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How to transform presentation content into video social media posts

Here’s a question about presentations and videos I started to get a lot last month. I’ll paraphrase it:

Hey Laura. How do you do those square, short, silent little videos that you share on LinkedIn and Twitter?

The answer is: really easily! I use a tool called Canva. Update: And here’s a direct link so you can use Canva to create presentations and slides.

As a stand & deliver trainer, I have oodles of presentation content. Canva lets me repurpose bits and pieces of this content for easy social media sharing.

Yes, Canva excels at quick online video creation. I’m finding a lot of people use Canva — but we tend not to think of using it for video. We tend to think of it for images.

I’m also thinking a lot of people have PowerPoint presentations. Why not try using Canva to repurpose your presentation content for social media posts?

Canva lets you do this in a way that’s super easy to accomplish. I show you how in this two minute video. Enjoy!

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

content ideas social media Twitter

Ask yourself: what does your audience really want?

Google Plus Business Page

Google Plus opened its doors for business pages yesterday. Far out, right?

Boom! I’m suddenly getting swamped with requests to follow new G+ business pages.

So let’s say you’re a business communicator. And you’re posting the exact same content to your Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus pages today.

Oh, uh! You’re being redundant.

Think about your audience. Let’s say I’m one of your most rabid brand fans. I follow you EVERYWHERE: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now — Google Plus.

Now —  let’s also say I publicly ask the question: where you would like me to follow you? Take your pick. If your content at each venue is mostly the same — why should I follow you everywhere? Let’s take a look at three common yet unsatisfactory answer categories:

  • You tell me that if I was a real fan, I’d follow you at all three and put up with your tiresome repetition — because that’s what real fans do. I should suffer. Love means putting up with thoughtlessness and boredom. (Uh-oh. I just went from thinking you’re wonderful to thinking that you’re an abusive jerk.)
  • Or maybe you tell me that I should follow you wherever the heck I want. It doesn’t matter to you, it’s really all about me getting your messages in a way that I most enjoy. (Congratulations! You’ve just revealed that your whole “it’s personal” mantra is a load of manure. Social media is a mass marketing play to you.)
  • You apologize, explaining that your audience is significantly different at each venue, so you need to be redundant to reach as many people as you can. (Oops! Telling me ‘the audience is significantly different’ is saying that I’m insignificant! Also, think about it: if your audiences are indeed ‘significantly different’ — why not develop significantly different messaging to appeal to their different needs?)

Yes, none of these three responses defending redundancy seem quite correct. At this brief moment in history, you have an almost risk-free opportunity to experiment with audience messaging. Google Plus Business Pages are brand-spanking new. Instead of redundant posting, what might you do to deepen or extend engagement with your brand’s biggest fans?

  • Take some time out for audience identification. What’s different about each audience? How can you appeal to different needs and desires?
  • Take some time to think through your content strategy. Instead of repeating the exact same message to three unique audiences — what might you do differently to be more appealing to each?

How might you offer your biggest fans an enhanced experience with your brand or business?

PS – Yes, I’ve created a Google+ business page. But I’m not promoting it yet — not until I’ve completed an audience profile and developed a content plan. You?

Blogging social media Twitter

Tsk! Some people do nothing but criticize…

“Waah! Some people just sit back + criticize when we try to do good for our community,” pout legions of wannabe activists.

Many passive-aggressive dimwits have gotten it into their puny brains that thoughtful, articulate criticism is the equivalent of “do-nothing”. That critics “sit back” while criticizing. That criticism is a nobler, fancier word for “bitching”. Or that a critic is slothful at best and damaging at worst.


photo credit: Rhys Asplundh

Here’s a five-step self-help program designed for those who whine about the perceived ease or “negativity” of thoughtful criticism:

1. Build or co-opt a good-sized public following of readers, viewers, friends, clients, and/or colleagues.

2. Publish a witty or thoughtful speech, article, video or blog post. Sharply criticize a sacred cow or popular vice/trend of the majority of followers.

3. Make sure the audience — including both saints + pyschopaths — has a public feedback mechanism. Respond to or categorize every rant, rave, and threat.

4. Participate in public discussions. Learn how to deal with personal threats, hate mail, irrational fanaticism, reasonable arguments, and irate phone calls.

For the fifth and final step, post but one ironic and grossly iniquitous tweet:

“Some people have nothing better to do but sit back and criticize.”

Alternatively, try this ostensibly easier exercise: learn to listen to and respect thoughtful criticism. Far from bitchy, good critics make you think. They inspire conversation. They foster relationships. They make ideas better. They make the community better.

Heck. They make YOU better.

Without criticism, there can be no activism. And honestly: when was the last time you learned anything from a great review of your work?

