Windows 10 – First Impressions

October 1st, 2014 by Justine

Its two years since Windows 8 was launched and having mysteriously circumnavigated Windows 9, Microsoft is now unveiling its latest offering, Windows 10.

In our review of Windows 8 we wondered aloud whether some of the changes to the look and feel were really necessary and if they would alienate existing Windows users.

That feeling of ‘change for the sake of change’ seems to have been echoed by users worldwide and is supported by some rather damning statistics only 13.4% of desktop PC’s run Windows 8.1 and that’s significantly less that the 23.9% that still run on the now unsupported Windows XP.

It does seem like Microsoft has taken this response on the chin, Windows 10 sees the return a proper Start button and familiar menu (unlike the Windows 8 upgrade that just pretended to be one).

Many people felt that Windows 8 was too skewed towards touch screen functionality and that this bias created a much lumpier, less intuitive, interface for those on traditional PC’s and Laptops – particularly business users.

Fortunately for Microsoft most of their traditional audience still exists and is still using their products, they simply didn’t bother upgrading to Windows 8. This means that Windows 10 needs to hold the attention of Windows 8 fans and be friendly enough to persuade those that haven’t upgraded that now is the time to do so. If they fail to get the balance right nobody wins.

Early signs are good, behind the return of the beloved Start button there’s a lot more going on. A new ‘Task View’ feature allows you to display all your current apps, you can create multiple desktops and view them simultaneously and you can have up to four documents or applications open on the screen at once.

It also seems that every feature and App has been given the love it needs to work seamlessly through both a touch screen and a traditional interface and they should be able to identify and adjust to your chosen interface smoothly.

For those of you who can’t wait to get your hands on Windows 10, early versions will be made available to tinkerers in the very near future.

For the rest of us it’s time to sit back and wait for those in the know to get rid of any glitches and the really patient amongst you might like to wait until 10.1 reveals where Microsoft thinks the original is weak.

As soon as we get our hands on it we’ll be sure to let you know how it performs, but until then we’re always on hand to help you whatever presentation tools and technology you’re using.

 

Is Short and Sweet Here To Stay?

September 26th, 2014 by Justine

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of getting to the point here at Eyeful (although last weeks Ig Nobel 24/7 challenge was a bit much even for us).

Verbose business communications are fortunately becoming a thing of the past and while the odd 200+ slide, text heavy presentation still exists, you can be sure that we’re doing everything we can to consign them to history.

Keeping an audience engaged with relevant, understandable, information is the key to great business communication and nothing encapsulates this better than the ubiquitous elevator pitch.

While I’m personally a little sceptical as to whether an elevator pitch has ever been successfully delivered in and actual elevator, the concept of compressing your whole business into a few minutes clear communication can be powerful.

Our specialist presentation consultants work with our customers to achieve a similar level of clarity and purpose in their presentations and with all the opportunities that wearable technology could bring, we might not be far away from the elevator presentation.

But for those of you who still think that it’s not possible to cram everything into an easily digestible, audience friendly format it seems that a Japanese construction firm might just have the answer.

They predict that by 2050 they will have built a space elevator. Each elevator car will carry 30 people and its 59,652 mile journey into space is predicted to take seven days.

So in 36 years from now a 168 hour elevator pitch will be a perfectly acceptable option – until then our advice is to stick with a much more concise and audience focused approach!

space lift

My Kingdom For a Phone….

September 25th, 2014 by Justine

My journey to work this morning was not particularly noteworthy, the weather was average, the traffic was average and none of the others drivers did anything worthy of even light swearing.

But about 30 minutes into my 40 minute commute it occurred to me that I might have left my mobile phone at home.

I don’t consider myself to be a technophile; I’m old enough to remember when you had to be in the room to see a TV programme that interested you (and there were only three channels to choose from). So I was a little nonplussed to find a panicky knot forming in my stomach at the very thought of a day without my phone, there was even a brief consideration of whether I had enough time to go back home and pick it up (despite the obvious answer being no). I eventually settled the uneasiness by convincing myself that ‘at home’ was OK – at least it wasn’t lost, or was it?*

What’s even more worrying is that I spend the whole day sitting at a desk that has on it a computer and a phone – meaning that there is literally nothing I need my mobile for.

