Archive for the ‘PowerPoint’ Category

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.

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.

Review and Compare

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…

 

Breaking News! New version of PowerPoint…

Friday, February 6th, 2015 by Matt<

PPT

Sorry if I seem like an over excited 5-year old on the night before Christmas, but I’ve just heard there is a new beta version of PowerPoint to play with!

You may have heard recently how Microsoft have decided to skip Windows 9 and move straight to Windows 10 – apparently they have this great idea to integrate a start button?!

Well it’s not just Windows that’s getting re-worked, the full Office suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are getting updated too – and as Eyeful’s resident ubergeek you can only imagine how excited I am to put a new version of PowerPoint through its paces.

For many people reading this, there is a reasonable chance you are still running Office 2007 or 2010 – if it’s 2003 your IT department should bow their heads in shame. And you might not yet have tried out the rather excellent PowerPoint 2013 (see here my review part 1 and part 2).

Microsoft really made some waves with PowerPoint 2013 so I’m very eager to see if they read my PowerPoint wish list in a previous blog and actually implemented any of my ideas for the new version?

If you fancy road testing the new Office Beta – it’s a requirement to sign up to Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview. The website categorically states you should…

Really know your way around a PC and feel comfortable troubleshooting problems, backing up data, formatting a hard drive, installing an operating system from scratch, or restoring your old one if necessary

And even says…

We’re not kidding about the expert thing. So if you think BIOS is a new plant-based fuel, Tech Preview may not be right for you.

Ok then! I’m now off to find a VERY OLD computer to put the new Windows 10 and PowerPoint through its paces.

Watch this space for a full review.

 

 

An Open Letter to all Business Presenters

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 by Simon<

Hello you…

How are things?

We’ve been meaning to drop you a line for a while now but held off sending anything too close to the chaos of Christmas and New Year for obvious reasons. The festivities are now likely to be a dim and distant memory… as are the long list of New Years Resolutions (don’t sweat it – we think a little bit of extra padding looks rather good on you, if we’re honest). Now all of those pressures are out of the way, we’d like to ask you a favour… actually, three favours. And they all centre around that one part of your job that you find uncomfortable to the point of palpitations – business presentations.

Don’t worry – we’re not after the world… just three small things that will make all the difference to your presentation, and thus to your audiences.

1. Go on, go 16:9

Let’s start with an easy one – it’s time for you to move over to widescreen. Your laptop, your screen and your projector have all made the leap over to 16:9 ratio – it’s time you took the plunge too.

Have you noticed how old films and footage looks, well, ancient on TV when it’s shown in the old ratio and has big black bars down each side? Sorry to break it to you, but if you’re stuck using 4:3 ratio for your PowerPoint and Keynote, your presentations are going to look equally old fashioned.

But it’s more than simply keeping up with the Joneses. Blog picMaking the move over to 16:9 gives you more room to play with on your slides – create white space and let your slide breathe! Use the extra width to develop visuals that engage your audience! Heck, deliver slides that look like they belong in this decade!

If you’re responsible for stuff like corporate PowerPoint templates at your workplace, sort it out pronto and your colleagues will love you forever more. If you’re one of the users stuck with ye olde PowerPoint 4:3 template, harass the marketing team until they see the error of their ways (perhaps send them a link to this blog to speed things up) and make the move over. If they dig their heels in, whisper in their ears that the default ratio on the latest version of PowerPoint is now 16:9 – the world has changed and it’s time for them to catch up.

 

2. Don’t lose your nerve

We’ve spotted a bit of a pattern on important presentations. At the very start of the process, presenters (yep, you) are full of good intentions. You embrace the concept of ‘less is more’ both in terms of content on a slide and slide count, full of vim, vigour and determination that this time it’ll all be different – no bullets, valuable visuals and a clear audience-centric message. It’s shaping up to the best presentation you’ll ever deliver – happy days.

The problem is that as time marches on, you start to lose your bottle. You start to sprinkle a little more detail here and there, sticking in a complex diagram to demonstrate that you’ve really put the hours into the research and tweaking your message so as not to rock the boat.

Often, because the stakes are so high, you make the fateful mistake of opening up your presentation to committee. This truly is the death knell to any chance you had of developing a powerful presentation. By all means, call upon your colleagues for feedback and collaboration but never EVER rescind control – it’s your presentation… own it.

Collaboration = good

Committee = unmitigated disaster

Now don’t get us wrong, friend – we know that standing up and delivering a presentation this important is gut-wrenchingly stressful but don’t fall into the trap of compromising and diluting it as D-day approaches. Go back to the ideas that were the catalyst for version 1 of your presentation – the structure and message, the carefully chosen supporting content and the simple but effective visuals. Granted, they may not have been perfect but they’re likely to be a much purer more focused set of slides than the watered-down, ‘safe’ and ultimately homogenous presentation you’ve ended up with.

Go on – be brave, have faith and don’t compromise (your audience and your message deserve it).

