Five ways to make the most of your commute
Commuting can be a drag – especially if you are already running late, your train or bus is delayed, and there’s nowhere to sit down. However; for some people, their commute to and from work is their favourite time of day, mainly because they don’t see it as a waste of time, instead choosing to reclaim these moments as valuable ‘me time’. To help inspire you, try five benefits of maximising your daily commute, making it work best for you.
You can use your commute to learn
In 2018, time is one of our most precious commodities. It is difficult enough to balance the time you spend working and socialising, let alone anything else. Fortunately, your commute is the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into your interests, without having to carve out time specifically for this. Whether you want to know more about politics, history, science or just gain some insights into improving personal relationships, this is the time to get it done!
You can improve your mental health
Commuting might seem like an odd time for focusing on your mental wellbeing, but arguably, it is the perfect opportunity to set yourself up for the day ahead or to decompress after a long day’s work. The better you are at looking after your mind, the happier and more relaxed you will be. Mindfulness is a great technique to try out on your commute and there are plenty of sensations to focus on. No idea where to start? I suggest giving Search Inside Yourself by Chade Meng-Tan, or Meditation for Fidgety Sceptics by Dan Harris a read or listen, to get yourself started.
See also: What is learning in ‘blinks’ and why you should do it
Maximising your time prepares you for the day ahead
Perhaps a more obvious one, but you can use your commuting time to prepare yourself for the day ahead. Mentally check your to-do list, think of your priorities for the day and if you have a meeting first thing – take time to figure out what you want to discuss and the questions you want to ask. Doing this on your commute means that you won’t waste any time at the start of the day, making you more productive and efficient as you go about your day.
Listening to podcasts while travelling makes you open to new ideas
If you like to spend your commuting time listening to podcasts, then congratulations, you are already spending this time wisely. Listening to podcasts makes you more aware of the opinions and ideas of others, whether the hosts are discussing science, comedy or politics. Being aware of the perspectives of others is likely to make you a better listener, as well as more accepting of others. If you haven’t listened to any podcasts yet, I’d suggest Simplify, a podcast which hosts amazing authors, discussing anything from productivity, through to sex and happiness.
You can teach yourself to be more comfortable in your own company
Lastly, commuting is the perfect opportunity to just be in your own company (mentally, at least!). If your day-to-day life is all about meetings, conversations, kids and socialising, these moments of quiet can help you focus on yourself, your needs, your interests and anything else you might have neglected in the last couple of weeks. Make a concerted effort to leave your phone in your bag or pocket, so you’re not tempted to scroll mindlessly through social media, and spend time with your own thoughts, working out what you need to do, and not to do, to feel more relaxed and at ease.
How to create a content strategy to grow your brand on YouTube
Having a YouTube channel is now considered a basic part of any company’s digital footprint. It’s just normal. But what do you put in it? Having a content strategy specifically designed to both get your messages across and to grow your number of subscribers.
See also: How to create a YouTube channel
You should have a content strategy specifically for YouTube, so, while you’re pulling that together, take these tips onboard:
When you’re scripting a video, it should be a precis of your company’s approach to a product or a topic. It shouldn’t be everything. Making key points, rather than attempting to cover the whole of an issue.
When you’re talking about a topic (rather than a product), try and have a point of view. ‘Balanced’ content may be easier to deliver within the culture of your industry, but it does not drive understanding or engagement. A stronger voice is helpful to gain audiences.
Don’t be afraid of using a more obviously clickbait approach – titles which ask questions, for example encourage people to click and watch for the answers.
Make it shareable – the sort of tone, approach and product which people will pass on. Easier said than done, and will come from experimentation, A+B split testing and, probably, some videos which will fail, but the ability to experiment is key.
Storytelling is vital. A point about changes in your industry or market is better made through the story of a single consumer than in the data of millions. That data can be used and related, but finding a story which illustrates the broad thrust of the argument will resonate with users much more.
Engagement is a key factor. It’s not wise to encourage your staff to participate in debate below the line (ie react to comments), but small engagements, like encouraging users to vote on videos can boot algorithms in your content’s favour and keep users connected to your brand.
Actively encourage subscription. In newsletter, emails, messaging across your digital estate, encourage users to subscribe more than watch. Watching a video can be singular, subscribing encourage repeat and return visits. Building subscriptions should be key, the views will rise accordingly. For more tips on that, see:
Three ways to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel.
See also: The teacher’s guide to using YouTube in the classroom
Essential apps to download before you travel solo
The key apps to make your travel so much easier.
