Archive for the ‘Consultancy’ Category

100 More Join The Eyeful Mission

Friday, March 27th, 2015 by Matt<

It’s no secret that Eyeful Presentations are on a mission to rid the world of poor presentations and when we say world – we mean it!

We’ve created fantastic presentations and helped people get better results all over Europe, America, Africa and even as far off as Australia…

This time we’ve been battling bullets a little closer to our UK home, just over the water in the Republic of Ireland.

Eyeful’s Dublin based consultant Ronan Kinahan (a training specialist) has been hard at work inspiring the minds of almost 100 sales executives in Cork to think, act and deliver differently when it comes to business presentations.

Ronan delivered a networking educational seminar on ‘personal effectiveness’ that gave thought provoking and practical advice on how to visualise content, enhance recall and the power of the value proposition.

Ronan

 

 

The key to presentation effectiveness is to achieve an equivalence of standards between the message, the medium and the messenger. All aligned with audience expectations, put simply, that’s it. Ronan Kinahan

 

 

Eyeful help businesses to tackle poor presentations through our Presentation Optimisation process and great design – we support this with training courses that help to create great presentations at the point of inception, creation and delivery.

To find out more about our training courses simply drop us a line.

Story Season – How Does Story Impact On Presentations?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 by Matt<

We now join senior members of the Eyeful consultant and design teams and continue through Eyeful Story Season with a look at how they believe story can impact on presentations.

Gain insight into if ‘once upon a time’ is an outdated concept, if a strong design can hide a weak story and hear a potential story structure that you could use when combining story and presentations.

Over to the Eyeful team…

In the next edition of Story Season the team talks about their favourite presentation examples that used story to effectively deliver the clients messages.

We’ll also include clips of the presentations to give you a little extra inspiration and so you can really see how story has been worked into real and successful presentations.

Stay tuned for this or if you’d like to speak to an expert directly, then just give us a ring on 0845 056 8528.

Story Season – What Does Story Mean to you?

Friday, March 20th, 2015 by Matt<

In this chapter of story season, we enter the Eyeful rabbit hole and meet some senior members of the Eyeful consultant and design teams and get their own personal take on how stories and presentations are linked.

In this first episode of a three part series, we share the minds of the people who work with business presentations on a daily basis. Discover how they simplify the process and gain some inspirational ideas for your own presentations.

Over to Team Eyeful…

In the next edition of Story Season the team talks about how story (or lack of) can have a major impact on presentations…

Stay tuned for this or if you’d like to speak to an expert directly, then just give us a ring on 0845 056 8528.

Story Season – Blockbuster presentations are just a few takes away

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 by Matt<

Movies and presentations aren’t that different.

OK, so maybe you’re not up for crashing on the sofa with a bag of freshly made popcorn and watching your latest pitch presentation with your better half BUT as we continue our journey through Eyeful’s Story Season, I’m going to show you how using what you already know about movies can help you create better and more structured presentations in the future.

The movie topic we’re going to explore is the Synopsis stage, or when it comes to presentations, what we at Eyeful call the Storyflow and the Storyboard.

Take a moment out and think…

If you were going to make a movie you wouldn’t just grab some actors and a camera and go shoot something without a story, without a script and no general direction. The same goes for presentations – the last thing you want to do is start off by opening up PowerPoint and trying to plan as you go along creating slides. It’s a recipe for disaster and will eat up more time than a Star Wars marathon.

So where does the road to silver screen success begin?

A movie generally starts with an idea for a story. Someone has a dream, gets inspired by real events or simply somehow has a great story idea that makes them so excited and driven that they just have to get it out of their head and down on paper.

A presentation starts in much the same way – an idea or vision.

At some point in time, somebody, somewhere came up with an idea, be it to sell something, to change something or perhaps to teach something…

Generally speaking this spark of creativity will inform the goal of the presentation – it’s what you the presenter (or your company) want to happen as a result of giving the presentation.

Back in Hollywood, the screenwriter gets the idea down on paper in the form of a synopsis, which is literally a written map of the story as a whole – where it starts, who the characters are and the journey they go on to wherever it is they end up.

I once read that a good movie should always take the audience on a journey – would it hurt to apply this to an audience who are expecting death by PowerPoint?

The flow of a presentation can be planned to take the same celluloid journey.

In our very own Simon Morton’s book, The Presentation Lab he details an entire chapter on business storytelling and offers an example of a simple story structure:

story structure - no frame

This structure is as old as the hills and has formed the basis of storytelling for centuries. As such, there’s no wonder that it has been successfully applied to both presentations and movies for many years.

