7 Signs You’re Delivering Bad Presentations

We’ve all endured bad presentations and we’ve all delivered them! Reading yourself and your audience is key. Here are seven signs indicating you’re committing the crime of wasting others’ time and tips for becoming a more engaging speaker!

  1. Not feeling it. Even nervous energy can be positive! But if you’ve given the presentation so many times that you’re not excited about the information or truly selling the product, save us all and go home.
  1. Information is review, not new. Share only the relevant, new, and interesting. It takes as little as eight seconds to lose someone’s attention. The minute you start rehashing common knowledge you’ve lost them.
  1. You haven’t told me why I should care! Set out to answer the audience’s question “What’s in it for me?”.  Research the audience and capitalize on what they need to know, why, and what you want them to do with it.
  1. Your visual aid IS the presentation. Whatever your visual aid vice, text on a screen is not the presentation, you are. Be comfortable enough with the content to make it conversational and keep the visual aid – visual.
  1. Lack of interaction. People learn and retain information best when there are points of engagement. Create handouts that require audience interaction, rhetorical questions necessitating audible responses, or even points where they interact with each other to discuss an aspect of the material.
  1. Body language bombshells. They are avoiding looking at you, physically leaning back, slouching, or hands on head. Think that scene of the class in Ferris Buller’s day off. “Bueller, Bueller…”  If you see this, change it up by asking a question or jumping ahead to what matters!
  1. Packing up and bolting. Time is a parameter, not a requirement!!! People are happier with a great presentation that wraps up 15 minutes early than with one that runs to the last allotted minute. Worse, HEAVENS ABOVE, one that goes over. Leave time for thoughtful responses or questions and leave them wanting more rather not less.

The ability to speak with clarity, connection, and confidence directly impacts personal and professional opportunities.  Take the time to master this often feared skill by clearly communicating key messages to create powerful impressions of yourself and your organization. Learn more about these and other professionally speaking opportunities at our Professionally Speaking Workshop on Friday, August 19, 2016. Register today at professionallyspeaking.ua.edu.

Author: Alexa S. Chilcutt, Ph.D., Director of the Public Speaking Program, The University of Alabama 

Media Matters Panel to Address Changes in News Media

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In Alabama’s largest cities, once-daily newspapers are now published three times each week. Cable news networks overshadow the traditional three network news broadcasts. And online news and social media dominate the world of news media. For many, the changes are exciting—but for others, they are bewildering.

At Media Matters, a free community forum panel discussion, Birmingham area residents will learn firsthand about why the media is changing so quickly and what they can expect in the future of news. Sponsored by OLLI of Greater Birmingham, a local chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Alabama, Media Matters will be held on April 20 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., with refreshments served at 1 p.m.

“Media isn’t what it used to be; there are so many voices out there to listen to,” says Chris Roberts, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama, who will moderate the Media Matters discussion. “I hope the panel will help establish some understanding of how media works and what is driving the changes.”

Panelists will include Birmingham-area news professionals Mark Kelly, publisher of WELD; Carol Nunnelly, editor of Birmingham Watch; Ebony Hall of ABC 33/40; Sherrel Stewart, managing editor of WBHM; Kyle Whitmire, reporter at AL.com and The Birmingham News; and Barnett Wright, executive editor of The Birmingham Times.

The Media Matters event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Lois Strachan at 205-348-8591 or lstrachan@ccs.ua.edu.

Night of Champions Highlights Adapted Athletics Program

adapted

The University of Alabama football team is not the only team on campus to bring home multiple championships in the past few years. The Adapted Athletics program has brought home six national titles since it was founded 13 years ago by Dr. Brent Hardin.

In 2003, Dr. Hardin and his wife moved to Tuscaloosa with a shared dream of starting an adapted athletics department. Hardin’s wife played collegiate wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois and knew first-hand the value of that experience.

“There were and are so few collegiate adapted athletics programs in the country that we felt like there was a great need and that we had the ability to make it happen,” says Hardin.

With a small operating budget and just a handful of volunteers, Hardin and his team created the program by beginning with a women’s wheelchair basketball team. “Our belief was that you had to have a [team] in place for students to come.” says Hardin. “It was a gradual process to add more teams as we saw the success of the women’s program.”

