Archive for the ‘Presentation Skills’ Category

Spam Strikes Again

Monday, March 10th, 2014 by Justine<

Having a successful blog brings its own rewards, but there is a downside too.

Spammers love a comments box and trawling through nonsensical comments to find the genuine ones is a daily tribulation. As I’ve mooted before spam does have its uses and recent spamming trends have highlighted another way in which it can help us all be better presenters.

To be fair some of the gobbledegook is quite amusing and I now have an encyclopaedic knowledge of where to buy a wide variety of pharmaceuticals, niche pornography and ‘replica’ designer goods. This, in turn, has given me a handy social barometer in that should I ever be called upon to access this bank of information, I’ll know it’s time to get my coat.

Most of these spam comments are high on enthusiasm and extraordinarily low on punctuation and grammar, but there is one spam message that appears again and again like a horror film villain that refuses to lie down on the off chance of a sequel.

This particular miscreant believes itself to be a master of disguise but for anyone used to filtering this sort of nonsense it’s easy to spot, here’s an excerpt for the un-initiated:

 

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more

than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|

I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|

{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch}

your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or{newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?

{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in

order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe. Thanks.|

{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}.

 

As you can see there is some scope for personalisation here but no amount of ‘delete as applicable’ can disguise its true nature and because some spammers can’t even be bothered with that, I can tell you that in its pre personalisation entirety it runs to an impressive 1858 words.

I’m sure that this format can lead to thousands of permutations, but I can state with confidence that they are all as rubbish, formulaic and soul destroying as each other.

It all amounts to a lot of effort that communicates nothing and singularly fails to achieve its goal – in this case my pressing of the ‘approve comment’ button.

This is, of course, my cue to segue gracefully into the subject at hand, presentations in general and more specifically the dangers of sticking to what you know.

Here at Eyeful we’ve seen thousands and thousands of presentations and we know that presentations of the insert name/company/product genre are still alive and kicking (until we get our hands on them that is).

A presentation that you’ve been using for years is not the same as a successful presentation. And a presentation that is almost identical to your competitors is even worse.

Audiences are savvier than ever and business is much more competitive. Your potential customers will know exactly what your competitors are offering and your presentation needs to show them exactly why they should spend their money with you.

Presentation software and hardware has moved forward in leaps and bounds and there is no excuse for relying on old formats or wasting valuable resource on the latest tech just because it looks good.

Fortunately for business everywhere we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve that can help your presentation stand out from the crowd. Presentation Optimisation is a proven way of creating presentations that have real impact and Blended Presenting can help you make connections like never before. There’s also technical PowerPoint and soft skills training and The Presentation Lab Book to get your presentation juices flowing.

Sales pitch over, this is the real world and there’s no point spending time and money fixing something that just ain’t broke. Which is why we’re always happy to provide a free* Presentation Healthcheck to anyone interested in what we do.

We know that floating in a vast sea of mediocre presentations there are a few things of real beauty and if your presentation already shines we’ll send you on your way with a gold star and a pat on the back.

So, if you’re worried that your presentation might have a certain spamminess or that your presentation delivery might not be as good as your competitors them drop us a line and we’ll help you connect with your audience in a way that insures their approval.

Presentation healthcheck

*completely and utterly free of charge and obligation – like free things used to be.

 

 

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Good Ideas Travel Well – Great Ideas Do It In Style

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 by Justine<

Eyeful Ireland’s very own Ronan Kinahan has been hob-nobbing with the great and good of Irish politics and industry. Ronan joined some very influential figures on a recent Irish trade mission to the gulf and was thrilled by the reception.

Initially expecting to speak to around 100 delegates word had obviously got round that he was on the bill and registrations were closed at 400 attendees! Never overwrought by the scope of a project Ronan went on to speak to an enthusiastic audience about Vibe Integrated Presentation Skills before moving on to demonstrate just what Eyeful can do to elevate the communication and engagement power of the lowly slide.

Despite the whole experience having the potential to overwhelm (with a side helping of star struck and a soupcon of etiquette panic) Ronan managed to keep a cool head and his seminar was a fine example of how to get it right.

Presenting on how to present is a very singular challenge and an audience can easily be lost if there’s the merest hint of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Fortunately for Ronan and, more importantly, the 400 eager faces that awaited his wisdom the whole thing was a resounding success and created a lot of interest and eagerness to learn more.

