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Canva tips and tricks


Recently, Kara Miller introduced us to Canva in her article, Canva graphic design for dummies

Everyone said, “try it. It might be worth your time.” Truer words were never spoken. As I explored this easy to use application, I realized what a time saver it turned out to be.

It was my mission to find out everything I could about this web-based design application, what more could it do, what was I missing out on? Below are the top 10 tips and ideas I found across the internet: 

Note, the following are for the free version of Canva only
• Your Brand. Upload your logo and brand images to quickly use across a variety of your designs. With the free version you can’t add to the Your Brand section, however you can store it in your library. You can create a unique color palate in Your Brand, which is stored permanently in Document Colors. Use your specific color codes in the color wheel and Canva will remember that color while you are designing. Your color code will be a six-digit number and letter combination with the pound sign in front of it.

Decide on your organizations fonts to make designs consistent, what to use for headings, content text etcetera. You can’t store in Your Brand, so make a note of your choices in a template. There are a limited number of fonts available to you, so take the time to scroll thru and choose the ones that complement your company identity:

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• Templates for quick and easy posts. Create templates for Facebook and Twitter posts. For example, to welcome new members, award programs and upcoming conferences, we’ve created separate templates where we simply add the newest information and can post on Social Media – don’t forget to include a tag or hashmark to make sure the subject of the post will see it, like it and follow you.

• Customize library background images. If you like the texture/pattern of one of the free backgrounds, you can change the color by clicking on the color palette. Change the shade on a background by highlighting and choosing a different color or shade.

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• Working with frames and images. If you’re using a frame, double clicking on the image will allow you to move or resize it. You can click and drag to show just part of the image or grab the corners and make the photo bigger.
Clicking on the filters button (when you have photo selected), and then choosing advanced, will give you complete control over the look and feel of the photo.

Filter codes can be copied and pasted so you can have all your photos with the exact same setting.

The little arrow (when you have a photo selected) will allow you to flip it vertically or horizontally.

The little arrow in blue is the one that will flip flop your photograph.

Use an image and set the transparency to 60%. Then use the frames to highlight the same image for a neat effect.

• Font Effects. If you want to create a shadow on your text, copy the text, make it black, and send it behind the original text. With it selected, use your arrows key to move it slightly behind and down. It’ll create a shadowed look.

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• Watermark your work If you have a custom watermark or logo, have your designer make you a transparent PNG you can upload into Canva for when you want to watermark your graphics.

• Nudge elements by 10px. To move an element, you can just select the element and hit an arrow key, but that only moves the object 1px at a time. To increase the nudging distance, click the element. Then hit the shift button + any arrow key in the direction of your choice!

• Grouping elements. If you want to move a group of objects at the same time, hold down the shift key while you click on multiple elements. This will group them together. Once grouped, nudge/move elements as normal.

• Centering text. To quickly and easily center your text on a graph, make sure your text box is the same width as the element you’re trying to align it with. Then, simply navigate to the drop-down menu (as pictured) and hit the “center” option.

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• But how do I check my spelling? The free browser extension called Grammarly can check spelling and grammar as you type.

Check out other tips on designing in Canva. Canva provides some excellent tutorials to help you further explore. The tutorials will show you what to do and how to do it, letting you try your hand at recreating the examples. https://www.canva.com/learn/design/tutorials/perfect-presentations/

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Cheat sheets and references: Pocket guides can be valuable membership tools

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One of the most popular pieces in our inventory is a humble little pamphlet, inexpensive to produce, but containing some of the most sought after technical information in our industry. It’s a simple, tri-fold brochure that is given out to new members, tradeshow visitors and sold to our membership for less than a dollar. This pamphlet explains an industry standard with helpful tables and references. Technicians who use this information take it with them on the job, on the road and whip it out when trying to explain the principles to interested customers.

Every industry has information that would be helpful if available at the fingertips. Whether it’s technical renderings, graphs, standards, guidelines or principles, if you are able to put this information into a convenient and portable medium, your members will promote it.

