Archive for the ‘Presentation Skills’ Category

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.

The Lee Jackson Book Review

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 by Simon<

The fine people of Yorkshire have a reputation to uphold. Purveyors of great tea (a ‘proper brew’), birthplace of the Yorkshire Pudding and a pride in their bluntness.

To mangle a quote from Frances Hodgson Burnett:

“It is a Yorkshire habit to say what you think with blunt frankness”.

So, it was with a little trepidation that I received a video review of The Presentation Lab from venerable presentation expert and full time Yorkshireman, Lee Jackson.

Phew… Thank you, Lee.

If you want to know what all the fuss is about (and what it is about the book that makes the likes of Lee burst forth with compliments), download the first chapter here for free (and then order via the usual outlets).

A New Face On An Old Friend? Watch This Space

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by Justine<

The internet is currently buzzing with gossip and speculation about the future of the smartwatch. I have to say that the whole thing feels a little bit odd to me, many of my friends stopped wearing a watch when their smartphone started happily telling them the time and date. Watches were stripped of their singular functionality and became relevant only to traditionalists and the fashion conscious.

I personally feel aggrieved that having left me as often the only watch wearer in the room the tech giants now want to deprive me of the opportunity to tell people (on polite request) that it’s five and twenty to three. Not only that but it seems having a watch that only tells the time could soon fall into the most uncomfortable of classifications, retro chic.

After over a decade of promise wearable tech is now starting to make an impact. We recently looked at the potential of Google Glass and it seems that lessons have been learned with smartwatch tech visionaries and developers are considering both function and form in order to avoid the ridicule faced by Glass wearers. Apple have been making headlines by recruiting four of the biggest names in design and the debate about what their smartwatch will look like is as heated as the one about what it will do.

Early adopters are already spoilt for choice and some of the tech giants are well into their second and third generations and are working on moving the smartwatch away from being a smartphone peripheral to becoming a stand-alone gadget. Whatever your thoughts on where it will end there’s no denying we’ve come a long way from the original Casio calculator watch (much admired icon of 80’s geek cool and now strangely back in vogue).

It does however remain something of a niche market, so what difference, if any, will Apples (highly likely and eagerly expected) foray into the marketplace make when it comes to modern business communication?

At the moment I can see very little impact on the horizon, in fact the whole smartwatch phenomenon seems to be sitting contrary to recent thinking on how effective 24/7 communication actually is. Huge industry names are already starting to try and rein in their employees ‘enthusiasm’ for continual communication. Value is being given to time spent ‘off grid’ and the difference between ‘available’ and ‘useful’ as an employee is a hot topic.

I’m feeling a little controversial today and I think we need to consider the fact that no matter how advanced smartwatches become, it will be a long time before they are much more than another swish looking piece of tech that conspires to create a distraction.

Great communication happens when everyone involved is engaged, in real time, with the conversation.

Many presenters already accept that they will be facing audiences that contain the kind of email addicts and social media enthusiasts who are compelled to continue communicating to the online world rather than paying attention to the real one. It’s no longer seen as rude to take or make a call during a meeting and many people still feel that leaving an email un-answered for an hour will cause some sort of unspecified cataclysmic event that will lead to their eventual destitution. It won’t.

Communicating through rather than via this ever increasing array of technology tempts presenters into to creating something so awesomely stunning that their audiences won’t dare to take their eyes off it for a single second. Or maybe you can set about hijacking all that tech and making it part of your presentation? If every device in the room is pulled into your presentation, your audience will have no choice but to pay attention. Unfortunately neither of these will achieve anything other than a huge investment and a righteously confused or thoroughly annoyed audience.

Your presentation needs to be more interesting than their email, more compelling than their facebook account and more important than a call from their optician. It needs to connect with them on a personal level, address the issues they face and position your solution as an easily actionable way to improve their situation.

Achieving this sounds quite daunting but it’s largely about using old skills in new ways – which brings us right back to watches.

I can never recall an incidence when I have rebuffed a request for the time. I once did just point to the time on my watch while my mouth was full of food, but I’m confident that the addition of a vaguely apologetic facial expression and a half smile still made the whole interaction effective for both parties. I also know that asking for the time with a quizzical expression and a tap on the wrist works well where talking is inappropriate or impossible. And I’ll never forget the look on the face of a small and very annoying child who was confused into silence by being shown the obviously bamboozling face of my analogue watch after his 638th request for the time.

This is the kind of simple interaction that forms the base of every great presentation and no matter how complex the content is you should be striving for the same results and fortunately for you that’s exactly what we’ve spent the last ten years helping businesses do.

