Archive for the ‘Customer Stories’ Category

Story Season – 6 Real Stories To Inspire Creativity

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 by Matt<

We know what it’s like… We’ve all been there sitting in front of either a blank PowerPoint Screen, or worse still, spent hours crafting a presentation accompanied by a nagging thought – could it be better? Could it be clearer? Why are there so many damn bullet points?

Part of the problem is knowing what PowerPoint can do (and take my word for it PowerPoint is one of the most over abused, under-appreciated and downright powerful pieces of desktop publishing software available to every man and his cyber dog).

The truth is that PowerPoint is capable of soooo much. At Eyeful our designers are graphic experts – they know how to get the most out of PowerPoint (and when to use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to really enhance the slides they create).

But lest we forget, no matter how much time and effort we pump into a PowerPoint slide, it should never, ever be just about making it solely look good. Good visuals only work if they are there to support strong stories. In fact it all becomes a little ‘chicken and egg’ – the more planned and structured your story, the bigger the scope and opportunity for creativity in slide design. It’s a match made in heaven.

After some inspiration? Why not check out the series of customer stories from our Irish and Dutch offices and take a moment to view these from two perspectives:

Firstly the story – these videos exist to show potential customers what Eyeful is like to work with, what we do to help our customers and the difference our involvement makes.

Then from a visual point of view – the visuals perfectly support the message (and, as if to prove a point, the only program used to create them was PowerPoint!).

rsz_3netherlands_pics

rsz_2ireland_pics
Inspired? We certainly hope so (and if it any point you need some help, you know where we are).

Story Season – What Is Your Favourite Customer Story?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 by Matt<

In this week’s edition of Story Season we join the Eyeful team for the final time as they reveal their own favourite presentation that used story in a significant way.

In here we have some pretty interesting examples, ranging from a book tour presentation for “The Wisdom of Phsycopaths”, how a brewery used a time travel concept and a presentation that tells the story of Noah’s Ark in a very visual way…

And we’ve included clips of the actual presentations so you can really see how it’s possible to merge story and presentations together.

We hope you enjoyed the video and found some motivation and ideas on how to take your next audience on a journey through your own presentation story.

If you need any help with authoring the perfect presentation story, then just get in touch.

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.

 

 

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.

A Very British Question…

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 by Matt<

We Brits hate talking about money. I don’t proclaim to know why, it’s just one of those things.

Be it discussing what we get paid, how much our car cost or how much we spent on our wedding – it just doesn’t feel right to talk about MONEY!

But is it the same for businesses?

When it comes to searching the net for a particular product or service, I absolutely hate it when a company goes into great detail about something – but then the price is nowhere to be seen.

As I’m then forced to call them, have the uncomfortable conversation about MONEY, usually then to find out we are poles apart anyway.

And what about business presentations? We were recently asked:

Do you think costs, prices or fees should be an integral part of a proposal presentation, or left in the hard copy version handed over at the end?

Well, the answer is: it all depends on the most important aspect of your presentation – your audience.

Considering specifically ‘proposal presentations’, these are slightly different beasts to other presentations, as it could be that the price is absolutely expected or it may even be a formal requirement of the tender process.

If this isn’t the case, you really need to consider who your audience is and weigh up if you think the cost or price should be included and when.

In our very own Simon Morton’s book, The Presentation Lab he goes into detail on identifying and understanding your audience with the aid of audience heat maps. This is a good port of call if you are struggling in this area.

Here’s a potential structure to follow for a proposal presentation that does require costs:

Structure

The presentation should follow a structure that sets out the key building blocks of the product or service on offer in a visual way.

This ensures you don’t get pulled into conversations on every last detail, plus it helps you avoid trying to load slides with too much ‘non-presentable’ content.

Use Blended Presenting

Blended Presenting is essentially choosing the right presentation tool for the right moment of the presentation. So in this suggested approach, you could open with PowerPoint and then hand out hard copy print documents/pages at key stages before returning to PowerPoint.

When it’s time to reveal the price, keep the slide content pretty high level and leave the detail in the document.

The advantage of giving out, hand outs at specific times, is it keeps you (the presenter) in focus with the audience. As if you distribute the hand outs too early, you run the risk of losing the audience as they flick through and read ahead, instead of giving you their full attention.

Remember you’re not limited to PowerPoint and print outs alone, blended presenting covers a  range of tools that also includes: Whiteboards, Prezi, Websites, Product Demo’s and Videos.

