Microsoft wants you…and your tablet

November 20th, 2014 by Simon

The progress of technology is relentless…and the world of presentations is no exception.

Only a couple of years ago, presenters who wanted to share their message using an iPad or other tablet faced a number of complex and time-consuming options.

Some presenters persisted, firm in their belief that delivering their message in this way was the right approach*. For a number of years we helped these brave souls pointing them in the direction of solutions like SlideShark and, latterly, converting PowerPoint files into iPad friendly HTML5 file formats. It wasn’t particularly slick or flexible but at least people were able to present to audiences using their fancy new devices. Others, frankly, looked at how complex things had become and decided not to make the leap, sticking to the tried and tested (some may say ‘old hat’) ways of presenting.

Whichever side of the new technology battle lines you may have found yourself, the general consensus was it was all a little confusing.

The good news is that with the introduction of Microsoft’s PowerPoint iPad app, the confusion has lifted. After years of rumour, whispered conversations and anticipation, the gang in Redmond unleashed their Office suite of apps on an overly excited world…for free (but with some restrictions). Each of the Office apps duly rushed to the top of the Apple and Android download charts…and stayed there for some time.

The good news got a little better a couple of weeks ago when Microsoft announced that they were taking off some of the restrictions that had caused a few grumbles on the apps’ first release – you can now edit your PowerPoint slides directly on your iPad at no cost whatsoever.

Oh, and Microsoft show no sign of stopping. Their next release, Microsoft Sway, looks to be embracing the tablet market too. Heck, they’ve even used an iPad in the sneaky peek ad:

BTW – we’re proud to be Beta testing Sway at the moment so more on this interesting new approach very soon…

So in summary, there’s no getting away from it – Microsoft want you to use their Office suite app, no matter what make of tablet you’re holding in your hand. Bad news for vendors like SlideShark and people making a living out of HMTL5 conversions, but great news for customers. Happy days indeed.

* The question remains – when and how should you be using your tablet device most effectively when presenting? Simply because it’s a tablet, looks cool and is easy to carry around doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the job. In our next blog, we’ll look at how and when to use your tablet device to best affect.

Most B2B presentations are failing (and here’s why)…

November 13th, 2014 by Jayne Thomas

The vast majority of B2B presentations are not fit for purpose – scary but true.

Leaving this key sales tool unloved is a sure fire way to miss out on opportunities, damage your reputation and give your competitors the advantage. Ignore your presentation at your peril!

Eyeful’s Simon Morton is here to share some tell-tale signs that you could be missing out on sales as well as giving a few ‘insider secrets’ on turning up the sales power of your presentation.

Not sure if your presentation is fit for purpose? Simply contact us for a chat or download our Sales Enablement Whitepaper.

A Personal View on Eyeful Europe

November 5th, 2014 by Simon

The launch day excitement regarding Eyeful Germany has slowly subsided here at Eyeful Towers. The pre-launch fine-tuning, spell-checking and frantic conversations about foreign language Search Engine Optimisation has given way to a post-launch zen-like state.

This short breather has allowed me some time to ponder Eyeful’s growth overseas. Frankly, an international presence was never part of the plan – a quick glance at what could be loosely described as a business plan from 10 years ago makes no mention of expansion overseas whatsoever.

So why, after 10 years, have we ended up with presence in North America, Russia, Ireland, Holland and now Germany? Some of it was grabbing hold of the opportunity when it arose (Russia and Ireland), some of it was planned (Holland) and some because our customers demanded support over there (North America).

Some of these international experiments have been a great success, some less so. The difference? An appetite to challenge the status quo and push presentations forward – some parts of the world have it, some don’t (yet).

Which brings me to the excitement I personally feel for our expansion in Europe. Despite differences in language, cultures and (for the foreseeable future!) currency, the UK feels more aligned to the countries of Europe than anywhere else in the World. In much the same way as when I started working with Sander in Holland to build out a team of presentation experts back in 2011, expansion of our offering into Germany doesn’t feel like a ‘land grab’. It’s deeper than that – it’s more akin to building the team than breaking new ground.clogs

In my opinion, much of this comes down to culture. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some huge European based brands over the years and have spotted a pattern around a shared culture.

