Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools can be so useful and yet so confusing!

Collaboration, A Fancy Word For Working Together!

Collaboration is working together, especially in an intellectual endeavour. For example:

  • Business planning in a group environment
  • Interactive online training
  • Creating marketing materials
  • Planning activities or events

Anything requiring input from multiple people to achieve a common goal could be considered a collaborative effort.

Collaboration Tools

There are different tools available to make collaboration easier:

  • Teleconference
  • Video Conference
  • In Person Meetings

Teleconference

teleconferenceTeleconference is great when you don’t need to share visuals or maybe combined with visual aids that can be shared by other means. This works well when you are working with people who may have limited access to broadband internet. For example, businesses with remote offices in northern Ontario may have difficulty using any kind of online video tools. This could ultimately lead to people “pretending” to be logged in but actually walked away and got coffee because it takes too long for their system to catch up.

You could use a teleconference to connect for audio and email presentations that the participants could then open locally on their computers and “click” along with the presenter during discussion. Thank God for Power Point! Well, thanks to Bill Gates and Microsoft.

 

Video Conference

GVO ConferenceGVO Conference is by far the most robust and best tool for the money. Fully functioning online conference software with available HTML5 functionality including the ability to share your desktop, video clips and presentations. You can even have group face to face where your broadband can support it.

Google Hangouts is readily available through your Chrome browser. In my experience, OK for 1-3 people face to face but can be unreliable with slightly larger groups.

Appear In is free for up to four people. Works well for video conference and desktop sharing but doesn’t have built in video or slide show ability.

Adobe Connect is very robust but also very resource hungry. You will need a good computer with a plugin in to run a room. This can be expensive and has a rather big learning curve.

There are many other tools like Webex and so on but I think you get the idea. In case you didn’t notice, yes, I’m trying to lead you to click on the link showing the GVO Suite of tools that includes the conference room! (Amiya, the name in the link is my granddaughter.)

In Person Meetings

In person meetingWe have all heard you can’t beat “belly to belly” for sales and much the same for learning and working together. I agree!

In the global economy of today, it often isn’t possible to bring people together in one place for collaboration purposes. By using tools like video conference, we can come from literally anywhere in the world to work together for a common purpose. Canada and USA are two of the largest countries in the world and going from one side to the other takes days, not hours, unless you are spending hundreds of dollars for air travel. Frankly, ground can be as much or more than air travel by the time you consider fuel, food and lodging!

I would suggest in person meetings may be advisable and preferable when kick starting a project or bringing it in for a landing. Consider something like GVO Conference for all of the in between work!

Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t always easy but the old cliche is “more heads are better than one”. Reach out to your business partners, whether you work in business, education or any other field, they are all business partners, and find the best way to work together. When you develop plans collaboratively, you get more buy in. People who have a vested interest don’t want to see “their” idea fail. Use whatever tools you need to bring the right voices to the table.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great minds, the internet and GVO! What are you thankful for today?

 

 

Interpretation and social media. Your filters make all the difference.

What is your interpretation?

Trish Ross from Dominion Stores 1979Write a story, ask 10 people for their interpretation and I would bet you get 10 different results!  Why do you think researchers do “blind studies”?  They know there will be different results and are looking for commonalities.

When faced with a particular situation or challenge, you are applying your personal filters before making an interpretation and deciding on how you will react.  You won’t be wrong.  But, you may not be reacting the way the person sharing information intended.  Be careful not to judge “lest ye be judged”!  Rather than applying only your filters, put yourself in the shoes of the person sending the message.  What is their personal dynamic?  Thinking that through, what do you think their interpretation may be?

What is your interpretation now?  Did it change?

(eg. In the picture above, you might think this boy and girl were dating and visiting family at Christmas.  He was dating someone else at the time and she took the picture!)

What are filters?

filtersThink about coffee filters.  There are different types.  Bleached versus unbleached.  Thicker and thinner, and so on.  Using a different filter will affect the end result.  Look at metal filters versus paper filters.  When you use a very fine grind and a metal filter, there is a higher likelihood of sediment in a pot of coffee than if you used a really dense paper filter.  With the paper filter, the coffee actually brews longer and fewer coffee grounds pass through.  The result changed because of filters.  There is a different taste or “interpretation” of the coffee.