Compare and Contrast

By way of an example, let’s look at the recent Hollywood blockbuster, Gravity, and in parallel, review the structure of a booking software sales presentation created by Eyeful.

Gravity

The story flow of a standard sales presentations in Putney and that of a Hollywood Blockbuster set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away are in reality, not that different.

Importantly this example should have demonstrated that using stories in presentations is not complicated and that they don’t mean that your presentation need to start with, “Once upon a time…”!

What Happened Next?

The combination of story and presentations is a powerful one – go forth and make it happen.

You can use the synopsis structure above as a guide to creating presentations in the future and make sure when you leave those hard earned meetings you’re on the walk of fame – not shame.

If you would like some Hollywood style help to get your presentations ‘in the can’, get in touch and one of our story obsessed team will be on hand to bring your next blockbuster to life.

 

 

 

The Eyefulites are growing….

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 by Matt<

Newbies

Here at Eyeful your presentations are really important to us, we put a lot of time, energy and thought into every stage of the process – which is why we’ve strengthened the Eyeful team at every step of the way to ensure your presentations are given the full care and attention they deserve.

Stage 1 – Presentation Optimisation

At the beginning of every project you’re assigned an Eyeful Consultant – they get to know your situation, understand your goals and help you create a story-flow using our tried and trusted Presentation Optimisation process.

Joining us at this stage is new presentation consultant Duncan Cranmer, based in Bristol, Duncan is as frustrated by the poor state of business presentations as the rest of us… his mission now is to help Eyeful’s customers meet the issue head on.

Duncan is highly experienced in B2B sales, having worked in a variety of sectors from software, services into the NHS and latterly in sales enablement services.

Stage 2 – Storyboard Creation

The story-flow is then turned into a storyboard – by a storyboard developer such as Sam Potter.

At this stage we always go to paper before PowerPoint, as it allows us to step away from slides and truly consider the right content to go into the visuals of the presentation.

Sam brings with her considerable experience from the retail industry, gained in a variety of roles including 2 years in visual merchandising – Sam will put these skills into practice by turning story flow documents into fully fledged storyboards – which are then turned into fantastic presentations by our designers…

Stage 3 – Design and Creation

And for this part of the process we welcome the rather artistically talented Ed Geraghty and Helen Power – who should both be congratulated for getting through an exhausting (and long running) series of phone calls, interviews and tests!

Ed has 5 years of graphic design study under his belt and has most recently been working for a Midlands based design agency.

Helen joins after being a freelance designer in the sunnier climes of Australia.

All of Eyeful’s new recruits exude an excitement and hunger to push presentation’s forward which when combined with the existing extraordinary Eyefulite team only makes Eyeful’s position even better equipped to respond to your presentation needs.

Help us rid the world of yet another poor presentation, give us a call on 0845 056 8528 and our team will be on hand to help you.

Story Season – The Tightrope of Authenticity

Friday, February 27th, 2015 by Simon<

Those who have been following Eyeful’s Story Season over the last few weeks will have spotted a theme.

Yep, we truly love the power of story in presentations. We love the heightened levels of engagement they bring, the spark they create in audiences and the unforgettable images they create. In the right hands, they are a very powerful tool.

Yet we’re also consistently cynical about those that claim that ‘story’ is a presentation panacea. Stories fall flat on their faces when used inappropriately, out of context or as a short cut to a properly thought out proposition. They are also bound to fail if they are inauthentic.

AuthenticityOutside of all the science, the scenarios and hype, there is one simple truth – powerful stories rely on authenticity. They work because they connect, forming a bridge between the storyteller and the audience, sharing emotions, experience and ideas. In short, you have to ‘feel it’ to effectively share it.

Inauthentic = Ineffective (To The Point of Being Pointless)

We see inauthenticity everywhere, from the singer who mimes their way through an old standard to the stand-up who ‘phones in’ a performance. It just doesn’t work – the connection is lost.

It’s this authenticity issue that is one of the flaws that those with blind faith in ‘business storytelling’ seem to conveniently overlook. Marketing folk beware – foisting a pre-canned, generic and inauthentic story upon a business presenter is bound to fail for the simple reason that they don’t ‘feel it’.

Too Authentic?

The power of authenticity can, of course, go the other way – some stories are simply too emotional, too heartfelt to work effectively in a business presentation.