Irrespective of language (the majority of our Presentation Optimisation engagements are carried out in English but many aren’t) there was a common understanding that the work we were doing was important, valid and relevant. European customers truly recognise the value of great presentations and are hungry to look beyond our undoubted design skills to something more involved and ultimately satisfying*. It’s no coincidence that the concept of The Presentation Landscape came from a tour of businesses in Holland.

Hence the excitement as we open up new opportunities in Europe – the shared enthusiasm for great presentations is infectious. It’s driving us to raise our game, throwing more time, energy and resources at innovating on behalf of our customers. Europe is awash with businesses that want to push audience engagements past the trite ‘storytelling’ and ‘lipstick on a pig’ techniques of old and grasp new approaches such as Blended Presenting. Their hunger combined with our insight and experience can only benefit audiences across the Continent.

Our experience shows that Europe is ready for the challenge…and so are we.

* It’s interesting to note that sales of The Presentation Lab in Europe dwarf those across the rest of the World. Some of this could be attributed to local marketing (our own and the publishers) but I wager a general appetite to think beyond PowerPoint slide design also has a part to play.

The Lee Jackson Book Review

November 4th, 2014 by Simon

The fine people of Yorkshire have a reputation to uphold. Purveyors of great tea (a ‘proper brew’), birthplace of the Yorkshire Pudding and a pride in their bluntness.

To mangle a quote from Frances Hodgson Burnett:

“It is a Yorkshire habit to say what you think with blunt frankness”.

So, it was with a little trepidation that I received a video review of The Presentation Lab from venerable presentation expert and full time Yorkshireman, Lee Jackson.

Phew… Thank you, Lee.

If you want to know what all the fuss is about (and what it is about the book that makes the likes of Lee burst forth with compliments), download the first chapter here for free (and then order via the usual outlets).

Last Year’s Halloween – An Apology

October 31st, 2014 by Simon

12 months ago, we reported on the downright petrifying monster that is Presentationstein.  Frankly, we were rather pleased with ourselves in what we saw as a public service, bringing the abuse of previously loved presentations into focus.  More importantly, we hoped that our spotlight on this important issue might help alleviate some of the suffering felt by business presentation audiences across the world.

We thought we were doing the right thing…but we were wrong.  And we apologise.

12 months on, we recognise that this simple, well meaning blog caused undue anxiety to companies large and small. Marketing departments descended into chaos as they scrambled to identify the cause of Presentationstein within their own business.  Sales leaders woke up in a cold sweat, recognising that their hotch-potch approach to presentation collateral had caused the untimely death of prospects and the shrinking of pipelines.  The list of business people impacted by our thoughtless exposé seems endless.

Again, please accept our sincere apologies if you were one of the business professionals affected by this video.

With time comes clarity and so this year, we’ve taken the bold editorial decision to run the same video report but with the following important warning:

The following video contains information, scenes and images that are likely to disturb business professionals.  If you are of a sensitive disposition or having a nagging doubt that your presentation isn’t quite up to scratch, you may wish to find a friend or colleague to grab hold of before watching.

The good news is that after reference to an acclaimed book on the subject and a series of counselling sessions conducted by trained professionals, many businesses are now delivering their messages with renewed clarity, heightened levels of audience engagement and powerful messages.

Presentationstein is no more…and audiences have never been more grateful.

Flying The Flag For Powerful Presentations…in Germany

October 29th, 2014 by Simon

It’s with a whole heap of excitement that we formally announce the arrival of our German website – http://www.eyefulpresentations.de

Eyeful Germany Website HomepageWhile we’ve been hard at work improving presentations across Europe for some time (and making quite a few friends along the way), this new development allows us to focus on the specific presentation needs of German businesses, large and small.

