PowerPoint for iPad – The Übergeek Review

April 16th, 2014 by Matt

A wise man (I think he was wise anyway) once said the problem with the iPad is that Apple made a big iPhone rather than a small Mac. Unfortunately I think he was right.

Now I’m a PC man, I don’t own a MAC and quite frankly if you put me in front of one I’d have trouble finding the on button. But I am Apple gadget mad, I have an iPod Touch, iPhone 5 and an iPad 4 – so I know my around these devices pretty damn well. I like to explore new quirky useful apps, for example I recently turned my iPad into a touchpad remote control mouse and keyboard for my Laptop which was connected to my home TV. So I think I qualify as something of a geek.

When I heard PowerPoint for iPad was going to be released, I should have been jumping for joy and chomping at the bit to get my hands on it and have a play.

But – I’ve been here before. With this app or that app claiming to be the one to truly put an Eyeful designed PowerPoint in all its glory on the iPad only to fail time after time. The closest we’ve got is through some software called iSpring. And by close I mean 96% (my official guesstimate!) to the user experience being truly replicated on the iPad to the level it is on a PC.

Then a couple of days ago, I finally got my hands on the official Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad app and, well, it’s not all bad, but it’s not all great either!

Let’s start at the beginning.

You have just received your lovingly created PowerPoint Presentation from Eyeful, it’s all there, the message is strong, design is sleek and the animation artfully carries your story through to its conclusion…

And there you are, with a piece of collateral ready for a formal one-to-many presentation. But as we’ve preached many times, that same collateral can be reutilised and used on mobile devices. Cue the calls to put the deck on the iPads ready for next week’s marketing event.

And why not? An interactive presentation on a booth at an event, is a great way for interested people to have a play and find out what your business is all about.

An iPad is a also a powerful informal sales tool for when you step into that 1-2-1 pitch meeting and really need to get across why you are the BEST!

So, surely whacking the PowerPoint file onto the iPad is easy right? WRONG!

It’s a right palaver, but it’s getting better. And due credit to Microsoft for finally getting this app released. Well as much credit as you can give someone for turning up to the party 4 years after it started!!

You have three options to get the file onto the iPad. Firstly, the easiest and simplest method is OneDrive – Microsoft’s free cloud based hard drive. Simply drop the file onto your OneDrive account on your PC and a few minutes later it will be available to download onto your iPad, assuming you have the OneDrive app installed on your iPad. Filesize and internet speed will determine how long this process takes.

Second up and also pretty simple is via email, simply email the file to yourself. The usual file size restrictions apply. So this would rule out a lot of the presentations we create.

And finally, the most convoluted, but possibly quickest solution if your file is pretty beefy is via USB cable and some third party software called File App, which is a bit fiddly at first, but is a really useful piece of software for exploring the inner workings of your iPad.

So, one way or another you now have your Eyeful presentation on your iPad. So far so good, but how does it playback?

This is usually where the apps have fallen down over the years. In the past there have been text spilling everywhere, shapes and images suddenly in the wrong place and a lack of animation that simply put, you may as well have just converted it to PDF and not bothered.

Well, I put the app through its paces with a lovely presentation we designed that features a host of features including great design and use of images, demanding slick animation, custom shows, hyperlinks to external websites and embedded video.

And I was pleasantly surprised on hitting play, as the presentation sprang into life in a smooth and sophisticated way, the animation played smoothly, no glitches were obvious and it all felt pretty solid. A simple swipe took me through the first slides and it was like viewing a PowerPoint on a PC – it was working!!!

But then, the first fail, an embedded video sat static and no amount of tapping, pressing and holding or shaking of the iPad would get it to play. GUTTED. It was all going so well.

Then onto a slide with custom show hyperlinks which gave me the option to view some hidden slides – which failed. The custom show links were deader than VHS technology…

I skipped on through the rest of the presentation and to the apps credit the only problems I saw were the two noted above, they were pretty big problems though.

