Must-haves – POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS MADE EASY

No, this post isn’t about must-have accessories or footwear or clothes that you wear as opposed to ‘what not to wear’ that flop actress turned fashionista Soha Ali Khan hosts on one of the lifestyle channels.

This post instead is focused on life skills.

POWER POINTS

If you thought you are done with power points after your basic computer classes, think again. The corporate sector thrives on it. There is nothing  and nowhere that .ppt or .pptx (depending on which version you use) doesn’t exist. Power points are sacrosanct be it creative, communications, IT or any other department you can think about. So PRACTICE AND PRACTICE. Perfect those skills.  But before you start to jazz up your presos with animations, remember:

Have a story board in place before you start to put together a slide

Remember, your slides are just helping you tell a story and is Not the story itself

Keep it Simple Silly (As in everything else, keep it simple)

  1. No more than 3 major  bullet points
  2. Do not clutter your slides with text . (You do not want your slide to look like the standard disclaimer that insurance/banking firms throw your way)
  3. Go easy with the colors. Keep to  the standard color palette that goes with the template you have chosen
  4. Keep to 2 fonts all through (Corporates usually prefer Arial and Calibri; Cambria and Book Antiqua) and don’t use fancy fonts like Wing Dings 😉

Go Visual

  1. A single picture is equal to a 1000 words
  2. Power Point has a nifty tool called Smart Art which helps you represent relationships – pyramid, matrix, etc
  3. Template layouts also allow you to craft a slide to make story telling easy
  4. Go on the web to get graphics that allow you to use visuals more effectively. Eg: Graphic below can be used for sales network, ecosystem partnership, etc..
    (Courtesy: Google images)

Easy-to-understand CONTENT

  1. Keep the language simple
  2. Since text is usually in bullet points you can go easy on article usage but good grammar is still a must
  3. Do a spell check, fact check
  4. Avoid acronyms: More often than not companies think that the audience understands acronyms which are industry or company specific

AND REMEMBER…

  1. Light text on light background do not work, same goes for dark text on dark background
  2. To Go easy with animations and builds, they are distracting and can take away from what  could have been a great presentation
  3. To Check for formatting. Eg; alignments of boxes and grids (Power Point 2010 makes it easy to ensure proper formatting as there is an inbuilt grid that helps to keep all the boxes, graphics, texts, photos, etc… in place)
  4. Different locations require different formats. Eg; 16:9 is great if you plan to show the presentation in a large room & big screen but if you plan to play your slides in a small room go with a 4:3 set up
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What you say stays!!

It isn’t for anything that we have proverbs and fables!!

Ever heard of, Words flung from mouth and arrows from a bow can never be taken back.

WHY this proverb and now??

Well, for the past hour and a half I have been browsing my entire stack of posts to laboriously trace comments made by a regular reader and friend to delete all of it permanently.

Now this gentleman is a regular reader of this blog and held forth his opinions quite strong and loud.

Imagine to his surprise when he was quizzed about his opinions on certain topics expressed in this blog during an interview. And he actually fared poorly despite the right qualifications due to his views.

What does this mean and why does it give me a strange foreboding??

Not only do we have moral policing but we now have social policing as well?!

Tell me dear readers, is this right or do we fight???

 

How do you hit the jackpot

After more than a decade of working, mostly being part of the print media I have come across less than a handful of people who I look up to. While one was a great mentor the other two were great managers who knew when to pull the leash in and when to leave it loose.

Most of the people who were in the supervisory or higher-up roles were routinely bad, pathetic in fact. Reasons varied from:

  • Indifference to creating a motivational environment for the team to work with
  • Lack of mentoring skills
  • Scheming to serve one’s own ends; even using subordinates/co-workers as pawn
  • Inability to foster a spirit of bonding & build team work
  • Discouraging youngsters/co-workers from trying new ideas/methods
  • Having a MY WAY or THE HIGHWAY attitude
  • Defeatist when confronted with a problem/new situation/challenge

and so on and so forth…While I’m trying to understand what makes a person stay on with the same organisation for reasons other than job security & not wanting to get out of a comfort zone; what I’m also trying to understand is why do people, especially youngsters job hop. Surely, monetary benefits can’t be the only reason since a pay hike of 1000-2500 rupees really doesn’t matter. Would be great to get your thoughts on both counts.

