Archive for the ‘Recap’ Category

Event Re-cap: The Art of Storytelling ft. Melanie Coulson

melanie coulsonWho said algorithms were only for computers! On January 29, 2015, Melanie Coulson delved into the magic algorithm of storytelling (Click here to view her presentation). As an award-winning journalist and currently United Way Ottawa’s Director of Communications and Content, Melanie is a wizard with words and her advice to Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa’s audience was to MAKE MAGIC!

The magic of storytelling is: compelling content = conversions ($$)

The algorithm for compelling content is: CC = UA + GS + D x S

Understand your audience (UA)

Create a bond with your audience. Know their voice and preferred channel of communication. Are you writing for women over age 60 who are retired and care about helping puppies and children in need? Or are you writing for a man in his mid-30s who is career-driven, lives a fast-paced life and doesn’t have children?

Tell a great story (GS)

A great story starts with a message then immediately hooks in the reader. Nowadays, digital audiences are fickle and have short attention span. Focus your energy on the lead which should be 25 words or less. The internet waters are full of fish so how is your message going to rise above the current. You should also find great characters. You might be thinking “but we sell hard drives, how can we create or find a character when we sell simple hard drives.” There’s most likely someone in your network who has experienced a devastating computer crash and lost all of their files and hard work. They then decided to purchase one of your hard drives and now feel secure and protected from future crashes. No matter how simple or diverse your product or campaign, map out all the potential story angles and find that character. And don’t forget about the setting; the atmosphere in which you want to tell your story. What emotion do you want readers or viewers to feel and how will the setting create that emotion.

Decide how to tell your story (D)

This is where direction and planning come into play. Create a content team. Declare a managing editor. Use tools such as an editorial calendar in an excel sheet or on a white board in the boardroom. Build a story around everything you do. Anything that your company does internally or in the community, create a story. Develop strong visuals such as photos or video. No stone left unturned.

Share your story (S)

Social media now gives storytellers more power than ever before. Share your story on every social network you can and ask for your community’s support. Use tools such as Storify and Buzzfeed. Use crowd sourcing as a way to generate stories with impact, a human touch. Make sure every story has a purpose, a call to action. Without this, readers won’t know what to do next or where to go.

In the spirit of storytelling, Melanie has reached out to the GGDOttawa community for their support for a mini-campaign to help sheltered girls aged 12-20 have access to wifi so they can search for jobs and look for permanent housing. Until February 28, we have an opportunity to make a difference in another girl’s life. Please click here to join the Bring Wifi to Evelyn House campaign.

Thank you to our event door prize sponsor CanvasPop and congratulations to our three winners.










Join us for our next event Wednesday February 25, 2015 featuring Allison Malloy, Software Engineer at Kongsberg Gallium, who will present about drones used in commercial situations such as using drones to deliver packages, and agriculture, law enforcement, underwater exploration, as well as defence/military.

Event Recap: How to Measure Success in Social Media

Do you know how to gather the right data to help you achieve your business goals? Are you looking for new ways to measure social media success?

On November 26, Shawna Tregunna, founder of ReSoMe (Relevant Social Media), helped answer these questions and showed attendees how to maximize readily accessible data to measure success in social media activities.

When developing a measurement strategy, it’s important to answer what makes a great metric. Two factors should be considered: what type of measurement is relevant to the success of the business and does the measurement provide actionable insights.

Once you determine how to measure your social media data, next step is figuring out what you have to compare the data to in order for it to be purposeful for the business.

Shawna provided a great model explaining the marketing sales funnel and its customer touch points the buyer journey:















Here are four key metrics to help measure the success of your funnel:

  • Number of opportunities in your funnel and the rate at which you are acquiring these opportunities – or arrival rate.
  • The total possible value of every deal in your funnel or total funnel value.
  • Average amount of time prospects are in the sales funnel until they are acquired.
  • Average percentage of closes that your team effectively navigates through your funnel.

Shawna advises to not make the mistake of front-loading your sales funnel hoping that it will result in more sales. Take the “Groupon effect” as an example. Offering a truck load of special offers or discounts that attracts volume may not be viable if you don’t have a solid grasp on how your business is currently performing. The key is to making sure your prospects are qualified leads and you’re capable of nurturing them through the sales process and maximizing the impact points in which the leads encounter. Impact points represent the impact on the ability of your business to make money. Every impact point has the ability to make or lose money. For example, employees fall under Cost Centre, but by enabling and encouraging employees on social media, this is an opportunity to turn a cost into a profit.

