Friday, August 20, 2010

Talking with Technology

Most speakers these days use technology to enhance their presentations. There's an important word in that sentence - enhance..The reason for using technology is to add something to your message, not to overwhelm it. Alas, some people use technology as a life-support (or actually a speech-support) system, fearing that their words alone will not be enough to enlighten and entertain their audience.

You should never allow technology to become the focus of your presentation, unless you are actually speaking about technology. I advise developing the speech first, then looking for places where technology, whether images, videos, audios or props, can add something to your words. Don't forget that you still should be able to deliver your speech if the technology fails.

The most powerful speeches are simply words, delivered with skill and passion, directly to an enraptured audience. As soon as you introduce technology, there is a danger that it will become the "takeaway". For example, I remember a brilliant speech from a fellow professional which concluded with a video from a rock band. The video could easily have been what the audience remembered, but due to the skill of the speaker, the message of the speech came through. You can only get away with that when you are very skilled indeed. (OK, it was Graeme Codrington).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Out of office" messages - are they useful?

I've just been away for a couple of weeks on holiday, with no internet access (from choice). It's been bliss. I haven't set an autoresponder message on my email, nor did I put an "I'm away" message on my voicemail. That's partly because I have other people to check them for me, and send a holding response if necessary. However, even when I was a sole trader, I never set up auto-replies.

There are several reasons why I didn't:

1) The remote possibility of alerting people that my home and office are unattended.
2) The fact that it alerted potential clients that I was a one-person company. That could be off-putting for large corporate clients.
3) I can't see the value of it anyway. If people need a quick response, it doesn't help, and if they can wait a week or two, you can respond on your return.

I've never been aware of any business that I've lost as a result of responding on return from holiday. Normally, our response (usually from my business manager) is very fast. However, it seems to me that clients are perfectly prepared to wait.

Finally, some people are either on holiday for months (lucky them), or forget to turn their autoresponder off. All in all, I can't see the value of "Out of the office".