Category Archives for "Technology"

Livescribe
Jun 26

Livescribe: Note Taking Magic (for CPAs)

By Charles Hall | Accounting and Auditing , Technology

Livescribe: Note taking magic. Here’s an overview of how auditors are making their lives easier using the Livescribe pen.

Have you ever interviewed a client, feverishly taking notes, and straight away forgot critical facts? You wish you had a recording of the conversation. Better yet, you wish you could touch a particular word in your notes and hear the words that were being spoken at that moment. What if I told you, “you can”?

Livescribe: Note taking magic

How? Livescribe.

Think about what you could record with such a tool:

  • CPE class lectures
  • Walkthroughs of transaction cycles
  • Board or committee or partnership meetings
  • Fraud interviews

Livescribe: Note Taking Magic

What is Livescribe? It’s an electronic pen/recorder. As you write on special coded paper, you simultaneously record the conversation (the recorder is built into the pen). Once done, you touch a particular letter in a word (with the tip of your pen) and you hear–from the pen–the words spoken at that moment. No more forgetting and not being able to retrieve what was said. And it’s efficient since you can go to any particular part of the conversation using your notes as signposts.

To start a recording, you press the tip of the pen to the “record” icon at the bottom of the page.

IMG_0002

To stop the recording you press the “stop” icon above.

Once the recording is complete, you simply touch the tip of the pen to any letter and the audio recording will start playing–from the pen–at that point.

IMG_0004

You can upload the pen notes and the audio to your computer desktop Livescribe software using a USB cord that connects to the pen. (See below.)

IMG_0003

You can also play back notes from your uploaded desktop copy just as you can with your pen. Click a letter with your mouse and the recording will play.

I was surprised by the clarity of the sound from the pen and the audio capacity200 hours (for the Echo version that you see below).

There are different versions of the pen. I bought the Echo version due to the lower price. You can review the available pens on Amazon. I also bought additional Livescribe notebooks (they come in packs of four) and a portfolio (binder) to hold the notebook and pen.

My Experience with Livescribe

I have used a Livescribe pen for four years. After using to it to record hundreds of hours of audio, I consider my Livescribe pen to be one of my best audit tools. I recommend it.

What if you don’t desire to shell out the $155 for the pen? Consider using the Notability app. 

Another Option 

If you have an iPad, you can buy the Notability app for $9.99 and record conversations with your notes (with play-back similar to Livescribe). You will need a stylus (I use an Apple pen) to take notes since you write on your iPad screen. See my article about using Notability.

One More Thought

If you are performing a walkthrough of a complex transaction cycle, consider using your phone to take pictures of what you are seeing (e.g., computer screens, documents). I use the Scanbot app. Between your notes (with audio) and your pictures, you will have a good understanding of what you have seen and heard.

You might also be interested in my article Four Keys to Better Client Interviews.

convert images to readable text
Feb 06

Convert Scanned Images to Readable Text

By Charles Hall | Technology

Are you wondering how to convert scanned scanned images into readable text?

Some scanned documents (PDFs) aren’t searchable until optical character recognition (OCR) is applied.

In the video below, I show you how to convert a scanned document (PDF) into searchable text using OCR. But why would you do this?

Suppose you use your local scanner to scan a 100-page debt agreement. You do so because you desire to electronically search for the words “covenants” and “debt ratio.” Once you create the PDF, you hit “control F,” so you can search the document. But you get a message saying the document is not readable. What should you do? Convert the scanned pages to readable text using OCR. Then you can search for whatever words or phrases you wish. 

Once the scanned document is readable, use “control F” to activate the search box in Adobe Acrobat. Then enter the words you are looking for. This is so much easier than reading 100 pages and still not finding the information you desire.

Watch the video below to learn how to convert scanned images into readable text.

steps to delightful presentation
Dec 03

Four Steps to Delightful Accounting Presentations

By Charles Hall | Technology

In this article, I provide you with four steps to delightful accounting presentations–even if you are a CPA. Yes, this can be done!

four steps to delightful accounting presentations

 

If you’ve read the book Presentation Zen, you know that many speakers–without intending to–hide their message. In watching CPE presentations and board presentations, I have noticed that (we) CPAs unwittingly hide our message. How? We present slide decks that look like intermediate accounting textbooks–chock full of facts, but too much to digest. And do we really believe that those attending will take those slides back to the office and study them?

Probably not.

My experience has been those slides end up in the office dungeon, never to be seen again. We have one chance to communicate–in the session.

Four Steps to Delightful Accounting Presentations

It is the presenter’s duty to cause learningSo how can we  engage our audience (even those sitting on the back row playing with their cell phones)? Let’s start with the slide deck.

1. Make Simple Slides

Make simple slides.

I try to have no more than two points per slide, and I leave out references to professional standards (at least on the slides).

What happens when you see a slide that looks like it contains the whole of War and Peace? If you’re like me, you may think, “Are you kidding? You want me to consume all of that in the next three minutes. Forget it. I will not even try.” And then you begin to think about your golf game or your next vacation. So, how much information should you include on a slide?

Nancy Duarte recommends the glance test for each slide. “People should be able to comprehend it in three seconds.”

2. Include a picture related to the topic

Include a picture.

For example, if I am presenting to auditors, I might display a picture of someone being bribed. Verbal information is remembered about ten percent of the time. If a picture is included, the figure goes up to sixty-five percent. Quite a difference.

power of pictures

3. Tell a story (and ask questions)

Tell a story and ask questions.

People love stories. If your presentation is about bribes and you have not audited a bribery situation, Google bribes, and you will find all the stories you need. If you can’t find a story, use a hypothetical. Why? You are trying to draw your audience in–then maybe they will put that cell phone down (your most triumphant moment as a speaker!).

Telling your story at the right pace and volume are also important.

Also engage your audience with questions. Stories get the juices going; questions make them dig. And, if they answer you, there is dialog. And what’s the result? Those talking learn, the audience learns, and, yes, you learn.

4. Move

Move. Not too much, but at least some.

A statue is not the desired effect. Moving like Michael Jackson is also not what you desire (moonwalking was never in my repertoire anyway). But movement, yes. I walk slowly from side to side (without moonwalking) and will, at times, move toward the audience when I want to make a point. So, am I constantly roaming? No. Balance is important.

Now, let me provide a few thoughts about presentation software and handouts.

Presentation Software and Handouts

Presentation Software

If you have an Apple computer, let me recommend Keynote as your presentation software. I do think PowerPoint (for you Windows users) has improved, but personally, I prefer Keynote.

Handouts

If you need to provide detailed information, give your participants handouts. I sometimes provide narrative summaries in addition to the slide deck. Then, if you like, refer your audience to the supporting material.

Your Presentation Tips

What do you do to make your presentations sizzle?

>