Smart, practical planning is vital to any major endeavor. If you’re serious about accomplishing an objective, you need a strategy, and a plan to carry it out. World record holder Michael Phelps wouldn’t have earned the distinction of being the most decorated Olympian of all time if he hadn’t had a training strategy, and strictly followed the carefully formulated training program that went with it.
The same concept and pattern apply in business of any kind. Having a well-thought-out strategy and strategic plan enables you to:
Review and evaluate your current position. Strategic planning includes evaluating your company’s capabilities and how it’s faring in the competitive marketplace. As you execute your plan, you can periodically compare where you stand with where you should be, according to the plan – and then act based on what you find: remedying shortfalls and reinforcing areas where you’ve exceeded expectations.
Set goals and objectives. A clear vision helps the company coordinate its actions, make decisions, keep oriented and focused – and it can give team members a worthwhile purpose for showing up every day, and performing at their best.
Allocate resources effectively. With a strategic plan, funds, time, personnel and other vital resources can be more intelligently and effectively allocated.
Prepare for challenges. A plan gears up the team to face market competition, weather economic downturns, follow and take advantage of customer trends, and successfully meet threats that may pop up before they through the organization off track or out of balance.
What to Include in a Strategic Plan
There’s no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes a strategic plan, but below you’ll see a list of what one is typically composed of. Beside each major element, you’ll see a question; it’s meant to guide you in creating your own plan. The details in this section have been adapted from the Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies Cheat Sheet.
Mission – Why do you exist as an organization?
Vision – How do you see your company in five years?
Values – What principles shape your company’s strategy?
SWOT – What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Competitive advantage – What makes you stand out from the competition?
Long-term strategic objectives – What will you focus on, to achieve your vision?
Strategies – What methods will you use to achieve your vision?
Short-term goals – How will you convert your strategic objectives into measurable performance targets?
Action plans – What concrete steps will you take to achieve your goals?
Scorecard – What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will you use to measure your work output?
Financial assessment – How will your organization perform financially in the future?
Download Free Strategic Plan Slide Templates
Some companies shelve their strategic plans once they’ve formulated them. They fail to share their planning with their teams – the very people who are expected to execute the plans! This is a big no-no; in fact, it’s one of the main reasons plans fail. When all team members are not on the same page with management, when they don’t understand how their everyday tasks help the organization, plans—no matter how well-conceptualized—are difficult to execute, and goals are difficult to attain.
If you’ve gone to all the work of developing a strategy, finalizing it and getting it approved, share it! Put the details together in a presentation and share it with the whole team. Make sure they understand it, and are willing to do their parts to carry it out and reach its objectives. Ideally, they shouldn’t just be willing – they should be excited!
To help make you put together a presentation that’s worthy of all your planning efforts, we’ve created a Strategic Plan PowerPoint template deck. You can download it free, right here – then customize it to reflect your company’s branding.
As you’ve probably noticed, technology has been improving at a faster and faster pace. Just one zone of major improvement has been applications that benefit public speakers and presenters. Whether you’re a businessman trying to get his point across in the conference room, or a professor working to connect more effectively with your students, these tools can make your job easier and your results more satisfying.
Facilitating a meeting this season? Ho-ho-ho, we’ve got a few ideas for making it more effective, and more memorable for everyone.
Decorate your meeting room
Decorate your conference room to create a jolly atmosphere. Whether you opt for DIY decorations or prefer to grab some ready-made items from a shop or online, dressing up the meeting space helps put attendees in a brighter mood. If your creative juices are flowing, cheers – but if you need some help and inspiration, Pinterest can be your best buddy.
Pre-meeting holiday music helps set the tone
Get to the conference room early – ideally before any of the other attendees arrive – and use your smartphone, laptop, a portable music device and/or the room’s built-in A/V system to play some holiday songs. Let the cheerful music greet the attendees as they enter and prepare for the meeting’s start. Hopefully this will set a cheerful and cooperative mood, to make the meeting smoother and more productive for the whole team.
Give presentations a holiday flavor
If you’ll be using slides in your meeting, include holiday elements in your slide designs. Holiday-themed images, fonts and media are part of it. When it comes to your color palette, include green, red and white, or whatever colors are most appropriate to holiday traditions in your area.
Here are a few links to free slide-design resources you may find helpful:
This is the traditional season of giving, so if you’re feeling generous, come prepared to hand out appropriate giveaways at the end of the meeting. These needn’t be lavish – it’s the gesture that counts. A quick online search will turn up plenty of ideas for tasteful, appropriate and inexpensive gifts to express your good wishes and appreciation.
