Thursday, May 26, 2011

PowerPoint Tip: Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Images to Find Photos

In my workshops, whenever I speak about using photos in a presentation, someone always asks about Google Images. It is so easy to find pictures using the image search function of Google, why don’t I recommend it? Because in almost every case, it is more risky than presenters could imagine. Why? Because photos are copyrighted and you can’t use them without permission. Let me share with you one of two examples I shared in my webinar in March to illustrate the risks.

An advertising firm was creating a blog post for a client. They needed a photo, so they did a web search and found one that would work perfectly. The blog post got uploaded to the client site and everything was fine. Until their client received a letter from a lawyer informing them of the copyright infringement. The client was not happy. It ended up costing the advertising firm $4,000 to settle the case when they could have purchased a photo for around $10. If you want to read the whole story, click here.

If you believe that you will never get caught because your presentation isn’t on the web or not that many people will see it, this example should change your thinking. You never know if an audience member will recognize the photo and tell their relative or friend about it. You may not post your presentation to the web, but someone you send it to might. In today’s connected world, you are fooling yourself if you think no one will ever find out.

And there is no need to take these risks when there are so many great sources of photos you can use legally. Microsoft makes tens of thousands of photos available for your use in presentations and you can search this library from within PowerPoint. Stock photography sites sell professional photos for very reasonable prices, as low as $7-8 for a photo that can be easily used in a presentation. And some photo sharing sites allow their members to grant a license to use the photo in commercial presentations.

With so many ways to stay legal, why take the risk of using Google Images to find a photo for your presentation? If you’d like to learn more about finding and using photos in your presentation, including specific sites and techniques for finding great photos legally, check out the recording of the webinar I did in March, just click here for all the details.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PowerPoint Tip: Prepare for Problems so you Respond, not React

At a conference in February I heard Bo Boshers share a story of two groups who faced the same situation and had very different reactions. One group saw a potential danger and reacted by running away. The other group had been prepared for challenges and, when confronted with the same potential danger, was able to stand and respond. In this article I want to talk about how presenters should be prepared for problems so when they happen, we respond, not react.

If you are going to do presentations, you will at some point face a problem with the equipment, room, technology, sound system, audience, or any number of possible things that could go wrong. When something goes wrong, will you react and panic, grasping the first thought that comes to you in desperation, or will you respond, having thought through possible scenarios in advance, and handle the situation gracefully? I believe it is your choice.

To be prepared to respond, the first step is to think through what could go wrong. Make a list of all of the potential problems that could happen. Include every horror story you have heard other presenters tell, all the ones you have encountered, and all the ones you think could never happen. Look at all aspects of the presentation, from preparation to travel, to room, equipment, food and any other area that you can think of.

Once you have your list, you should look at how you can mitigate, or reduce the probability of the problem, and what your contingency plan would be if that problem actually happens. Let’s look at mitigating the problem first. Look at ways that you can prevent the problem from occurring or ways to prevent it from impacting the presentation. Sometimes you can’t prevent the problem, like severe weather, but you can prevent it from impacting the presentation by booking travel the previous day so you have time to make alternative arrangements if need be. Other mitigation strategies include using checklists for equipment and arriving at the room early enough to make changes before the audience arrives.

After you have done everything you can to prevent the problem from impacting your presentation, you need to think of what to do if the problem does occur; your contingency plan. As an example, if the projector stops working, you will have to use descriptive language to create a mental picture of your visuals for your audience. You may also be able to use a whiteboard or flipchart if available. As you develop these plans, make note of items that should be included in your preparations, such as practicing how to deliver without your visuals, or arranging for a flipchart to be in the room just in case.

There are literally hundreds of different problems that you can run in to. The key is to be prepared, so when it happens, you respond based on your preparation. If you panic and react by blaming the venue or staff, or you stop for many minutes trying to fix a technical issue, your audience will not leave with a good impression of you or your message. Take the time to prepare and even the craziest situation will not faze you.