But if, like the majority of Eyefuls presentations, yours doesn’t contain custom shows or videos then this is a pretty robust solution for playing presentations on iPads. And there is some further good news, the app does support hyperlinking from slide to slide and hyperlinking to external websites…

So the custom show route can be worked around. And so long as you don’t mind requiring a live internet connection, then the videos could be hosted online and streamed outside of the presentation. Get stuck in slow internet area though and expect the video to buffer.

Speaking of internet connections, further good news… when you initially add the presentation file to the iPad it stays on the hard drive of the device, meaning you don’t need to be connected to the internet for playback. An absolutely critical box ticked.

So, all in all, it’s not a perfect iPad  solution – but there is enough capability there to make the PowerPoint for iPad app a viable presentation playback solution.

In terms of editing and creation, the word fiddly doesn’t come close. Whilst a lot of functionality is there, a lot isn’t. Making it pretty pointless in an age where your sole piece of hardware isn’t going to be an iPad.  It’s far easier to create and edit on a proper PC or Mac.

The most I would be comfortable doing would be tweaking textboxes and changing colours of objects. Changing images without breaking animation sequences isn’t an option. In fact adding or amending animation in the app isn’t supported. Strangely enough though, if animation is already present (having been added during creation on PC) then this displays perfectly. Good, but strange!

And there you go the PowerPoint for iPad app is finally here. Right now it’s not perfect and it did turn up 4 years late. So all in all, depending on the project it could be the perfect iPad solution. But without video, custom shows and animation it just feels like it’s only part of the PowerPoint package. So, all things considered, this Übergeek scores it 6/10, Microsoft must try harder.

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Google Glass – For One Day Only

April 15th, 2014 by Justine

Todays the day that techies in the US get a chance to find out whether wearable tech has a future in the real world as Google release some of their super specs to paying customers.

Google Glass is officially still in development but for one day only, over 18’s in the US with a healthy bank balance, a little bit of luck (and the ability to fill in a form) can get their hands on a pair to find out for themselves what all the fuss is about.

Google have been really clever in creating a buzz about the giving people chance to pay handsomely to become part of what is basically a market research exercise, but aside from that, what can wearable tech bring to business and will it be changing the presentation landscape?

Technology journalist have had their hands on it for a little while now and the results of their endeavours range from enthusiastic to bemused and if nothing else it’s given us a great insight into their daily lives.

Currently concerns seem to centre less around functionality and more around looking a bit of an idiot when you wear them and the social reaction that they can provoke.

google glass

Socially the potential of the technology is controversial, anyone wearing them will (eventually) be able to record and/or live stream everything they see and use functionality such as face recognition to summon up all the web information that’s available on anyone they see. Google have not been shy in acknowledging that their glasses need to be worn responsibly for people to avoid becoming ‘Glassholes’.

At the moment it’s quite easy to spot wearers (unless they’re socialising with Star Trek extras in full make up) but we all know that Moore’s Law holds true throughout technology and it won’t be long before we can’t even tell who’s connected and who isn’t, especially if they swop the voice activation for optical tracking.

There’s no question that the functionality they will eventually provide can enhance the wearers experience it’s going to be in identifying when it is, and isn’t, appropriate to wear them that will provide the real challenges.

So what about business?

As we’ve discussed before the way people do business is changing, formal meetings have given way to informal conversations and deals are done without people ever meeting, but the one thing that remains the same is the trust needed to build business relationships. People do business with people, and the way those people interact makes a difference to the outcome.

We’ll all admit that the first thing we do when we hear from a potential customer is type their name and the name of their company into a search engine to find out more. Where are they based? What do they do? How big are they? What kind of culture do they have? These are all questions that will help us work more efficiently with them. But that search will occasionally throw up something else, a derogatory blog, disparaging review or a facebook image of them after one too many cocktails for example. And it might just be me, but sitting across the room from them while they do this through their glasses feels a bit raw, like a root canal without the anaesthetic. And if I’m doing the same there may well be an air of internet jousting that doesn’t feel like the basis for a great working relationship.

So far the whole thing feels a little alien and it should, because having access to vast swathes of information about everyone you meet and everything you see in real time is, if we’re honest, a little weird, we’re human beings and we rely on intangibles like instincts and experience to help us decide what and who we like.