Open up with a holiday-themed icebreaker
Ease tensions, spark conversation and set a cheerful tone with a holiday-related icebreaker. Pick one that suits participants’ age, closeness as a group, and personal interests – but try to keep it relevant to the purpose of the meeting, too! Check the following links for holiday icebreaker ideas: Small Groups, Icebreaker Ideas and eHow.
Serve holiday snacks
If you plan to serve snacks during your meeting, choose foods that are holiday traditions in your area. Whether it’s gingerbread, cut-out cookies, fruitcake, holiday-decorated cupcakes or traditional holiday beverages, colorful and tasty refreshments can help set the mood you’re after.
What other ideas do you have for adding holiday cheer to this month’s meetings? Share them with us in the comments below!
Each of us faces struggles at one time or another. Illnesses, disabilities, financial troubles, rocky relationships, failures, losses – the list is sadly long. Even in the face of such troubles, there is one almost magical thing that can always lighten our burdens and make life sweeter: gratitude.
With Thanksgiving Day just around the corner, we’ve collected four short talks we think will inspire you to celebrate the holiday with greater peace and happiness.
Make Gratitude Your Attitude
Legendary motivational speaker Zig Ziglar shares a story about a woman who hated her job. He suggested a way she might be able to improve her situation. It didn’t seem like it would solve anything at all, and practically impossible to do. But she did it…and it worked. Learn about Zig’s surprisingly simple remedy for “stinking thinking.”
Even though it’s an old, old holiday, in recent years Halloween has become more and more popular, particularly in the US. A lot of this is a matter of increased interest from marketers, eager for attention and a chance to increase brand recognition. Between these active marketers, and so many people into dressing up, decorating, partying and trick-or-treating, Halloween’s reach and appeal may be broader than ever.
If you’re going to be delivering a presentation in the days or weeks before Halloween, you may be looking at including a spooky element or two in your slides. To help you come up with something spooktacular, we’ve gathered a few good slide design resources worth checking out and even bookmarking for future use.
This week, Slideshop has added ten top-quality, royalty-free, spine-chilling photos to our free image library. You can see a screenshot of these recent additions below. You’re welcome to click on and download any of them – all free, of course. To find even more images, you can browse the huge collections on Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay.
It’s no secret that no one is born with all the qualities and skills of a highly regarded public speaker. The only way to reach that status is by continuously striving to be a better version of yourself on stage. One way to do that is to take a moment to reflect on your performance after every presentation. We’ve listed a few tips for conducting such an evaluation.
When you feel anxious before your speech, there’s a simple trick that can bring some welcome relief: constructive self-talk. Instead of fretting over worst-case fears, or just trying to “gut it out” and ignore the horrible anxious nerves, try talking yourself down with the phrases below. They’ve been proven to help restore focus, mend confidence and build positive energy.
The Gantt chart has become a standard tool for organizers and managers across the world. With good reason: it’s a highly effective way to visualize, plan, coordinate and manage multi-faceted projects and processes. It brings together a project’s tasks, who’s responsible for each, when each should start and when it should finish in order for the whole project to run smoothly to a successful conclusion. Of course, projects rarely go exactly according to plan, but even when things go off the rails, the Gantt chart makes it far easier to set things right again, and still pull off a happy conclusion. Read more
Apart from presentation props, what should you bring to a presentation engagement? Here’s a list of items to include in your presenter’s kit. Bring them along and you’ll be prepared to recover from unexpected issues that can crop up on presentation day.
Laptop and vital accessories
Even if you’re invited to use a computer at the presentation venue, bring along your own laptop. Ideally you’re familiar with it, comfortable with it, and know how to de-bug it if it misbehaves. At the least you’ll be more comfortable with it than a strange new computer! Don’t forget to bring your charger, too. You know how batteries have a nasty way of running down, right in the middle of something important…. Read more
Have you ever bought a tool after a sales person showed how many ways it could be used? Have you ever ordered a kitchen utensil after seeing a chef use it in an infomercial? Have you ever signed up for a free app trial after a representative explained how it worked and what it could do for you?
A product demo is a powerful way to convince potential customers to buy your product. Explaining a product’s attributes and benefits isn’t always a walk in the park, though. It requires thorough product knowledge, strong persuasive skills, and an effective presentation.
Here are five tips for product demos that sell – whether one-on-one or to a crowd. Read more