Archive for January, 2010
First, I want to echo the thoughts of Adam Faughn (@faughn4) from his blog, The Faughn Family of Four, today. I love blogs too. I love the information I can get. I love the idea that you can reach large audiences with your message (as long as you have something helpful to say). Adam has a great post today on 10 Things in the Blog World I’d Like to See and I agree with every one of them. We need more Christians using blogs and reading blogs. But, my experience has been that many Christians don’t know how easy it is to subscribe to and read blogs.
Blogs are actually very simple websites that list posted articles in a sequential list (usually by date). The reason they are so powerful is that they contain a special little bit of code (no, don’t run screaming from your screen – I am not going to talk about coding) that turns them into what is called an RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. You can tell if the website you are looking at has an RSS feed by looking at the web address line of your browser. At the end of that line, after the URL, it will have a symbol that says RSS.
OK, so what? Well, the best part of all this is that you can set up blog readers like Google Reader to keep track of these sites for you and show you when something new is posted on them automatically! I currently subscribe to over 80 blogs. Some are ministry related, some are about photography (something I really like), some are about technology, Bible software, leadership and even a few are about blogging. Each day, and sometimes many times a day, I open Google Reader and it shows me all the blogs I am subscribed to, indicates which ones have new posts and gives me the choice of reading them then or leaving them for later.
It would take a long time for me to go and check each one of those sites one at a time to see if they had something new for me to read. As a matter of fact, it would take so long that I would never do it! That is the beauty of this, Google Reader does all of that for me. It is like having your own custom morning newspaper delivered to your screen whenever you want it.
There are a number of good blog readers out there, but I think Google Reader is the easiest to set up and use. Here is a short 3 minute video on how to get started using Google Reader.
Learn to find these sources online, then subscribe to them, and then – READ THEM. You never know what you might find. I am encouraged, uplifted and edified everyday by reading blogs. You can be too. Give Google Reader a try.
Want to get your presentation off on the right foot? Don’t start with a blank white slide. This may seem obvious, but I am amazed at how often I see it. While the preacher (or presenter) is giving some opening remarks, a large white rectangle is presented on the screen or wall next to him. There isn’t anything in it. It is just this large white space screaming at the audience for attention – but it has nothing to say. Is there something wrong? Was there supposed to be something there that didn’t work? Why does he want us to look at nothing? All of these are legitimate questions your audience is probably asking while you are talking. And believe me, if they are asking these questions they are not fully listening to what you have to say – you have lost their attention and you haven’t even started yet.
The solution is simple – make one solid black background slide at the beginning of your presentation. A black background slide won’t shine a big black square on the wall – it won’t show up at all. Now, I know some of you are saying that you can just hit the “B” key on the keyboard to “blank” or “black” the slide. While that is true there are two main problems with this approach. First, you may not be right near the keyboard to start the presentation when you want to or your remote may not have this function (although that is rare). Second, and in my mind most important, is that the “b” key doesn’t allow you to start your presentation with a slide transition. Placing a black background slide at the beginning allows you to use a nice fade, wipe or rotate transition to bring your title slide into view. This creates interest and will help focus attention on your first slide.
Rather than distract your audience before you even begin – kill the white slide and start with a black one. Fade in your first slide when you are ready to start and rivet your audience’s attention when and where you want it.