But it’s not all big brother doom and gloom.

The ability to share your presentation (or more probably parts of it) with people as part of an organic conversation is important in modern business communication and with Google Glass you can do that, and although passing your specs to them reeks a little of primary school tomfoolery it’s certainly going to be something they remember.

And as the technology progresses there will be new ways to allow them access to your presentation, wifi transfer from your glasses to theirs for example. Or maybe one day your glasses will be able to project a 3D presentation onto a table top in the ubiquitous departure lounge and maybe (if you’re really lucky) no one will say Help me Obi-Wan Kanobi, you’re my only hope……

No one really knows where this technology will go and whether it will become the equivalent of a laserdisc or a smartphone, but here at Eyeful we’re always on the lookout for ways to help our customers present, and communicate, more effectively so you can be sure that we’ll be among the first to tap into its potential.

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Visually Speaking, The Signs Are Good

April 14th, 2014 by Justine

The power of visuals is something that pervades everything we do here at Eyeful. When we optimise a presentation it often involves taking concepts or data and developing a visual that clearly expresses the content and it’s very often a case of less is more.

With so much technology available many people are tempted to fall in the trap of using every visual trick available to make an impact on their audience but when those images are conveying information a deeper connection is needed.

In the past we’ve looked at how graphics can convey messages effectively and as today is the 83rd birthday of a seminal tome on the subject I thought it was time to have another look.

Now I’m sure some of you will be expecting me to introduce you to a long forgotten publication by an early visual innovator, and indeed when this book first hit the shelves in 1931 there were a lot of sculptors, architects, painters and designers pushing the boundaries, but you’d be categorically wrong.

Today we are celebrating the birthday of The Highway Code.

The kind of informative visual imagery that The Highway Code contains is the sort that is easily dismissed. We see road signs every day and once the L Plates go in the bin, we often pay little conscious attention to the messages they convey. But that’s where their genius lays, road signs use simple visuals to convey concepts that need to be fully received and understood without distracting from the task a hand – in this case driving.

When it comes to presentations your visuals need to perform at a very similar level, they need to communicate their information clearly without distracting your audience from your message.

There have been vast leaps forward in information technology since the road sign was invented and while we do now see the occasional variable message or ‘matrix’ signs we haven’t really welcomed them. Sometimes their information is useful but here in the UK (where we seem to have a particularly low tolerance for things we deem unnecessary) they are often derided as being a ridiculous distraction. For example the nothing-to-report message ‘Tiredness Kills – Take A Break’ is often countered with the observation that taking your eyes off the road to read the flipping sign could also be quite dangerous.

That’s why traditional road signs are a thing of beauty and should be an inspiration to anyone who wants to get their message across clearly without and causing a distraction. But before you all go splashing out £2.50 of your hard earned money on this inspirational masterpiece there are a few things that you need to consider.

The messages that road signs convey are clear and in order to get the same effect from your presentation visuals you also need to have clarity of message, it is often unnecessary to pass every minutiae of detail to your audience and decided what stays and what goes is all about understanding your audience.

Getting it wrong is easy and even the best intentions can lead to the presentation equivalent of this…

 sign

It’s also important to remember that simple is not the same as clichéd. There are some visuals that are best consigned to history we’ve seen them all before and unless the message you want to convey is ‘couldn’t be bothered to find a better visual’ they are best left alone.

Fortunately, here at Eyeful we’re always on hand to help you get it right, we have training courses to help you find out more, specialist consultants who can guide the way and the best designers in the business to bring your presentation to life. (And for those of you who’ve already opened Amazon in another tab to check out The Highway Code, we’ve a book that you might be interested in too.)

Simply drop us a line to find out more.

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Big Data – Best Served In Small Helpings

April 10th, 2014 by Justine

As a blogger I spend quite a lot of time searching the internet for inspiration, information and opinion. Sometimes I know what I’m going to write about and sometimes I’m just fishing for the spark that sets the whole thing off. This produces two things – blogs (which is the whole point) and data (which is a by-product).