Meanwhile, here is my pick of the lot for being a REALLY COOL boss.

  • Give your employee the end-goal and allow them to navigate their way towards that goal
  • Create a sense of working towards a purpose as a TEAM
  • Make each member of the TEAM accountable for their responsibilities, actions and achievements
  • Applaud good work in public and reprimand bad moves in private
  • Mentor the team or put a buddy system in place
  • Be a friend but only when asked for
  • The Boss is the (wo)man with a vision so be CLEAR in all communications & set expectations

I’m working with one such……

 

Hold On

Most of us go through life chasing that elusive dream, the pot at the end of a never-ending rainbow, the will-o-the-wisp, the genie of the lamp and what-have-you. Sometimes we find it within our grasp and poof it’s gone before you can say Buddha hoga tera baap.

I have done the same as well. Whether it was in a personal relationship or in the professional sphere I have chased a non-existent ideal state of being. After a handful of jobs and more than a handful of relationships I realised it is better to accept life the way it is and make it ideal at least for that point in time till time passed for another set of circumstances and another phase of life to set in.

Too much philosophy. But Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha explains this the best.He finds his nirvana with Vasudeva, the boatman, who listens to the silence and speech of the river.

And all this introspection was brought on by a newly married friend who said, “I always keep everyone happy but no one recognises me when I’m alone.”

Further prompted when an acquaintance reflected that it was difficult to work for a demanding boss and the constant pressure to perform, to excel, to multitask, to take responsibility and be accountable was making resignation a  recurring thought.

In both cases the frustration was understandable but the other side to this story. Both these people were not willing to reach out and ask for help or support or understanding. They had erected a self-imposed barricade.

The newly wed: Why should I have to tell them I feel lonely? Can’t they understand that when a usually boisterous person clams up? Why can’t they come and ask me what is wrong? Whether I need a hug or a shoulder to lean on? Don’t I understand their needs?”

The troubled-at-work acquaintance: “I constantly feel they are comparing my performance to their predecessor. I have not received any negative feedback but all the same I feel like an outsider. I don’t want to ask for help since it will prove what they think of me, that I’m incompetent.”

What’s the solution??

Harmony

I have always believed that a new kid on the block or an old foggie on the precipice of retirement should choose a small company.

The logic is simple:

If you are young and it is a small organisation: than you get

  • more responsibilities
    feel the rush of working and accomplishing on your own
  •  more accountability
  • great camaraderie
  • mentoring and timely feedback
  •  trial and experimentation is possible since the structure will be open
  • learn more than your job definition
  • an expedited learning curve

If your are old and in a small organisation:

  • your experience carries a lot more value
  • you have been hired for your experience
  • you have the opportunity to groom, mentor, provide feedback and see the results firsthand
  • you have responsibilities
  • you cannot be a deadweight
  • you think out of the box

If you are young/old and you work in a mammoth, chances are:

  • you are lost in the labrynith
  • there is no scope for change
  • set systems and processes need to be adhered to
  • creativity and experimentation aren’t welcome
  • there is always you to blame
  • the buck stops with you but the decision to carry forth the buck is some one else’s
  • constant prodding/monitoring/miscommunication

At least this is my perception, what do you think??

Underpaid + Unappreciated

This is the third attempt at writing the post. Perhaps because the title affects me on an extremely personal level.

Left an organisation for the second part, left another for the first, seen a few good friends leave for both parts while some are hanging on by a thread of sanity for want of anything better. UNDERPAID + UNAPPRECIATED – the recession helped companies/individuals to spread this knell along. StOP already.

