Blog

March 11th, 2014

Office365_Mar10_CMore than just avoiding the most common presentation mistakes, you need to have a firm understanding of what techniques to use when creating an effective PowerPoint presentation. If that’s what you’re looking to do, then you’re definitely in the right place. The 5 tips we’ll be sharing in this article will help you create a PowerPoint presentation that will get you results you desire.

Choose a font size and style that can be seen by your audience from a distance

There is no point in creating a PowerPoint presentation if your audience can’t even see or understand what’s on your slide. One of the best ways to ensure that your audience does in fact understand what’s written is for you to use the proper font size and a simple font style.

You have to consider how far back your audience might be sitting when watching your presentation along with the technology you will be presenting on. For example, if you are in a theater using older projection technology, it may be hard to read certain types of font, colors, etc. So it is better to use a larger font size and contrasting colors.

If you can, try to practice the presentation ahead of time and sit at the back to see whether your slides can be seen and read.

Emphasize on the information and not the look of your slides

Don’t ever compromise how your information is presented for the sake of how the slides look. Remember that the point of doing the presentation is to convince your audience to act and not to impress them with a beautifully made presentation.

In order to do this simply create your presentation with only the information your audience needs. Leave out any visuals and focus on outlying the information first. Once you have the information on the slides, then you can add the effects and visuals, being sure to keep them minimal so the information shines and is highlighted.

Avoid handing out printouts of your presentation

One of Seth Godin’s - a marketing and presentation guru - tips for avoiding a really terrible PowerPoint presentations that focus on selling products or services, is to have a maximum of 6 words or lines per slide. The slides are more for points that you will talk about and expand upon. Anymore than that is less than ideal.

Now imagine what would happen if you give your audience a print out of your presentation. They probably won’t be able to make out what your message is since there are only a maximum of 6 words per slide. Beyond that, note packages often lead to people reading ahead and paying attention to the notes in front of them, rather than you, the speaker. Plus, the rustling of paper when people flip pages can also be distracting for the audience and presenter alike.

What we suggest is instead at the beginning of the presentation note that you will make the presentation available online after the presentation is over and providing scrap paper or notebooks for people who wish to take notes. That being said, if the presentation you are giving in educational, notes with a copy of the slides would be a good idea, but be sure to keep the content of the actual slides minimal, more just talking points.

Be consistent

Whether we’re talking about the message that you’re trying to convey, the theme of your slides or the tone/pacing of your presentation, you have to be consistent.

The more consistent you are, the more focused your audience will be. This is because consistency helps establish and give clarity to your message, making sure that it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Phrase your points in a way that it talks directly about the benefits

We all like to be on the receiving end of something good right? If you focus on telling your audience about the benefits that they can acquire, chances are they’ll be very attentive because your presentation is all about their benefits.

These PowerPoint presentation tips can help you get more results out of your presentations. If you are looking to learn more about how you can leverage PowerPoint for better presentations, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 11th, 2014

GoogleApps_Mar10_CAn unruly inbox, with unorganized messages can make it hard to keep things straight, let alone manage. Managing your email doesn’t have to be a horrifying experience, especially if you are a Gmail user. With Gmail’s nested labels, organizing your emails is going to be a cinch and a pain free experience. This article will help boost your efficiency in handling your emails.

What exactly are nested labels?

Labels are an important part of Gmail, functioning like folders on a desktop or in other email clients. By attaching labels to email messages you can easily sort your inbox and find previous messages of a similar nature. For example, if a large percentage of your client communication is done via email, you can create a label for each client and apply it to their messages. Much like you would put messages in a traditional folder.

The interesting thing about labels is that unlike folders, which only allow a message or item to be in one folder at a time, labels can be applied to any number of emails. For example if you have labels for sales requests and it comes from an established client, you can attach both the client label and the sales request label to the same message. It will show up under both labels.

To go one step further, you can create several top-level labels or parent labels and add sub labels under them. These sub labels are what Google calls nested labels.

So in your business’s case, you can create a top-level label and name it as Client List and create other labels with your client’s actual names and nest them under the Client List label.

Once you click the Client List label, all the nested labels that you created (where you used your client’s name) will then appear under it.

How do I create labels and nested labels?