Ensure your electronics are easily protected
Before you travel solo it can be a good idea to get your belongings insured. However, in the rush of planning and packing for your trip, this is often put to the bottom of the list and easily forgotten. An app that allows you to quickly insure common electronic items is Trov, which offers protection for items such as laptops, mobile phones, and cameras, allowing users to turn insurance on and off with a simple swipe within the app. Available on iOS and Android. Available to download for free, with price dependent on cover
Get the lingo
Babbel is the perfect app to download if you want to pick up a bit of local lingo before you set off on your travels. Available in 14 languages, from Spanish to Indonesian, the app will get you talking no matter your level – beginner, moderate or advanced. Not only can you practice your language skills and work on your accent from the first lesson, but the content you learn can easily be applied to real life situations, helping you feel confident no matter where you are travelling to. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download, and price to use from $6.95 per month (based on a 12 months subscription)
See also: The 9 easiest languages for English speakers to learn
Remember your trip
LiveTrekker is the app every solo traveller needs to help document their travels in a digital travel diary. LiveTrekker maps you wherever you go, creating a map of the routes you take and the places you walk by. As you create the map, you can add audio, video and text, bringing your travels to life and allowing you to look back and share your travels with friends and family whenever you want. It is also great for active travellers, as it monitors your speed and altitude, as well as the route. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.
Eat like a local
Foursquare is an app you need to download whenever you travel to a new city, whether travelling in a group or alone. The fantastic tips from the locals will make sure that you don’t get stuck in the typical tourist traps, instead exploring all the hidden secrets the city has to offer. The app shows you the best of the local food, drinks and attractions, meaning that you will experience the true spirit of each place you travel to. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.
Say hello to your personal organiser
One of the most stressful things about travelling alone is keeping track of all the important documents. A great app to help organise essential information, and keep it all in one place, is Tripit. Tripit collects all the small pieces of information from your confirmation emails – flights, hotels, bookings, rentals, and everything else, and puts it together into your own, bespoke itinerary. All you need to do is forward the emails to the app, making it easy to manage the travel admin. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use. A Pro version is available for $49.00 for an annual subscription.
Find an internet connection anywhere
While you may be trying to put away your smartphone and tablet and embark upon a digital detox while travelling, the chances are that at some point you may require Wi-Fi, whether it’s to look something up, or update your friends and family on where you are. In this situation, a good app to have to hand is Wifimapper. Wifimapper allows you to see all the available Wi-Fi spots in your immediate vicinity, and even gives you a description of the venue, ensuring that you can pick a location that you will be happy to visit. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.
See also: Seven apps to learn seven new skills
Able2Extract Pro 12: A Professional PDF Tool Giveaway
For some, dealing with PDFs in an ongoing, everyday struggle. For others, a tedious task that hampers productivity from time to time. The bottom line is, almost everyone needs a professional PDF tool in their productivity toolbox to get the job done accurately and efficiently.
Nevertheless, obtaining a powerful piece of software means spending money. Free services and tools developed to tackle just a single issue simply won’t cut it when it comes to serious PDF work.
That’s why we’re glad to present you with the opportunity to win 1 of 5 lifetime licenses for Able2Extract Professional 12, an all-in-one PDF suite, already featured in a round-up of DailyGenius’ 5 best productivity tools for your business. (Here’s a tip: the linked article can help you answer the question needed to enter the contest.)
To see all the requirements for entering the giveaway go to the developer’s website and read a short blog post explaining the process step-by step here.
Here’s what you need to do to participate in a nutshell:
- Be an Investintech/Able2Extract follower on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter
- Properly fill in PDF entry form
- Have a little luck in the random draw
If you want to know every little detail about the giveaway, we suggest you read the Official Rules. But, since we know that it’s not the most exciting thing you could be doing in your spare time, we’ve decided to break them down for you:
- The worldwide giveaway lasts until midnight April 27th (EST)
- 5 winners will be announced on May 4th
- Entrants must be the age of majority in their home countries
- Entry limit is one per person/email address/social media account.
If you are interested in the giveaway and want to know more about the main prize, we got you covered. In the next paragraphs, we’ll explain how Able2Extract can help you kick your PDF productivity up a notch.
Able2Extract can create PDF documents from all printable formats. The program installs a PDF printer on your system which makes it possible to create PDF files by selecting Able2Extract’s PDF print option in any document processing tool. The same can be accomplished just by opening the document you would like to create PDF from in Able2Extract. The process is automatic and fast.