A word of appreciation or a letter of commendation in front of people who matter is not that difficult a task. Value your Employees and They WILL STAY, and even if they don’t, you have built a positive network who may help you sometime.

A friend said my posts are angsty. Had to refer to a dictionary first!! , and here is what I got.

angst – an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom

Bang on.

Why is it difficult for corporates to get rid of corporategiri and why do normal people live up to the adage Nothing Corrupts Like Absolute Power.

Over the span of a decade I have been mentored and groomed by some amazing professionals, some did it intentionally and some unknowingly. I have learnt to:

Be professional at work=Don’t carry a baggage and your kitchen sink to work; Stay focused; Don’t Take your work home=prioritise work/ Make a list of Things to Do/ Work at Getting Things Done on Time or Well Before

Don’t Overpromise & Under-deliver = Walk the talk. If you can, you can. If not YOU CAN’T. Don’t Commit yourself if you do not have the specifics and Do not know what is required. DO YOUR HOMEWORK always.

LEARN– Constantly upgrade your skills. Spread yourself and learn. Teach yourself if you can’t be taught. Never be afraid to ASK even if it means you make a fool of yourself. BE OPEN to receiving.

DON’T UNDERPRICE – yourself and the work you do. Find out the market value for the services you offer. After all, you are the product and undervaluing and underestimating yourself will amount to a Huge LOSS and possible bankruptcy. I learnt this the hard way when I offered to write an article for 100 bucks a piece, and found that the market rate was five times that. WHICH ALSO MEANS when it is appraisal time do not be afraid to ask for a hike and that promotion you deserve.

SHOW YOU CARE– Whether you Start Green Horns, a green initiative, like a few friends did, and they even went on to win an award for their documentary OR you are just saying Thank You to the lady at the reception who goes out of her way to make Life easy for you OR your young colleague who shares his insights into the workings of your organisation.

DE-CLUTTER – How can you get work done if your desktop is filled with a zillion icons and redundant folder or your table strewn with paper and chocolate wrappers or your mind anxious about the upcoming appraisal when you actually have a looming deadline waiting to be completed. Take one thing at a Time.

ADOPT NEW MEDIA – You do not have to be on Facebook constantly to adopt new media. There are networking platforms aplenty to suit your requirements but a few that any professional is well-advised to adopt. Linkedin and Slideshare being a few. Most HR professionals these days check your Linkedin profile and use their network to check and evaluate you. Who knows New Media may be where your next paycheck comes from!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad RUSH

Infy’s Mohandas Pai says company plans to hire 40 k people

Times Ascent increases its page count and doesn’t look like an exclusive for Jerry Varghese & co

Consultants are spamming inboxes with job offers even if they do not match or are related to areas of experience

Mad rush to hire again, good for me and sigh, not so good for me……

Coz naukri.com, naukrihub, monster, apnacircle seem to think I need to update my resume giving me a better chance to get offers coz currently their matches for me equal to security guard, receptionist, sales manager, house keeping, assistant store clerk…you get the picture

Meanwhile, jobsdb and jobscircle and recruit.net will not be left behind, with alerts mailed on an almost hourly basis. Doesn’t matter if I don’t know the Vb of a VB plus and java is still a better flavour of coffee for me. XYZ from xyz, abc, lmn, and u-know-who wants to spruce my resume so recruiters know I have what they are looking for. All I need to do is shell out a month’s one-way auto fare to my current place of employment. Truly ‘can’t say no‘ offer u say, if only u knew that I travel 2.5 hrs each way. U do the math!!!

