New Horizons For The Presentation Lab

August 28th, 2014 by Justine

In the last ten years we’ve worked with customers on every continent except Antarctica. Working in new territories is always exciting and we’ve (mostly) enjoyed facing the challenges and opportunities that international working brings.

Our presentation consultancy service works so well because we take the time to get to know our customers, their businesses and their competitive environment and when this involves a new country it often throws up some interesting considerations.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, we’ve been almost tripped up by cultural differences, learned to assume nothing about emerging markets and occasionally experienced some amusing diversions caused by language and terminology.

When we made our first forays into Russia we soon found out that the phrase ‘Death By PowerPoint’ has only a very literal translation and through our blog comments we know that ‘Giddy as a Kipper’ is not a phrase that travels well (if at all).

What we do know is that everyone we work with has the same goal – to improve their presentations and make new and lasting connections with their audiences.

Almost as soon as The Presentation Lab Book was finished we learned that it would be printed in Spanish as well as English, which at the time caused almost as much excitement at Eyeful Towers as the book itself.

Just this week we have learned that the book will now also be available in Korean so we donned our ‘enquiring minds need to know’ hats and set out to find out more….

The first surprise came from learning that despite it being an isolate language (one that has no known relationship to any other language) there are approximately 80 million speakers worldwide – which is quite a big audience to get to know!

The Republic of Korea is home to the first cloned dog; an Afghan hound named Snuppy and has the second largest Chocolate Museum in the World. Every year people travel from around the globe to experience the Boryeong Mud Festival and Gangnam Style is the most watched music video of all time. All very interesting, but what about business?

Well it seems that Korea has lots of surprises here too. The 2014 OECD Pisa tests ranked South Korea as having the best education system in the world and that’s not the only place they excel. Soeul is ‘the bandwidth capital of the world’ with residents benefitting from an infrastructure investment that gives them the fastest internet connection on the planet and in urban areas 100 Mbit/s services are the average standard, and are currently being improved. Korean car manufacturers were the first to offer (and honour) extended warranties and Korean made electronics are household items around the world.

It seems fair to say that Korea is one of the big boys when it comes to impacting global commerce, they’re not about to rest on their laurels and they love chocolate, which makes them just the sort of people that we love to work with.

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Innovation In Action – The Presentation Lab Comes To Life

August 22nd, 2014 by Justine

As its Friday afternoon and all our UK friends and customers are looking forward to a three day weekend I thought it might be a nice idea to share a little more of our ever popular innovation.

In this little gem Hannah took inspiration from stop motion animation to bring The Presentation Lab book to life.

The result is both captivating and quirky and about as far away from Death By PowerPoint as it is possible to be.

If this doesn’t send you into the weekend with a smile on your face I’ll be very surprised….

To find out more about how our expert designers can bring your presentations to life simply get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help your presentation realise its full potential.

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Life’s a Pitch

August 20th, 2014 by Justine

The publication of The Presentation Lab Book has given us the opportunity to get in contact with some really interesting people who share our hopes and dreams for the future of presentations.

Having gamely resisted the temptation to set up a secret support network where we can quietly geek out about presentations to our hearts content, we decided that the best thing to do would be to spread the word in a valiant attempt to assimilate our ideas into normal society and improve the world of business communication, one presentation at a time.

One of the lovely people who got in touch was Boyd Blackwood, producer and host of Life’s a Pitch. Like us Boyd is working hard to get people to think differently about how they communicate. Boyd shares our belief that pitching and presenting are part of every business interaction and the skills needed to succeed should not be confined to official meetings in dusty boardrooms.

So when Boyd wanted to interview Simon to find out more about the man, the company and the methodology behind the book, Simon was more than happy to join him and share a little Eyeful love with his listeners.

Boyd interviewed Simon over two podcasts, both of which are available for free by clicking on the image below.

In the first podcast (episode 013) Simon debunks some presentation myths, explains how Audience Heatmaps are increasing audience engagement and talks about why presenting is a privilege and should be treated as such.

The second podcast (episode 014) covers Audience Pathway, Blended Presenting and ponders on why so many presenters feel the need to be so shy about their all-important call to action.