By way of example, allow me to share a personal presentation flaw. Shortly after the publication of The Presentation Lab, I shared a story to illustrate the power of visuals. I talked about how I felt as a spotty teenager seeing the extraordinary and shocking pictures of the Ethiopian famine for the first time. I recalled the emotional rollercoaster of Band Aid, from singing along to Spandau Ballet one minute and then sobbing with millions of other viewers as we watched the harrowing CBC news report of a skeletal child, near death, struggling but determined to stand (to a devastating soundtrack of ‘Drive’ by The Cars). And then, 20 years later, that incredible moment when she was introduced, fit and healthy, to the audience at the Live 8 concert.

The story was powerful and helped audiences understand the point I was making…but was frankly too personal and emotional for me to deliver. I choked up each and every time I shared it – the story simply proved too raw for me to tell without going to pieces so in the end I dropped it. It was too authentic.

So where to draw the line? In the world of business presentations, the power of stories come from the connection they make with an audience. Authenticity is a key element in ensuring that connection is made so treat it with respect.

Oh, and as ever, put yourself in the shoes of your audience – what would help you engage better? When traversing the tightrope of authenticity, I’d take a heartfelt but shoddily told story over a slick but inauthentic one every time. Or, like Don Draper, you can strive to get the mix just right:

Story Season – Science and Stories

Friday, February 20th, 2015 by Matt<

We continue our journey through Story Season now by taking a dip in the mysterious pool of Science and Stories. You’ll come out refreshed, thinking differently and in more detail about your presentations in the future.

Which in turn will lead to you becoming a better presenter, who has a higher chance of getting the end results that those other ‘death by PowerPoint’ presenters can only dream of.

In short, to avoid these horrible gut-wrenchingly awkward situations, we respectfully suggest you use parts of ‘story science’ to help you construct more engaging and compelling presentations.  Here’s how…

THE SCIENCE OF SUBTEXT

Subtext is the story within the story. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a book, watching a movie, or receiving a presentation – subtext is right there.

Think of it as levels.

Level 1 is the story being told out loud. The words we actually hear and the visuals we actually see.

Level 2 is the subtext. The story underneath this that the audience creates based on what they experience.

In regards to the subtext in presentations specifically, our very own Simon Morton’s book, The Presentation Lab, has a chapter dedicated to ‘The Super Powers of Visual Subtext’.

In this he focuses on how slide visuals, such as a photograph or graphic, can illicit different emotional undertones with the audience. The choice of visual though really depends on your audience – more on this in a moment.

In regards the context in stories, in story development consultant, David Baboulene’s blog, he discusses subtext using (allegedly) the shortest story ever written by Earnest Hemmingway.

“For Sale. Baby’s Shoes. Never Worn.”

Ok, so ‘War and Peace’ it isn’t, but for such a short, nay minute story it certainly evokes a strong response from the reader.

There’s the melancholy interpretation, where you think that a baby has sadly passed away – or there’s the more positive humorous assessment, where you might think the baby was born with huge feet and grandma and granddads first gift was just way too small!

It all depends on how youthe audienceinterpret the story and create the subtext.

AUDIENCE CENTRIC STORIESheatmap 3

And this is where when it comes to presentations you need to be so careful and really consider your audience (and when we say ‘consider’, we mean more than just a passing thought – truly ponder what makes them tick, the dynamics within the group and why they are listening to you in the first place).

Again the ‘The Presentation Lab’ book recommends that you need to consider the type of personality the key members of your audience are and which group of Visionary, Factual or Emotional they sit in – in the book Simon uses something called Audience Heat Maps which can help build this picture for you easily.

Once you know what makes your audience tick it’s time to start thinking about what you are going to say and what you are going to show in order to create the right message and subtext.

THE SCIENCE OF STORIES

And this is where the science of story really comes into play…

Your audience, for the most part, will be living, breathing, heart pumping, brain controlled human beings. And it’s in the grey matter department that your presentation needs to be the equivalent of a Red Bull overload.

There is a part of our brain called Broca’s area. This gets switched on when we either hear someone speak or read some text, as it interprets and makes sense of the words.

Now that’s nothing to get too excited about. More interesting things start to happen when we get past this area to the Primary Olfactory Cortex (linked to smell) and the Motor Cortex (which is for planning, control, and execution of voluntary movements), with more and more areas of our brain working we start to really listen, understand, engage and get excited about whatever it is we are experiencing.

To get these areas started though, you need to really think about what’s coming out of your mouth and what’s written on your visuals.

Boring, flat, uninspiring words won’t get much past the Broca…

But start thinking a little bigger and adding more meaningful content and using words that really mean something then this is when things start to happen.