Microsoft, Yahoo, Shell, BP and some god-forsaken companies in god-forsaken places want me to fill up a form so I can be considered for openings here. Mr.Ahmed/Achmet/Harifilford or Ms Jane Mary Sheley/Megan watzhername want to share this terrific business opportunity with me, oh glory be, and all I need to do is share my details and they will either :

  • Mail money
  • Mail instructions
  • Transfer funds

Oh even as I write this I’m getting mails galore, oh my, oh my, I have won a 250,000 GBP lottery from Microsoft, Yahoo, Shell, ufillintheblanks co…..and even as I refresh there are more offers….EARN FROM HOME, WORK FROM HOME, Join the thousands of Indians making money from home. Never to say (k)NO (w) to such an opp I open …please mail ur details to XX@XX.com..No free lunches or dinners or even a biscuit these days

Mad rush CONTINUES as lads dump pamplets SAY  ” WORK FROM HOME call 435453452424 now” AND I wait for an auto to go…..

 

 

 

 



DOWN, hopefully not OUT

This is the third attempt at writing this post. Not because of sheer laziness or lack of something to say. Just that the mere subject touched a raw nerve. I had titled it Layoffs and scrapped it again.

I meant to write a post on Dealing With Getting Laid Off, but heh, how do I write without sounding preachy and shouting from the rooftop. So out it all went.

CONTEXT first: My placid morning got stirred when a friend skyped asking for openings and vacancies. Further prodding and sheer nosiness got this out- laid off for not meeting targets; EMIs rolling out and house expenses to be met. Can I help?

Racked my befuddled head (coz this friend was comfortably well off but a month back secure in the everyday job and the 10-11 existence and now!!!) and scoured my contact list-passed on a few numbers and got back to what I was doing..snoozing. I couldn’t though.

WHAT NEXT: Thanked God and the bosses-that-be it wasn’t me? Prepared a Oscar-winning speech for why not me and then came the memories of a nightmarish quality.

Circa 2000: Heated words and the “you can shove your job you know where” and the heroic walk-out. Come morning and I woke up with a flush. I had no job and a blissfully unaware family, mom and dog waving me out the office and a brother asking me to stay safe. So there I was, out the gate with a hundred in the pocket, no cubicle to go to and NO boss to report to.

Old habits die hard indeed as I took a familiar route and landed on the bus terminal close to work. Free ad in hand I walked to a park close to what was my office till that morning. Within no time circles adorned the paper and frantic calls to jobs I had no idea about. Anything to have an appt letter in hand and next pay cheque in bank. This routine continued the next 13 days along with walk-ins to organizations that friends suggested. I did what a sales guy called cold calling, and the product I was doing a hard sell on was ME.

My nourishment these 13 days was hope, a bottle of water that I got from home, bananas and buns. Suffice to say, I stayed healthy physically and started breaking out mentally. No calls from companies desperate to hire me and the only calls I got was from banks soliciting a client, if they only knew it was a jobless penniless client they were soliciting!!

Two weeks on and nearing to the EOM I got a call at my neighbourhood kirana shop. Why you ask? No landline at home and mine was a prepaid connection with the balance hovering close to the last rupee. Running out I answer with a breathless voice. Hello said the voice on the end of the line. “Can you come in today and write a test. We shall discuss the details once you are done.” What do you think?

Of course, I ran and reached the organization in as quick a time as the BMTC would take me. My hands were quivering as I took pen in hand to write the test (Eh youngsters we did not have a notebook (read Lenovo) to take our tests on, it was still paper and pen!!) and my head abuzz with Will they, Won’t They as I tried making sense of the paper.

Two hours later I submitted the completed paper and waited to hear the result. 30 minutes which seemed 30 years and more and I could already feel my hair turning grey and my knees clatter.