LAP2020

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What Pitch Dropping can tell us about Pitch Presenting…

August 15th, 2014 by Justine

Pitch (the tar like substance) is one of the slowest moving things around. It sits somewhere in the murky hinterland between solid and liquid and scientists have proven that getting it to do anything of interest takes a very, very long time.

Pitch (the ‘oh bugger they want to see us on Wednesday, what are we going to do?’) business kind is at the polar opposite of the action/reaction spectrum. It can evoke panic in even the most level headed of presenters.

So how on earth can the first type help us with the second?

It’s not about pitch itself but rather more about its place in one of the longest running scientific endeavours in the world – The Pitch Drop Experiment. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular phenomenon it involves waiting for some apparently solid pitch to fall through a funnel. As you might imagine this is not a whistles and bangs kind of experiment, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

The School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland began their experiment in 1927 since when it has dropped only nine times, In fact the custodian of the experiment for over 50 years Professor Mainstone never saw the actual event. In 1979 a drop fell at the weekend, in 1988 he was fetching a drink when it happened, in 2000 a video camera set up to record the event failed.

In fact it wasn’t until 2013 that anyone managed to capture a pitch drop on film and that honour was taken by a similar experiment set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin. In April 2014 the Australian drop was not only filmed but watched live on line by thousands of enthusiasts.

The scientific reaction was best summed up by Dr Shane Bergin, a physicist and senior research fellow at Trinity, “Eventually, when our one was caught on camera, it provided the world with a kind of scientific ‘Aaaah’ moment,” he says. “As in, finally, we see it!

Everyone knew the pitch was dropping but until they saw it for themselves it was difficult to make a personal, emotional connection to the event.

Business pitches face a similar problem; it’s relatively easy to explain the theory behind your product or solution, to provide statistics to back up its qualities and to regale your audience with how it has been successful at other times and in other places.

But what your audience really needs is the equivalent of seeing the drop fall for themselves.

They need to be able to experience your pitch in a way that connects with them, and they don’t have 86 years to hang around.

Getting it right is about understanding their viewpoint, motivation and situation and then placing your solution right into the heart of their world.

Unfortunately these are things that get the least consideration when panic sets in.

Eyeful and our sister company Sales Engine are on a mission to make sure that every pitch contains that moment. The pitch process can be an arduous journey littered with an unnerving trail of consonant ridden acronyms and intimidating processes that conspire to make the final scene, when you actually get in front of the decision makers, much more intimidating than it needs to be. Having experts at your side on every step of the journey makes a real difference.

So if you’ve got an upcoming pitch and you’re a little concerned that your drop is a long way from enthralling its audience simply pick up the phone, and while the professionals work their magic you can take a step back and possibly find a little time to enjoy the progress of the latest drop (ETA 2028).

pitch drop blog

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Innovation in Action – The Eyeful Crowd

August 13th, 2014 by Justine

It would appear that the recent unveiling of our new innovation page has caused quite a stir.

Aside from quickly becoming one of the most popular pages on our site it’s really started people thinking about exploring the capabilities of PowerPoint.

It’s no secret that we have a huge soft spot for PowerPoint, we’ve tried support groups, cognitive behaviour programmes and aversion therapy, but all to no avail. It’s time to admit that our obsession continues simply because PowerPoint can do such amazing things – in the right hands. Like any tool it’s only as good as the person wielding it and we’ve got some pretty impressive wielders in our midst!

But the secret of what we do goes much deeper, after all visuals only make presentations great when they’re valuable – if they add nothing to the messaging or have no relevance to the audience they’re worse than useless – they’re a distraction.

Having a strong and engaging narrative is so important that even when we’re messing with visuals we’re thinking in stories – which is another reason our innovation page is making such an impact.

There is always a risk involved with letting people see ‘work in progress’  but this is Eyeful and we’ve never been great at keeping great ideas to ourselves. Fortunately for us, it’s becoming apparent that while some of our innovation pieces are very much diamonds in the rough, people are already honing in on their inner sparkle.