While there are several methods of creating nested labels, this method is one of the easiest ways of going about it.
  1. Open your Gmail
  2. Click More on the left-hand vertical bar beside your email messages. It should be located under your existing labels.
  3. Click the Create new label option and add the name of your label (as an example, let’s use Client List as your label’s name). You can then hit Create to create the parent label.
  4. Click More again followed by Create new label.
  5. Name this one John (a sample name for your client).
  6. Tick the Nest label under: box and select Client List.
  7. Click the Create button and your label John should now be nested under your parent label Client List.
If you want to see your nested labels, you can click the small arrow on the left side of your parent label, which can be found in the left-hand vertical bar beside your email messages, and all the nested labels should appear under it.

Creating a nested label for your projects should help you make sure that your emails aren’t all over the place. Through this feature, you should be able to see all the correspondence that you’ve had on a per project basis removing a lot of distraction.

The best part is, you can also create different levels of nested labels, allowing you to be as granular as you can be when sorting out your emails.

If you are looking to learn more about using labels or any other Gmail feature, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 7th, 2014

Productivity_Mar03_CNo one can refute the positive benefits of creating a to-do list when you really need to get things done. One of the most evident advantages is that it gives people who use it the ability to increase their productivity. A problem many business owners run across is that their lists are hard to follow, leading to a decrease in productivity.

Here are 5 tips which will help you devise an effective to-do list:

Add a notes section

A notes section is a general area for all the tasks in your to-do list. Its main purpose is to provide you with space to add notes about your tasks. Or, instead you can use this area to type in challenges that you encountered when handling specific tasks.

On the flip side, it could also contain the best practices that you employed which enabled you to finish the task effectively and efficiently. These notes are important because by revisiting these jottings you can learn from them and be better able to optimize your way of doing things and your approach.

Prioritize

Ignoring client meetings because you're supposed to be fixing your cabinet, for example, based on what’s written in your to-do list, is a sure fire way of negatively impacting your business.

Your to-do list needs to be devised in such a way that there is a clear sense of priority. The most important tasks should be added to the top most part of your list just to make sure that you don’t miss these and they are tackled and completed first.

Break down your tasks to bite-size activities

Can you imagine writing down 'work' in your to-do list? Having a to-do list with broad topics like this won’t help you in the slightest bit.

You need to break down your lists into more specific tasks so that they provide the clarity that you need to achieve. Here’s a good example of a well-constructed list:

  1. Send 20 outreach emails to prospects.
  2. Discuss with the team the concept of having a systems' mindset.
  3. Review the offer of client X and decide whether to accept it or not.
Notice how the examples above are more tangible compared to simply writing down 'work'? With a list like the one above, you should be able to comfortably tick each task with a clear idea of when it has been completed.

Add a deadline whenever possible

Adding a deadline helps you gauge your output. By being able to see whether you’re lagging behind you can make any necessary changes.

A deadline also prevents you from procrastinating since you’ll be more conscious of time and a definitive end point.

Be realistic

Adding a week's worth of tasks to your daily to-do list will just discourage and frustrate you. Be as realistic as you can when writing up your list. If you honestly think that you can’t finish all of the tasks within one day, then add some of them to the next. That way you won’t be frustrated with a long list of tasks that you haven’t completed at the end of each day.

If you are faced with productivity issues and are struggling to get the kind of output you're hoping for in your business, then put giving us a call at the top of your to-do list.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
March 6th, 2014

Security_May03_CAs a business owner or manager you face important security issues on a daily basis to look after business computers and systems. From malware to bugs in software, there is almost always a security issue to be dealt with and it can be an uphill battle dealing with them. But, knowledge is power and knowing about security threats can help you battle them more effectively. One of the latest threats to come to light is a bug in Apple's software that all Apple users should know about.

About the bug

News broke on many security websites mid-February about a potentially critical security flaw in Apple's systems following the company releasing an update to their mobile operating system, iOS.

The update notes released by Apple noted that the patch "provides a fix for SSL connection verification." This is a fairly common update as it is aimed at improving the security of communications between websites and the device. However, security experts found out that without the update attackers who can connect to a network are able to capture sensitive information being sent in banking sessions, email messages, and even chat messages using what's called an SSL/TSL session.