3. There’s more to life than PowerPoint

Granted, this one might require a small leap of faith (call it a leapette). PowerPoint is not the only tool available to you as a presenter. There – we’ve said it…

Presentation Landscape WheelArmed with nothing more than a good understanding of your audience, a strong message and structure and, when required, the ability to visualise key elements of your story, you can deliver a presentation armed with nothing more than a pen and napkin/whiteboard/notepad.

If you wish to get fancy, you might want to dust down the tablet you were given a couple of years back in a pique of technological excitement (it’s not just for Angry Birds). Or you might want to try the multitude of other options out there (Prezi, Powtoon, Keynote, SlideRocket…the list goes on).

We’ve never had so many options to consider as presenters so have a look around and see what works for you and your audience…and what doesn’t. And it’s this last bit that is soooo very important. Whatever option(s) you choose, it is imperative that it works for your audience.

Not you – your audience.

Playing with new technology is always fun but if the net result of your experimentation is a presentation that bamboozles your audience or leaves them thinking more about the animation effect you used rather than your message, you’ve messed up.

So there you go…three simple changes to the way you approach presentations that will make all the difference. A difference to the way you engage with your audiences, a difference to the clarity and impact of your message and a difference in the results you’re likely to get from all your hard work. What’s not to like?

Have a wonderful 2015…

The Eyeful Team x

The Power and Privilege of Presentations

Friday, January 16th, 2015 by Simon<

Ours is a ruddy wonderful job. Every day is different, every project a new opportunity to do something extraordinary.

But sometimes, certain projects jump out at you… We get the chance to work with amazing individuals who are making a massive and palpable difference to the World and the people in it. We also get a chance to flex our creative muscles, think outside the corporate box and develop something that does more than make us proud – it brings a lump to our throats.

Our recent work with MRC Technology is a case in point. Their unstinting energy and enthusiasm to work alongside peers to address the spectre of dementia is awe-inspiring. The fact they came to us to help them spread the word to the most influential medical professionals and government ministers is a privilege we don’t take lightly.

#thepowerofpresentations

Cult TV – GamesMaster (or should that be PresentationMaster?)

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by Simon<

It’s the Friday before Christmas and there’s a very good chance you’re doing one of the following:

  • Tearing around like a wild thing in an attempt to get everything completed before the festivities truly kick in.
  • Nursing a sore head and vowing to never attempt ‘Wuthering Heights’ again at the company Christmas karaoke.
  • Warming up for a day of gentle social media-ing accompanied by a sprinkling of computer solitaire whilst hoping in vain that the phone will ring.

Whichever pre-Christmas state you find yourself in, the Eyeful Elves are here to help make the day fly past a little quicker. Our design team decided to have a play with green screen video-ing and the video capabilities of PowerPoint and pay homage to one of the finest TV shows to ever hit UK screens – Gamesmaster.

If you’re a Brit of a certain age, the memories will come flooding back. If you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck we’re talking about, Wikipedia is here to help.

Either way, grab a coffee/antacid, sit back and relax as we welcome you to the unnerving world of PresentationMaster:

Merry Christmas!

 

The Eyeful Gift Picker Guide

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 by Simon<

You braved the Black Friday crowds yet came out with nothing more than a few bruises. You scouted the net on Cyber Monday, contributing to servers falling over left, right and centre yet your shopping basket remains empty.

There’s no doubt – finding the right gift for your loved ones at Christmas can be stressful however the team at Eyeful bring good tidings! We’ve created a Gift Picker that will point you to some very fancy present ideas for your nearest and dearest. Simply click here to download the PowerPoint show (yep…PowerPoint!) and let the shopping begin!

The Technical Stuff

Yep, this was all done in PowerPoint by Hannah, one of the lovely and rather talented Eyeful Design Team. We could bore you with the incredible clever way we used triggers and hyperlinks…but it’s Christmas and you should be either getting drunk with colleagues at the company party or dressing a tree in tinsel whilst listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas Album.

Tell you what – why don’t you book yourself on one of our technical training days and we’ll tell you all about it then? In the meantime, enjoy the eggnog (and stay away from the photocopier).

Time To Take Your Tablet…

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 by Simon<

I freely admit to getting very very excited when Apple launched the first generation iPad. Yep – I was one of those geeks lining up, anxious to get my grubby geeky hands on this shiny new tech. I foresaw a revolution in the way presenters engaged with their audiences – goodbye stilted one-way presentations governed by a laptop, hello interactive and intimate conversations aided by technology rather than being hampered by it.

How wonderfully naïve…

Yes, there were headlines aplenty heralding the fact that large organisations had equipped their salesteams with iPads. Yet dig a little deeper, ask the direct question and most would admit to never really getting presentations up and running as they had hoped. It wasn’t their fault – the lack of an elegant PowerPoint on iPad tool (Keynote was alien for most business users, conversion to PDFs seemed a cop-out, while apps like Slideshark were fiddly and never quite ticked all the boxes) meant that the promised new age of presenting spluttered, staggered…and then conked out in many organisations.