On top of that seeing their innovation pieces on the site has also prompted our designers to get even more creative. There’s some really exciting stuff in the pipeline and it’s getting more and more challenging to keep anything at all under our hats.

In fact it’s so hard we’re failing.

So, without further ado, here’s the latest helping of innovation, an animation created by Lorna in PowerPoint and inspired by a comedy classic…

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Valuable Visuals are Nothing New

August 7th, 2014 by Justine

In 1914 the world was in crisis and nobody could predict the horror that was to come.

Communicating serious messages clearly and effectively was imperative and the drive to encourage enrolment in the armed forces was a real and urgent priority. The Parliamentary Recruitment Committee set about producing 150,000 posters featuring Lord Kitchener to communicate their very real need for recruits.

kitcher wordsI’m going to take an educated guess that the image above is not the one you were expecting.

In September 1914 a graphic artist called Alfred Leete was asked to design a cover for London Opinion magazine. This is the image you were expecting…

kitcher no wordsLeetes background in visual communication gave him the ability to create an image powerful enough to emotionally engage its audience and be easily recognised 100 years later.

Its impact was so great that it was immediately adopted as an official part of the war effort. The poster itself seems to have had a very limited distribution, it’s rarely seen in contemporary photographs and very few originals exist today – but its impact far outweighed its circulation.

It’s hard to reconcile the quality of an image that did its job so well with the realisation of what that job led to and the fate of so many of those who responded to its call to action.

On its own it is just a poster – a sheet of paper with an image and some text. It’s an object that was carelessly discarded, pasted over and left in damp cupboards until the mildew consumed it.

But, in context, it is one of the most powerful and in Eyeful terminology valuable visuals ever produced because it still has the power to make emotional connections, long after so many of its original intended audience have paid the ultimate price.

 

 

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PowerPoint And iPad Get Even Friendlier

August 5th, 2014 by Justine

It’s been a few months now since PowerPoint and iPad got together after one of the longest ‘will they, won’t they?’ debacles that business presenters have ever had to endure.

After such a convoluted build up expectations were high but our initial excitement was tempered with a fair degree of disappointment. Our resident übergeek Matt Roper ran the whole thing through its paces and his review identified some annoying omissions.

Matt lamented the loss of functionality in several areas and it’s almost as if someone, somewhere was listening….

The Office for iPad 1.1 update includes some great stuff that iPad users everywhere will be really pleased to see and behind the headline about exporting to PDF there are some great presenter tools too.

The ability to play videos in PowerPoint was a particular sticking point and that issue has now been addressed (much to Matt’s relief).

The custom show issue may still be an area for concern although the news on hyperlink updates gives us a little ray of hope that everything is moving in the right direction.

Also a word of caution – while viewing a PowerPoint presentation on an iPad is now a viable (if occasionally frustrating) option; creating one is still a pipedream.

While the reasons for this are, I’m sure, deeply technical and devilishly complex, I’ll leave you with Matt’s words of wisdom on the subject “creating and designing a PPT on an iPad – that would be silly!”

Fortunately the team here at Eyeful have a number of tricks and tips up their sleeves to make sure that our customers can use their presentations in whatever format suits them , and their audience, the best – simply contact us to find out more.

ipad blog

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Because All Presentation Are Not The Same…

August 4th, 2014 by Justine

When people think of presentations they tend to think of them as all being very similar in both structure and design.

Unfortunately for audiences everywhere many of the elements that began the whole furore about ‘Death by PowerPoint’ are still alive and kicking. Text heavy slides still run unchecked through boardrooms and bullet points fly freely around auditoriums while audiences try to wish themselves out of the whole sorry experience.

But thanks to the effort of the revolutionaries and reformers (ourselves included) these things are becoming rarer. Presenters now know that creating engaging, audience centric content is the way forward. Stories are all important and slides are there to support, not hinder, interactive communication.

So far, so good.

But this is no time to rest on our laurels, presentations are still failing and modern audiences have higher expectations too.

It’s time to stop concentrating on the things that all presentations need and start looking at making progress in a more specific, targeted kind of way.