Talking about things with odours such as describing the smell of fresh coffee, or the smell of a new-born baby’s head – these will get the Olfactory Cortex activated, whereas the Motor Cortex is stimulated by words relating to movement, so perhaps relating to sport, or as specific as kicking or running.

Now it’s merely a case of marrying up the right words to get the audience’s brains going and turning it into presentation content that’s relevant…get the mix right and you’re onto a winner.

And if you package this up in a story, the audience will find it easier to digest and the scientific content of your presentation will see them constructing the information and subtext you want and heading towards the target outcome of your presentation.

Net result?

Improved engagement. Increased message retention. Presentation success.

You are now a million miles ahead of those presenters currently sitting in front of the TV creating tomorrow’s death by PowerPoint.

If you need a hand in putting this all together, just give us a call, we’re ready to help keep your presentations ahead of the competition.

Story Season – Talk About Who Did What To Whom

Sunday, February 15th, 2015 by Simon<

65% of the time we are speaking informally, we’re talking about who did what to whom…

Dunbar, R (1996), Grooming, Gossip & The Evolution of Language, Harvard 

Businesses thrive on successful communication. A simple concept but incredibly difficult to pull off. For it to work, it has to be clear, engaging and have a purpose but, a cursory review of the e-mails, presentations and meetings that swallowed up your diary last week will demonstrate that the ideal is a long way off the reality.

In my opinion, much of the problem lies with the way we’re conditioned to behave at work. Armed with impressive sounding TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), an unquestioning adherence to business etiquette and ready access to technology like PowerPoint, Keynote and Excel, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of speaking as business robots whenever addressing an audience. The net result is that we gum up the cogs of business communication and ultimately grind to an unsatisfying halt. 

Story Season 1So how to ‘un-gum’ communication to your audiences, be they internal or external? Well, one of the options is the use of story. Used carefully and selectively, story can break down the barriers built up through corporate waffle and engage your audiences in a refreshing and effective way.

Let me share a very personal story to demonstrate my point…

A couple of years ago, my business went through an unprecedented and, frankly, unplanned growth spurt. On paper it looked like great news – the numbers were growing at a truly remarkable rate and we were winning new customers left, right and centre. The reality within the business was somewhat different – the stresses of demanding customers, changing goalposts and ever tighter deadlines made working at Eyeful less than fun for a while.

The first casualty was communication – and in retrospect, the signs were there for all to see. People began resorting to email more and more. This inevitably led to people misconstruing one another’s emails more frequently, which resulted in some tense conversations. The consequence was that, in a frighteningly short period of time, key people were not really communicating or engaging with each other at all. It was horrible.

I knew I had to address the issue. So I did it with storytelling.

With so many people now dotted across the world, we had no alternative but to schedule a conference call. Not my preferred method of communication, but necessity compelled us to do so.

We had no formal agenda. No slides. No spreadsheets. No visuals whatsoever.

I also set a limit of ten minutes for the entire call.

I started by thanking people for joining the call and then recalled the vision I had for the business when I started it back in 2004: to build a company that would deliver the best possible presentation services to it’s customers through a mix of great people, smart thinking and the need to ensure that each and every member of the team feels valued, respected and engaged with the business. 

I told a few short stories of how we convinced longstanding team members to join us in the first place – Sally over a cheap pizza in London, Liz through a series of increasingly bizarre interviews and the embarrassment of having my dog pee on poor Vicki when she first visited the office. I spoke of the excitement we all felt when moving to our company headquarters, “Eyeful Towers”, the peculiar novelty of our own dedicated server and the buzz we all felt when winning each new customer.  

I underlined that these everyday things defined “Eyefulocity” and made our company a special place to work. Our customers frequently commented that they felt this in the way we supported them and each other on projects. We were living the dream.

I then shared more recent and slightly less uplifting stories – when a team member was reduced to tears as a result of receiving an angry e-mail from a colleague; when a team felt demotivated by unrealistic deadlines; and the awful feeling of fear I had one morning when arriving at the office and sensing that we were slowly morphing another “normal” company.

Ultimately the presentation was little more than a series of heartfelt but authentic stories – stories that, frankly, I’d chosen to pull at the team’s heartstrings and ensure they felt the same pain and disappointment I was feeling.

IMAG0148_1It’s all too easy to overlook the importance of authenticity in the stories I chose to share – they were stories that everyone could relate to immediately. The raw sense of disappointment expressed through the stories allowed the audience to reflect on how the changing behaviours described had impacted the business’s culture, and their colleagues and friends’ happiness. With authenticity and emotion comes real power.

