Great Ideas For Unusual Wedding Presents

Have a wedding coming up, but don’t want to give the usual toaster or champagne glasses as gifts? There are some wonderful choices for gifts that are sure to be “one-of-a-kind” for your newlywed couple, and will be treasured for years to come.

A wonderful choice that is sure to be a treasured fireplace mantle decoration is a polished copper egg. It measures 1 Ā½ by 2 inches, and is hand polished to a lovely sheen. It also makes a great paperweight, or table decoration. If your bride or groom collects novelty eggs, this is a perfect choice.

Another elegant idea is a precision machined set of brass candlestick holders – hand polished to a brilliant gloss. These will last a lifetime and can be passed down for generations to come. They are sure to add a touch of class to any buffet, table, or fireplace mantle lucky enough to have them as accessories.

A truly fabulous choice is the Anniversary Bud Vase – although it has “anniversary” in its title, you don’t have to wait for an anniversary to give it as a present! This is a limited edition item and sets are only produced as the Swarovski Crystal Roses that adorn it become available, so if you want this item for a present, order early. This vase was inspired and designed by and for the Swarovski Crystal Rose – and together, they make a true heirloom item that is sure to be treasured for many generations to come. If you give this beautiful vase as a wedding gift, you will definitely outclass all the toaster and waffle maker givers by far.

And lastly, think a pocket toothpick holder is not a fine wedding present? Well, think again! How about one plated in 18K gold? They’re very practical, elegant, and you could get two for the perfect His & Hers set.

No matter which custom machined present you choose to give, it is sure to be a gift of lasting beauty and elegance, and will be valued highly by the lucky bride and groom for many years to come.

The Art of Presentation in a Cyber World

As a trainer or presenter you know what to do – you’ve probably been doing it for years. You know how to engage your audience, you know the body language to watch for, you know how to make eye contact and to include your audience in a wide sweep so that everyone feels involved in your presentation. You know how to stand, what slides to use, when not to use slides, you know that the tenor of your voice can be used to emphasize points and that you can question your audience to develop a point. You are confident in your subject and you know exactly what is expected of you.

So, why are you sweating? Why are you looking at your slides and wondering if it will work and whether what you are going to say is actually going to make a difference? Because they changed the goal posts! Whether you like it or not, presenting and training is taking on a new dimension – that of the cyber world.
 
The rules and the practices that work so well live are all of a sudden ‘old hat’. You will be in front of your audience, but instead of standing there in your smart suit or your jeans and tee shirt, or (for the more extrovert) in your Hawaiian shirt and hula skirt – all your delegates could potentially see is your face. And up close and personal too! Every twitch, every flick of the hair or scratch of the ear that is so easy to use as a pause in speech when you are standing live in front of your audience is suddenly brought into sharp focus. Your facial expressions are watched closely by your audience – which could number hundreds – and you give everything away.
 
Yes, it’s a different world. The use of cyber-training with technology such as Webex TM, and GoToMeetingĀ®, (to name but two of the many systems out there) means that you can deliver ‘live’ training to a remote audience. And not just remote from you – they could be remote from each other in both geographical and time-zone terms. So your methods of engaging the audience have to change. You can’t rely on the internet communicating your natural charisma, unfortunately.

But good performance is good performance, and the key to ensuring success through new technology is the same as it was for live performance – practice. But there are other elements that need to change. Whereas live you may need few or even no slides, when you are presenting your ideas on the web, it is quite likely that you will need a really engaging slide show to keep the audience watching. After all – they are probably sitting at their computer, and a little note may pop up saying they have a new email from a client – and they will be highly tempted to go and take a quick peek…
 
The screen of their computer suddenly becomes your training room. They can stand up and ‘walk out’ on you with no embarrassment whatsoever! They can see you, but you won’t be able to see them and nor will the other delegates. So their exit, should they chose to make it, is relatively painless. 
 
You may need far more slides than for a live presentation, you will probably need less words but far more pictures, far more interactive elements and opportunities for delegates to contribute their thoughts and comments using the technology. Your delivery can still be interactive and you can have break-out sessions, shared virtual white-boards and many other dandy little widgets that your chosen web conferencing provider can entice you with – but you must practice. Don’t just practice your presentation – understand the technology and not only what you want to happen, but what could go wrong. Prepare alternative scenarios or additional material just in case that break-out function is overloaded, or that the server in Spain refuses to play. Above all, make sure the delegates know in advance what is expected of them – and that goes as much for live training as for training over the web.
 
Back to your performance: the tone of your voice is still important, but it will be distanced by the fact you are being heard over a phone line or VOIP. Your body language will still be important, but it will be concentrated around your face or head and shoulders. Think about your colour scheme in relation not just to your surroundings (background to the camera) but to the slides you are showing. Is your bright orange ‘confidence’ suit going to clash with the red corporate banner on the presentation? 
 