Visualise Dry Topics

If you’re presenting very dry content such as costs, graphs, facts, figures or tables of information – consider taking an infographic approach.

As at the end of the day if a graph is on a slide, it must be there for a reason – it’s telling a story of some sort, so why not visualise that story and make it nice and easy for your audience to understand.

A top sales person once said to me that all of his sales opportunities are won or lost on the ‘deal’ it’s the overall package that makes the difference, not just the price

So consider what your ‘package’ is, combine it with the price and design it on the slide in a visual way – as this might just make the difference.

Contact the Experts

These opportunities are hard to come by and you usually only have one chance to close a deal. If you don’t want to risk it by using mixed up messages and homemade slides, then consider contacting the experts in this field.

Just pick-up phone and give Eyeful Presentations 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:

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.

 

 

 

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.

Outside 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:

A presentation tool that helps you NOT look daft, NOT lose a deal and NOT get shouted at by your boss in one easy step…

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 by Matt<

Something really embarrassing happened to me at the weekend. Perhaps in time and with counselling I’ll get over it. But all I’m saying right now is that it was in front of a LOT of people, and I looked really daft.

Standing up in front of people and looking stupid happens to us all at some point, but thankfully for presentations, there is a failsafe.  The Review and Compare feature tells you in just a few seconds if any changes have been made to a PowerPoint file since its last version.

That’s useful because, let’s face it, if you just go and grab a file without checking it and then go into an important meeting you – and your audience – might get a few surprises…

Anything from a graph with a few zero’s added here and there, or perhaps a scattering of old prospect logo’s, or something even more random like a photo of a child’s 7th birthday party (trust me, it happens..!)

You get the picture. If this happens, it’s just not going to be your day – you’re going to look bad, lose the deal, damage your reputation and your boss will probably shout at you.

An easy way to avoid such an uncomfortable fate is to always simply run through the PowerPoint before your next presentation.

Obvious, yes. Necessary, yes. A pain, yes – but it doesn’t have to be…

When you open up the file to run through it, use the Review and Compare feature, because rather than staring in detail at every single slide, in just a few seconds it will highlight where things have been changed.

To use the Review and Compare Tool just go to REVIEW on the ribbon at the top, then hit COMPARE and select a previous version to check it against.

Image changes, text being added or deleted and changed graph figures are all pointed out in just a few seconds, so save your eyes from straining at slide after slide and avoid looking daft in front of lots of people in one easy step!

If you find this is useful, or know of a red faced friend, share liberally and advise them to keep an eye out for more useful tools, tips, gadget and gizmo reviews from Eyeful. Why? Because we love to discover new handy things to make your presentation life that little bit easier…

 

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. 

So 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.

It’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

Story Season – A Prologue

Monday, February 9th, 2015 by Simon<

Occasionally the team at Eyeful Towers gets a bee in our collective bonnet. A couple of years ago we went all out to stem the overly effusive praise for Prezi* and a while before that we were getting ourselves hot under the collar about the curse of OSMCs (Old School Management Consultants).

The topic that has become the focus of our attention? Stories.

Now don’t get us wrong – we LOVE the smart use of stories and story structure in presentations. They’ve formed some of the most compelling, engaging, passionate and memorable presentations ever created. The use of ‘story’ in presentations makes a lot of sense – get it right and you’re onto a good thing…

Yet there’s a problem…and it’s not too dissimilar to the Prezi fanboy postings that created such a fuss back at Eyeful HQ.

Our issue is that people understand the IDEA of story in presentations but have little or no sense of how to INTEGRATE them into the finished product.

The net result is lots of noise, opinion and phrases like ‘narrative arc’ being thrown around with little real understanding…and minimal improvement to presentations.

Well…we’ve had enough. So over the next 6 weeks we’re going to share our views on the good, the bad and the plain confusing of story in presentations. In weekly instalments delivered via the Eyeful blog and LinkedIn, we’ll ask the people on the front line to share their experiences, look at the science behind it all and provide valuable ideas and structures for business people just like you.

In short, Eyeful’s Story Season will help you step back from the hype and take time for figure out how it can truly help you, your presentation and, most important of all, your audience. We think that’s something worth sharing…

* In summary, Prezi is great when used appropriately and designed sympathetically BUT it is far from the presentation panacea so many people proclaim it to be. Nuff said.