Adapted Athletics now has scholarship athletes and full-time coaches for the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis teams. They also offer wheelchair track, adapted rowing, and adapted golf.

“It’s a common misconception that [wheelchair basketball] is slow paced or not aggressive in nature,” says senior wheelchair basketball player and Paralympic champion Jannik Blair.

“People are amazed to see the speed, the collisions, and how our athletes are flipping their chairs,” remarks Hardin. “I think it’s what really hooks people. It’s impressive.”

The program continues to coach phenomenal champions today. These athletes will be honored at the upcoming Night of Champions event on February 25 at Bryant Conference Center. The community will have an opportunity to meet these talented athletes and hear their personal stories. The event is free and starts at 5:00p.m. The first 250 guests will receive two free tickets to the wheelchair basketball tournament on Friday, February 26.

For more information regarding the adaptive athletics program or the Night of Champions event please visit www.champions.ua.edu

Hauling Out the Holly: Happy or Headache for HR?

holidays 2016

There are experts aplenty who will opine that the holidays are a stressful time for everyone. While these days can create anxious moments for each one of us, it should be a time of joy, gathering with family and friends, and hope for the future. I, for one, embrace these days and endeavor to find the good associated with the holidays.

Unfortunately, some people experience extremely difficult issues during the holidays. This creates unique challenges to the HR professional in many forms. I’m not talking about the simple part of whether an employee is paid for the holidays.

The holidays are about our organizational culture. Whether organizations like it or not, employees look to the company leadership during this time with anticipation, concern and sometimes plain fear. I believe there is an important role for HR to play in making this time meaningful and yes, enjoyable. Allow me to explain:

First, bring your HR staff together and allow the team to discuss some potential problem areas that could arise for your employees and their family members. Share these thoughts with your management staff. Perhaps there are some employees and their families that may need assistance. If the firm has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), encourage your employees to use it. Remember, being a good corporate citizen is not about bragging about your actions, rather, it is how we handle our actions.

Next, using your corporate policy handbook, determine if there are certain nonprofit service organizations your firm can assist during this time. There are many wonderful groups out there providing great support for our citizens so it would be a great opportunity to work with your employees to find the right groups to assist. Obviously, ensure that you have buy-in from executive-level leadership and legal counsel for an outreach campaign within the community.

The question also arises as to the religious nature of the holidays and whether the company even celebrates the holidays, including the holidays of others. These are questions best answered by your executive leadership and general counsel. Our business leaders should always appropriately understand and appreciate the viewpoints of all of our employees.

Should we or should we not pay a holiday bonus? This column is not of sufficient space to adequately address this much-debated topic. The evidence may not be empirical but little doubt exists that if you started a traditional of giving some cash for the holidays but decide this year to stop the practice – be prepared for the employee backlash.

Ah… what about decorating the office? Doesn’t it make your employees feel great when they see the office is outfitted with a holiday tree, or ornaments or cards? I know it makes me feel good to see it. You can bet that the vast majority of staff love the decorations and even take part in the activities. But, let’s again remember the need to be sensitive to others who may not celebrate this holiday season. Above all, create an atmosphere of inclusion in the festivities, not isolation for those who may differ in their beliefs.

It is said that this is a time for giving. Employees may want to swap gifts with each through name exchanges or random drawings. They ask, “Do I buy a gift for my employees? Should I gift my boss or her boss? How much do we pay for a gift for a co-worker? What if the employee doesn’t want to give or, worse yet, cannot afford to give others a gift? How do we handle the pressure of gift giving to each other?”

Remind employees there is no requirement from the company that an employee participate in a gift exchange during the holidays. This is a personal choice and not sanctioned by the company. As an HR practitioner, one has plenty of work pressures anyway so it should not be placed as the arbiter of gift exchanges at work. The policy should be that gift exchanges are neither encouraged nor mandated.

The Holiday Party – should we or shouldn’t we? On the heels of the tragic act in California, many will question whether these events are necessary anymore. This is a decision left to executives and your general counsel. In my opinion, these events are good for morale, especially if it take places at work where employees get an opportunity to see their fellow employees differently than what they see them doing at work every day. If the company has sponsored them in the past, then I encourage it to consider a party going forward. The best holiday events are the ones at the workplace.

