Sales is about making connections. When you reach out to people with a solution, whether it’s analytics software, a carpet-cleaning service, or a new brand of vegetable juice, it’s the connection that matters first.
And that connection is made with a smile, a “hello”, and a handshake. Something you can’t do when making connections online.
Until now. Online presentations are a tool that puts your face right in front of people. Stephanie Grant uses online presentations to help Abel-Womack’s sales executives make connections with people, ultimately to increase sales.
Yes, we also had to memorize the periodic table and calculate equations, and yes, we’d sometimes wonder when we were ever going to use these scientific concepts.
Waters Corporation has been putting science to good use for more than fifty years. They’re a leading maker of analytical instruments for measuring fluids and substances used in healthcare delivery, environmental management, food safety, and water quality.
So it’s a good thing the people at Waters paid attention in science class. If you eat food, fuel your car, or use medicine, equipment from Waters probably had a role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the products you use.
Would you guess that their internal learning programs are a little, shall we say, involved?
I’m not sure this even qualifies as a problem. Maybe it’s a “First-world problem”, but here it is: How can we create great content without sitting at a computer?
What kind of innovations exist out there to help us multi-task? Can we use voice-to-text, mobile tablets, or specialized headgear to develop content that people will love?
Here are some of the technologies that, believe it or not, we’ll all be using in the near future to create content:
Voice to Text Apps: You’ve heard of voice notes, where you make a recording of your random thoughts when you’re not in a position to type, like when you’re out on a morning jog. The idea is that those thoughts are going to be worthwhile enough to transcribe later (provided these aren’t thoughts recorded at two in the morning while watching the Cartoon Network).
And of course, why transcribe? Isn’t word-recognition technology able to record directly to text? For phones and tablets, there are numerous voice-to-text applications. Maybe that guy in the car next to you isn’t ranting at the radio or muttering conspiracy theories, but writing a post for his sports blog. You can even have Apple’s Siri Eyes Free installed in your car.
One major glitch: Voice to Text apps don’t make driving any safer, according to a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. It turns out that looking away from the road isn’t the only distraction; it’s thinking.
VR-Style Headgear: Remember when Virtual Reality was the coolest thing ever? The problem was that these funky headworn devices only played back content. They could not create it. Something like Google Glass will let you record your voice and snapshot everything you see with no effort. Even Robert Scoble is now a believer in Google Glass.
But Glass and devices like it (like Vuzix) still have some obstacles to overcome, such as pricing and concerns over privacy. Store and restaurant owners are already deciding whether to allow the headworn futuristic things into their establishments, and there’s no doubt some litigation and legislation to follow. I believe that, like tablets and smartphones, they’ll attract a limited stratum of superuser. Then once someone discovers the killer application, we’ll all wonder how we survived without them.
Mobile Tablets: Naturally, the iPad, Android, Kindle (oh, and Microsoft Surface) tablets have changed the way people view content. First, they’re now more likely to browse while watching television, as well as carry the things into restaurants to amuse their fidgety children (guilty!). But there’s no reason they can’t be considered tremendous content-creation tools as well.
Tablets are fine for writing, but because of the tablet’s touchscreen, they lend themselves readily to graphics production and editing. Specialized tablet apps like Adobe’s Photoshop Touch, and something like Sketchbook Express let you edit photos and create graphics. And of course there’s a phalanx of apps that let you share them on the web pretty easily, even from a phone.
Don’t Leave Without Your Gloves: By now you’ve seen Minority Report, and while, like me, you probably can’t remember the story, I’ll bet you remember Tom Cruise’s computerized gloves. They were simply the interface for a gee-whiz transparent display, but they captured the imagination of tech geeks everywhere.
Shouldn’t it be possible, someday, to use gloves like this to interface with a computer or other type of screen, to create all kinds of content? You could type away at thin air and see the results directly on your Google Glass display while sitting on a beach.
People who create content are always looking for that spark, an inspiration, and that often happens to us while sitting at the ballgame, hiking a mountain peak, or using a playground slide. These technological marvels will let us continue to search for inspiration, and take advantage of it immediately.