Yes I snagged the job and the rest of the story isn’t worth a telling. But lessons learnt:

  • Words once spoken can never be taken back
  • Do not jump out till you got a ship/boat under you coz the waters may drown you if you aren’t equipped to swim= if you don’t have savings/rich family background Stay put till you get a better job
  • If something doesn’t go well, work harder. Perhaps you aren’t doing something right. Introspect before you start pointing at someone or something
  • Choose wisely before you take up an offer. Remember after that the choice is not yours
  • Always, always save.. a rupee, a hundred, a thousand. Doesn’t matter how much, but SAVE.  You never know when it rains or there’s a flood. Always be prepared
  • Constantly upgrade your skillsets
  • See your saleability in the market
  • Enhance your knowledge base
  • Be better than what you are
  • Do not get emotional about the organization or the people you work with. Make friends but remember being true to your job and good at your job matters more.
  • Build relationships that go beyond the workplace
  • Weigh loyalty: Check if the organization values loyalty, see how they treat people across board – from the office boy to the MD

The Chase is On

Now that the market is looking up people will no longer be willing to settle for less..less appreciation, less pay, less work, less responsibility, less respect, less humanity.

The Chase is On.

Consultants are starting to flood mail boxes with job openings, while people are more ardently fishing Naukri, Monster, TimesJobs, JobStreet, Recruit or any of the job portals for a Better tomorrow.

It’s a different issue that the tomorrow may not be as anticipated but at least there are options now, unlike last year, when the recession was a much-bandied word.

Before you start hitting the send button, here are a few things you need to PONDER.

  1. Is this the JOB you are looking for to get you a step further in whatever profession you have chosen?
  2. Are you choosing this JOB because it is giving you – Better Prospects (read a well-defined career path and responsibilities),  Better Pay (and not a marginal hike of a few thousands) and Better HR & Management (takes care of employees, has good work ethics and conducive work hours)
  3. Are you JUST desperate to get out of the current workplace?
  4. Are you getting out just because you are bored, unable to get on with your colleagues or supervisors, unable to conform to company policies, unable to see yourself as a good fit to the Organisation?

These are just a few of the Questions it would be wise to ASK yourself, and be HONEST about the answers.

Remember, even though job hopping is accepted and not frowned on, HR is always wary and skeptical about someone who is UNABLE to honestly reason out the decision to move on and Move IN.

The second most important thing, Now that you have decided to Move on. Read the job description of the New role you are applying for.

Again, and Always, be HONEST

  1. Ask yourself if you have the right skill-sets to take on the responsibilities accompanying the job. DO NOT OVERESTIMATE your capabilities and OVERSELL your talents.
  2. Ask yourself if the JD is what you see yourself performing at and excelling
  3. Ask yourself what is the MORE that you can bring to the Table
  4. Do some soul-searching, but more importantly, Research the Company. With 24/7 social networking available at your fingertips it has never been this easy to find out second-hand what the company has to offer – be it growth, promotion, work environment, management, etc.
  5. Find out what the Difficulty levels are – could it get monotonous, could it get too stressful, would it allow you to have a decent work-life balance
  6. Is this what you want to do
  7. Will it get you out of bed in the morning without a sense of dread or heaviness in having to work

Third, now that you have figured out The JOB is RIGHT for you. Draft your CV, and always send it along with a decent covering letter that goes beyond a “Hi, PFA my CV for your perusal (WHICH again is OLD WORLD). Thanking You. Yours etc.”

Your CV needs to be:

  1. Tailored in accordance with the opening you are applying for
  2. Good rule of Thumb, cover the basics – your strengths, which can be explained in a crisp sentence or two; professional brief; educational brief and samples of your work or project. Keep your personal particulars to a minimum. Your hobbies like moonwalking and loving dogs is of no interest to the corporate powers-that-be unless of course, you are applying to be a Choreographer or a Vet, in which case these are the prime attributes and not personal interests 😉
  3. Read the JD carefully while drafting your covering letter. More often than not your JD itself will have all the “punch” words or IMPACT words that can spice up your CV and show the recruiter you understand their requirements. But AGAIN, do NOT overdo this.
  4. Unless a name is mentioned, in which case it is OK to start with a Hi Ms.XX better to stick to the old-fashioned Dear Sir/Madam. Remember, you can never be pulled up for being courteous.

Now that you are ready, keep your fingers crossed and your mobile phone charged for that Tring-tring or whatever ringtone you have set FOR the RECRUITER TO CALL YOU.