But technology long ago passed through the era of addressing needs – now it’s all about addressing wants.

We don’t need to constantly know what the hundreds of random people (most of whom we’ve never met and never will meet) that we call ‘friends’ on social media are up to, but we certainly want to.

It seems that simply having access to technology compels us access technology.

So what’s going on? Is it obsession, addiction, dependency or something altogether more (or indeed less) sinister?

A recent experiment involved 163 students giving up their mobile phones for an hour and taking a series of anxiety tests to find out if they were affected by the deprivation.

Apparently it transpires that even those of us who don’t manage to use our phones 25 hours a day (a figure arrived at by double counting the time we’re using it for more than one thing) will suffer some level of separation anxiety.

We’ve talked before about how hard it can be to engage an audience, discussed ways of turning surreptitious phone checking to your advantage and looked at whether wearable tech will have an impact on presenters and audiences. But now it seems we’ve got far more to worry about than we thought.

Talk of creating technology free zones is already stirring up the kind of angry, civil liberty, personal freedom, type responses more often seen in relation to huge social, political and legislative change but in reality trying to enforce anything is getting harder by the day.

Twenty years ago you could have asked people to turn off their pagers, ten years ago turning off phones would have done it and five years ago it would have been phones and tablets. Today you might need to ask people to relinquish phones, tablets, glasses and smartwatches to get close to the same effect. Five years from now implantable tech might just make the whole thing completely impossible.

It doesn’t matter what you think about our reliance on technology the important thing is acknowledging that it exists and understanding how to overcome the challenges and maximise the opportunities.

We talk about how Blended Presenting can help increase audience engagement and encourage interaction but maybe soon we’ll have to start thinking more deeply about Blended Spectating to make sure our stories can be heard above the constant stream of outside information.

Whatever the future of Audience Engagement you can be sure that Eyeful will be there, innovating to our hearts content and making sure that our customers are one step ahead of their competition.

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*for any of you still bothered about the whereabouts of my phone please don’t worry my husband emailed me to say I’d left it on the kitchen table and he’s put it in the cupboard above the oven (?) just in case I get home before him!

Improbable Research and an (Almost) Impossible Brief

September 18th, 2014 by Justine

Later today the winners of the 2014 Ig Nobel prizes will be announced, for those of you not familiar with the Ig Nobel awards they are given every year in recognition of scientific endeavour that makes you laugh and then makes you think.

To give you an idea of the scope some previous winners include:

2013 – Biology and Astronomy – Dung Beetles Use The Milky Way For Orientation

2012 – Anatomy – Walking With Coffee: Why Does It Spill?

2011 – Literature – How To Procrastinate And Still Get Things Done

2010 – Peace – Swearing As A Response To Pain

All thought provoking (and often completely bamboozling) stuff, but that’s not what got me thinking.

Tonight’s award ceremony will be a food themed extravaganza that includes a mini opera entitled ‘What’s Eating You?’, not one, but two ‘Grand Paper Airplane Deluges’ and a selection of key note speakers delivering 24/7 lectures.

A little odd maybe but not too far removed from a thousand other award ceremonies, until you look a little deeper and find out exactly what a 24/7 lecture involves.

Fortunately for all involved, it’s not a lecture that lasts a whole week, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

Every speaker has to cover their subject in two parts – a complete technical description in twenty-four seconds and a clear summary that anyone can understand in seven words.

You might want to take more time than that to simply ponder how this can even be possible…

We’ve talked before about the KISS principle and we’re all in favour of clear, concise messaging. There have been more than a few occasions where we’ve helped people compress over 100 slides to less than 20 and created presentations that were all the better for it. But this (in keeping with the whole Ig Nobel vibe) is something quite different.