Furthermore, Able2Extract can encrypt your documents during the PDF creation process, and set passwords and file permissions to make sure your PDFs are safe and secure.
PDF conversion is the feature users will find most useful. With Able2Extract, you can convert PDFs to more than a dozen popular file formats such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, Image, etc.
If you need to convert multiple files at once, there’s a Batch conversion feature and if you have scanned documents to deal with, Able2Extract’s OCR feature can extract all the data from what is essentially just an image of text and graphics.
Able2Extract also lets its users edit PDF on the spot without the need for conversion. You can add text, change fonts, insert pictures, and more to otherwise non-editable file formats by default.
The newest version 12 also comes with the ability to edit PDF forms (the feature you’ll be using to enter the giveaway), insert blank PDF pages and add Bates numbering. Also, Able2Extract offers a myriad of annotation options for smooth and efficient PDF collaboration.
So, if you would you like to have this productivity-boosting tool for free and get the most out of your PDF files, try your luck and enter the giveaway. There’s not much time left until the deadline, so act fast.
And if you’re not interested, but you know someone who could use an all-in-one PDF solution to improve PDF workflows, make sure to share the news. Good luck!
6 ways to engage your audience during a presentation
If you get presentation anxiety, you aren’t alone. Doing a presentation, whether to colleagues, to potential clients or to a conference is very exposing. Getting it right, and keeping your audience interested is both tricky and vital.
Emma Cullen, Creative Content Producer at the online, interactive presentation platform, Mentimeter has some expert tips on how to ensure that you engage your audience when presenting.
1 – Know your audience
In order to engage an audience, it’s important that when you are creating and presenting content, you know your audience. Doing research beforehand and getting to know your audience’s interests or concerns, ensures that you can create content that really appeals to them and thus catches their attention. If people in the audience feel the presentation is relevant to them, it will naturally spark their interest and ensure that they are more engaged with the material. This will also make you look like a pro speaker who knows how to tweak their content accordingly.
2 – Begin with an interesting story or icebreaker
If you want to make sure that you capture your audience’s attention from the start, then it can be a good idea to begin your presentation with some interesting facts, such as a funny anecdote, or perhaps even a high energy icebreaker. Beginning your presentation in this way enables the audience to connect with on a more personal level from the start. Once this connection has been made, the audience will be more receptive to the material in the presentation and therefore more likely to be engaged.
3 – Keep things interactive
A great way to ensure that your audience’s attention is kept throughout, is to include an interactive segment in the presentation. Encouraging people to participate and make their opinions heard, prevents them from losing interest and enables you to check their understanding of the material presented. With platform like Mentimeter, creating interactive presentations is easy. You can incorporate features such as multiple choice questions, quizzes and scale rating systems in the presentation, and the audience can use their smartphone to answer questions and share their thoughts.
4 – Communicate clearly
One of the most effective ways to maintain your audience’s attention, is to communicate in a clear and concise way. Try to use language and words that they are familiar with, and avoid using fancy or complicated jargon that could cause confusion and cause people to be distracted with the content of presentation. When speaking, don’t be afraid to slow down in order to get your message across. Many of us tend to speed through presentations out of nervousness, but doing this can lose the attention of your audience. Take a moment to think about what you want to say it – the most important thing is that your audience understands what you’re saying.
5 – Don’t rely on your slides too much
If you want to keep your audience engaged with the material you are presenting, it’s important that you also appear engaged. Often when presenters read off their slides, it gives the impression of being ill-prepared. To avoid this, make sure that you don’t cram too much information on each slide, as doing this can easily tempt you into reading the information straight from your screen, and prevent you from connecting with your audience. It’s often a good idea to break up text with visual aids such as infographics and graphs. Try to also practice your presentation, as the more comfortable you feel with the content, the less likely you will be to read from the slides and the more confident you will appear.
6 – Maintain eye contact
Another effective way to engage your audience, and maintain this, is through eye contact. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, creating eye contact establishes authority with your audience, as it shows you to be a confident speaker who has conviction in what they are saying. Secondly it engages the audience by showing that you acknowledge their presence, creating a bond between speaker and listener. It can also help to improve the quality of your presentation by enabling you to fix your attention on the audience, helping to calm your nerves and focus on the presentation at hand.