And how will your audience react? Will they gain as much benefit from this kind of presentation as they would if they were in the room with you? Having already noted that their ability to ‘opt out’ is far easier on line, just as with live training you will engage people on different levels according to their preferred learning styles. There will be some who are delighted that they don’t have to leave their desk to complete that mandatory CPD module, and others who begrudge the fact that they don’t get their day out of the office and the nice hotel lunch. 
 
Engaging your audience – and keeping them engaged – comes right back down to three key elements: content, presentation and performance. For live training I would perhaps reverse the order, but making sure that what you are saying (content) is relevant and of interest to your audience is crucial for their engagement. Make sure that the presentation method (avoiding infamous ‘death by PowerPoint TM – live or on-line) is appropriate. And finally, your performance must be convincing. You have to know your subject and be ready to respond to questions, you have to be able to improvise and to understand the differences in the media you are using to present and, therefore, how your audience will relate to you.
 
You could argue that cyber-training will never replace live training completely and I would agree; but I would also caution that as the technology develops and the ease of use improves, it is going to be a highly cost effective method for organisations to address remote audiences. Be prepared, and ready to take on board the way technology is changing how we present and train.

Advice for Speakers and Presenters: 7 Ways to Turn a Free Gig Into a Financial Windfall

You’ve been asked to speak for an audience. However, the event organizer or meeting planner tells you they can’t pay you. Your heart sinks knowing that speaking for free will cost you in the long run. You think of all the expenses you’ll incur – gas, parking, photocopying materials, babysitter – and speaking for free means you won’t be reimbursed for these incidental costs.

Although a free gig can eat into your bottom line, you don’t need to refuse it altogether. If you’re still building your expertise, free gigs can help you to refine your message and try out new concepts on an eager audience.

The only way you can make money if you’re speaking for free, is to sell something. You just have to. Otherwise, known as back of the room (BOR) sales, here are some tips for ensuring that you rake in the cash even if you’re speaking for free.

Develop an information product that relates to your speech. You can sell a special report, a CD or a booklet that contains detailed information from your speech. For example, I do a speech called 7 Brainless Networking Techniques to Avoid. After my speech, I encourage attendees to buy my ebook on CD called Schmooze Your Way to Success for further reading and research. Even if you don’t have an ebook or physical book to sell, there are ton of information products you can develop. Here are some ideas:
Photocopies of a 10-page special report
An audio CD containing a teleclass you led
A data CD containing a collection of reports, articles or an ebook
A booklet with dozens of tips
A DVD with a training session you did for another group
Sell something that people can take away with them. People want to buy something that they can hold in their hands and walk out the door with. Coaching sessions, digital downloads and other intangible products may be a tougher sell since people can’t hold or touch it. Opt to sell a CD, a booklet or a book instead.
Ensure that your product is inexpensively priced. If it’s too expensive, attendees won’t buy. If it’s too cheap, attendees will ignore it. Anything priced between $10 to $20 is appropriate for BOR sales.
Accepting credit cards is a must. People are impulse buyers, especially at special events. If there’s a rush to the table to buy your product and you only accept cash, you will miss out on potential business. At least 45% of my BOR sales are through credit cards. Many credit card processing companies can set you up with a telephone call-in service within 2-weeks. You collect the credit card number at the event, then you call-in later from your home or cell phone to authorize it. Simple as pie.
Mention your product at the end of your speech. Never, ever, mention your product throughout your presentation. This will turn people off. It’s tasteless to introduce a concept in your speech, and then say, “You can find a more detailed, step-by-step process in my ebook.” Instead, graciously give attendees 45-minutes worth of useful information, then at the very end, after the Q&A, pitch a 2-minute commercial for your product.
Try to videotape or audiotape your presentation. You always want to improve on your speech and being able to review it later is always helpful. Hire a videographer to tape your presentation. If you can’t find one, record your presentation using an audio recording device. Capturing a recording of your speech will do 2 things:
You can evaluate the audience’s reaction to your sales pitch. If sales were low, you can tweak it. Or, if sales were high, you can duplicate what you said word for word at other speaking engagements.
If your speech was amazing, you can package the video or audio and sell it at your next speaking engagement. Imagine how grateful your audience will feel knowing they don’t have to take notes because they can purchase your presentation and review it at their leisure.
Remember to ask if you can make sales. Before saying yes to a free gig, always get the permission from the meeting planner or event organizer for BOR sales. Most times, they will say yes to your request. In the odd event that they say no, tell them you’ll donate a portion of sales to their group. This should win them over. If the meeting planner or event organizer still refuses your request for BOR sales, you may want to rethink doing a free gig for them.
Free speaking engagements can cost you big, but not if you incorporate BOR sales into your strategy. Follow the tips above and you’ll gleefully say yes to a free gig knowing that you’ll be able to cover your costs with the product sales you’ll make at the event.