Archive for the ‘Presentation Skills’ Category

100 More Join The Eyeful Mission

Friday, March 27th, 2015 by Matt<

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

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

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

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

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

Ronan

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

Story Season – What Does Story Mean to you?

Friday, March 20th, 2015 by Matt<

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

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

Over to Team Eyeful…

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

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

A Very British Question…

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 by Matt<

ssp1

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.

 

 

 

Presentation Lessons Learned At A School Assembly

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by Simon<

I’ve had a smashing morning. The stars aligned and my schedule cleared enough for me to attend a special assembly at my children’s school to celebrate ‘World Book Day’.

The assembly had all the key ingredients in place to make it special… The introduction by the squeaky (but definitely improving) school orchestra, a cute play put on by the tots in the Reception class and the excruciating moment where parents grunt/falsetto their way through a long forgotten hymn.

But the real magic happened when the stories started.

As children of all ages took their place on the stage, we were treated to self-penned stories that were brilliant, creative and thought provoking in equal measure. World Book Day was off and running…

What made it all the more special was how the children actually delivered the stories. Despite nerves, they were beaming from ear to ear, obviously delighted to be sharing their stories with the world. Their proud smiles were only matched by those on their parents faces, a wonderful sight to see.

So how does this relate to my stock in trade, business presentations?

There’s an obvious link to the importance of authenticity (something I have become somewhat maniacal about) but also the sense of pride that comes with sharing a story you want the world to hear.

It occurs to me that a gazillion books/blogs/articles have been written about how to beat glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) but a pitiful few focus on the joy of sharing a message you’re proud of.

My advice to nervy business presenters is simple – attend the next school assembly you’re invited to. The enthusiasm and joy of children sharing their stories is both infectious and priceless. Oh, and in the spirit of World Book Day, if you’re still after glossophobia-beating-inspiration, who better to turn to than Roald Dahl:

Sunbeams

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…

 

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