Impact Points

Profit Centre Savings Centre Cost Centre




User-generated content


Support Centre



Another method to maximize social media data is integrating with your CRM (customer relationship module). By including customer social media information, you can tie online actions to specific clients within the sales process. Facebook ads also allow you to customize your target audience by email. If your clients email is associated with their Facebook profile, you can create targeted ads and messaging just for clients or prospects.

Shawna capped off the presentation with suggestions for free tools that can help you track and measure:

  • – shows interests of followers, location and influencers.
  • Klout – good tool to measure influencers. More than 30 or 40 Klout score represents good/notable standing.
  • Riffle – tells you which tools your competition is using, your ratio of posts (new posts, retweets and replies – are you just pushing content or engaging on a regular basis), and top hashtags.
  • Alexa – learn how your website is ranked via traffic, but ensure you understand your business goals to understand purpose of traffic. Can also provide you with competitive analysis. If social media is driving traffic to your website, what’s your activity compared to your competitors?
  • Moz link data – measures the quality of inbound links. For example, when you Google search cars in Ottawa, who ranks first? Google takes linking into consideration when ranking search results. How can social media help influence your ranking? Maximize influencers and audience engagement so they direct traffic to your website.

Click here to view Shawna’s presentation Accessible Metrics that Matter. You can also check out our hashtag feed to read what attendees shared and check out our event photos on Facebook.

Don’t forget to save the date! Our next Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa event will be January 29, 2015 featuring Melanie Coulson about how charitable giving is now hi-tech. Stay tuned for more details!

On behalf of the GGDOttawa Organizing Team, have a safe and happy holiday! 

Event Recap: Data for #MentalHealth, Nov. 20, 2013

1472099_368812726588188_1368693414_nOn November 20th, Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa wrapped up the 2013 season with guest speaker Shelley McKay. Shelley is a strategic consultant who is leading a pilot project that will use social media, analytics and predictive models using keywords and phrases associated with known risk factors, to identify youth suicidal behaviours/ideations at the earliest possible point. Shelley launched this project after her daughter tried to take her own life and subsequently experienced first hand how fractured our health care system is when it comes to youth mental health.

What Shelley is proposing with her pilot project is to utilize existing government monitoring tools to monitor social media channels for our at-risk youth. The program, she explained, can process 85,000 word a minute. A minute!! And it’s able to place context to the key words being processed. Meaning, the program knows the difference between someone saying they are going to “bomb a city” and a comment such as “that show was the bomb!” In the context of monitoring our youth, the program can analyze their mood, track mood trends and language patterns so parents, schools and hospital can take a proactive care approach rather than a reactive one. This is the first goal of the project. The second goal, Shelley explains, is to reduce the pressure on our region’s emergency rooms by proactively identifying youth in crisis and directing them to appropriate treatment.

Now as a marketer, you might be asking how it is possible to monitor people with our current privacy laws. Attendees asked just that. This, of course, is one of the hurdles that Shelley is currently taking on. Partnered with SAS, a leading company in ‘big data’, Shelley and her team are working with our government, schools, hospitals, such as The Royal Ottawa, and health officials to make this project concept a reality.

If you’d like to learn more about Shelley’s project, give her a tweet: @McKayShelley.






Thank you again to our door prize sponsors! 





Event recap: Engineering Meets Personality “Typewatching” with Jennifer Ng Ain Kin

How do you know who to put on what projects and why? Do you often hear you come across too abrupt at meetings or you don’t speak up enough? Or, do you prefer people that are like you or people that are different?

jennifer-compressedOn Wednesday May 29, attendees dug deep into their minds to discover their Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicators (MBTI) and learn how to be aware of their personality traits for better results at work and at home. MBTI(1)

Jennifer Ng Ain Kin, a senior member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and CATA WIT (Women in Technology) Mentor of the Year Award winner, has analyzed and implemented MBTI throughout her career and even uses MBTI when interviewing candidates at her current job.

After learning about MBTI and examples of Jennifer’s personal and work-related situations where personality traits are affected, attendees were given this MBTI questionnaire to help determine their personality traits and learn how they can handle situations effectively and for better results. Attendees then compared their results with those of Star Wars characters.


MBTI(3)Complete the questionnaire and click here to see which Star Wars character you’re alike!

Jennifer recommends the following resources:

Type Talk – The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love and Work (book)

Type Talk at Work (book)

Please Understand Me II (book)

Gifts Differing – Understanding Personality Type (book)

Unofficial online MBTI Test (website)

The official MBTI site (website)

To view Jennifer’s full presentation, click here. 