Mentimeter is a free-to-use, online platform that allows real-time interaction between presenters and their audiences: making meetings enjoyable, engaging, and more productive. Founded in Stockholm in 2014, and recognized by The Next Web in 2018 as the fastest-growing startup in Sweden (with over 20m people in 100 countries having already benefited from its innovations to date), Mentimeter enables speakers at lectures, corporate events, workshops, and other formal and informal meeting types, to truly engage with their audiences by providing them with easy-to-use tools, such as polls, quizzes, word clouds, multiple choice questions, to make presentations interactive.
Three ways to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel
Having a YouTube channel for your business or (ahem) your ‘personal brand’ is quite the thing. People watch more and more videos online and younger audiences especially are much more likely to watch YouTube than TV.
So being on YouTube is key to your to the prominence of your business (and helps with your search profile too).
And good content is key to that, but what can you do to make sure that, when you spend all that time making the best videos you can, you’ve actually made the most of that and you’ve optimised your channel and
Bear these tips in mind:
Develop your audience through a more consistent upload schedule
Having a more consistent upload schedule will allow your subscribers to regularly see your content on their homepage and subscription feed, allowing for a more regular presence and an increased watchtime. In return, this increased watchtime would help the ranking of the content in the algorithm as this is a core metric.
Perhaps could think about tailoring different formats or series that you could upload on a regular basis – regular interviews or scheduled updates on industry issues.
See also: How to create a YouTube channel
Optimize the thumbnails and titles of the videos
Entice viewers to click on your videos through compelling thumbnails (the small pictures that people see which are supposed to entice . Custom thumbnails are one of the best ways to make your videos stand out and get viewers watching – 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.
For the titles, remember that YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. Creating keyword-rich titles and descriptions can help viewers find your videos through YouTube Search and increase watch time – a video’s title, thumbnail, and description actually work together to tell a story about the content.
Here are some best practices for titles:
- Include descriptive and relevant terms toward the beginning of a title.
- Display branding and episode numbers toward the end of a title.
- Keep titles on the short side so they don’t get cut-off due to high character count.
Understand where the audience is coming from to leverage your traffic sources
Knowing where your traffic is coming from is key and making sure you’re using YouTube’s search facility to your advantage. Using a tool like Google Trends, can help you understand what people are searching for on YouTube to be able to tap into these searches and position the your channel as a hub for such content, planning around relevant events and trends to enhance the discoverability of the channel. You can learn search tips here.
How to stop the gender gap in tech and coding
There’s a problem in our education systems, leading to a problem in our tech industry – the continued perception that coding is for boys…
When I was younger I wanted to be a games designer. But I didn’t know anything about engineering or coding and for some reason they seemed like impossible subjects, designed for people with completely different brains to mine. I started to think this career path wasn’t for me at all. I’d never heard of any female games designers or engineers and it felt unlikely that it would ever be possible for someone like me to build games.
Despite the introduction of the new UK computing curriculum and the rise in after-school coding clubs, such as CoderDojo and Code Club most girls’ perception of coding and engineering appears to have stayed the same.
This issue is serious and hasn’t been ignored. A multitude of campaigns have been launched, such as Google’s Made With Code program and the European Ada Awards, and more advice is being provided on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) focused careers to encourage more girls to code. However, the fact that only 14% of the STEM workforce in the UK is made up of women suggests that these measures aren’t having much of an impact.
Why, in the 21st Century, are interesting, fascinating subjects such as these not appealing to female students? Only a quarter of girls aged 8-12 say they know anything about engineering, and those that do say it’s ‘too difficult’ and ‘more for boys’* – evidence to suggest that there is social stigma attached.
As a society, we seem to be investing far more time and money trying to achieve gender equality for adults when we should be addressing the root of the problem and understanding why there’s a gender equality gap to begin with. Are imposed gender stereotypes from a young age the problem?
Although obvious adult gender biases are seen as outrageous in our society (see the very funny responses to the ‘Bic’ pens for women campaign), the gender biases children experience on a daily basis are considered to be harmless and acceptable.
Why is this? As adults we are sensitive to sexism yet the majority of us don’t see a problem in allowing young children to grow up believing that boys and girls are very different.
Do separate toys and games, and comments such as ‘boys will be boys and girls will be girls’ really make sense in a world where we’re striving to achieve gender equality?
To eradicate sexism and close the gender equality gap we need to do more than invest millions of pounds in ways to make life more fair and equal for adults. We need to try and eliminate centuries of cultural conditioning which has made the vast majority of adults and children alike believe that men and women are essentially a different species with completely different interests, rather than people with very similar needs.