Don’t get me wrong…iPads were proudly unveiled in meetings in those early days but only to demonstrate how technically savvy an organisation was. It was about showing off the latest tech but heaven forbid you actually use it to share information or engage an audience…

The net result? Legions of salespeople used their iPads as bigger version of their phones – great for email, contact management and Angry Birds.

Fast forward to the present day and (whisper) we might finally be getting near the Promised Land. We now have a fully functioning PowerPoint app that will work well on iPad, Android and Surface tablets, we have audiences that have got over the giddy excitement of seeing a tablet device for the first time and we have presenters who now recognise that sometimes less is more.

Office Apps

So when to use your tablet? Consider the following:

Where on the Presentation Landscape are you..?

We now present in a range of different environments and to a range of audiences as part of our everyday life. The cosy chat with an audience over a coffee is different to standing up and orating at a conference…and the tools we employ for these different engagements need to reflect this.   We coined the phrase ‘Presentation Landscape’ in The Presentation Lab (available online and from booksellers of repute) to demonstrate the difference between Formal presentations (think: conference or bid pitch), Interactive (think: account management sales review) and Informal (think: sharing information over a coffee).

Your tablet fits very nicely into Interactive and Informal presentations but can be a bit of a handful in Formal environments. You can boost the presentation power of your tablet further by making it interactive and turning it into a toolkit, something the latest version of the PowerPoint app makes easier than ever. Happy days…

Tech or No Tech?

No matter where you are on the Presentation Landscape, sometimes it’s better to simply step away from the technology and engage your audience differently. As business people, we have fallen under the spell of technology and now firmly believe that a presentation isn’t a presentation without a set of slides or jaw-dropping animations to accompany it.

It’s time to step away from the tech and find other ways to engage your audience. Hard copy visual documents can be powerful, engaging and provide a strong structure for the presenter to lead the audience to their conclusion (great for small formal groups and interactive presentations). Consider sketching out your ideas (whiteboard for formal presentations, back of a napkin for the cosy coffee conflabs) or demonstrating your product rather than showing slides that talk about it.

Yes, we understand how much you love your tablet…but sometimes you’re better off without it.

Fit To Drive?

Presenting via a tablet is a completely different skill to delivering a laptop presentation. Outside of the technical differences (limited shortcuts, the fact that an innocent swipe of the screen can spell disaster for a nervous presenter), we need to be aware of the different form of engagement that comes with tablet presenting. It’s more intimate, both in terms of seating position and presenting style. Naturally this has its benefits in terms of engaging and building rapport with an audience however it can also spell disaster in the hands of a clumsy, underprepared presenter.

Ask yourself the question – do your presenters know how to deliver a tablet presentation confidently and effectively? Educators are ahead of the curve here – they understand that using tablet technology is a powerful way of engaging their student audiences but recognise that the technology is only part of the solution. Take time out to coach them on what good looks like – not only will your presenters be forever grateful but, more importantly, your audience deserves it.

Microsoft wants you…and your tablet

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 by Simon<

The progress of technology is relentless…and the world of presentations is no exception.

Only a couple of years ago, presenters who wanted to share their message using an iPad or other tablet faced a number of complex and time-consuming options.

Some presenters persisted, firm in their belief that delivering their message in this way was the right approach*. For a number of years we helped these brave souls pointing them in the direction of solutions like SlideShark and, latterly, converting PowerPoint files into iPad friendly HTML5 file formats. It wasn’t particularly slick or flexible but at least people were able to present to audiences using their fancy new devices. Others, frankly, looked at how complex things had become and decided not to make the leap, sticking to the tried and tested (some may say ‘old hat’) ways of presenting.

Whichever side of the new technology battle lines you may have found yourself, the general consensus was it was all a little confusing.

The good news is that with the introduction of Microsoft’s PowerPoint iPad app, the confusion has lifted. After years of rumour, whispered conversations and anticipation, the gang in Redmond unleashed their Office suite of apps on an overly excited world…for free (but with some restrictions). Each of the Office apps duly rushed to the top of the Apple and Android download charts…and stayed there for some time.

The good news got a little better a couple of weeks ago when Microsoft announced that they were taking off some of the restrictions that had caused a few grumbles on the apps’ first release – you can now edit your PowerPoint slides directly on your iPad at no cost whatsoever.

Oh, and Microsoft show no sign of stopping. Their next release, Microsoft Sway, looks to be embracing the tablet market too. Heck, they’ve even used an iPad in the sneaky peek ad:

BTW – we’re proud to be Beta testing Sway at the moment so more on this interesting new approach very soon…

So in summary, there’s no getting away from it – Microsoft want you to use their Office suite app, no matter what make of tablet you’re holding in your hand. Bad news for vendors like SlideShark and people making a living out of HMTL5 conversions, but great news for customers. Happy days indeed.

* The question remains – when and how should you be using your tablet device most effectively when presenting? Simply because it’s a tablet, looks cool and is easy to carry around doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the job. In our next blog, we’ll look at how and when to use your tablet device to best effect.

Innovation in Action – The Eyeful Crowd

Wednesday, 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…