As part of this development, we’re delighted to welcome Thessa Roderig into the Eyeful family. Thessa not only shares the same unbridled passion for powerful presentations as the rest of the Eyeful gang but also has the unique insight of seeing it from the customer’s side of the fence.

Her experience of working with the Eyeful team on an important presentation proved so powerful that she’s decided to support our growth across Germany.  Frankly, it’s the best endorsement we can think of!

To learn more about this exciting news, check out the Podcast below or pop along to our sparkling, box fresh website here.

(Presentation) Lessons Learned from This Year’s APMP Conference

October 27th, 2014 by Simon

I had the privilege of speaking at the UK APMP event again this year. For the uninitiated, this is an opportunity for the UK’s bid and proposal experts to get together over a 3-day period and share best practice, gain insight into new developments and swap war stories.

Pontificating at the APMP ConferenceThis year I was talking through the ongoing issue of the Presentation Paradox, that peculiar state of mind that hits companies large and small when preparing for an important pitch. For some bizarre reason, preparing for this important pitch presentation is too often boiled down to a kneejerk ‘pull some slides together’ activity rather than seeing it as a huge opportunity to address any shortcomings of the bid document whilst simultaneously moving the audience to the next stage of the process.

I could rant on but frankly that’s not the purpose of this blog – I’m keen to share the lessons learned from this year’s event…

The lowly pitch presentation is getting some love

APMP have recognised the valuable part played by presentations in the bid process and now invite subject matter experts in to share their insight and knowledge. This year’s conference schedule covered both the fundamentals (technical training on PowerPoint) through to people like myself who were sharing new ideas and throwing down the presentation gauntlet to bid managers and their ilk.

This can only be a good thing – the more people think about the presentation process (from message and content through to the way it’s delivered), the greater the standard across the board. The net result is that we all benefit – presenters, audience and businesses.

New presentation technology is getting an airing

A completely unscientific straw poll during my seminar showed that the majority of businesses had tried new technology as part of their presentation process.

Top of the pile was Prezi, an innovative take on traditional slideware which, when used sparingly and at the right time, can be incredibly powerful. The flipside of this, of course, is that when used poorly and inappropriately, Prezi can be truly horrible. Delegates seemed to agree – many had tried it but few had returned to it on a regular basis for pitch presentations.

I was surprised to learn that an increasing number of high stakes bid presentations are now being delivered remotely. With the value of these bids often being in the tens and hundreds of millions, this seems a very brave thing to do! Remote presentation tools have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years (in particular video conferencing) yet I personally still struggle with the idea of building rapport and a relationship with pixels on a screen. Now this may be a personal tick I need to overcome as timescales shorten and travel costs increase but, in the meantime, if I can possibly find a way of sitting in front of an audience, I’ll bend over backwards to ensure I do.

The good news from all of this new technology and thinking is that bid presentations are benefitting from people approaching things differently. As with any development process, there will be things that people try which end up an unmitigated disaster whilst others will flourish and become ‘best practice’ for a business overnight. The key is to pick and choose carefully, making educated bets on the right approach to take for a particular audience.*

[* Gaining a good understanding of your audience is a particular passion of mine – for more information, reference The Audience Heatmap concept here].

Some things never change

Sadly there are some constants in the world of pitch presentations, one of which is out of the control of most presenters – leadtimes.

There is a consistent frustration voiced by bid teams when it comes to preparing their presentations – they’re given completely unrealistic leadtimes. One delegate shared an example of where the weighty bid document needed to be submitted by close of business on the Thursday. On the Friday, they received a call from the prospect asking them to deliver a presentation to the board and procurement team the following Tuesday.

A few things spring to mind:

  • Is this some sort of sick power play by the prospect?
  • Is the presentation simply serving as a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of the main document?
  • Is there any process in place to truly test the value of each bid or has the decision been made and the fast track presentation process simply a way of getting through the formalities as quickly as possible?