Every type pf presentation has its own pitfalls and opportunities and understanding how to not just cope with, but actually take advantage of, them is the next step to presentation Nirvana.

With this in mind we’ve restructured our website to provide ‘one stop information shops’ that help our customers get straight to the heart of their subject and audience without falling into the trap of repeating past mistakes.

To find out more about any particular type of presentation simply click on the links below or give us a call on 0845 056 8528.

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The Curse of the Conference Call

July 31st, 2014 by Justine

Regular readers will know that we often talk about the Presentation Landscape and try to help our readers understand that presenting isn’t all about standing in front of an audience with a carefully prepared deck.

The best communicators understand that every business interaction is a presentation; even sharing new ideas informally can be more done more effectively if you apply some presentation best practice.

Before you dismiss that as unnecessary advice think about a child trying to persuade a parent to get them a puppy by arguing that it will help them be more responsible and get more exercise. These are not the reasons the child wants the puppy (those are mostly to do with cuteness), but they are the reasons they think their parents (the audience) will want to hear and will (please, please, please) respond to.

Childhood puppy requests should always be listened to with a huge amount of scepticism and it’s important that solid terms are negotiated before a parent even thinks about giving in, which tells us two more important things. Firstly that we have an inherent instinct to communicate in ways that will best engage our audience and secondly that even when we’re not doing business we’re using the same kind of skills and instincts.

So, presenting less formally or presenting without slides is easy because we can trust our instincts and rely on our natural ability to connect and negotiate.

Unfortunately this whole theory seems to fall flat on its face when it comes to conference calls.

It seems that once the people you are trying to communicate with are more than a few feet away all the things we know about engaging and negotiating are thrown out of the window.

Getting a conference call right is about understanding that it is part of the Presentation Landscape and not just an easy excuse to look busy. Rising to the challenge involves all the key presenting skills – know your story – know your audience – be clear with your messaging – make your call to action transparent and concise.

There are no revelations here, yet so many conference calls fail to achieve anything other than inactivity, annoying snapshots of people’s personal lives and uncomfortable silences. Unfortunately this is because they can easily fall into the same ‘no need to bother, it isn’t really important’ abyss that is also often home to Internal Presentations and without help, that’s where they’ll stay.

The clip below is both amusing and toe-curlingly uncomfortable to watch, but the sad thing is that at least some parts of it will ring true with anyone who has ever been on a conference call…

How we do business today means that conference calls are a necessity and businesses that work to understand where they sit in the Presentation Landscape and address the challenges they present will be better placed to take advantage of the opportunities they bring.

If you’d like to know how the creation of a great presentation can be beneficial to all your business communication simply download our free Sales Enablement Whitepaper or give us a call.

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Innovation from The Labs

July 29th, 2014 by Justine

It’s our job to get our customers excited about their presentations and to do that, we need to get excited ourselves.

Part of that comes from the time we take to get to know our customers, their businesses and their audiences and part of it comes from our natural (and slightly odd) tendency to get excited by presentations as a whole. The last (and perhaps most important) part comes from the time we take to let our minds wander off on any available presentation tangent and then tinker incessantly until we can bring our visions to life.

Until recently this process has taken place in a largely secretive way with our experts grabbing a few minutes between customer projects to fiddle about and see what they can come up with. While this process wasn’t nearly as grubby as I’ve just made it sound, we thought it was time to make the whole thing a little more proper.

So we set aside some time in the Labs for our dreamers and visionaries to bounce ideas off each other and then we gave them the opportunity to go forth and see what they could produce.

It’s fair to say that the whole endeavour is turning out to be a rather good idea, a room full of presentation enthusiast firing on all cylinders is truly something to behold and some of the mad ideas that have been batted around have turned into really interesting stuff – so much so that we’ve decided to dedicate a new page on our website to showcase the results.

The Innovation page forms an integral part of our latest web update (more of which I’ll be blogging about later in the week) and we’ll be updating the content every few months, so don’t forget to check back.

blog inn(Please note that neither Eyeful Presentation nor any of its employees or associates bears any responsibility for cessation of productivity and/or addiction brought about by the playing of Lil Phil – you have been warned!)

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