To find out how to hone your presentation into an efficient device that achieves a stated task (rather than a multi-functional one that fails all round and detracts from its main purpose) simply give us a call.

smartwatch

 

Because All Presentation Are Not The Same…

Monday, August 4th, 2014 by Justine<

When people think of presentations they tend to think of them as all being very similar in both structure and design.

Unfortunately for audiences everywhere many of the elements that began the whole furore about ‘Death by PowerPoint’ are still alive and kicking. Text heavy slides still run unchecked through boardrooms and bullet points fly freely around auditoriums while audiences try to wish themselves out of the whole sorry experience.

But thanks to the effort of the revolutionaries and reformers (ourselves included) these things are becoming rarer. Presenters now know that creating engaging, audience centric content is the way forward. Stories are all important and slides are there to support, not hinder, interactive communication.

So far, so good.

But this is no time to rest on our laurels, presentations are still failing and modern audiences have higher expectations too.

It’s time to stop concentrating on the things that all presentations need and start looking at making progress in a more specific, targeted kind of way.

Every type pf presentation has its own pitfalls and opportunities and understanding how to not just cope with, but actually take advantage of, them is the next step to presentation Nirvana.

With this in mind we’ve restructured our website to provide ‘one stop information shops’ that help our customers get straight to the heart of their subject and audience without falling into the trap of repeating past mistakes.

To find out more about any particular type of presentation simply click on the links below or give us a call on 0845 056 8528.

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The Curse of the Conference Call

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by Justine<

Regular readers will know that we often talk about the Presentation Landscape and try to help our readers understand that presenting isn’t all about standing in front of an audience with a carefully prepared deck.

The best communicators understand that every business interaction is a presentation; even sharing new ideas informally can be more done more effectively if you apply some presentation best practice.

Before you dismiss that as unnecessary advice think about a child trying to persuade a parent to get them a puppy by arguing that it will help them be more responsible and get more exercise. These are not the reasons the child wants the puppy (those are mostly to do with cuteness), but they are the reasons they think their parents (the audience) will want to hear and will (please, please, please) respond to.

Childhood puppy requests should always be listened to with a huge amount of scepticism and it’s important that solid terms are negotiated before a parent even thinks about giving in, which tells us two more important things. Firstly that we have an inherent instinct to communicate in ways that will best engage our audience and secondly that even when we’re not doing business we’re using the same kind of skills and instincts.

So, presenting less formally or presenting without slides is easy because we can trust our instincts and rely on our natural ability to connect and negotiate.

Unfortunately this whole theory seems to fall flat on its face when it comes to conference calls.

It seems that once the people you are trying to communicate with are more than a few feet away all the things we know about engaging and negotiating are thrown out of the window.

Getting a conference call right is about understanding that it is part of the Presentation Landscape and not just an easy excuse to look busy. Rising to the challenge involves all the key presenting skills – know your story – know your audience – be clear with your messaging – make your call to action transparent and concise.

There are no revelations here, yet so many conference calls fail to achieve anything other than inactivity, annoying snapshots of people’s personal lives and uncomfortable silences. Unfortunately this is because they can easily fall into the same ‘no need to bother, it isn’t really important’ abyss that is also often home to Internal Presentations and without help, that’s where they’ll stay.

The clip below is both amusing and toe-curlingly uncomfortable to watch, but the sad thing is that at least some parts of it will ring true with anyone who has ever been on a conference call…

How we do business today means that conference calls are a necessity and businesses that work to understand where they sit in the Presentation Landscape and address the challenges they present will be better placed to take advantage of the opportunities they bring.

If you’d like to know how the creation of a great presentation can be beneficial to all your business communication simply download our free Sales Enablement Whitepaper or give us a call.

Innovation from The Labs

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 by Justine<

It’s our job to get our customers excited about their presentations and to do that, we need to get excited ourselves.

Part of that comes from the time we take to get to know our customers, their businesses and their audiences and part of it comes from our natural (and slightly odd) tendency to get excited by presentations as a whole. The last (and perhaps most important) part comes from the time we take to let our minds wander off on any available presentation tangent and then tinker incessantly until we can bring our visions to life.

Until recently this process has taken place in a largely secretive way with our experts grabbing a few minutes between customer projects to fiddle about and see what they can come up with. While this process wasn’t nearly as grubby as I’ve just made it sound, we thought it was time to make the whole thing a little more proper.

So we set aside some time in the Labs for our dreamers and visionaries to bounce ideas off each other and then we gave them the opportunity to go forth and see what they could produce.

It’s fair to say that the whole endeavour is turning out to be a rather good idea, a room full of presentation enthusiast firing on all cylinders is truly something to behold and some of the mad ideas that have been batted around have turned into really interesting stuff – so much so that we’ve decided to dedicate a new page on our website to showcase the results.