Once we realized how popular this information was to our community, the Board requested that we post it on our website. We added the key words to our SEO metadata and published it’s availability in Facebook, Twitter, our magazine and e-notices. We are now considered “experts” in this standard. When searching the keywords, our organization shows up in searches. Our outreach to the public increases with each passing year.

What information does your membership consistently ask of you? What questions do you find yourself constantly fielding? Consider putting this information in a pamphlet, you can add your contact information, website and list of other publications. Tables, graphs, formulas, phone numbers all can go on a pocket sized guide for sale or as an additional giveaway. Do your members go on field work? What information would be handy to them on the job? Make it available online so it’s easy to download.

If your organization specializes in the food industry, make a cheat sheet of cooking terms, weights and measures or conversions. Are your members scientists? Add graphs or formulas they use daily. What do graphic designers find handy? A color wheel. Travelers will surely appreciate a quick reference guide featuring “hello,” “thank you,” and “good-bye” in a variety of languages. The ideas are limitless.

Add your organization logo, contact information and list of other publications, you now have a valuable tool to giveaway, post on your website or sell.

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First impressions: How to welcome new members

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Members are the driving force behind any organization, and a new member’s first impression could be the deciding factor in their length of stay, participation and whether they, return should they ever decide to leave.

New members and prospects must be a high priority, focus should be on answering their questions, familiarizing them with the goals and mission of the organization and getting them involved with the various groups and committees as soon as possible.

Here are a few extra actions you can take to ensure an affirmative lasting impression:

  • From initial contact as a prospect, to the actual approval of membership, the organization’s staff is in a unique position to impress the new member with a positive (or negative) experience. It is a simple task; always be responsive and attentive to any new member or prospect.
  • A new member welcome packet, whether by direct mail or email is essential. You can include a welcome letter, membership certificate, informational brochures, by-laws of the organization, information on the next conference, your business card and anything else that may be useful.
  • Board members or elected officials should be assigned to contact the new member personally, either by phone or email. They can explain why they are members and what benefits they receive as members. They can also act as additional contacts for questions. The new member is hearing from someone who is in the same industry and can relate to issues unique to the industry they share.
  • Invite the new member to the next conference, webinar or tradeshow, at a discounted rate, if possible. The main reason most join an association or trade group is to network with peers in their industry. Don’t let the new attendee become adrift at sea. You need to take the reigns and guide their first experience at a major function, to make it as profitable and worthwhile as possible.

For your next conference:

  • Create an ambassador program designed to let those who care deeply about the mission of your organization guide new members through the first years of membership. The ambassador can also introduce them to peers within the organization to encourage networking.
  • When promoting an event, in social media posts and newsletters, include the names of new members who will be attending. Add their picture and a brief biographical sketch, so everyone can get to know them before meeting face-to-face. If you have an online directory, consider posting member photos next to their listing.
  • Host a new member reception to introduce them to the governing members of the organization.
  • Create new member ribbons, or provide a way for the new member to be identified at an event.
  • Don’t forget to follow up with all attendees of events, especially new members. Ask them to complete follow up event evaluations so you can improve upon the experience, find out what they want to see next and if they need any assistance in networking with members they met. Get them to invest their ideas into improving the association.

All these suggestions will ensure new members feel they are welcome and important components of the organization. The goal is to encourage new members to renew their memberships, increasing retention.

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How to grow and retain event sponsors

we love sponsors

If you don’t like “cold-calling,” consider these tactics to help you get sponsorships:

  1. Get the most popular person in your organization to help you solicit sponsors.
  2. Call up last year’s donors.
  3. Post sponsor logos prominently on all correspondence and event materials. This will prompt non-sponsors to think about benefits of exposure.
  4. Announce new sponsors on social media.
  5. Treat every email, phone call and contact as a potential sponsor.

Other things to consider:

Keep the sponsors in mind during the planning phase. When doing your event planning, recognize that corporate sponsorship is a form of brand advertising. The basic intention of sponsorship is to conjure up positive associations between the corporate brand and clients. This is done by naming events or showcasing corporate logos in promotions leading up to and during the event.

Create a sponsorship prospectus. Always be sure to document, in detail, how each sponsor will benefit from their level of commitment.