What exactly is SSL/TSL?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL) are used in networks to essentially establish an encrypted link between a server and your computer. They are most commonly used to secure websites and the transmission of data. Take a look at some websites and you may see a padlock on the URL bar, or https:// in the URL. This indicates that the website is using SSL or TSL encryption to protect the data that is being transmitted e.g., your bank account information on a website.

In other words, SSL and TSL are used to ensure that information is exchanged securely over the Internet.

What was the problem and what software was affected?

It was found that there was a bug in the code Apple's software uses to establish a SSL connection which causes the whole SSL system to fail, potentially exposing data that should have been encrypted to anyone connected to the network with the right tools.

According to security experts, this bug has been found to affect devices running older versions of iOS 7, OS X 10.8 and newer, Apple TV, and possibly iOS 6. It is important to note that the bug is only found in Apple's SSL technology. Any app that uses Apple's version of SSL could be affected.

Has Apple solved this?

Luckily, Apple has released updates to all of their devices that should solve this security exploit. If you have not updated your device or computer since the middle of February you could be at risk.

How do I prevent my systems from being affected?

The first thing you should do is to update all Apple related apps and devices, including all mobile devices. If you are unsure about whether your apps are secure enough, try using another app, especially another browser. The reason for this is because browsers like Chrome and Firefox all use a different SSL technology and are unaffected by this bug.

You should also remain vigilant and not connect to any open or public Wi-Fi connections or even secured Internet connections that could be easy to break through. Basically, as long as you update you should be fine. However, it may be worthwhile using another browser if you are really worried about whether you have a secure connection.

If you are looking to learn more about this security flaw, or how you can secure your business from threats like this, contact us today. We can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
March 5th, 2014

BusinessValue_Mar03_CBusiness owners and managers are often looking for ways to connect with their customers, drive value and build brands. The difficulty is that there's no easy solution to achieve this. Many business have a website and social media profile but find these are often not enough to drive relationships and business forward. Another element you might want to try, that can help drive business connections, is blogging.

If you're looking to get people more involved and connected with your company, spread your brand image and message, and perhaps establish your company as an industry leader, then blogging might just be the answer.

There is little doubt that companies that blog effectively do see an increase in overall value. That being said, it can be a challenge to develop and maintain a successful blog.

Here are 7 tips for businesses looking to start a blog or develop an existing one into a more successful platform:

1. Define your topics and your audience

As with almost every business process, there needs to be a solid foundation on which to build your blog, such as the topics you write about and your audience.

Take a minute to establish who your target audience is, such as your average customer. Pick some basic characteristics that cover the majority of this group. Focusing on who you are writing articles for can make writing not only easier but more relevant and effective.

Many of the most successful business blogs choose blog topics based on their services or products and news. The key is to select topics based on what you think your audience will find useful or interesting. You might not want to spread your blogs over too many topic areas as these can be hard work to cover on a regular basis. About 4-8 is a good amount to aim for.

2. Be consistent

With defined topics and a target audience in mind, you are well on your way to establishing a solid foundation for your blog. The next element is to devise a calendar of how often you write blogs and cover certain topics. If, for example, you picked four topics this could equate to one article a month for each topic.

What you are striving for is consistency. You should be writing and posting a new article at least once a week, or more. If you establish a calendar based around your topics you will find it easier to write content on a regular basis and soon it will become a natural part of your weekly tasks.

3. Be relevant

Even with defined topics, it can be a struggle to come up with new ideas for blogs. It can be tempting to write about a new product or feature, but you have to be careful that it doesn't read too much like boring marketing material.

Instead, focus on what your audience would like to read. Often the most successful articles are those that answer common questions asked by clients, or talk about how a product or service can help a client. Other articles could be related to your products rather than directly about them. For example, if you own a coffee shop then writing about food that goes well with coffee might be an interesting blog idea.

Personal opinions can provide an interesting perspective and many readers find these types of business blogs refreshing. However, you do need to be careful of ostracizing those who might not agree with you or putting people off with negative blogs.

4. Don't forget the CTA

Remember, your business blog needs to have a purpose: You want to not only develop interest in the company, but to drive business. At the end of most if not all of your articles you can include a call to action (CTA) that suggests to the reader to contact you, come in for a visit or email.

5. Keep articles easy to read

It can be tempting to write a 4,000 word article with a ton of great information. Google and many search engines do look positively at long-form content and this might work well for your search rankings. The only problem is that when many of us read articles online we skim them, looking for salient points and skipping up to 90% of the article.