For most of us, the filters are things like ethnicity, social status or sometimes, just the hormones that are raging that day.  Tell a teenager and a 40 plus the exact same thing and I would venture to say there will be very different interpretations of your message.  Their filters are life experience based on what they have been exposed to by that time and the effects of hormonal activity!

Social Media and interpretation.

When using social media, who is responsible for interpretation?  Ultimately, you are.

The person posting has no idea who you are or what your life experience is.  They can’t anticipate what your day has been like or what life has thrown at you.  The post you are reading may have nothing to do with you but for some reason, you feel it is about you personally.  Places like Facebook and Google Circles have such a great reach that you can’t help but have a very large cross section of readers.

writerFor writers, by all means try to anticipate how your message will be received.  But, when it comes to your personal stuff, don’t be fake.  Share your feelings and accept that sometimes, others will assume it’s about them and become upset.  They are applying their filters, not yours, and have no way of knowing what your filters are.  If you can’t accept that others will sometimes have a different interpretation, then don’t get involved in Social Media.

Conversely, take responsibility for your own feelings and reactions.  Anyone who tells you they have no control is full of beans.  They just don’t want to be responsible for their interpretations!

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for Social Media, it’s like a giant public diary.  I’m thankful for our differences.  I’m thankful for the circle of life.

What are you thankful for today?

Why I like Blurb over Chatbooks and Shutterfly

Blurb is my personal choice over Chatbooks and Shutterfly. I have only just begun using Blurb on the advice of my friend Joe Chrvala. Joe has been doing some great photography over the years and I have seen the books he produced. Another friend referred Chatbooks and someone else recommended Shutterfly.

I invite you to check them all out if you have ever thought of producing a photo album or even something like an eBook to sell!

Blurb

  • Free program (Blurb BookWright) to create on your local computer
  • Use your own high quality images
  • Great templates, both free and fee based
  • Great pricing
  • Deliver internationally

Photo of Dad and Daughter

My daughter was married recently and will be moving to the UK shortly. I wanted something she could take with her that won’t take much space and that she could give to her new family. I remembered Joe talking about Blurb and called him to get the address. Wow! So easy to use. I created the book and ordered copies for the kids to take the UK, plus one for us of course! I could have delivered directly to UK for the same shipping cost but they were going anyway and I didn’t want to pay once for here and once for there.

If you ever thought creating a book to sell, they make it so easy! No, I’m not pitching this to you. You wouldn’t have any reason to be interested in this album other than as a sample. Click here to see the book preview.

Chatbooks

My friend said she found Chatbooks really cheap. If you only order the basic $15 book, she would be correct. For myself, I take way too many pictures and wouldn’t like to limit myself that much. Too hard to choose! Feedback I found online indicated that when people use the connection to social media to make the books, this seems to be optimized for Instagram, you run the risk of the images being too low quality when you produce a book.

Chatbooks offers a phone app to produce offline but that doesn’t help on my laptop. This is a big factor for me.

Shutterfly

  • Upload your own images or pull directly from social media (You control the quality)
  • Offers pre-formatted layouts
  • Offers service to do the work for you
  • Can be reasonably priced but watch out for add ons

I went to Shutterfly and set up an account where I tried to create a similar book but for a trip I did last year. I think if I limited myself to the same number of pages, pricing is only a little more than Blurb. I did like the layout options. I didn’t like the fact I couldn’t figure out how to work offline when creating the book. When I traveled on my bus commute to work, I couldn’t work on the book because the WiFi on the bus is really limited for upload and download. I gave up!

Blurb Wins! (For me.)

Blurb book coverI prefer Blurb because I can work locally with high quality graphics to produce a reasonably priced book whether in hard cover, soft cover or as an eBook. We all have different needs and I can’t choose for you but I hope this gives you a place to start. If you have ever thought of creating and selling a book, Blurb makes it easy including the “Store front” with a shopping cart!

When will you write your first book?

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my friends, Blurb and Lenovo! What are you thankful for today?

Website Design, Are You Easy To Read?