Lastly, drinking at any of these events must be disallowed. There are simply far more chances of injury that can occur at the parties where alcohol is served. The events should be enjoyable to everyone but there is absolutely no reason to allow alcohol to enter the event. This protects the employee and employer. Too many cases and laws exist, which place employers at peril should they endorse the use of alcohol at any company function. Seek counsel to craft the appropriate message for employees, and this message should be generated at the chief executive levels and provided to all of your employees.

Hope these tips help, and to everyone, have a safe and happy holiday season.

P.S. Holiday pay is usually awarded when the employee works their last scheduled workday before the holiday, and their next scheduled workday after the holiday. TIP: Remember, some employees take vacation days before and after holidays, so this must be factored into the pay scenario.

Article by Larry Baldwin, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, MBA – Director of the Human Resource Institute at Culverhouse College of Commerce in The University of Alabama. A former HR Management executive and professional with over 30 years extensive experience management experience.

lebaldwin_cba.ua.edu

Back to Your Future!

Back to your future

It’s October 21, 2015, and the future has arrived. Today is the day that Marty McFly, valiantly traveled to our present day in the 1989 sci-film “Back to the Future.” People across the world have excitedly been sharing their comparisons of our world today to the 80’s film’s predicted future. While our current world may not live up to the hoverboards and self tying shoe laces in McFly’s 2015, it does offer the opportunities to help you make your future exactly what you want.

Through innovative technology and interactive teaching, professionals around the world are enhancing their skills and techniques every day. Certificate programs and continued education are on the rise as individuals are learning the importance of staying on the front end of trends and technology. While this may not seem important to some, more and more managers and CEO’s are seeing the value in having employees who are continuously learning to help keep their company on top in this ever-changing world.

Not only are these professionals increasing their value to their current employer but they have also learned and realized that these certifications can be used to market themselves for future jobs and promotions. Obtaining certifications prove that you’re capable of learning and retaining knowledge, while also showing that you’re committed to a career path, well versed in it and knowledgeable.

Although certifications certainly help professionals advance in their career, they also help individuals interested in starting a new career. As individuals progress in their field, they sometimes feel they should have pursued other options and begin to feel unhappy with their job. By obtaining certifications in the proper fields, individuals can become prepared to explore other options while also adding substance to their resume. By choosing to become certified in their field of interest, they are showing that they can learn and understand the concepts and tasks that may come with this new career change.

While it may be too late to order your brand new souped-up DeLorean outfitted with a flux capacitor, keep in mind it is never too late to redefine what your future will be. Invest in your future and continue your education and your future self will thank you.Kevin Lake

Article by Kevin Lake, Communications Specialist for The University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies. Kevin also  currently serves as the Vice President of Communications for the Public Relations Council of Alabama West Alabama division.

 

Is Your Business at Risk for Cyber Threats?

cyber securityIn 2015, small, medium and large corporations can face daily cyber threats from insider threats in the form of disillusioned employees, malicious and non-malicious hackers, and even nation states. What steps can executives take to reduce their risk and decrease liability? What are the expenses associated with protecting data? Even more compelling, what are the costs of a data breach?

Recent data breaches have targeted large companies such as Target, J.P. Morgan Chase and Google, as well as federal organizations like the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). These breaches have triggered questions about the cybersecurity of entities with access to highly sensitive information. Even without highly sensitive data, all companies face threats of corporate espionage such as the stealing of data files, customer records, processes and product lists. Ineffective security leaves financial information, medical records, addresses, and more exposed to hackers, and represents the greatest vulnerability of American businesses today. Cyberforce Security: Risk and Mitigation, a one-day course hosted by The University of Alabama Cyber Institute (UACI) and the College of Continuing Studies (CCS), will educate C-level employees on steps they can take to protect their companies from cyberattacks and how to avoid unnecessary litigation.