To that end, keep articles on the shorter side - around 500-1,000 words. Use shorter sentences and headings like H3 and bold to separate content and make it more scannable. Writing a longer article? Split it into two, three or even four parts. This helps drive interest to return to check out the new parts when they are posted.

6. Promote and share your content

Share your blog content on your social media profiles. This increases the reach of your blog, but also drives traffic to your website. You can put an easy to see link to your blog on your homepage and even in email headers.

Many writers also find success in contributing, or writing a blog for other websites. This helps not only spread your ideas, content, and company name, but can also help find content for your blog as other writers contribute to yours. Try contacting friends and colleagues to see if they would like you to write a post for their blog.

7. Remember you don't have to be the only contributor

Finally, you don't have to be the only person writing your blog. Ask your employees if they have any article ideas they would like to write about. The more writers contributing, the more content there is. This also takes the pressure off of you having to develop, write, and post everything, as well as offering a different voice for variety.

If you are looking to launch a blog, contact us to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 5th, 2014

iPhone_Mar03_CYou can do so much with an iPhone as there are just so many amazing features. One useful feature is the ability to take screenshots. You can use this for your business, or even in your day-to-day personal activities. If you aren't familiar with how it works and are eager to start using this feature, then read on for our how-to article below.

How exactly do I take screenshots on my iPhone?

To start taking screenshots just follow these simple steps:
  1. Hold down the lock button at the top of your iPhone.
  2. Double tap your home button as you hold the lock button down. You should see the device snap a picture of your screen.
  3. Open your camera roll by going to the home screen and tapping on your photo gallery, and you should see the image there.

How are screenshots useful?

There are several benefits of taking screenshots, but here are just a few:

Product reviews

If you have a product, or are looking to share a review about one that you have downloaded to your phone, take a screenshot of it so that you can use this to greatly enhance your product reviews. This works best for something on your phone that can be hard to capture by a camera.

For example, if you own a product (like software or a mobile app) and your team put a lot of effort into improving its UX (user experience), simply describing it in text won’t justify how amazing your product really is. You can take screenshots of the open app so readers can better appreciate the qualities of your product.

Tutorials

Aside from videos, what better way to demonstrate tutorials than using screenshots and combining these with descriptive texts.

An example might be teaching an employee how to send an email on their iPhone. Can you imagine creating a tutorial on that with text alone? Imagine the difference if you have screenshots along with this texts.

Highlighting something

If you are reviewing a document or image on your phone and would like to highlight a problem or point that you see on the screen, try taking a screenshot and attaching it to an email where you describe what you are seeing and the changes. This helps the recipient visually see what you see and maybe even fix it.

Troubleshooting or showing errors.

Instead of writing down any problems you’re seeing on your iPhone and describing it to your support team through text, wouldn’t it be much better for both parties if you showed them a screenshot of the error?

Not only can this save time but it also zeroes out the chances of misinterpretations or false assumptions, since your support team can see the actual error themselves.

Contact us if you have any inquiries or even suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
March 4th, 2014

GoogleApps_Mar03_CGoogle Search is the most widely used search engine in the world. Did you know that there are several Advanced Search queries that you can use to get better results? Spending more time than you'd like to searching the Web, instead of doing actual work, can be extremely damaging to your bottom line if you aren’t careful. Google's Advanced Search queries might be the solution you're looking for.

Searching for all mentions of a word in a site - keyword site:sitename.com

If you are looking for a specific word or phrase on a website, you can enter keyword site:sitename.com in the search bar, and Google will return pages that contain the keyword in the site you listed.

For example, if you’re looking for the word 'business' in the website examiner.com, then your search query would be - business site:examiner.com

Using this search query will show all the pages/posts in examiner.com that mention the word 'business'.

Get exact match results

If you type keywords or phrases as you usually would in the search box, Google won’t give you exact results. For example, if you type in the phrase 'business strategies' (without quotation marks), you’ll get results for both business and strategies. If you want results that contain the exact phrase, then you simply have to add quotation marks around your phrase - "business strategies". You can include as many words as you like, and if Google finds an exact match, you'll see the result.

This is one technique that other writers or webmasters use to see if someone’s plagiarized their content.