Thank you to our door prize sponsors!




Event Recap: “Overcoming anonymous in search of more fully clothed role models”

Shari Informed OpinionsAt our most recent dinner on April 16th, Shari Graydon, founder and catalyst of Informed Opinions, presented “Overcoming anonymous in search of more fully clothed role models.” Shari stressed the importance of the female voice; drawing awareness to the obstacles faced by influential women who speak up. Shari reminded us that we all have informed opinions, knowledge and experiences worth sharing. The unfortunate truth is women are more likely than men to give up the opportunity to voice an opinion when given the opportunity. When Shari polled our attendees if they ever declined the chance to speak because “they weren’t the right person to ask” or because “someone else would be better suited to comment,” more than half of us raised our hands.

Sometimes it seems we are our own worst enemy, allowing self-consciousness and doubt prevent us from expressing our opinions. Statistically speaking, men’s opinions out-number women’s at least four to one in the media. Empowering women to express themselves is not only important for the individual, but also for the collective. Shari spoke from the heart when she said “it’s a sad day when a woman remains silent.” Women experience things differently from men – in regards to sexuality, appearance, safety and maternity ­– which need to be considered in public discourse.

However, operating in a position of influence and having a strongly informed opinion isn’t a walk in the park. There’s still gender-specific challenges which affect influential and opinionated women today. Shari offered a number of examples of inspirational women who chose to speak up, be powerful in their own right, and influence others. While these “fully clothed role models” are an inspiration, their presence in the media reveals that strong and opinionated women still face gender discrimination – gender-specific criticisms, harassment and cruelty – not typically experienced by male counterparts. Female leaders contend with public focus on their looks and wardrobe, rather than their opinions. Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo! was heavily scrutinized for taking her position during her pregnancy. Hilary Clinton was slammed in the press for her wardrobe choices. Sexism is still prevalent, despite living in these “modern times.”

The good news is, as more women choose to have a public voice, the more these opinions will become the focus of discussion. We all benefit from women in power. When women are included in senior corporate positions, companies perform better and operate with higher ethical practices. In countries where women are educated, the quality of life is raised for everyone.

Shari inspired us to find our voice. As Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” The next time you have the opportunity to speak, be confident that your voice is as strong as those around you. If you have an informed opinion, share it. What if you really are the best person to ask?

If you’d like to purchase Shari’s book I Feel Great About My Hands…And Other Unexpected Joys of Agingplease contact Ashley Armstrong at ashley(at)informedopinions(dot)org.

You can also check out photos from the event on our Facebook page and read what attendees posted on Twitter.

Our Sponsors

A special thank-you to our sponsors for their generous door prize donations:















And, congratulations to our door prize winners!

Kate Wetherow

Camille De Baets

Jennifer Turner

Lysanne Sacoutis

Lara Bender

Event Recap: Geek-fest on March 26, 2013

legosmallWhat do you get when you put a group of smart women in a room with LEGO, food and a microphone?

A Girl Geek Dinner Geek-fest!

On Tuesday March 26, we hosted a Geek-fest in lieu of a traditional dinner. This fly-by-the-minute event idea turned out to be a huge success and it seems attendees want more! Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Thanks to Ellen Grove, everyone had the chance to take part in LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP).

What is LSP?

LEGO® Serious Play® is a powerful thinking, communicating and problem solving technique that can help you and your team do serious work through structured play activities using a popular and playful 3D modeling toy. Through a facilitated process of building models that, storytelling and reflection, every person at the table is engaged and actively participating in the discussion. Whether the topic is individual aspirations, team relationships, developing a new product or solving a wicked organizational problem, everyone builds and everyone tells their story, unlocking new perspectives and exposing the answers already in the room.

Nine attendees completed three builds: a warm-up, one to answer the question “what made you happy in the past week?” and a final build on the topic of “what do you get out of participating in Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa?” It was great to hear some of the responses such as “an opportunity to meet and learn from successful and talented women,” and “this is my first time coming to GGDOttawa. I’m glad I joined,” and also “constantly learning new trends and hot topics to help me in my career.”

If you participated in the LEGO activity, feel free to leave a comment about your experience or if you’re interested in learning more, you can email Ellen at ellen(dot)grove(at)gmail(dot)com or send her a Tweet @eegrove.

Although LEGO was a huge highlight of the evening, we still kept some tradition with door prizes, community announcements and a good ol’ mind trap question for a grand prize:

Q: What is unwanted by the maker, not used by the buyer, and never seen by the user?
A: Coffin

Congratulations to Patricia Saravesi for knowing the answer and winning free access to a webinar courtesy of The Conference Board of Canada.