Before we dismiss the 24/7 notion as something almost as improbable as the research these awards promote, I think it’s worth digging a little deeper.

After all modern communication is becoming more and more sound bite orientated. When so much information is readily available at the tap of a keyboard, we’re keener than ever to get down to the important bits quickly.

A few years ago nobody had ever heard of an elevator pitch and it was standard practice to produce lengthy and detailed proposals, brochures and presentations. Times have changed and business communication has become all the better for it, but I’m pleased to report that I can’t see 24/7 coming to a boardroom near you anytime soon.

But the next time you settle down to consider a presentation it might be worth giving it a go, just to see whether you can, you might find the results quite surprising.

If it all seems a little too intimidating for you, our specialist presentation consultants are always on hand to help our customers define and refine their messaging to create presentations that get straight to the heart of their audiences thought and concerns.

IgnobleFor those of you panicking that your presentation might be a little too verbose it’s also worth remembering that you’re never going to have to present in the face of the Ig Nobles very own Miss Sweetie Poo, who, as can be seen above, takes to the stage when acceptance speeches run over their allotted one minute and repeats the phrase “please stop, I’m bored’ until they do.

A New Face On An Old Friend? Watch This Space

September 9th, 2014 by Justine

The internet is currently buzzing with gossip and speculation about the future of the smartwatch. I have to say that the whole thing feels a little bit odd to me, many of my friends stopped wearing a watch when their smartphone started happily telling them the time and date. Watches were stripped of their singular functionality and became relevant only to traditionalists and the fashion conscious.

I personally feel aggrieved that having left me as often the only watch wearer in the room the tech giants now want to deprive me of the opportunity to tell people (on polite request) that it’s five and twenty to three. Not only that but it seems having a watch that only tells the time could soon fall into the most uncomfortable of classifications, retro chic.

After over a decade of promise wearable tech is now starting to make an impact. We recently looked at the potential of Google Glass and it seems that lessons have been learned with smartwatch tech visionaries and developers are considering both function and form in order to avoid the ridicule faced by Glass wearers. Apple have been making headlines by recruiting four of the biggest names in design and the debate about what their smartwatch will look like is as heated as the one about what it will do.

Early adopters are already spoilt for choice and some of the tech giants are well into their second and third generations and are working on moving the smartwatch away from being a smartphone peripheral to becoming a stand-alone gadget. Whatever your thoughts on where it will end there’s no denying we’ve come a long way from the original Casio calculator watch (much admired icon of 80’s geek cool and now strangely back in vogue).

It does however remain something of a niche market, so what difference, if any, will Apples (highly likely and eagerly expected) foray into the marketplace make when it comes to modern business communication?

At the moment I can see very little impact on the horizon, in fact the whole smartwatch phenomenon seems to be sitting contrary to recent thinking on how effective 24/7 communication actually is. Huge industry names are already starting to try and rein in their employees ‘enthusiasm’ for continual communication. Value is being given to time spent ‘off grid’ and the difference between ‘available’ and ‘useful’ as an employee is a hot topic.

I’m feeling a little controversial today and I think we need to consider the fact that no matter how advanced smartwatches become, it will be a long time before they are much more than another swish looking piece of tech that conspires to create a distraction.

Great communication happens when everyone involved is engaged, in real time, with the conversation.

Many presenters already accept that they will be facing audiences that contain the kind of email addicts and social media enthusiasts who are compelled to continue communicating to the online world rather than paying attention to the real one. It’s no longer seen as rude to take or make a call during a meeting and many people still feel that leaving an email un-answered for an hour will cause some sort of unspecified cataclysmic event that will lead to their eventual destitution. It won’t.

Communicating through rather than via this ever increasing array of technology tempts presenters into to creating something so awesomely stunning that their audiences won’t dare to take their eyes off it for a single second. Or maybe you can set about hijacking all that tech and making it part of your presentation? If every device in the room is pulled into your presentation, your audience will have no choice but to pay attention. Unfortunately neither of these will achieve anything other than a huge investment and a righteously confused or thoroughly annoyed audience.

