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.

smartwatch

 

Share

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…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Share

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

Share

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.

korea blog

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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…

Share

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.

 

 

Share

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

Share