Without a solitary PowerPoint slide, the presentation touched everyone on that call and set the more positive agenda going forward, something we still feel today across the business. People still refer to the “Eyefulocity presentation” today as a crucial point in our business’s development —one that, appropriately, relied totally on authentic storytelling.

So ask yourself one simple question – how can you incorporate story into the next communication you share with your audience?

For more insight into the use of story, structure and visuals as part of improved communications, check out The Presentation Lab: Learn The Formula Behind Powerful Presentations

A Personal View on Eyeful Europe

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 by Simon<

The launch day excitement regarding Eyeful Germany has slowly subsided here at Eyeful Towers. The pre-launch fine-tuning, spell-checking and frantic conversations about foreign language Search Engine Optimisation has given way to a post-launch zen-like state.

This short breather has allowed me some time to ponder Eyeful’s growth overseas. Frankly, an international presence was never part of the plan – a quick glance at what could be loosely described as a business plan from 10 years ago makes no mention of expansion overseas whatsoever.

So why, after 10 years, have we ended up with presence in North America, Russia, Ireland, Holland and now Germany? Some of it was grabbing hold of the opportunity when it arose (Russia and Ireland), some of it was planned (Holland) and some because our customers demanded support over there (North America).

Some of these international experiments have been a great success, some less so. The difference? An appetite to challenge the status quo and push presentations forward – some parts of the world have it, some don’t (yet).

Which brings me to the excitement I personally feel for our expansion in Europe. Despite differences in language, cultures and (for the foreseeable future!) currency, the UK feels more aligned to the countries of Europe than anywhere else in the World. In much the same way as when I started working with Sander in Holland to build out a team of presentation experts back in 2011, expansion of our offering into Germany doesn’t feel like a ‘land grab’. It’s deeper than that – it’s more akin to building the team than breaking new ground.clogs

In my opinion, much of this comes down to culture. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some huge European based brands over the years and have spotted a pattern around a shared culture.

Irrespective of language (the majority of our Presentation Optimisation engagements are carried out in English but many aren’t) there was a common understanding that the work we were doing was important, valid and relevant. European customers truly recognise the value of great presentations and are hungry to look beyond our undoubted design skills to something more involved and ultimately satisfying*. It’s no coincidence that the concept of The Presentation Landscape came from a tour of businesses in Holland.

Hence the excitement as we open up new opportunities in Europe – the shared enthusiasm for great presentations is infectious. It’s driving us to raise our game, throwing more time, energy and resources at innovating on behalf of our customers. Europe is awash with businesses that want to push audience engagements past the trite ‘storytelling’ and ‘lipstick on a pig’ techniques of old and grasp new approaches such as Blended Presenting. Their hunger combined with our insight and experience can only benefit audiences across the Continent.

Our experience shows that Europe is ready for the challenge…and so are we.

* It’s interesting to note that sales of The Presentation Lab in Europe dwarf those across the rest of the World. Some of this could be attributed to local marketing (our own and the publishers) but I wager a general appetite to think beyond PowerPoint slide design also has a part to play.

Last Year’s Halloween – An Apology

Friday, October 31st, 2014 by Simon<

12 months ago, we reported on the downright petrifying monster that is Presentationstein.  Frankly, we were rather pleased with ourselves in what we saw as a public service, bringing the abuse of previously loved presentations into focus.  More importantly, we hoped that our spotlight on this important issue might help alleviate some of the suffering felt by business presentation audiences across the world.

We thought we were doing the right thing…but we were wrong.  And we apologise.

12 months on, we recognise that this simple, well meaning blog caused undue anxiety to companies large and small. Marketing departments descended into chaos as they scrambled to identify the cause of Presentationstein within their own business.  Sales leaders woke up in a cold sweat, recognising that their hotch-potch approach to presentation collateral had caused the untimely death of prospects and the shrinking of pipelines.  The list of business people impacted by our thoughtless exposé seems endless.

Again, please accept our sincere apologies if you were one of the business professionals affected by this video.

With time comes clarity and so this year, we’ve taken the bold editorial decision to run the same video report but with the following important warning:

The following video contains information, scenes and images that are likely to disturb business professionals.  If you are of a sensitive disposition or having a nagging doubt that your presentation isn’t quite up to scratch, you may wish to find a friend or colleague to grab hold of before watching.

The good news is that after reference to an acclaimed book on the subject and a series of counselling sessions conducted by trained professionals, many businesses are now delivering their messages with renewed clarity, heightened levels of audience engagement and powerful messages.

Presentationstein is no more…and audiences have never been more grateful.