Your presentation needs to be more interesting than their email, more compelling than their facebook account and more important than a call from their optician. It needs to connect with them on a personal level, address the issues they face and position your solution as an easily actionable way to improve their situation.

Achieving this sounds quite daunting but it’s largely about using old skills in new ways – which brings us right back to watches.

I can never recall an incidence when I have rebuffed a request for the time. I once did just point to the time on my watch while my mouth was full of food, but I’m confident that the addition of a vaguely apologetic facial expression and a half smile still made the whole interaction effective for both parties. I also know that asking for the time with a quizzical expression and a tap on the wrist works well where talking is inappropriate or impossible. And I’ll never forget the look on the face of a small and very annoying child who was confused into silence by being shown the obviously bamboozling face of my analogue watch after his 638th request for the time.

This is the kind of simple interaction that forms the base of every great presentation and no matter how complex the content is you should be striving for the same results and fortunately for you that’s exactly what we’ve spent the last ten years helping businesses do.

To find out how to hone your presentation into an efficient device that achieves a stated task (rather than a multi-functional one that fails all round and detracts from its main purpose) simply give us a call.

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Nice People Saying Nice Things – O’Brien Contractors

September 5th, 2014 by Justine

O’Brien Contractors are a well-established business providing civil engineering and ground working services. Their ethos is centred on the marriage of cutting edge technology and traditional family business values.

With a history of providing great, specialist services they understand that if you want the best, you need to consult an expert.

Here, O’Brien Director Phil Griffiths talks about his experience of working with Eyeful…

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Reviewing the Reviews

September 4th, 2014 by Justine

Its six months since The Presentation Lab book hit the shelves and our initial nervousness about how it would be received has (almost) passed. Quite a few of our friends and customers have commented on how useful a resource it is but we’re realists here at Eyeful and we know that the real test is what people we don’t know think about it.

Many of us read reviews as part of the decision making process and we know that people who write reviews have two distinct areas of motivation. Reviewers generally share their thoughts because they are either delighted or incensed, reviews of a ‘not bad at all’ nature are fairly hard to find and part of the fun of reading reviews is the search for the hidden subtext and skewed perspective that may have spawned them. We know it’s practically impossible for the same hotel to be both disgusting and delightful; reviews are by definition subjective and occasionally tell us much more about the reviewer than the subject.

Reading reviews about something that you’re invested in is an odd experience. Yes, the book was written by our MD Simon Morton, but what it contains is important to us all. It’s the methodology that sets us apart from our competitors, enables us to produce engaging presentations time after time and keeps us enthusiastic about the task at hand. This is the stuff that keeps us all in gainful (and generally enjoyable) employment.

We know that our customers love what we do and that it gives them a real advantage, but our customers know us too, they’ve experienced our passion and expertise first hand. Putting all that into a book is like sending it out into the world completely unsupervised with no responsible adult to shepherd and support its journey. Finding out whether it can stand alone and succeed is nerve racking to say the least.

So, how is it fairing out there all alone in a big, bad world?

Well, despite the obvious temptation to bust the first rule of reviewing and say ‘not bad at all’ we’re going to have to shed some of our traditional British reserve and say ‘pretty damn good’. The fact that people seem to like the book is lovely, but the fact that people are putting the ideas and methodologies into practice for themselves is even better; in fact it’s bloody brilliant!

We love that one reviewer read the book and decided not to do a traditional presentation at all, we’re thrilled that people found a presentation message that works for all types of communication and we feel a small burst of pride every time the words ‘useful’, ‘accessible’ and ‘practical’ appear. It’s also worth noting that Simon felt it a personal triumph when a reviewer cited his ‘sense of humour’ as a selling point.

All in all it seems that The Presentation Lab is doing us proud just by being itself, which makes it a bona fide member of the Eyeful team!

Presentation lab soft copy

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.

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.

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