Every time I access a search engine or visit a site it creates data about that interaction that is collated, sorted, stored and (occasionally) used, but this is only the beginning of Big Data as we know it today.

When it comes to marketing, data is undoubtedly useful.  It’s great to know what your prospective customers might be typing into a search engine and where they might be when they’re doing so, but the inherent problem with Big Data is in its very scope.

The internet exploration that has bought me here today will also have created some misleading data, I cast my eye over an article about using elephants as a scale of measurement, but zoology and quantity surveying are not really of interest to me.

I also read articles that I did not agree with, visited web pages with grammar that bought me out in hives and read one blog that I actually found quite offensive. So while the owners of those sites may be pleased to harvest my data and send me their next marketing campaign, I will be less than pleased to receive it.

When we’re trying to sort out what data is (and is not) useful it helps to think of it like water. Businesses rely on data that comes in a reliable, controllable stream (like a tap) sometimes referred to as Small Data. It helps them understand their marketplace in order to formulate marketing strategies and develop campaigns that target the right people. But too much data becomes a flood that overwhelms businesses hindering their progress and bad data (like dirty water) is not only less than useless, it can spoil the data around it. In this particular simile Big Data is a veritable tidal wave of information and without the capability to manage it correctly it can easily sweep away everything in its path.

From a Big Data perspective my internet shenanigans created lots more information than you might expect. On top of all the actual data I generated there’s a proportion of implied data that comes to life too. Blogging is part of my job so therefore I’m employed, a taxpayer and the proud owner of a national insurance number. I do not work from home so therefore I have transport needs. My computer uses electricity so therefore I have energy requirements. Already I’ve qualified for a plethora of marketing lists and that’s without even beginning to look at the trail of electronic communication that I create every day, or considering the fact that I bank online and my GP has a computerised system for recording my health. (I also inadvertently clicked on a link to an advert for cat food, and I don’t have a cat – sorry).

When so much information is generated it becomes fairly easy to find proof of just about any hypothesis you can think of, for example my cat food mistake could well become part of an ‘increasing demand for pet food in the East Midlands’. Data rarely allows for the foibles and failings that may create it and is always ready to trip those who may rely entirely on its veracity.

Big Data is a messy place and whether or not the thought of incessant spying keeps you awake at night, there’s still plenty to think about.

For many of the businesses that we work with the data balancing act neatly divides into two areas for consideration ‘data in’ and ‘data out’.

‘Data In’ is the stuff that will help you develop your product or service.

‘Data Out’ is about whittling that information down to the stuff that you need to share in order to persuade them to buy it.

So let’s pretend that Sid has invented an amazing new thingummy that will revolutionise how people brush their hair, Sid thinks it’s a great idea and he’s sifted through some Big Data and found out that lots of people have hair and a large proportion of those that do claim to brush it at least once a day. Sid knows exactly what the hair care market is worth and has worked out the exact demographic of his target audience and priced his product accordingly.  He’s even done some good old fashioned market research which has created some Thick Data which when added to the Big Data has led Sid to believe that there is a vast untapped market for his new triangular hair detangling apparatus (RRP £49.99, batteries not included). Sid has paid someone to develop the prototype (who have no doubt consulted some of their own data too) and travelled around the world (creating travel data) to look at manufacturing facilities before placing an initial order for 50,000 units.

Everything Sid’s done so far has been backed up by seemingly sound data and now all he has to do is get the retailers on board. Obviously all the remains is to cram all the data (Big, Thick and Small) that has bought Sid to where he is today into a lovely presentation where it will make every retailer as excited as Sid and the orders will come flowing in.

Unfortunately, that simply won’t work.

The data that Sid collated and used is more than likely interesting only to Sid. It’s also quite likely that any data which didn’t reinforce his obvious excitement regarding his genius invention was ignored and /or replaced (apologies to Sid here, he is an otherwise upstanding and honest citizen). What the retailers need to know is how Sid’s fango dango new device will sit within their product range, how it will appeal to their customer base and whether the supply arrangements and costs are right for them. No problem at all, Sid has all that data too, just add it in to the presentation and we’ll be onto a winner.

