Here are what I think are the two best free easy ways to create graphics for blog posts and presentations if you’re not a graphics wonk. (Note: I am not a graphics wonk.)
I’ve written over five hundred posts on this blog over the last ten years. As they tell you in SEO School, every post has at least one image. I often find an appropriate image on the web, but sometimes I feel inspired to create a graphic that fits better.
In addition, I frequently present at meeting industry events and to clients. Good presentation graphics can really help communicate what I’m trying to say, and strengthen my message.
Are you also “not a graphics wonk”?
I think there are a lot of people like me who have difficulty easily creating even simple graphics. My problem is that I simply don’t use “professional” graphics creation tools enough to be able to reliably memorize the variety of techniques, tools, and processes needed to speedily turn what I visualize into reality.
My graphic designer, whom I happily hire for complicated stuff, can quickly create perspective drawings, remove unwanted photo elements, and tone down someone’s bright clothing. For me, attempting any of these things takes a few hours on the web figuring out how, and making lots of mistakes along the way. The next time (if ever) I want to repeat the process I’ll have likely forgotten how to do it.
When you need professional help, how do you hire the best professional help?
Countless experts — accountants, plumbers, doctors, lawyers, and meeting planners — will take your money in exchange for advice or services. So, when it’s time to minimize your taxes, modernize the bathroom, diagnose that stabbing stomach pain, draft a complex contract, or organize multiple regional conferences — in short, get help with something you can’t do yourself — how do you choose great help?
You need a new kitchen sink. How can you determine whether someone who says they’re a plumber really knows what they’re doing?
There’s a simple reason why it’s tricky to pick great professionals. If you need help, obviously you lack crucial knowledge or experience. So when you seek help, you don’t know if someone who claims to be able to help really can!
Don’t despair! Here are the two essential steps to take to hire the best professional help.
Ask for and check references
Everyone knows that you should ask for references for a professional who’s going to do work for you. Unfortunately, knowing you should do something doesn’t mean you will actually do it. How often do you ask for references from a professional you’re planning to hire? Do you ask a potential builder? An accountant? A doctor? In my experience, I am rarely asked for references.
In addition, many people ask for references but don’t check them! You may think professionals will only give you the names of people who are satisfied with their services. While that’s usually true, talking to references will invariably turn up useful information. For example, you may discover that a plumber does good work but doesn’t finish in a timely fashion. Or an attorney writes competent contracts but his drafts need to be carefully checked to make sure that changes you request are actually incorporated. It’s common to hear information from a reference that immediately makes you decide not to employ the professional.
So getting and checking references before hiring is an essential step if you want to minimize unpleasant surprises. These days, crowd-vetted online sites like Angie’s List and houzz provide a helpful starting place, but you can’t beat talking directly to clients of professionals you’re considering.
See if they’ll say, “I don’t know”
My mother had an unusual set of medical symptoms. Unfortunately, she picked a doctor who was unable to admit that he didn’t know what was wrong with her. Instead, he told her that she had multiple sclerosis, which caused her much emotional upset. Years went by without the relapses or progressions normal to her illness. But she refused to believe that his diagnosis was wrong. Finally I called him up and confronted him, and he admitted that she did not have the disease. Years of suffering could have been avoided if we had ascertained at the outset that he was incapable of admitting that he didn’t have all the answers.
Checking to see if a professional will say they don’t know when they actually don’t is an important hiring step that is rarely performed. Interview the professional and ask them questions about the work you want them to do. Listen carefully to how they respond to your questions. You are looking for them to show that they know the limits of their abilities, and that they are willing to share their limits with you.
If necessary, ask whether they can do something that is a little outside their stated expertise and listen carefully to how they respond. If you hear an unwillingness to admit that they are not able to fulfill your request, you are receiving an important warning. Ignore it at your peril!
Choosing professionals who are aware of and clear and honest about their own limits ensures not only that they can actually do the work you need, but also that they will let you know when they are unequipped to handle any that problems. These are the people you want to work for you.
One more thing
Know your own limitations, and make sure you ask for help when you can’t solve a problem by yourself!
Faithfully execute these two simple steps when choosing professionals and you’ll avoid the common problems that occur when obtaining help with life’s challenges. These must-do steps have made it possible for me to hire the best professional help for years. I hope they help you too.
Simply print copies of your event’s marketing poster, logo, or website main page on white poster stock (see illustration above). Post one copy for each person to receive appreciations, matched with a name card, on noticeboards or tables located in a prominent spot in your venue, and provide some pens nearby. Then, publicize the posters a few times throughout the event and ask attendees to write appreciations for the people posted.
You can see the heart-warming poster I received above. I’ve permanently posted it on my office wall. Every time I look at this poster, I’m reminded of the meeting and the kind plaudits and thanks I received.
At the end of the meeting, remind recipients to pick up their poster before they go!
One more suggestion. Supply cardboard tubes so that recipients can bring their inexpensive appreciation poster safely home. As you can see, mine got a little wrinkled in my suitcase—but I’ll treasure it nevertheless!
Here’s how to delete ALL mail messages from iPhone/iPad in one step. Yes, there is a way to delete all your unwanted iPhone/iPad emails from the Mail app in one step! No more left-swipe:tap Trash for every individual message. No more Edit: tap the single open circle next to every individual message and finally tapping Trash. And you don’t need to jail break your device.
If you leave your iDevice on for a few days and come back to find a few hundred messages on it that you’ve already downloaded elsewhere this trick will save you time and irritation. I didn’t discover the method—it’s far from obvious—but found it on one of many Apple discussion threads bemoaning this irritating hole in Mail functionality.
