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).

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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.

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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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Eyeful Presentations – On Standby During The Commonwealth Games…

July 23rd, 2014 by Justine

This evening sports and pageantry enthusiasts will be settling down to watch the opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As we know from the 2012 London Olympics the next 11 days will include much to educate and inspire audiences and athletes.

It’s easy to think of the Commonwealth Games as a poor relation to its bigger, brasher cousin the Olympics, but the challenges are the same on every level. Every athlete is trying to give their very best, every spectator is expecting to see sport at its highest level, every person involved in bringing it together is invested in its success and every sponsor is hoping to get the best possible ROI.

Which reminds me a little of how an important presentation comes together…

Here at Eyeful Towers we love a sporting event, and having fully recovered from The World Cup we’re gearing up to enjoy whatever Glasgow brings. To get into the spirit of the thing we’ve all taken a few minutes to find out which sports would suit us best via the entirely scientific channel that is the online questionnaire and the results have been rather interesting.

Should England need to fill a Hockey field in an emergency, we’re (apparently) more than able to help out. We can also (in a dire emergency) swell the ranks in Badminton and take on other Commonwealth hopefuls in both Wrestling and Judo… and we have in our midst a couple of the best disguised athletic throwers you could ever hope to meet.

Which, by my reckoning, makes us exactly the kind of team playing, tactically astute, ready to get stuck in, self-disciplined, multi-talented people you’d want helping you with your next presentation…

Whatever triumphs and tribulations the Commonwealth Games brings, you can rest assured that we won’t be waiting in vain for a call to step in, we’ll be concentrating on what we do best – helping our customers make lasting connections with their audiences.

Commonwealth Stadium

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Internal Presentations – How To Make The Difference

July 22nd, 2014 by Justine

The second webinar in our 2014 Summer Season focused on the often neglected area of Internal Presentations.

It’s really tempting to think that Internal Presentations aren’t important, after all most of your audience has to be there and their expectations are probably low, so why waste the time and effort?

Getting it right begins with understanding that you’ve already invested in your presentation, 20 employees away from their desks for an hour has a tangible but hidden cost and wasting that hour will not help you demonstrate any ROI…. Take an Internal presentation to a conference and that hidden investment can be huge.

Internal presentations also have the power to set the standard for communication within your organisation and setting that standard high will have a positive effect on how your team communicate with each other and, more importantly, with your customers and prospects.

Not only that but a clear, engaging, well delivered Internal Presentation can even tame that trickiest of beasts – office gossip.

To find out more about why Internal Presentations matter and how you can use them to communicate much more than simply the information they contain click below to hear our Internal Presentation webinar.

If you’d like to know more, get in touch and one of our specialist presentation consultants will be happy to show you just how effective your Internal Presentations can be.

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The Words That Took A Man To The Moon (And What He Said When He Got There)

July 21st, 2014 by Justine

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.

Whether you believe it was one of the greatest examples of just what the human race can achieve or prefer to think that it was flung together in a back lot in Hollywood, there is still much for the modern presenter to think about.

While the motivation behind landing on the moon was largely scientific it became something much more, getting to the moon was about showing off – which nation would have the ingenuity, resource, finance and let’s be honest, sheer kahoonies to get there first?

The stage was set seven years earlier when US president John F Kennedy gave his address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort. You may not be familiar with the speech in its entirety but I’m pretty sure there’s a phrase you will probably have heard “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.

This one sentence played a large part in swaying the American public into believing that the moon was an important goal, a justifiable use of limited resources and a profoundly patriotic endeavour – one sentence allowed a nation to dream and mobilised vast resources to achieve a goal with little or no quantifiable ROI.

If every sentence was that powerful, I’m sure that presenters everywhere would need to be more thoughtful about what they said.

But the linguistic inspiration doesn’t stop there.

At 02.56 GMT on July 21st 1969 Neil Armstrong used just 12 words to convey an event and a feeling that no-one listening could begin to comprehend (and one of those was lost in transmission). “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” is an oft quoted phrase because it achieved what all great communication aims for – complexity through simplicity.

Only 12 people have actually walked on the moon, yet many of us feel some connection with, and understanding of, the experience because those words encapsulated the whole thing so graphically.

If every sentence had that power to create that depth of empathy and emotion, presenters everywhere would need to be more careful about what they said.

Words themselves have no power at all, but the phrases that marked the beginning and the end of the race to the moon share something that every presenter can use to their advantage.

Both phrases were delivered with an integrity and an intensity that connected with their audiences emotionally.

Emotional connections are often dismissed as being a bit ‘touchy feely’ – they’re borderline new age gobbledegook and not at all business like. But in the race for customer engagement addressing your audience on an emotional level can make a huge difference to how they relate to you and your product or service.

Here at Eyeful we’re at the forefront of understanding the why and how of emotionally connecting with your audience. The Presentation Lab book has a whole chapter dedicated to achieving this (page 210) and we’ve developed a methodology we call Audience Heatmaps to help you find the right balance.

Not every presentation will have the power to loosen the purse strings at Congress or inspire a million children to dream about rockets, but you can make a difference to your audience, simply by understanding them better.

Simply pick up the phone or drop us a line to find out more…

moon

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