Write your proposal highlighting the type of people who will be participating in the event, the theme, and the potential sponsorship and marketing opportunities available. The prospectus should be styled to appeal directly to the type of companies who will sponsor.

Connect with sponsors after the event. Send a thank you letter or email, brief them on the activities that their sponsorship funded, or detail how their contributions were used and how you promoted their support at the event.

Post photos of the sponsored events on social media in real time, then, send these photos to the sponsor as a follow-up.

Ask for suggestions on improvement for future events.

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Quick! Tell me about your association's member benefits

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Why should I join [input name of your organization here]?

I used to fear this question. Not because I didn’t know, but because I never took the time to put together a clear and concise list of the benefits of membership. Even though I’ve been with the National Air Filtration Association (NAFA) for 10+ years, this question could make me freeze in my tracks.

After working with AMPED for a few months, they suggested I put together a list of benefits – why had I never thought of this before? At first it was a little intimidating, I could only think of three or four reasons that had been clearly defined. However, when I sat down and brainstormed (and peeked at other organizations’ lists of benefits) I realized just how much NAFA had to offer!

Go through your certifications, publications, member’s access, affiliate associations and by-laws. Look at every program in your association and realize the magnitude of benefits. Use this list while on the phone, with email and through U.S. mail. You will look like the expert you are in no time. Now I can confidently state why you should join NAFA.

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Recognizing volunteers – the backbone of an organization

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Associations rely heavily on volunteer members, many of whom do much of the work of moving the organization forward. That’s why it’s so important to recognize their efforts and keep their enthusiasm high.

The National Air Filtration Association (NAFA), a client partner of AMPED - Association Management Partners & Executive Directors, is comprised of dedicated individuals with years of experience — experience they are willing to share with other air filtration professionals. It is not a difficult endeavor to solicit volunteers within NAFA. Most are willing to dedicate their time to work on projects both large and small. Having such wonderful people within your organization is a blessing, but it is vital to appreciate their hard work every way you can.

  1. Recognize the volunteer at every opportunity. Thank them publically at conferences; give them plaques or tangible items that remind them how important they are to the organization. Use Facebook or Twitter to post updates with photos of the volunteers in action.
  2. Keep in close touch. Check in with the volunteers occasionally. Ask for their suggestions and feedback to show them how important their participation and opinion is to the group’s overall wellbeing.
  3. Refer technical questions to them. Rely on their expertise. When a technical question arises, seek them out for their knowhow. This will show them you recognize their authority, and gives them the opportunity to promote their businesses.
  4. Document their efforts in print. Periodicals, publications and newsletters offer the opportunity to recognize their work and publicize committee efforts.
  5. Don’t forget the volunteer’s employer. Be sure to include the employer’s name when recognizing the volunteer. Businesses sacrifice a lot in order to allow employees to attend conferences, work on committees and share their time. A way to recognize this and get the support of the employer is to always include the name of the volunteer’s company.
  6. Be sure to include their designations/certifications. NAFA has a certification program and the designation is always included when mentioning an individual. Not only does it help promote the program, it demonstrates the importance and value you place on the certification.

Most important of all, thank your volunteers. Send them a thank you card or call them personally. In the age of email and social media, the handwritten letter is a novelty. Personalize the note or call to thank them for a specific task they did during their time volunteering.

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Whistle while you work

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We’ve all heard the grumblings from co-workers, friends and family, “I wish I could talk to a 'live' person.” It’s a sure thing that you have recently encountered recorded messages, instructions to “press 1,” or long wait times.

So if someone actually does get you on the phone, he may not be in the best of moods.

As a serial tasker (thanks to Emily Wiseman for that insight!), I find it difficult to focus fully on callers and give them the attention they deserve. In the past, they have probably heard my computer keys clacking, or the shuffling of papers in the background as they try to explain the reason for their call. With our ever-increasing workloads, it is difficult to keep the focus on the caller.

So what do I do when receiving a call in the middle of a very busy workday? Stop, listen and smile.