Eyeful Ireland can help your presentations shine and you don’t even have to be in the Emerald Isle to take advantage of Ronan’s expertise, simply drop us a line or pick up the phone and we’ll make your presentations stand out from the crowd.

Ronan framed

Pictured left to right: Julie Sinnamon Chief Executive Enterprise Ireland  / Enda Kenny Prime Minister Ireland / Ronan Kinahan (Vibe / Eyeful) / John Bruton Minister for Enterprise

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The Eyeful Labs Experience (As Told By Our Lovely Customers)

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 by Justine<

Eyeful Labs has been making waves for a while now and it’s fair to say that the results are better than we could have hoped for.

Those that dare to venture into our dedicated presentation environment all tend to leave smiling and often compliment us on the quality of our sandwiches, but there’s much more going on than a nice day out of the office and a free lunch….

Here some visitors from iS Health tell us all about their Labs experience and share why it’s worth taking the time to consider your presentation in a different light.

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If you’d like to chat about how Eyeful Labs can help your company think differently about presentations (and presenting) just get in touch, we love to chat!

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Public Speaking – not as easy (or as hard) as it looks

Friday, January 10th, 2014 by Justine<

There’s not much that can get the internet buzzing quite like someone else’s embarrassment and if that person also happens to be in the public eye, then all the better.

This week has seen Michael Bay (Producer/Director of Transformers, Pearl Harbour, Armageddon et al) in for a real battering over his recent appearance at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

Michael has, in his usual, style been brutally honest about the whole thing and ended his explanation with a statement that I’m sure rings true with a lot of people who find themselves in front of an audience “I guess live shows aren’t my thing”.

Fortunately for Bay, his future as a film director is unlikely to be affected but we’re pretty sure that there are a lot of presenters out there who genuinely feel that their future might.

We’ve blogged about the art of public speaking frequently, from seeking the wisdom of Winston Churchill to sharing some professional tips from a vocal communication expert. And when it comes to the risks involved in giving a great presentation we’ve both seen and experienced what can happen when tech gremlins strike.

A great presentation needs two things, great content and an engaging presenter. The more observant will notice that I avoided saying ‘great presenter’ and there’s a reason for this. What an audience wants from a presenter is honesty and knowledge.

It’s easy for those of us sitting behind keyboards to pontificate on how he could have handled it better, but I can’t help feeling that something along the lines of “Cut. Rewind the teleprompter. Michael Bay introduces the awesome Samsung curved TV – take two” might well have showed the sort of honesty that audiences warm to. And practising without the teleprompter could well have helped him ace the knowledge aspect too.

Great presenting is not about getting everything perfectly right, it’s about making a connection and the best way of doing that is by being yourself.

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Guest Blog – Successful Speaking

Friday, November 15th, 2013 by Justine<

For many presenters the challenge of speaking is the most daunting part of the process. While many audiences will be prepared to forgive the odd verbal fumble if the presentation itself is relevant and engaging it’s still important to get it right. We asked Priscilla Morris, speaking guru and friend of Eyeful to share some tricks of the trade…

Did you realise that speaking in public is scientifically proven to be one of the scariest challenges we face? Many people avoid presenting because they fear the unknown. “I’ll forget my words”, they say or, more tellingly, “they might not like me”.

Let’s take away some of the mystique associated with public speaking and approach it as a skill that can be learnt. Yes, extroverts will always find it easier than introverts, but anyone can be successful if they understand that delivery is all-important. So how can you achieve the right balance?

1)         CLARITY
Your message needs to be clear, i.e. plan the structure with care and the vocabulary with reference to the audience.

Your delivery needs to be precise, i.e. speech should be articulated firmly, and you should have an awareness of accent, which might form a barrier to understanding.

2)         RATE
Do you understand the pace at which we process information? This varies according to size of audience and acoustics of venue, but generally, it will be much slower than you think. Unfortunately we all have internal timing, which determines our average speed. If people say you are too fast, they are really saying they cannot process the information you are giving them.

Learn to use pauses to give time for thought and to stop you gathering speed.

3)         INTEREST
Your audience will opt out if you don’t keep their interest, and to do that you have to introduce lots of variation.

We call this Vocal Modulation and it includes the use of pitch, pace, pause, power, tone and inflection.

We have a habitual way of using these but can also learn to take control and use them as markers and highlighters within a speech.

4)         SINCERITY
If you have ever heard someone reading a speech aloud, you will probably have experienced a lack of this essential element. Sincerity comes from emotion and we can only put this across by making a clear personal connection with the words.