What makes this all the more concerning is that the delegate was a senior member of a bid team for a huge, well-respected technology business. Each bid is for millions of dollars and likely to underpin the strategy of the prospect’s business so surely the process should be a little more robust than this?

I don’t have an answer to this particular quandary but I do have a huge amount of sympathy for the bid professionals on the receiving end of this short-term approach. All I would do is implore the bid team not to lower their standards when preparing the pitch presentation – see it as the huge opportunity it truly represents and throw every morsel of energy you have to make the most of it.

In conclusion, the bid professionals at this year’s APMP event demonstrated all the attributes needed to create a powerful pitch presentation – an understanding of their audience, the ability to cut through the ‘noise’ of too much content and an eagerness to try new things (such as Blended Presenting) to ensure that the presentation opportunity is grasped firmly with both hands. If we maintain this forward momentum across all pitch presentations, the future is bright indeed.

Trust in Training – The Holy Grail?

October 21st, 2014 by Sally Bailey

We’ve been talking about trust a lot recently. Once the flurry of storyflows, storyboards and design concepts have died down, we’ve figured that the success of our presentation projects come down to this one simple thing – Trust.

Trust needs to be present before a client, no matter how confident they are, steps up on stage to deliver a presentation we created with them. Trust underpins the month/year/career-shifting pitch made by a nervous salesperson. Trust sits at the core of an internal presentation that communicates the need for change.

Eyeful Labs - Bubbling UnderTrust is equally important in training and coaching. It forms the backbone of any successful programme – delegates who ‘believe’ grab hold of their new skills and ideas and make the most out of them. Delegates who didn’t quite cross the threshold merely process their expenses and tidily place their course materials on the shelf next to their desk (‘shelf development’ over ‘self development’).

So how do you get it? If only it was as easy as waving a magic wand and ensuring the trust and belief of delegates but the reality is somewhat different. Trust has to be earned. There are no shortcuts or tricks of the trade – just bloody hard work.

However there maybe one exception…

Our Eyeful Labs training would seem to have an unfair advantage due to the topic in hand – presentation engagement. The quality of most presentations is, put frankly, awful – we’re typically starting from a pretty low standard in the first place. As such, by providing a simple, straightforward and logical way of improving the engagement between presenter and audience, we’re onto a winner from the word go. The very nature of the Presentation Optimisation means that improvements are obvious, discernable and repeatable.

Eyeful Labs’ combination of simplicity and process, coupled with huge (personal) leaps forward in terms of clarity and engagement means that trust is easier to win than most. The net result is that delegates are more willing to adopt Presentation Optimisation in the classroom and then have the confidence to ‘give it a go’ as part of their day to day lives, witnessing for themselves the improvements.

This trust creates a good habit that is hard to break, which is good news for presenter and audience alike. What’s not to like?

Sales Enablement is Failing Sales Teams

October 20th, 2014 by Simon

A lot of noise has been made over the last few years around the topic of ‘Sales Enablement’. We’ve added our own 10p’s worth to the debate in the past and then continued to look on with a mix of amusement and bemusement.

The amusement comes from the reinvention of something that has been around since the dawn of mankind (or at least, since man started selling stuff to their fellow man). Call it what you want but Sales Enablement, in it’s most basic form, is the development of sales tools to help sales people, um, sell.

Apologies to any sales or marketing execs who are currently sat with chests puffed out with pride – the fact that you’ve moved with the times and converted your sales collateral to work in a new ‘easy to access’ format isn’t revolutionary, it’s merely keeping up with The Joneses.

Perhaps more importantly, the bemusement comes from companies large and small missing out on a huge opportunity. All too often the excitement, investment and time spent on delivering on a ‘Sales Enablement Strategy’ overshadows the real need of sales teams. They’re not after gizmos (although I’ve yet to meet a salesperson who doesn’t like a new tech toy) – boil it down and they’re after story, structure and clarity of messaging. They want tools that will allow them to beat the competition, close the deal and take home the commission.