GOOD NEWS UPDATE [added October 3, 2015] IOS 9.0.2 finally displays a “Trash All” button after Edit is pressed! If your phone won’t handle 9.0.2, the following procedure is often successful; read the comments for a detailed description of hundreds of people’s successes and failures.
BAD NEWS UPDATE [added September 25, 2016] IOS 10 has removed the “Trash All” button. Who knows why? The procedure listed below (the original 2014 post) still works for many people.
GOOD NEWS UPDATE [added January 5, 2020] IOS 13.3 allows you to “Select All” your emails and then touch “Trash” to delete all selected emails! If your phone can’t be updated to this IOS version, the following procedure is often successful; read the comments for a detailed description of hundreds of people’s successes and failures.
It works! I present to you this great tip from shashbasharat found on MacRumors (slightly edited for clarity).
How to delete ALL mail messages from iPhone/iPad in one step
How to delete or move ALL emails at once in non-jail broken ipad or iphone
It took me weeks of research to figure out finally how to decode this yet another secretive secret of apple. There is a perfect way of deleting ALL emails at once without jailbreaking your iphone or ipad…and here it is:
If any of your messages are marked as unread: Open Inbox >> Edit >> Mark All >> Mark As Read [added May 21, 2014 by Adrian; this extra step makes the difference between success & failure for some.]
Open Inbox >> Edit >> Check/select the top message; it will highlight the Move button.
Press and hold the move button and, keeping your finger on the Move button, use another finger to uncheck the message that you had checked earlier.
Lift all your fingers off from the iDevice screen and leave it alone. Wait until all your messages pile up on the right hand portion of the screen (in ipad); iphone will give you the actual number of emails it has selected for the action.
Choose trash to delete all of them or any other folder where you want to move them. Remember this will replicate your action on the server so you will ACTUALLY move them or delete them on the server and not just the iDevice.
After moving all messages to the trash you can leave them there for the scheduled cleaning or empty it right away. To empty immediately go to the trash folder and touch Edit. The Delete All button shows up at the bottom of the screen. Hit it! You’re done!
If you do not see the effects of your actions on the server make sure you have enabled your email accounts for such actions.
Allow enough time (could take several minutes depending the number of emails to be moved) for selecting the emails to move. Your screen may be unresponsive for a while. On an iPad you will see them zoomed out on the right hand side of the screen. On an iphone you will see a message showing you the actual number of messages selected.
Avoid purging very large number of emails, the mail app might freeze or crash. If your inbox has thousands of emails change your sync settings to store less emails in your inbox.
[Added Jul 20, 2014 by Adrian] Many people have reported needing to repeat the above procedure several times before it succeeds. (I too have found this to be necessary a few times on my iPhone but not on my iPad—go figure.) So my final tip is to repeat the procedure 3-4 times if the mail doesn’t disappear the first time. In my experience, if your messages disappear momentarily and then reappear, repeating the procedure will eventually make them stay deleted for good.
That’s how to delete ALL mail messages from iPhone/iPad in one step!
According to a widely ballyhooed recent study, event planning is the 6th most stressful job. I have no idea if that’s true, but, looking back on the two-day event I ran last week, I estimate that I had to solve well over a hundred on-the-spot problems that cropped up during the twenty-four hours I was on duty.
If you’re looking for a solution to a problem, there’s a natural temptation to pick the first solution you come up with.
In my experience, this is usually a mistake. An understandable mistake, for sure, but still a mistake. Most of the time, the first solution I come up with is not the best choice, so it’s worth taking a little more time to think before springing into action.
You can reduce the possibility of a poor decision caused by a hasty response by employing The Rule Of Three.
The Rule Of Three
Before deciding on a course of action, come up with three alternatives.
Here are three ways of thinking about The Rule Of Three.
1) Family therapist Virginia Satir encouraged people to have at least three choices. She said:
…to have one choice is no choice; to have two choices is a dilemma; and to have three choices offers new possibilities. –The Satir Model, Virginia Satir et al
2) Jerry Weinberg (who came up with this rule’s name) puts it another way that should get your attention:
If you can’t think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there’s something wrong with your thinking.
3) One more formulation: If you don’t have three options for a solution to a problem, you don’t understand it well enough yet, and you might need to explore it more.
Applying The Rule Of Three
It can be hard to apply The Rule Of Three, especially in stressful situations. Sometimes I have a hard time resisting acting on the first idea that pops into my head.
Here are two ways that help me apply The Rule of Three:
1) Get help to come up with more options. When I’m under pressure, asking trusted colleagues to help brainstorm alternatives is a great way for me to widen my problem-solving horizons and avoid missing a great solution. Two (or more) heads are better than one.
2) As with making most changes in your life, practice helps. Commit to apply The Rule Of Three to problems you encounter for three days. Then evaluate the results. How and under what circumstances did The Rule Of Three work for you? Decide whether you want to continue the commitment to maintaining this new approach to problem solving.
Uh oh, only two options here. I’m looking for at least one more. Suggestions?
Here’s a simple idea, courtesy of edACCESS colleague Bill Campbell, that can come in real handy when you want to live blog a public conference session without devoting most of your time to keeping up with what the speaker or participants are saying.
Crowdsource your event recording! How? Before the session, create a public Google Doc, shorten the weblink to the document, and publish the shortened URL on the Twitter feed for the event and/or on the projection screen in the room before the session starts, together with a request to help out with session notes. Anyone with the web link will be able to log in and help share the work of documenting the session.
Do you ever live blog a public conference session this way? Share your experience in the comments below!