All speakers should aim for spontaneity and this manifests itself in the ability of the speaker to convince us that they mean every word you. You should allow your personality to come through and if this is not a naturally comfortable environment for you, create a persona that takes over when you present. None of this is easy, but it all comes from the last of my tips……

5)         PRACTICE
When training, a particularly erudite professor told me, that you should do 1 hour’s practice for every 1 minute of speaking. This may fill you with horror but remember we are talking about realisation from start to finish, so it includes research and planning. However, speaking your words are aloud is also vital. If you cannot stand before your audience with total belief in your ability to succeed, nerves are likely to affect your performance. Try to work from cue cards, because a speech written out in full often sounds more like an essay.

If you take some of these ideas on-board you will give yourself CONFIDENCE – and so, we return neatly to the beginning.

Obviously, these tips are not exhaustive and space has determined that they are rather simplistic but just remember to be:

C.R.I.S.P.  when speaking in public and then you will

SPEAK YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!

Priscilla Morris is an expert in vocal communication who has spent the last 27 years as a global LAMDA examiner in performance and public speaking. Drawing on her own experience as an actress and incorporating her in-depth knowledge of the science of communication, Priscilla is in huge demand as both a speaking trainer and a public speaker in her own right. In 2000 Priscilla set up her business, Loud & Clear Voice Coaching to provide specialist training and insight to those who want to communicate effectively.

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Wise Words

Friday, November 8th, 2013 by Justine<

When it comes to great communicators there are a few names that raise little debate and with Remembrance Sunday coming up we thought we’d have a look at one of the select few – Winston Churchill.

Best known as a politician, statesman and inspiring speaker who wrote all his own material, Churchill was also a noted journalist and the recipient of a noble prize for literature.

Churchill is often cited as one of the greatest examples of ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’, but how much of his often (mis)quoted wit and wisdom can be of use to modern businesses? Quite a lot as it turns out….

On writing:

“This report, by its, very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

On speaking:

 “There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.”

 “I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.”

 “Life is fraught with opportunities to keep your mouth shut.”

 On getting your message across:

 “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

 On connecting with your audience:

“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

 “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”

 “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

 On succeeding:

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

 “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

 On presentations (probably):

 “I only believe in statistics that I doctored myself.”

 “When you get a thing the way you want it, leave it alone.”

 “Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”

And prophetically, in response to an amusing (and apocryphal) recent report of a presentation audience rounding on the presenter

 “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”

churchill

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When Is A Presentation Not A Presentation?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 by Justine<

The quick response is ‘when there are no slides’ but we don’t agree with that at all. We’ve been banging on about the power of stories for a while now but this week gave us an unexpected and, if we’re honest, unwanted opportunity to prove our point.

Monday’s Autumn sales webinar was planned with the level of pernickety perfectionism that we’re (in)famous for here at Eyeful. We’d given the whole thing the same love and attention we give to customer projects, identifying key messages, building our storyflow then developing and scripting the story itself before creating the slides that bought the visual element to life.

Then just as our eager attendees were logging in for some sales enlightenment, the tech gremlins stuck – we could see our lovely slides but our audience couldn’t, and no amount of frantic button pressing at our end made the slightest bit of difference.

Many great presenters have faced similar issues and our intrepid MD Simon Morton wasn’t about to let this hiccup derail the whole enterprise, after all, if we’re right and the story is more important than the slides, it wouldn’t matter at all.

Or would it??

As someone who regularly gets sucked into the murky world of metrics I’m rarely impressed with statistics but here’s one that I’m very proud to share: only 2 attendees left the webinar when it became apparent that we were unable to placate the gremlins.

Any presenter would consider that a successful event, but when it comes to demonstrating the importance of stories it’s a resounding endorsement of our belief in the concept of ‘Stories Not Slides’.

Just to put the icing on the cake of this particular bout of smugness, the webinar was repeated later in the day and the tech gremlins were nowhere to be seen, yet all the complimentary emails received at Eyeful Towers were from attendees of the earlier session…..

And if that’s not food for thought on how a presentation can engage an audience through strength of story alone, I don’t know what is.

For the sceptics amongst you, here is the webinar in full.

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Why Apple always make an impact

Thursday, September 19th, 2013 by Justine<

This week is a big one for Apple. Yesterday they released iOS7 into the ether and tomorrow sees the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C go on sale in the UK.

But the products themselves are not the exciting part for us here at Eyeful.