Frankly salespeople don’t care what platform, operating system or colour sales tools come in – they just want it to help them deliver the deal. It’s as simple as that.

Here at Eyeful we’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with companies of all sizes across a range of industries. When the topic of ‘Sales Enablement’ is touched on, sadly a definite pattern is starting to emerge. Businesses are focusing their investment in the Delivery Mechanism (tablet sales enablement tools, fancy apps or training their sales teams to become slick ‘TED’ like presenters) without recognising that they are inadvertently recycling the same trite, unconvincing and generic content. It’s a little like remaking a bad movie – if it was boring and lacklustre in 2D, it’s going to be equally boring and lacklustre in 3D.

We implore sales and marketing professionals to take a step back and think beyond the hype and quick wins that Sales Enablement promises. If businesses took a moment to review the message and content they are dishing out in various forms, the more effective this whole ‘Sales Enablement’ bandwagon might be.

As we’ve said time and time again, if your prospect’s response to your pitch is ‘cool slides’, you’ve failed. Never let the temptation of cool technology or fancy aesthetics get in the way of your audience engaging with your message. And if you’re using the ‘Sales Enablement’ tag to merely add lipstick to a pig of a sales presentation message, you’ve missed a golden opportunity…and your competition is poised to make the most of it.

Seeing The Wood Through The Trees

October 7th, 2014 by Justine

Regular readers will know that our (borderline pathological) obsession with presentations leads us to find inspiration in the oddest of places. In the past few months we’ve found help and inspiration for presenters on the Moon, behind the paint on a Picasso and on the side of the road.

Today’s inspiration is a little more accessible than a trip into space. Unless you are currently sitting in a windowless room in the very centre of a city there’s a good possibility that you can see a tree. If not, I’m almost 100% sure that you have, at some point in your life, seen a tree, so I shall press on.

There are, largely speaking, two types of trees, evergreen and deciduous and it’s the deciduous ones in particular that have got me thinking.

A well-established tree is, by and large, a sturdy, reliable kind of thing, and while it initially appears unmoving, it is actually in a constant cycle of change and adaptation.

At this time of the year deciduous trees are going through one of the most dramatic annual changes in nature. Their leaves are moving through a fantastic spectrum of colour before finally giving it all up as a bad job and falling gracefully onto the ground.

There’s a lot of complicated science going on here so please forgive my simplification. The leaves change colour because the tree takes back from them all the nutrients that they are producing and storing during the summer, this renders the leaves themselves useless and they are shed.

What’s left looks completely different, but leaves or no leaves the essential ‘treeness’ remains.

Great presentations should be planned, designed and updated in a very similar way, your key messages are the trunk and they create a solid base for everything that follows. So far so good, but it’s worth noting at this point that just a trunk does not a tree make (an attractive set of nesting occasional tables maybe, but not a tree.)

The next thing you need are stories, they act like the branches of the tree creating interest and providing a basis for further growth and adaptation.

Whatever happens from here on, if you have your messages and your stories sorted, you will always have a tree.

How your tree evolves should be up to your audience and understanding them can make all the difference to your success.

In the same way that different people find beauty in different stages of the annual cycle of change, different audiences will need to see and experience different things from your presentation. There are a thousand and one different types of audience but they largely fall into three distinct but not mutually exclusive categories:

Factual Audiences might be more than happy with the basic, essential tree, unadorned by buds, leaves or fruit.

Emotional Audiences could well respond better to an early spring version, with the captivating prospect of new life with unknown potential.

For Visionary Audiences you’ll need the whole kit and caboodle – leaves, blossom, fruit and colour in a time defying ‘all at once’ extravaganza.

Recognising and adapting to different types of audience can be quite a challenge at the beginning but as long as you take the time to identify and develop your key messages and stories you’ll always have a core presentation that you can rely on and adapt.

To find out more about how the Eyeful approach can help you make your presentations as reliable and adaptable as they need to be, simply take a look at The Presentation Lab book or pick up the phone and give us a call on +44 (0)1455 826 390

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