Blogging fun social media Twitter

The most passive-aggressive phrase in social media

Ding ding ding! We have a winner for THE MOST passive-aggressive phrase used in Facebook and Twitter posts.

Coming in at number one: “some people…”.

As in posting “Some people tear down everything positive we try to do for our community” instead of “Cindy habitually encourages people to think critically before jumping on dubious social media bandwagons with wild enthusiasm!”

Or “Some people overreact to everything!” instead of “Greg seems empathetic & usually writes passionately when he believes that oppressed people are being harmed.”

some girls - the rolling stones

Photo Credit: OddSock

For the legions of “some people” and “everything” posters out there, please note: there is but one letter of difference between “posting” and “pouting”. You can make a stronger case if you write with specificity as well as passion. Engaging directly with folks who think differently can help you adjust or strengthen your point of view.

Keeping your sense of humor can help, too.

What are your runner-ups for the most counterproductive phrases you’ve seen in Twitterville and Facebookland lately?

social media Twitter

This is social media on drugs…

We often talk about online social media channels as they are some kind of inebriate or illicit drug.

  • “Are you ‘on’ LinkedIn?”
  • “She’s addicted to Facebook.”
  • “I’m a heavy Twitter user.”

I wonder if it’s because we sense that our online social media behaviors aren’t exactly healthy or moderate. After all, we seldom admit an addiction to leafy green vegetables or that we’re heavy elliptical training machine users. And when was the last time you asked someone if they were “on” clean water?

Shattered into Yellow
This is your brain on Twitter?

photo credit: ganesha.isis

What other language from the drug subculture are you hearing with regard to online media? Pop open your Crackberry and give me a comment…

Presentation Twitter

Your final words: how NOT to close a presentation

I asked folks on Twitter:

“What’s the worst way to end a presentation?”

My own personal pet peeve is ending with “Are there any questions?”  Q & A is such a weak & wimpy close. Regrettably, I hear it far too often.

However, within 12 minutes of my Twitter query, I received even more brilliant answers — brainstorms from the gang on Twitter:

End Presentations Well

A few more minutes go by, and I get a few more brilliant answers.

How to Close a Presentation
(Thanks to S_Vandergriff, FensterV, Admore, Clairecelsi, jbrons, boyink, bisquiat, mbresnahan, alissajean, and doctorzen for sharing your feelings, thoughts, and sense of humor!)

What’s the worst way to close a speech you’ve ever witnessed — or heard tale of?

fun Presentation social media Twitter

Holy Mackerel! What’s the Best Speaker Gift Ever?

Recently, I received a can of mackerel as a gift. It wasn’t a speaker gift. It was, however, an unusual gift.

It was also an unusually thoughtful gift. How so?

A week earlier, I told an off-topic story. I heard an interview on NPR that fish at the bottom of the food chain — sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel — are nutritious and better environmental choices than salmon and tuna.

However, most Americans haven’t developed a taste for these “lower food chain” fish. I mentioned that the NPR interview gave me the inspiration to try to develop a palate for these fish:

  • Herring, I already like.
  • Anchovies, they’re OK to cook with occasionally.
  • Sardines, meh. I had a sardine bake last week. It was OK, not great. But I love canned sardines on rye! Bonus points for hot sauce.

As for mackerel, I’ve been warned against it repeatedly. I’ve never tried it.

Holy Mackerel Speaker Gifts

That was the gist of my off-hand story. A week later, I received the can of mackerel as a gift, with the challenge to try it. I love a challenge, so I’m going to do it. I’m going to eat that can of mackerel.

More than anything, I love that someone was listening to my offhand comment, and took the time to respond with a thoughtful — albeit unusual — gift.

This made me think of business and speaker gifts I’ve given and received over the years. I once gave a man a smoked salmon as a speaker gift — long story, drug dogs at the airport went insane, security guards drawing weapons — but in the end, it all worked out. The guy’s secretary probably loved the story of temporary airport incarceration more than the actual salmon. But ever since, I’ve been leery of giving the gift of fish. It’s an act of crazy bravado.

However, you’ve really got a challenge when you give a speaker gift. How can you top an unusual, personalized gift like a can of mackerel or a story of incarceration?

The Best Speaker Gift Ever! One of the keys of giving a truly thoughtful gift is to listen to your speaker. If you’re hiring someone to speak at your event or for your organization, read their blog. Follow them on FaceBook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Watch for that offhand comment — it may be about a mackerel, a passion for falconry, adventures in beekeeping — who knows? Once you know a little bit more about your speaker, you can find something more personal that the leftover SWAG that’s been gathering dust in your office.

It may not be the actual gift that’s treasured — but the story behind the gift. Give the gift of listening and storytelling. Those are the best gifts any speaker can receive.