See also: The Game That Saves Kittens and Teaches Coding
I believe we don’t recall being treated differently at a young age – let alone consider it damaging – because for the most part, boys and girls are treated differently without even realising it. An example of this sort of conditioning is often seen when parents and teachers unnoticingly encourage girls to internalise their low expectations – by saying things like ‘don’t do that, you’ll get your dress dirty’ and ‘nevermind, you’re better at other subjects’. Girls are brought up to play it safe, whilst boys are often told to ‘try harder’. This conditioning is also present in children’s toys, books, TV shows, games, and the advertising that surrounds us too. Sadly, it makes more sense financially to market cooking sets and princesses to girls, and superheroes and cars to boys.
All you need to do is type ‘Girls’ Toys’ and ‘Boys’ Toys’ into Google and look at the images in the results, to see how apparent and perhaps disturbing this is. You will immediately notice a sea of pink for the girls – cooking sets, dolls houses, makeup kits and barbies. Replace ‘Toys’ with ‘Games’ and the imbalance is even more obvious. Free online games for young girls include ‘Barbie’s Fashion Dream Store’, ‘Miraculous Hero Kiss’ and ‘My Pretty Pedicure’.
See also: The Answer To The Skills Crisis May be More Obvious Than You Think
What can we do to try and solve this problem? Toys that challenge and encourage children without pandering to gender biases is one way. Some great examples of this can be seen with games such as Technology Will Save Us and GoldieBlox.
My team and I have created ‘Erase All Kittens’ (E.A.K.) – a web-based, Mario-style platform game designed to inspire both girls and boys to learn practical coding skills, whilst leveraging their creativity and critical thinking skills at the same time.
In E.A.K., children from the age of eight can edit real code that governs the game’s environment, enabling them to build and fix levels as they play, using the languages HTML and CSS. Our aim is to eliminate the fear that many girls initially have of coding, and empower them with practical skills through a highly gamified and story driven approach. Parents can also spend time playing alongside their children, also providing them with an opportunity to learn.
Interestingly, it’s been found that girls’ grades in science and maths correlate directly with the level of anxiety that they have about those subjects. I believe that gender biases in our society are influencing girls to want to look and be perfect – and perhaps as a result they are not as courageous or willing to try and fail in the same way that boys are. This leads to fewer girls taking an interest in STEM subjects which require those characteristics, in turn leading to less women pursuing careers in these fields.
Gender-biased products are always going to exist – but at least now there are more options. If we truly want girls and boys to grow up to have equal opportunities, it’s essential that we place more importance on treating and encouraging them in a similar way from a young age.
See also: Schools Need To Use Code To Empower, Not To Pigeonhole
Five ways to get Twitter to work for your brand
If you’re using Twitter to promote yourself or your brand, its very difficult to get yourself noticed in a morass of bots, spam and fake news. But there is still worth in using Twitter.
It’s a way of building awareness of what you’re about and what you do. But proving your worth and your authenticity is tricky in such a space. Like singing sweetly in a pounding nightclub, you risk being drowned out.
But it’s still worth trying to get in nailed, get yourself noticed, so try these techniques…
People use hashtags as a way of navigating through the mire. If you add the hashtags that are genuinely relevant to your content, then the people you want can find you. Try adding them into the flow of #content by adding the hashtags within sentences, rather than stuffing them all at the end. Doing it right can, by some estimates, boost your engagement by up to 20%.
Adding a photo to a tweet can, according to some estimates, increase engagement by 87%, as users see the message visually as well as in writing – converting attention to engagement much more quickly and effectively. Adding gifs or embedded videos can have the same effect, and users watch the videos inside Twitter so don’t leave you to do so.
The way to spread the message is for it to travel beyond your followers. So encourage them to re-tweet, by producing interesting content with authority. Easier said than done, of course, and have a decent size Twitter following will improve the scalability of that, and having ‘influential’ and supportive followers will help to. But the core remains – have good things to say which people will want to repeat.
See also: 30 Twitter accounts to make you smarter
Twitter accounts which simply broadcast their wisdom and do not respond don’t really have impact. Conversation is a much more human prospect for followers – so thanking people for sharing messages, answering peoples’ question, engaging in debates around the industry you are in or the products you deliver are all ways in which people begin to see the people behind your account and which makes them react, engage and re-tweet.
There’s any number of Twitter management and analytics tools which will tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Use whichever you like but there’s no tool which stops the need for you to pay attention. Look at what tweets work, and do more like them. Look at which ones don’t work. Do fewer of those. Simple really…