But that won’t work either.

Because data is like water a great presentation should contain just enough, served in the right way, to efficiently quench your audiences thirst. Too much data and they’ll struggle to swim through it.

Balancing data is a tricky business and when it comes to presentations there’s more to consider than you might think. Audience Heatmaps are important in understanding which data to include and which to discard. Incorporating data into your story can be challenging and displaying data in a way that engages might well involve using infographics, graphs or charts.

As we know the presentation landscape is also changing and presentations are becoming less formal and more interactive making it even trickier to communicate raw data effectively.

Here at Eyeful we’ve been challenging concepts on presentation content for a while now and managing Big Data comes naturally to us. We’ve developed ways to help our customers identify the data that matters to their audience and then express it in a way that engages them.

We know that endless graphs and chart are soporific and that it’s easy to alienate an audience if they feel that you’re trying to blind them with science. How do we know? We simply asked them.

If you’re worried that Big Data might be drowning your ability to communicate effectively then we’d be happy to show you how your presentation can be improved with a Free Presentation Healthcheck (which will generate no extraneous data at all, but may well make a huge difference to your business).

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The Presentation Lab Launch – The Video

April 3rd, 2014 by Justine

Monday 31st March saw The Presentation Lab book released in the US and never ones to miss an opportunity for cake we had a little shindig to celebrate.

Lots of our friends and presentation enthusiasts from around the globe tuned in live to find out what all the fuss was about and industry experts shared their thoughts on the future of presentations.

The event proved much more popular than we expected and we’re still receiving registrations, so what about all those people who missed the event?

Fortunately for you, we’re all about keeping our customers happy so we’ve decided to share a recording of the event for those who missed out on the live feed.

After the main event we hosted a live twitter Q&A where one of our guests perfectly summed up initial reactions to the book….

tweet shadow

The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula Behind Powerful Presentations is available from all good booksellers ISBN-13: 978-1118687000

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Office for iPad est arrivé

March 28th, 2014 by Justine

You may like to sit down for this one.

After four years of turmoil and less than ten days after our last hopeful speculation about rumour becoming reality, it’s actually happened…. Take a deep breath everyone – Office for iPad exists!

PowerPoint and iPad have finally said “I do” and we couldn’t be more excited.

For those of us who are passionate about presentations and get a little giddy about gadgets the world just became a better place.

Tempting as it is to wax lyrical about how much of an impact this will have on business presentations and what it means for effective communications in the ever changing presentation landscape, I’m going to cut this one short.

You could spend the next few minutes sharing my excitement or reading what the tech experts have to say, but the best thing you can do right now is get downloading.

PS Now the hardware/software challenge has been sorted, it might well be time to give a little thought to the presentations themselves and we’re just the people who can help!

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The Presentation Lab – Your Questions Answered

March 27th, 2014 by Justine

With just four days to go until it hits the shelves The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula Behind Powerful Presentations is already causing quite a stir.

Friends, customers and presentation enthusiasts from around the globe are eagerly signing up for our launch event (and already enjoying the first chapter of the book).

But what about the cynics, naysayers and those who have simply given up on ever seeing (or delivering) a presentations that is anything more than tedious, why should they be interested? After all how can a book make that much difference to someone who presents only because they have to?

Here, Theo Van Dort from Inclusive Video interviews author and Eyeful MD Simon Morton to try and find out…..

 

Signing up to find out more is really easy simply click through this link for access to download the first chapter of the book.

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Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s the Presentation Lab Book Launch

March 25th, 2014 by Justine

The Presentation Lab: The Formula Behind Powerful Presentations is about to be released unaccompanied to an eagerly awaiting audience and we’d love you all to join us as we help it set sail.

We’ve pondered long and hard on just how to help it on its way. Smashing a bottle of fizz on it is obviously out of the question (no-one likes a damp sticky book) and while rolling out the red carpet is tempting, we’d have to roll it a long way to welcome all our friends from around the globe.

Fortunately, this is Eyeful and we’ve got a reputation to uphold, so we’ve hatched a cunning plan that will allow everyone to get a little taste of the book and find out what all the fuss is about.

