EEC Perspectives

Public Speaking: If You Must Use PowerPoint…

public-speaking“The trouble with PowerPoint is, usually there’s no power and no point.” I’m not sure who said it first – the advertising executive I heard it from said it came from Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, who many blame for unleashing a powerful tool on unsuspecting speakers and audiences everywhere. We have all heard snide references to “PowerPoint Hell” and “Death by Power Point.” Today’s blog post follows from an earlier one on public speaking, Better Public Speaking: 6 Tips, 6 Sins and 1 Golden Rule, where I emphasized that perfectly fine, even terrific, talks can be delivered without the use of PowerPoint.

But if you’re going to use PowerPoint, there are a few rules. Let’s go over a few here, for the benefits of speakers and audience members everywhere. You can also check out this killer YouTube video, STOP! You’re Killing Me with PowerPoint!


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Overcoming Email Immunity with Face-to-Face Communications

connectEarlier this summer I was delighted to speak at CONNECT ’14, an absolutely terrific event for electric cooperative communicators and marketers sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

The heightened importance of direct, face-to-face interaction with members was one of the takeaways of CONNECT ’14, held in San Antonio. And while the specifics of marketing and communicating with electric co-op members is slightly different from communicating with IOU customers or the customer-owners of public power utilities, the general points are absolutely comparable and applicable.

Several CONNECT ’14 speakers said employees are a co-op’s number 1 asset, but in my session on “Getting More Bang for Your Communications and Marketing Buck,” few attendees said their co-op was making optimal use of employees as a communications asset. Virtually no one said their co-op had a program in place as part of their communications plan to organize and utilize retirees as valuable communications assets.

john-egan-energy-communicationsEmployees and retirees from across a co-op, IOU or public power utility have an important role to play as communicators, particularly as our communications channels multiply. Employees and retirees are the face and voice of an electric business that continues to be defined geographically. “Communications” is not and cannot be the exclusive purview of the Communications department. 

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Making Peace with Stakeholders Who Are Mad as Hell

peter-finch“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Forty years ago Peter Finch won an Academy Award for his haunting portrayal of television newscaster Howard Beale in the movie Network. Beale channels the rage of his age into a nightly newscast that predated reality TV by decades. The two-minute newsroom scene where Beale goes crackers on the air still gives me goose bumps.

Beale styles himself as the “mad prophet of the airwaves denouncing the hypocrisies of our times.” The man who wrote that line, Paddy Chayefsky, also won an Academy Award for his work, which was a black comedy informed by an “end-of-the-rope contempt for the corruptions, hypocrisies and humiliations of corporate life and the power of society’s image-makers,” according to Chayefsky’s obituary in The New York Times.

Increasingly, it seems Howard Beale has become every man and woman. We’re all fed up. Some of us may be better than others in containing our hair-trigger temper, but as a general statement, many of us are just one tick away from losing it. A particular product, service or interaction may not be completely awful, but still we lash out, disappointed less by the product’s failure than the time it will take to return or replace it. And, increasingly, we use social media to share our views.

Chayefsky’s name and Beale’s character are once more in the news with the publication of a new book, Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in the Movies. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asks what Howard Beale or Paddy Chayefsky would make of today’s corporate and media landscape. The Atlantic riffs on how Beale’s character created a template for today’s era of outrage.

The social, economic and consumer forces that drove Beale to madness are not only still with us, they have gotten exponentially worse over the last 40 years. Utilities cannot insulate themselves from today’s age of rage. In a recent column in Intelligent Utility, Kathleen Wolf Davis provocatively asked, “How pissed off are your customers?” Read more »

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