No network compromise is insignificant and each one aims to harm retailers, banks, insurance companies, international firms and more. Target lost the credit card information of 40 million people and later came to a $10 million settlement deal with victims. The accounts of 76 million households and seven million small businesses were affected by the J.P. Morgan Chase hack targeting the country’s largest bank. Five million Gmail usernames and passwords were compromised in the Google breach.

Perhaps the most severe breaches were announced during late Spring and Summer 2015. These breaches, likely perpetrated by foreign hackers, were collectively referred to as the “OPM hack.” OPM has recruited and supported federal employees from all agencies since 1978. In April, OPM discovered hackers had stolen the personnel data of 4.2 million current and former federal workers. Further investigation revealed even more information had been lost than initially thought. In June, OPM admitted that 21.5 million background investigation files on current, former and prospective employees were also hit in the cyberattack. This suggests that in addition to garage hackers, sophisticated cyber criminals and disgruntled employees, corporations must now also guard against nation states. The costs associated with combatting these threats are staggering to most businesses.

The pace of innovation and creativity of malicious cyber actors has drastically outpaced the evolution of cyber security measures. Most companies scramble to react when blindsided by a security breach because they lack any anticipatory strategies to predict and prevent breaches before they happen.

Bama At work , professional developemt and conference services division of The University of Alabama is proud to offer on January 21, 2016 the Cyberforce Security: Risk and Mitigation course to help C-level executive understand the importance of the cybersecurity process for their organization.  More information is available on our website.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle + , LinkedIn  for more information and news about project management certificate programs, professional development and how to improve the efficiency of your organization

Article by David W. Aucsmith, President of Aucsmith Consulting and Mark M. Lowenthal, Ph.D., CEO of the Intelligence and Security Academy.

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A New Generation of Leaders.

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As the baby boomers begin to retire and leave the workforce, the millennial generation is steadily beginning to be promoted in to supervisory and management positions. Although many workers with more seniority seem to think otherwise, this is a good thing!

In 2015 Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. According to Pew Research Center, more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34). This milestone occurred in the first quarter of 2015, as the 53.5 million-strong millennial workforce has risen rapidly.

Millennials bring forth a new set of skills, values and expectations to the ever-growing workforce.  They are generally thought to be well educated and technologically savvy. Never before has there been a generation of workers that has grown in to their positions with as much access to knowledge and information as the millennial generation.

Even with the knowledge and skills, many members of the millennial generation still have major obstacles to overcome. The biggest issues facing Millennials being considered for a workplace promotion revolve around their possible lack of readiness for the position. Although many Millennials are believed to have the knowledge and expertise needed to do a good job, many senior workers still believe this new and upcoming generation lacks the skill sets needed to supervise and manage.

To better prepare Millennials for this upcoming challenge, we here at Bama At Work have decided to provide a few tips for our rising generation.

  1. Attend Conferences

 Conferences allow you to network with influential people in your industry. They also provide an opportunity to learn more about the field you work in. Attend presentations that allow you to engage in topics that you may not be personally familiar with and allow you to learn from some of the brightest minds in your industry. Try to think of attending a conference as a small part of advancing the ultimate goal of your organization.

  1. Continue Your Education

 Continuing your education not only benefits you, but also benefits your employer. People who upgrade their work skills and knowledge not only keep up with the latest technologies and business techniques, additional training helps you climb the corporate ladder and to realize additional career goals.

  1. Get Certified

Once you learn your industry and become familiar with the “ins and outs” of your field, it is time for you to prove it. Certifications demonstrate expertise in specialized areas and provide assurance to employers that an employee has the skill set needed to perform the required duties. Certificate programs such as the Management Certificate Program for Supervisors at The University of Alabama help prepare individuals to take on a management role while developing an efficient leadership style. These types of certificate programs not only give you the leg up on your competition, but they also show employers that you are ready to advance in your career.

As Millennials take over the workforce, it is important that they be properly equipped to lead and grow. Through continuous learning and training, the millennial generation is bound to be one of the most successful generations the workforce has seen.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle + ,and LinkedIn  for more information and news about training, professional development and how to become a better leader.

Article by Kevin Lake, Communications Specialist for The University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies. Kevin also  currently serves as the Vice President of Communications for the Public Relations Council of Alabama West Alabama division.

Kevin Lake