On Monday 31st March at 16.00 UK time (11.00 EDT / 08.00 PDT) we’ll be welcoming anyone with an internet connection to join us at our virtual launch party. We’ve kept the good bits of the party experience (chatting with friends, catching up on gossip, meeting new people) and ditched the crabby bits (deciding what to wear, getting stuck with the weirdo and trying to get a cab) so that everyone can enjoy themselves.

Everyone who registers to attend will also get free access to read the first chapter of the book without ever having to find a quiet corner of a bookshop.

To get your name on the guest list simply click through this link and give us your details.

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The Presentation Lab Book Launch – Get on the Guest List

March 21st, 2014 by Justine

March 31st 2014 is going to be a big day for us here at Eyeful – it’s the day that The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula Behind Powerful Presentations officially hits the shelves in North America (the UK and Europe will have to wait a few weeks).

We’ve taken you through the trials and tribulations of writing the book and given you some sneaky peeks into what the book contains, but right now what we’d really like to do is invite you all to join us as we set it free.

With so many friends spread around the globe, a bottle of fizz and a few wilted canapés just aren’t going to be enough so we’ve decided to bypass the traditional launch party and do something much more inclusive – here’s the lowdown.

On Monday March 31st at 16.00 UK time (11.00 EDT / 08.00 PDT) we’ll be bringing everyone together for a virtual launch event. There’s no need to dress up or practice small talk all you need to take part is an internet connection and an inquiring mind. There’ll be comment from industry experts, insight into what the book is about and a live Q&A with the author.

Attendance is free and registering is easy – simply click through this link and give us your details.

Registering will give you instant access to the first chapter of the book and entry into a prize draw to receive signed copies of the book* and some other goodies too.

Presentation lab soft copy

*Eyeful Presentations accepts no responsibility regarding any increase (or decrease) in face value that signing the book may bring.

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Office for iPad – The Truth is Out There

March 19th, 2014 by Justine

Some rumours refuse to die. For example it is estimated that 7% of Americans believe that Elvis is still alive (although there is some dissension over whether he’s flipping burgers in Illinois or working undercover for the DEA). People travel around the globe in the hope of seeing paddling plesiosaurs or huge bipedal apes and I’m pretty sure that any facility that may (or may not) exist for the storage of aliens and their spacecraft must be pretty close to bursting point by now.

But as easy as it is to dismiss, or indeed subscribe to, any of these things, there’s a similar mystery that’s been bugging the presentation world for a while now, PowerPoint for iPad.

We’ve avidly followed the – will they/won’t they – can they/can’t they – it’s coming/it’s not coming rollercoaster for longer than we care to remember.

We began our voyage into this particularly murky topic full of hope that Apple and Microsoft could come together to help business presenters get the job done. We’ve looked at this conundrum from all directions, in hopeful times we’ve prodded the professionals for answers, and sought sanctuary in cloud computing . On a more practical level we’ve joined forces with others who stopped waiting and started making it work anyway and (in some particularly churlish moments) we’ve wondered whether it would all be worth the bother anyway. It’s nearly a year since Office for iPhone was launched and the hope that generated for an iPad version has long since faded.

But, like the most ardent Elvis enthusiast or committed crytozoologist, our thirst for snippets of gossip and desperation for every whispered possibility to bring hard evidence that our dream might become a reality, never really waned.

And this week the rumblings have begun again. Yesterday’s ABC Tech Bytes stuck in a sneaky reference between discussing the new 8gb iPhone 5c and the Hubble space telescope (both of which do actually exist if that’s any sort of barometer).  The stock market also seems to think there may be something of substance on the horizon with Microsoft shares reaching their highest level since 2000, but whether that ‘thing’ is Office for iPad remains to be seen. Some commentators have even stuck their necks out and given it a birthday – March 27th.

But what do Apple and Microsoft have to say about it? – not a word (pun intended).

So, here we are again teetering on the verge, of the possibility, of something we’re very eager to find out the truth about, and hopefully by the end of this month we’ll know whether it’s the real thing or just another short order cook who can hold a tune.

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