That, and cash.

PS — What are the oddest — and best — speaker gifts you’ve ever given or received? (And if you have any good recipes for canned mackerel, I’d love to read them…thanks!)

social media Twitter

How can you help the socially tone-deaf?

I’m not a sports fan. There! I’ve said it! However, I know that appreciating sports is a big part of international culture.

To this extent, I am mildly conversant in the language of sports. While I don’t enter into sports-related conversations with any depth or passion, I can listen. I can value the enthusiasm of those who do. I can ask questions, and often receive lengthy and fervent responses from people who genuinely love their sport!

World Cup Vuvuzela Soccer FunPhoto credit: Axel Bührmann

I don’t try to fake a sports-passion I don’t feel. But there’s one feeling I don’t have to fake — I genuinely admire the passion of others.

I empathize with fans when I hear cheers over a gain — or groans over a missed goal or bad call. I smile at the smack-talk and bravado of my friends who are earnest sports fans.

Perhaps there’s a major cultural topic where you feel similarly. For example, you may not be a fan of Reality TV, Twitter, Hip Hop Music, Smart Phones, or vampires. Yet, when you recognize that these are major interests in our cultural landscape — you might choose to learn a little bit about these topics by asking questions and showing interest when you encounter friends and family who are fans.

You may never fully treasure the topic of a fan’s ardor. You may never be a convert. But as a sentient human, you probably feel moved by their spirit and enthusiasm. You can feel your creative juices bubble when you let your brain and soul attempt to connect with another’s exuberance.

That’s one reason why ignoring major cultural movements is a tragedy. When people dismiss the major interests of others in their culture, they risk becoming socially tone-deaf. They fall into a creative slump. By failing to listen and ask questions, they can’t seem to appreciate new language as it evolves. They don’t seem to know what people are talking about. They seem woefully out of the loop of social and cultural evolution.

They start sounding and looking old. They create work that seems sad and antiquated. Out of touch. Or even culturally insensitive.

If the term “socially tone-deaf” seems callous to people who are actually tone-deaf, I apologize. Truly tone-deaf people are those who are unable to appreciate music. Similarly, the socially tone-deaf seem unable to value the culture and society that thrives all around them.

You’ll often hear the socially tone-deaf say culturally ignorant things like:

  • “I don’t understand all this fuss about the World Cup. It’s stupid.”
  • “Who is this Justin Beaver guy that all the girls love? It’s stupid.”
  • “I don’t get Twitter and FaceBook and blogs. They’re stupid.”
  • “Let’s get some intern to manage our Social Media. It’s stupid.”

There’s a whole lot of “stupid” in conversations with the socially tone deaf.

The next time you hear a major cultural phenomenon described as “stupid” or “crazy” — please stop to consider whether the person speaking those epithets might be socially tone deaf. Sometimes, I am moved to remind such a person that while they may be unable to appreciate a popular topic, it’s important to consider that other people around them do. Trying to empathize with another’s interest may open their ears to a whole new language.

Being connected means more than being online. It means caring enough about others to listen and ask questions. It means being able to understand a little inside joke — or maybe even crack one. It means being able to extend and add to a conversation.

The next time a business person asks you, “Why should I get my business involved with social media?” — perhaps it’s time to stop quoting facts and figures about the sheer numbers of people who are involved in these online activities.

Instead, perhaps it’s now time to say,

“Because if you don’t care enough to listen to your customers, you’re not going to be in business much longer.”

Is it time for this kind of tough-talk yet? Or is it still too soon?

How else can you help the socially tone-deaf more fully appreciate what others all around them can easily hear?

What can you hear all around you that others may not? How can you help them hear?

Presentation social media Twitter

Why You Should Never, Ever Crowdsource Your Presentation Title

  • Intro to X
  • X 101
  • X for Beginners


What presentation titles could possibly be more overused? If you’re going to a presentation with one of these titles, you can be almost certain that the presentation is going to be every bit as boring and cliched as its headline. These kinds of titles are a red flag that show a lack of creativity and imagination on the part of the presenter.

In his hilarious + helpful book Confessions of a Public Speaker, Scott Berkun states very clearly that taking a strong position in your title is utterly essential. In his chapter titled “Eating the Mike”, Mr.Berkum states that with a weak position, your talk may become…

“Here is everything I know I could cram into the time I have, but since I have no idea if you care, or what I would say if I had less time to talk, you get a half-baked, hard to follow, hard to present, pile of trash.”

No kidding!Presentation Title Do
I’ve had to fight these “Naming the Presentation” battles over the past decade. I’ll come up with a wonderfully effective and entertaining title, and the conference organizer will bill it as “X for Beginners”.