Whatever you think of Apple products, it can’t be denied that when it comes to creating and sustaining a buzz about what they’re doing, Apple leave the competition far behind.

Apple products are distinctive but that’s not the secret, the secret lies in how Apple presents those products to the world. Apple have moved from niche market innovators to mass market providers by knowing and growing their audience.

There have been glitches along the way and even the late, great, Steve Jobs has contended with audiences that were less than enamoured with his message. But overall Apple has kept their audience on side by knowing what they want and communicating with them in a way they respond to.

Apple product launches have become events in themselves, they appear seamless and unforced but it has been well documented that behind the scenes it’s a different story. Every technical part of the show has a back-up for its back-up and every word and action is rehearsed and rehearsed before the audience even knows the event is taking place.

Apple uses a very simple presentation formula: the product, the presenter, the slideshow and the audience.

There are very few people who would refuse the opportunity to make the sort of presentation impact that Apple does, indeed many have tried to emulate them and failed because the simplicity of it all can be intimidating.

But just like the production, the simplicity of the presentation belies its true nature.

You might think that as a presentation design company we’re about to have a five minute rant on how much more exciting the slides could be, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The slides are the least important part of the presentation, without a powerful, engaging story and a presenter who knows what they’re doing the slides would be useless, however visually fantastic they were.

The thing is we’re not just a presentation design company, we’re a presentation consultancy company too. We help our customers get right down to the heart of their proposition and understand their audience because that’s how engaging stories are born, the slides that tell those stories are simply a means to an end.

Apple demonstrates to everyone just what a difference this approach can make and you don’t need a multi million pound budget to achieve it either, just a little Eyeful expertise can make all the difference.

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If Martin Luther King Jr had used PowerPoint….

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 by Justine<

Fifty years ago this week Martin Luther King Jr delivered a speech that was designed to change the world – and it did.

You don’t need to have a particular interest in equality, civil rights, politics, religion or history to know what I’m talking about, ‘I have a dream’ is one of the most often quoted, misquoted, emulated and parodied speeches of all time.

Presenters everywhere yearn for such clarity of message and can only dream about the levels of engagement this speech achieved. Not only that, the speech included one of the ultimate calls to action of all time, one that people are still responding to half a century later.

But what if PowerPoint was his communication tool of choice?

Martin Luther King’s aide was quoted as saying”the logistical preparations for the march were so burdensome that the speech was not a priority for us, on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 27, Martin still didn’t know what he was going to say”. Something we call the presentation paradox.

And if that’s true then his presentation might have looked something like this.

But we don’t believe that this could have happened because King had mastered the two key components of every presentation:

He knew his story.

He knew his audience.

Not only that but if he was to have used PowerPoint we bet that the presentation would have been as powerful as the speech.

How can we be so sure?

Martin Luther King Jr was not just an enigmatic speaker, he was a planner and a strategist who gathered a band of experts around him to help him achieve his goals and if PowerPoint had been part of the plan he would have sought the best help available.

And we’d like to think that might have been someone like us.

Most of the presentations we create don’t change the world, but they can change the opinions and perceptions of your audience, if the quality of the presentation truly communicates the quality of the story.

MLK

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Selling With Stories

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by Justine<

Nestled between the excitement of holidays and the anticipation of Christmas, autumn is a challenging time of year for sales teams everywhere. It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm as the nights draw in and the leaves begin falling – but there’s still work to be done, and targets to be met.

Webinar logoMany of you will be about to embark on the annual trawl through the lost opportunities of spring but before you pick up the phone it’s time to review why they were lost in the first place and what new offering you have for them. Maybe they have decided to defer their investment until next year or maybe you just failed to make a connection, and if you couldn’t connect in spring, how will you connect in autumn?

Many sales teams will have been using the same collateral for almost a year and that’s a long time in business. Products and services change and evolve constantly and your customers’ needs and expectations do too.

Here at Eyeful we know that making your sales team achieve that final push is easier than you might think, all it takes to breathe new life into lagging sales is a little fresh thinking.

With this in mind we’ve put together an autumnal update webinar designed to breathe new life into sales teams everywhere.

We’ll help you understand your audience better, reinvigorate your sales, explain why slides are out and stories are in and give you all the tips you’ll need to communicate effectively anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

It’s not about airy fairy strategies and fanciful ideas, it’s about the stuff that works and brings real results.

It’s free to attend simply click through the links below to register and we’ll help you make those sales.

September 30th 12.00 GMT

September 30th 17.00 GMT

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