Looking for pages that are the same/similar to a URL - related:sitename.com

If you like one website or page and would like to find similar sites you can enter related:sitename.com. This search query is perfect for client prospecting.

For example: If one of your customers was softwaremedia.com and your target market is companies that are selling software, you can just type in related:softwaremedia.com in the search field. Doing this will give you the URLs of sites that are similar to softwaremedia.com.

Searching for words in an article’s title - intitle:keyword

If you enter intitle:keyword, for example intitle:business strategies, in Google's Search bar, you will get results that have the keyword phrase “business strategies” in the title. This can include articles and Web page titles.

Anything you’d like to share?

If you have any questions about how to make your business more efficient, contact us today and our associates will help you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 1st, 2014

HealthcareIT_Feb25_AMore than half of health-care organizations have not implemented business-intelligence systems, according to a survey, and that could hurt their bottom lines.

Business intelligence is the transformation of raw data into useful information for business purposes. It shows you what’s going on in your practice and how your practice could improve.

According to the survey of 250 health-care professionals by TEKsystems, 58 percent of physician practices and hospitals have not implemented a business-intelligence system. That includes 21 percent that plan to implement a business-intelligence system in the next 24 months, and 26 percent that have no plans whatsoever.

This is a problem, because data will be at the heart of how health-care organizations get paid as the industry changes from a fee-for-service model to a pay-for-performance model. The survey supports this idea, as 76 percent of respondents expect a business-intelligence system to be widely used in finance.

One reason health-care providers haven’t implemented business-intelligence systems, the study found, is that there is a lack of resources and skills available to help them do so. Thirty-four percent of respondents said that data complexity is the biggest obstacle. That’s where an IT expert can help. If you want to implement a business-intelligence system, and don’t have the IT resources on staff, consider reaching out to an IT expert like us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 1st, 2014

HealthcareGeneral_Feb25_AThe Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has issued proposals for 2015 electronic health record (EHR) certification criteria.

Notably, implementation of the 2015 certification criteria is voluntary. Health-care providers that have EHRs certified to the 2014 criteria do not need to re-certify to 2015 criteria to participate in meaningful use. The idea, says the ONC, is that EHR developers and health-care providers can move to the 2015 criteria at their own pace.

This is the first time the ONC has proposed certification criteria separate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' meaningful-use regulations, and the change marks a new regulatory approach. The ONC will likely make more frequent changes to rules to improve standards. National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo says it reflects the “ONC's commitment to incrementally improving interoperability and efficiently responding to stakeholder feedback.”

Comments will be accepted on the proposed rule - published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2014 - through April 28. If you are looking to learn more about this change and how you can implement it in your practice, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 28th, 2014

BI_Feb24_CIn order for a business to get more out of their existing and future data, many are relying on Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. If you are looking into a BI system for your business you will likely come across data related terms that are important to know about. Three of the most commonly asked about are data mining, data warehouse, and data mart.

What is a data warehouse?

The concept of a data warehouse is an interesting one and also a difficult one to define and pin down largely because it can cover such a broad area. The most concise definition we can give is that it is a database that integrates data from many different locations and databases into one consolidated database.

Data warehouses store both current and historical data, and rarely contain unique data. Instead, they aggregate data from other sources in order to make this more accessible. They might store important information from sales, marketing, ERP, customer interactions, and any form of database in order to quickly generate BI related reports.

The name undoubtedly conjures up the idea of a large warehouse-like building storing infinite amounts of data. However, most data warehouses are actually tables which are created by taking data from various sources and cleaning it up so that relevant data is stored in the warehouse in a way that makes it easier to reach when needed.

What is a data mart?

A data mart is a smaller data warehouse that stores data. These are based on a specific area or business function e.g., finance or marketing, etc. In fact, most modern data warehouses are actually made up of a series of smaller data marts.

The key difference between a data mart and a data warehouse is that data marts are usually smaller, focusing on one specific area, while a data warehouse covers the whole organization.

What is data mining?

When talking about Business Intelligence, many experts will refer to data mining. This is the act of analyzing data in order to identify patterns. The data that is mined can then be transformed into useable information. Many companies store this mined data in databases, a data warehouse, or a data mart.

Want to learn more about these terms and how your company can benefit from a BI solution? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.