Congratulations to the other door prize winners:

Olga Dewar – two vouchers for The National Arts Centre.

Yayoi Akita-Brunet, Janet Hockey and Basia Vanderveen – $30 gift card for CanvasPop.

Mary Beth Baker – $25 gift certificate for Rinaldo’s Spa Services.

Lisa Leves – 50% off coupon to Crepella’s.

And last, but not least, save the date for our next event! We also asked our GGDOttawa community what’s coming up in Ottawa, so why not save all these dates!

Next GGDOttawa event:

Speaker: Shari Graydon, founder of Informed Opinions
Date: April 16 (to be confirmed)
Time: 5:30 p.m . to 7:30 p.m.
Location: (to be confirmed)

Ladies Learning Code is hosting a workshop on Saturday April 6 called “Introduction to App Design for Beginners”. If you have any questions, you can contact Nicole Belanger by email at nicole(at)ladieslearningcode(dot)com or on Twitter.

IABC Ottawa is hosting their final professional development event for the season on April 11 at the Black Tomato restaurant. “A Successful Lesson in Social Media Crisis Communications” will be presented by Melissa Carroll, the wizard behind the Montreal’s Police Service (SPVM) Twitter account who communicated with civilians of all stripes and in both official languages during the 2012 student protests.

OpenData Ottawa is also planning an event in April. No date has been confirmed just yet, but you can follow their blog for updates or follow them on Twitter.

Canadian Public Relations Society Ottawa chapter is hosting their National Conference June 9 to 11 which features a combination of keynote speakers and workshops.

Have a great long weekend!

‘Til next time,

Your GGDOttawa Organizers

A Re-Cap on Amanda Shendruk’s “What to do with all that data?”

When Amanda Shendruk took the stage, she wasted no time by showing us the good, the bad, and the ugly of data visuals. We were hardly experts on the matter, but the audience could unanimously agree on the infographs that we understood, and those that left us staring blankly. That’s because regardless of its effectiveness, its purpose was clear. Data visualization is about helping the audience understand complicated concepts- at a glance. What we would learn was this carefully considered tool strikes a balance between creative design and data integrity. It manages to be accurate and objective, but also fun and underwhelming.

Most of us social media users think of data visualization as the marketing infographs we’ve seen on Twitter or Facebook. However, good data visualization avoids stating an opinion, lets the data do the talking, and the viewer explore the information. While the concept seems simple enough, Amanda taps into a background in journalism and her knowledge of psychology and design theory to put it all together. Thankfully, she has this process down to an art and provided us with a list of considerations she calls, the six pillars of infographic design…

6 pillars of infographic design:

1. Know the purpose, know your audience. Are you telling a story? Have a question that you’re trying to answer? Visualize what would work best for your audience. Don’t make assumptions about your audience. Rather, make it appealing to a large group. It should be fun to look at and not overwhelming. It’s complex information and it needs to compete against the 8 hours of data we’re exposed to in a single day.

2. Maintain the integrity of the data: think about the form that you’ll use to present your data. However you jazz up your infographic, the focus should be on the data. Consider its appropriate format: line chart, pie graph, histogram, plot, etc. One thing is for certain, she tells us to leave the pie in the kitchen! Pie charts are difficult to accurately represent data and compare to other charts. Almost anything in a pie chart can be better shown through a bar graph.

Also, don’t forget some of those basic rules that we all learned in elementary school. Ensuring your numbers actually add up makes all the difference to properly educating your audience. This means your pie graph shouldn’t add up to over 180%. You may laugh- but we’ve seen it.

3. Balance form and function: should a graphic look pretty or be accurate? How do you balance design with accuracy? We know from a Poynter Institute EyeTracker study that, on average, readers will overwhelmingly ignore plots and graphs, and are exceptionally drawn to visualizations, and infographics. We also know from academic studies that the most accurate way to present data is usually the most boring: bar chart, and scatter plots. Unfortunately, these do not make pretty graphics.  Some are of the philosophy that, “the data doesn’t matter if people are not looking at it”. This is where chart junk comes into play.

Chart junk is the visual elements in charts and graphics that are unnecessary to understanding the information. This type of cluttering can detract from your message but, “chart junk is okay sometimes. People will remember more of the data if some chart junk is used”, says Amanda. However, please use discretion.