I hate it when my name and face gets positioned next to that turd of a title. I sometimes fantasize about clearing things up with the audience:

“I know you think the title of this session is “Introduction to Social Media for Conference Planners 101”, but that’s a misprint. That was just a description of the TOPIC and AUDIENCE PROFILE that I discussed with the organizers so that I could build a relevant presentation for you. The actual TITLE of my presentation is “The Top 5 Most Horrifying Mistakes Conference Organizers Make and How to Fix Them Fast.”

Yeah, I don’t say anything like that.

What I do instead: Happily, I learned an important lesson from Mr. Berkun’s book. I’ve been enjoying frank conversations with event planners about the importance of the title of the talk. I’ve made it clear that the topic, difficulty level, and audience profile may not have anything to do with the title we choose for the presentation. (They might, but they might not.)

For the moment, this approach seems to be working. Fancy that! Conference planners seem delighted to hear that the person they’ve hired is thinking about the audience, presentation content, marketing viability and title.

It seems that they’re a smart bunch that values professionalism and creativity.

What doesn’t work? Lately, I’ve actually seen speakers try to crowdsource their presentation titles on Twitter! How much of a bad idea is it to tweet:

“I’m giving a 101 presentation to a group of widget manufacturers. What should I call it?”

Honestly. Think about it. How the heck should someone who hasn’t seen the content know what to name the presentation?

I suspect that presenters who crowdsource their titles have constructed a presentation so generic and half-baked that it could actually be named…


How about:

“Here’s some crap I know a little bit more about that you…”

Make no mistake: Cliched titles and crowdsourced titles are huge red flags that the presentation is a stinker. Don’t crowdsource a title. Don’t go to a presentation with a crowdsourced or cliched title.

Instead, take great care to construct your presentation content carefully — and name your presentation effectively. If you don’t know how, read Mr.Berkun’s book. It’s a very entertaining read — but imparts helpful and practical advice along the way.

Presentation public speaking social media Twitter

How Twitter is Like Public Speaking

  • “I just don’t know what I would say…”
  • “I can’t believe anybody would care…”
  • “I think I’ll make a fool out of myself…”

Speechwriters and presentation coaches often hear these three objections from new clients. Today, I hear the same objections from clients when they talk about approaching Twitter.

Stage fright? It’s being replaced with Twitter fright.

It makes sense, in an odd way. Twitter, in part, is a public speaking platform.

It’s much more, of course: it’s a public listening platform as well. And it’s much less, of course: each Twitter utterance is limited to 140 characters.

Fundamentally, Twitter is a new and growing communication platform. Learning to communicate well on Twitter may be every bit as essential as polishing and honing your public speaking and presentation skills.

When I hear someone who has yet to try Twitter say,

“I just don’t know what I would say…” — I often ask them to listen first. Use Twitter Search to find people who are Tweeting about topics that interest you. Or use Twitter Search advanced to find people in your local community who are tweeting about local events and issues. It’s easier to enter a conversation that’s already in progress about something that’s inherently interesting to you – than it is to be the one to start the conversational ball rolling. Eavesdrop on an interesting conversation already in progress. Ask a question or show support. Later, when you’ve developed some rapport, you might find that you have plenty to say — and you’ve got an audience that’s more predisposed to listen.

“I can’t believe anybody would care…”
— Why is this so hard to believe? Here’s a timeless truth: people care about people they know, like, and trust. And people care about their communities. And ideas they find interesting. People like to discuss topics of interest with others. And yes, it sometimes includes recipes and food and music. Sometimes it includes humor, jokes, and talk about the weather. Oh, and from time to time, the conversation turns to talk about business. If you really “can’t believe anybody would care…” — make them care. Get to know them first. Get to like them. Get to understand them. Be a mensch. Get personally involved. Chances are, if you genuinely care about people and let them know it with a few minutes of chat or a link to an interesting idea, they will come to care about what you say.

“I think I’ll make a fool out of myself…”
— Don’t worry. You’ll make a fool of yourself at some point or another in your life. No one’s immune from foolishness. But the people who look like the biggest fools are people who claim knowledge without experience. As in the people who routinely say, “I think Twitter is stupid. It’s a waste of time, so I’m not getting involved. But I will keep telling everyone I know how stupid I think it is…” It’s hard to convince me that Twitter is stupid when millions of people use it to a) find real-world friends b) get breaking news c) brainstorm great ideas d) build relationships that lead to new opportunities e) spread news about great causes and ideas… and a whole bunch more.

You’re a social human being that longs to connect with other people. Twitter is a communication platform that can help you do just that. Don’t be scared or intimidated. You’ll find the people and ideas you care about being discussed on Twitter. Join the conversation, develop rapport, and start building relationships.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter. I tweet under the handle of @maniactive