcomms

PowerPoint alone won’t do the job. Speakers are responsible for engaging the audience.

@dblacombe I treat each slide as a chance to have a convo with *one* person about a topic I’m interested in #icchat

@dan_larkin I prefer using images only, or images with key phrases. I want an audience connecting with me, not my slides. #icchat

@tonyramos Good models to follow for image-oriented #PPT are Steve Jobs and #icchat

The energy – or lack thereof – put into internal communications was called into play with Diane (@ZebraCracker) asking, “What approach best overcomes the notion that ‘this is good enough – it’s just internal.’?”

@tonyramos Resources funnel to where value/ROI perceived 2 be. Deliver top Internalcomms and aud will see value you accord them. Fight 4 it! #icchat

@Commammo lot of time the need is a leave-behind, not a preso – even Word is better for that…

@dblacombe I’m experimenting with putting up on Slideshare and then blog posting versus handout #icchat

@dan_larkin How you communicate with internal teams influences their communication with customers. There is no “just internal.” #icchat

Sean steered us into the creative aspects of PowerPoint, asking if text is dead for presentations and whether animation and motion are useful.

@tonyramos Q3 Just cuz u can doesnt mean you should. Save animation/motion/builds for when it is critical to understanding the message. Great example of a story told thru sparse text, images, video, soundtrack #icchat

@ZebraCracker Depends on audience. There is a time and place for big, stark, powerful text sans animation, etc. Time and place = when on big stage, with big audience, when presenter shd be star of show.

Developing stories to engage audiences is essential.

@tonyramos There’s the key word: engaging. If u r truly engaging/engrossing ur audience, u might even turn off the projector! #icchat

@ZebraCracker Next time would love to chat about these mgrs who spend too much time building slides and too little time with story structure #icchat

And with that, the topic for the next #icchat was born: structuring stories for internal communications. Join us November 2 from 2 – 3 eastern time (North America).

[Note: You can read this week’s transcript here.]

Trent Meidinger’s expertise is in internal and executive communications – strategy, counsel, coaching and messaging. He has worked at American Express, Target Corporation and United Healthcare in communications and operations-management roles. He writes about business and personal communications at and is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators. Follow him on Twitter as @wheati.


The ‘Professor’ Becomes The Student

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

It's 1992...AGAIN!

For 15 years, I’ve known that when my corporate career wound to a close, I wanted to teach, write and speak. That always has meant I’d need to get an advanced degree, and the question only was exactly when that would happen. The master plan was to start a master’s degree in 2009, which would have been the start of my second year at National City Corp. You want to make G-d laugh? Make plans.

My experience at regional bank National City began in January 2008, just in time for the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression. By the end of the year, PNC had acquired National City with government help, and in short order, Communication AMMO was born. I flirted briefly with the idea of enrolling in a master’s program right away, but jumped on the small business train instead. Now, after nearly 18 months toiling through the Great Recession, and a year after beginning my teaching career at Kent State as an adjunct prof, the academic fire is burning pretty brightly in me.

So, I decided to start the next phase of my communication career with pursuing a master’s in public relations from Kent State University.

This presented an interesting sidebar — in my Theory of Mass Communication class, seven of my fellow students took my PR Theory and Ethical Practice course last fall, and one of them is in the PR Tactics course I’m teaching this fall.  No copying off Professor Williams!

I’m excited and a bit terrified — I was last a student about 20 years ago, and wonder if I still remember how to study.  Preparing to teach is an education in itself, but being accountable for academic readings and schoolwork is a dim memory. The first week of classes (I’m taking two) is under our belts, and I still have time to complete the initial assignments. I count that as a victory!

With three speaking engagements this fall (PRSA International, the Parma, Ohio, Chamber of Commerce, and the IABC Research and Measurement Conference), the two classes, the one I’m teaching, the twice-monthly Twitter meeting, #ICChat, and the position as membership director for IABC Cleveland, I’m not going to lack for things to do.

I hope to still remain active here and elsewhere in social media, but don’t be too surprised if my frequency drops and length of post shrinks.

Of course, there no doubt are many of you who are hoping for just such a reduction. Anyone want to write a guest post?