The Innovation page forms an integral part of our latest web update (more of which I’ll be blogging about later in the week) and we’ll be updating the content every few months, so don’t forget to check back.

blog inn(Please note that neither Eyeful Presentation nor any of its employees or associates bears any responsibility for cessation of productivity and/or addiction brought about by the playing of Lil Phil – you have been warned!)

Eyeful Presentations – On Standby During The Commonwealth Games…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 by Justine<

This evening sports and pageantry enthusiasts will be settling down to watch the opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As we know from the 2012 London Olympics the next 11 days will include much to educate and inspire audiences and athletes.

It’s easy to think of the Commonwealth Games as a poor relation to its bigger, brasher cousin the Olympics, but the challenges are the same on every level. Every athlete is trying to give their very best, every spectator is expecting to see sport at its highest level, every person involved in bringing it together is invested in its success and every sponsor is hoping to get the best possible ROI.

Which reminds me a little of how an important presentation comes together…

Here at Eyeful Towers we love a sporting event, and having fully recovered from The World Cup we’re gearing up to enjoy whatever Glasgow brings. To get into the spirit of the thing we’ve all taken a few minutes to find out which sports would suit us best via the entirely scientific channel that is the online questionnaire and the results have been rather interesting.

Should England need to fill a Hockey field in an emergency, we’re (apparently) more than able to help out. We can also (in a dire emergency) swell the ranks in Badminton and take on other Commonwealth hopefuls in both Wrestling and Judo… and we have in our midst a couple of the best disguised athletic throwers you could ever hope to meet.

Which, by my reckoning, makes us exactly the kind of team playing, tactically astute, ready to get stuck in, self-disciplined, multi-talented people you’d want helping you with your next presentation…

Whatever triumphs and tribulations the Commonwealth Games brings, you can rest assured that we won’t be waiting in vain for a call to step in, we’ll be concentrating on what we do best – helping our customers make lasting connections with their audiences.

Commonwealth Stadium

Internal Presentations – How To Make The Difference

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 by Justine<

The second webinar in our 2014 Summer Season focused on the often neglected area of Internal Presentations.

It’s really tempting to think that Internal Presentations aren’t important, after all most of your audience has to be there and their expectations are probably low, so why waste the time and effort?

Getting it right begins with understanding that you’ve already invested in your presentation, 20 employees away from their desks for an hour has a tangible but hidden cost and wasting that hour will not help you demonstrate any ROI…. Take an Internal presentation to a conference and that hidden investment can be huge.

Internal presentations also have the power to set the standard for communication within your organisation and setting that standard high will have a positive effect on how your team communicate with each other and, more importantly, with your customers and prospects.

Not only that but a clear, engaging, well delivered Internal Presentation can even tame that trickiest of beasts – office gossip.

To find out more about why Internal Presentations matter and how you can use them to communicate much more than simply the information they contain click below to hear our Internal Presentation webinar.

If you’d like to know more, get in touch and one of our specialist presentation consultants will be happy to show you just how effective your Internal Presentations can be.

Sales & Marketing Presentation Secrets Revealed

Monday, July 14th, 2014 by Justine<

Our Summer Season of webinars is well underway.

It’s a couple of weeks now since we kicked off with our first session focusing on the intricacies of Sales and Marketing presentations.

Eternally rubbish at keeping great ideas to ourselves, we shared the latest in presentation thinking and gave attendees some practical advice on how to develop, create and deliver Sales and Marketing presentations that get the job done.

For those of you who were unable to join the webinar live, we’ve released a recording of the whole thing that you can peruse at your leisure, all you need to do is grab a cuppa and a biscuit and click on the video below.

There are still opportunities to take advantage of our caring, sharing nature by attending our webinars on Technical Presentation and Event Presentations. All webinars are free to attend and further details and registration links are below.

Technical Presentations are always challenging because they tempt presenters into including every minutiae of detail, mostly because they think that’s what the audience will want. This creates presentations that fail to engage, meaning that most of that carefully collated information misses its target completely.

Join us on Wednesday 16th July at 12 noon (BST) to find out how understanding your audience and managing data can help you connect, click here to register.

Internal Presentations are often considered unworthy of attention, the audience is required to attend and is expecting very little (other than an email free half hour). The standard of internal comms influences how your people communicate to others both in terms of content and quality, so skimping on effort here can have a huge knock on effect.

Join us on Thursday 17th July at 12 noon (BST) to find out why internal presentation matter and how they can add value to your business in ways you never expected, click here to register.