Website design is fairly easy these days with hosting packages like Pure Leverage but are you sure everyone can read your writing?

Website Design

First, consider the design of the page. I use Pure Leverage and my site is driven by WordPress. There are many great templates available but you need to be careful. Be sure you choose a template that is mobile friendly. In the graphic below, you can see that one of my social media posts was mostly clicked on mobile. In this case, 86.5% of hits were on Facebook Mobile. Just as an aside, I love goo.gl for the insights you can get about who is clicking your links!

website hits by platform

 

Take the time to visit sites that are similar to your business and see what works. How do you feel when you visit those sites. But, be careful not to fall into the trap of just doing what you like to see. Have friends you can trust to be honest give you some feedback.

  • What is “above the fold”?
  • What is the message?
  • Are there too many or not enough graphics?
  • Can it be read by an electronic reader?
  • Are fonts and their colours friendly?

If you want to see what your page looks like on mobile, visit http://mobiletest.me/ and test it out. Visit http://aoda.ca/wcag to learn more about making sites more accessible and there are some links to useful tools to help you.

The Message

Who is your message aimed at? Now you have to think about your target. Who do you want to be reading your blog or website? If you take a look at the graphic above, you will see that there were hits outside of North America. Is it written in language they understand? I’m not referring to English/German/French etc. I’m referring to the ability to understand your words.

InternationalHaving taken in international students who have come to Canada to learn English, I have learned that we often use very confusing words. For example, I was talking to a person who speaks Spanish first, French second and English third. It was a beautiful day and I said “it’s days like this that I want to play hooky”. You should have seen the look I got! Total confusion.

Try your best to use plain language that is easy to understand. Plain language is not necessarily simple words. We often use unnecessary words or use slang when communicating. When you use slang language, understand that the message may be different than the one you intended to convey.

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Make sure your website is easy to read and understand.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for all of my international students, new foods and Pure Leverage. What are you thankful for today?

 

Website, Does Yours Work Against You?!

Website. A page or collection of pages online that send a message or provide some kind of information. Does your website work against you?!

Website

website toolsYour website is your face to the world and in many cases, may be your first contact. The challenge for many entrepreneurs starting their business today is they have little to no technical experience in this area. A plumber likely doesn’t have a lot of time to create and maintain a page let alone do all the marketing for their business. You can’t just build a website and hope people see it. You need to spend some time marketing the page which then helps with marketing your business.

Click the image to the left for a video that explains how your website may actually be working against you. For example, let’s say you have your email on the site. Do you check it and respond in a timely manner? How would you feel if you sent an email and it took 10 days to get a response and you felt it was an emergency? Your roof or toilet is leaking and the professional you contacted was too busy to see your email and respond to your crisis. So much for the value of your website.

Marketing

Marketing is the activity of attracting people to your business. Some of the components may be:

  • A business website;
  • Business cards;
  • Automated email response;
  • Social media;
  • Video email;
  • Blogging
  • and the list could go on.

Salesman with a bull hornThe point I’m trying to make is your website isn’t actually marketing your business. It’s only a small part of a marketing strategy.  You need to actively promote your website so that it can promote your business. Some of the work can be automated. When it comes to marketing tools, Pure Leverage brings many together into one package saving hundreds of dollars and hours. Be sure to click the links in the bullets above for some tips on using social media and blogs.

Either do the marketing activity yourself or consider hiring someone to do it for you. For example, if you aren’t interested in building a website yourself, you can use the Pure Leverage suite of tools and have an admin person go through the video tutorials included. Alternatively, you can hire a service provider for that purpose. There are many people these days who will gladly look after doing your social media posts on your behalf.

In summary, your website isn’t a total marketing solution. The Pure Leverage Suite of tools can certainly make the job a lot easier! This is a package of tools complete with training videos to get you started.

Free Internet Marketing Coaching

 

Being and entrepreneur is like living on a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs along the way. Enjoy the ride!

Make it a great day,

Barry

Visit my other blog at https://barryclermont.com (Watch the video by Joel Therien on the right!)

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful my wife found Pure Leverage. I’m thankful I found my wife! I’m thankful for every new experience. What are you thankful for today?