Why smile? When talking on the phone, you are at a disadvantage in that the caller cannot see your body language: the tilt of your head, facial expressions and hand gestures. All are lost in today’s emails, texts and phone calls. Your voice is the only clue as to your attentiveness.

Professor John J. Ohala, University of California, Berkely, Department of Linguistics theorized in his research paper The Acoustic Origins of the Smile, “…words sound better to humans when accompanied by a smile. By smiling, the cheeks are pulled back reducing the size of the mouth cavity and this produces higher vocal tract resonances.”

From Improving Your Inflection on the Phone:

  • A monotone and flat voice says to the customer, "I'm bored and have absolutely no interest in what you're talking about."
  • A high-pitched and emphatic voice says, "I'm enthusiastic about this subject."

Don’t just go through the motions
According to Dr. Mark G. Frank, et al, Physiologic Effects of the Smile, a smile with Duchenne marker is the “enjoyment smile” and is one that involves specific facial muscles creating an upward pulling of the lip corners and crinkling of the eyes. Individuals who smile with the Duchenne marker “…are perceived as more sincere, honest, friendly, and approachable…” Well, that’s all well and good when someone can see your smile, but why smile when talking on the phone?

In an interview with NPR, Amy Drahota with the University of Portsmouth, discussed a study conducted by the University, in which she posited that you can tell the difference between an enjoyment smile, and one that is “non-Duchenne.” The test involved participants answering a series of questions with just one phrase. The test was designed so that the one-phrase answer, in response to the questions, would increasingly cause the participant to (a genuine, Duchenne) smile. The sound bites of the one-phrase answer were then played to a second set of participants who were asked to determine if the person in the sound bite was smiling. The study concluded that people are able to detect a genuine, enjoyment smile by the sound of your voice alone.

The sound of a smile will convey to the caller you are friendly and approachable, and able and willing to help. I find that taking the time to smile puts me in a better mood and better able to handle any of my clients' needs. 

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When your association moves to a new AMC . . . and so do you: Tips to stay focused, positive

NAFA team
No one likes change…or do they? Recently, our group, The National Air Filtration Association (NAFA) transitioned to a new management team — AMPED! Luckily, I was asked to join the AMPED team so I could continue to support NAFA, where I have worked for over 10 years [photo: Core NAFA team]. This is a great group of people, dedicated to education and professionalism in the air filtration industry.

Was I scared? You bet! But excited too. I was determined to make this change with a positive attitude, so I developed a mental check list:

Embrace new technology. It keeps you young! Learning new programs and apps is like going back to school. It increases your value and worth and, in the end, it usually does make your job easier.

Own up to your mistakes. Admit to them, fix them and move on. This is hardest for me. I don’t like to be embarrassed by acknowledging a mistake. But I actually found a comradery in having a team that can help you fix an error. You learn something new. Be thankful for the talented and educated team in your arsenal.

Never let them see you sweat. I knew some in the organization were concerned about my future. I let them know right away what a great team we were getting with AMPED. Projecting a positive attitude about a new situation is infectious.

Don’t forget the past, but don’t dwell in it. Explain procedures, listen to the team suggest new and better ways of doing things. Get the phrase “We’ve always done it this way” out of your head.

Jump in with both feet. I knew I had to do things I may not be comfortable with (writing a blog, for one!), but I took my nervousness, set it aside and plunged in. Sure the water was cold, but I soon warmed up and was able to start enjoying the swim.

Finally, appreciate your value. Stop focusing on all the ways things are changing and, instead, embrace the positive that you are getting from your new team. I had to set my ego aside quite a few times as more experienced people made changes and implemented new ideas. I focused on the positive comments. I found there were quite a few if I listened hard enough. I keep those in the forefront of my mind like a mantra; this allows me to keep from getting in a negative mood.

There will be bumps along the way, but negativity will affect the people around you. Give your team members the respect they deserve. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly positive, focus on the bigger picture. You’re a part of the team and your attitude matters. A little effort goes a long way.

If you project a positive attitude, chances are it will be reciprocated. Negative people see walls, but positive people look for and find solutions. Instead of seeing a problem, see a puzzle; move the pieces and solve it.

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