4. Allow for exploration: the best infographs allow for exploration of data. She believes everything should be gained “at-a-glance”. Work with colour, form and annotation to ensure that your audience doesn’t have to work too hard to get something out of it. But from there, let them explore! Infographics and data visualization aren’t about simplifying concepts, which is a common misconception; it is about clarifying them.

5. Work with the brain, not against it: In 1956, Gelsault published a paper that suggests the number of objects the average human can hold in working memory is seven, plus or minus two. So don’t make it difficult for people because they have a limit on the information they can process. Help them by using what we know about how the brain perceives visual information.

6. Keep it Simple- keep it basic: The Data itself is beautiful, so let it speak for itself. You’re not doing it any favours by cluttering it with useless images or suggestive adaptations.

While there continues to be an aesthetics vs. analytics debate, it all comes down to knowing your purpose. Data visualization cannot express everything, nor are they meant to. The purpose of it is to offer those quick representations of data but not the whole story.

Amanda left us with her inspiration when she said: “not every story needs to be conveyed through word”. Thank you Amanda for a fantastic presentation.

For more information, visit her website Aesthetic Intelligence and see the power of infographics for yourself. We’ve also put together tweets of the night for you to check out.

Our Sponsors

Special thanks to our sponsors Canvas Pop, the National Arts Centre and Kinki/Mambo for donating amazing prizes for our Girl Geeks! We won’t see you again until January so have a very safe and happy holiday.










Event recap with Girl Develop It Ottawa

Last Wednesday, Serena Ngai of Girl Develop It Ottawa presented her case about the revolution of women in technology. From Mattel’s Barbie career innovations to five-year old girls dreaming of being astronauts, Serena pointed out the large social gap between girls and boys in the field of computer science and everything related.

When you Google search “computer scientist”, what’s the first image that appears? Is it a guy with glasses and a plaid shirt? Trust us, we’re not being biased. In fact, research has shown the number of women with bachelor degrees in computer sciences has decreased rapidly over the past 20 years from 37 per cent to less than 20 per cent. Today, less than one per cent of women would be interested in studying computer science as an elective in university. But, there is hope!

In 2010, Mattel posted a public survey asking girls which career they would like Barbie to pursue. To everyone’s surprise, the number one career was computer engineer. Are women beginning to see technology as a fun, innovative, career savvy form of income?  Let’s hope so!

To help regain the number of women in computer sciences, Serena and Gail Carmichael founded Girl Develop It Ottawa to bring back the flare and fun of building websites in a supportive environment. Serena taught us how technical skills can be valuable for your career and any career, why this “women in technology” thing really matters, and how their upcoming workshops can help you become the next Marissa Mayer. Well, in part.

Girl Develop It is hosting their next workshop Intro to HTML and CSS on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. They’re also looking for volunteers to help teach workshops and share technological skills with Ottawa women. If you or someone you know likes to teach and is tech savvy, contact Serena or Gail.

And lastly, congratulations to our Girl Geek prize winners who went home with fabulous gifts from our event sponsors – the National Arts Centre, Media Miser, and Ingrid Aesthetics.

To read more about this month’s event, check out the following reviews from our Girl Geek attendees:

Amy Campsall (blog post)@AmyCampsall

Alexandra Reid – @TechAlly

Mel Gallant – @MelGallant

Hana Abaza – @HanaAbaza


May 11th GGD Ottawa Event Recap – Entrepreneurship

Just Do It

This was the recurring theme with our presenters last night.  Come to think about it, this seems to be a recurring theme with several of our Girl Geek Dinner speakers.  From entrepreneurship and women in leadership, to looking for a new job.  We all have to deal with uncertainty and doubts, and sooner or later, we just need to decide to Just Do It and see how it goes.

Some other take-aways from last night:

  • Understand your customers
  • Understand your competitors
  • Surveys are often not enough, find nuances through conversations
  • Keep it simple to start
  • Welcome feedback, but know when to ignore it.  Keep the focus on what you’re good at
  • If your business is product centric, focus on innovation
  • If you are offering service, focus on service excellence
  • Blogs are the new magazines
  • As social media changes, so should the way you use it
  • Use giveaways to build your audience

Thank you Vivian, Hana and Amy for sharing their stories with us and thank you to all who attended our Girl Geek Dinner last night.  We hope you enjoyed it and found some inspiration for your next challenge.

Thanks again to our sponsors for their continued support.  We hope all the door prize winners enjoy their prizes!


Thornley Fallis


Media Miser

Laura Jane Photography

the SPA

Little Cakes