So these devices may make it easier to multitask and create on the fly. But if thinking is the problem, as the Texas A&M study reveals, can you create great content while using a treadmill? Anyone can ingest news and other content on the overhead televisions at the gym, and many people read books on Kindles and (gasp) paper while working out, riding the train, walking the dog, and doing all sorts of other activities.
Can it work the other way around? Can you create compelling content while crushing calories? Or is mental focus as critical to creativity as it is to driving? Arguably, most people will probably create higher-quality content when they are sitting quietly and undisturbed.
But what about those brain flashes that hit you while you’re inspecting avocados in the produce aisle? For instance, I’ve written entire blog posts while strolling through a mall. That doesn’t change the essential rules about identifying an audience, using research, and calling for action. For that, whatever futuristic device I’m using better be connected to the internet.
But no matter how easy it is to create content on these awesome tools, let’s just keep them out of the car.
Originally published on The KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas Blog.
Last week I took my daughter to her first Red Sox game. We got there early, explored the ballpark, and enjoyed some Fenway Franks, peanuts and ice cream while we watched the first four innings. We left before the first rain delay of the 2013 season. This game was also a long-term milestone for the team, as it was their first non-sold-out game in ten years.
On the train ride to Boston’s North Station, I used a new payment system provided by the MBTA; mTicket, a mobile app that lets you buy your ticket and activate it when you board. I worried that it wouldn’t work, or that the T conductor had never heard of it, and we’d get tossed from the last car at a low speed. Instead, the app worked perfectly.
On the subway ride to the ballpark, we saw several people reading books on Kindles and other handheld devices. During the game, a lot of people took pictures with their phones, of the game, the players, and each other. I joined in the fun, and we’ve all seen Facebook friends posting pics of themselves at the game. People take mobile pics at rock concerts, too. It harkens back to the (circa 2004) obnoxious use of cell phones while sitting behind home plate.
All of that is disruption.
Innovation has made it possible to disrupt one industry after another, from home delivery of groceries to genetic RNA interference. In the realm of education and training, Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, allow countless users to take part in university courses, which may be regular in-person courses or specialized for online learning.
In business, online video and online presentations have become a disruptive tool for sales and marketing, as more video communications tools emerge and more conferences occur online. I remember when we thought videoconferencing was a killer for the airline industry, but in reality online video and presentations have enhanced live events, while the real killer apps aren’t just about communication, but collaboration.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen has led the discussion on disruptive innovation for years. His books have focused on new technologies and mechanisms that have changed companies, industries, and the world. We think of mobile devices and social websites as disruptive innovations, and they are; but it doesn’t have to be technology. Business methods and ideas can also turn the tables on how things are.
It’s important to note that disruptive technologies and ideas are nearly impossible to identify, except to visionaries. This is because they should be characterized not by what they are, but for what they aren’t:
In online media, whether it is for communications or social sharing, disruption is driving incredible changes in the way we do things. It’s already hard to imagine how we got by without Facebook, and five years from now we’ll wonder how we survived without something some software developer is creating right now.
But disruption still has its holdouts. On the subway ride home, I saw a student reading Clayton Christensen’s book “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns”.
Originally published on The KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas Blog.
And it’s not just websites. Designers of operating systems, e-commerce sites, content management systems, online training tools, business intelligence systems, and social platforms always strive to make them more useful.
Why? The most basic driver of an interface’s popularity is that people have a productive time using it.
Usability means e-commerce sites that get found and help shoppers complete the sale. It means marketing automation tools that provide useful feedback for making sales and marketing decisions. It means interactive online games with intuitive controls that are easy to figure out.
It also means online presentation hosting platforms that make content easy to publish and share.
I’ve spent thousands of words on video strategy covering everything from production to social sharing to types of videos.
Enough! No more strategy today. It’s time to get tactical about online presentations.
It’s time to just document exactly what I do to put an online presentation together. Let’s pull back that curtain, so to speak, and go behind the scenes. Yes, I know, it’s a cliche.