Archive for the ‘Presentation Technology’ Category

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.

 

 

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!

 

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.

(Presentation) Lessons Learned from This Year’s APMP Conference

Monday, October 27th, 2014 by Simon<

I had the privilege of speaking at the UK APMP event again this year. For the uninitiated, this is an opportunity for the UK’s bid and proposal experts to get together over a 3-day period and share best practice, gain insight into new developments and swap war stories.

Pontificating at the APMP ConferenceThis year I was talking through the ongoing issue of the Presentation Paradox, that peculiar state of mind that hits companies large and small when preparing for an important pitch. For some bizarre reason, preparing for this important pitch presentation is too often boiled down to a kneejerk ‘pull some slides together’ activity rather than seeing it as a huge opportunity to address any shortcomings of the bid document whilst simultaneously moving the audience to the next stage of the process.

I could rant on but frankly that’s not the purpose of this blog – I’m keen to share the lessons learned from this year’s event…

The lowly pitch presentation is getting some love

APMP have recognised the valuable part played by presentations in the bid process and now invite subject matter experts in to share their insight and knowledge. This year’s conference schedule covered both the fundamentals (technical training on PowerPoint) through to people like myself who were sharing new ideas and throwing down the presentation gauntlet to bid managers and their ilk.

This can only be a good thing – the more people think about the presentation process (from message and content through to the way it’s delivered), the greater the standard across the board. The net result is that we all benefit – presenters, audience and businesses.

New presentation technology is getting an airing

A completely unscientific straw poll during my seminar showed that the majority of businesses had tried new technology as part of their presentation process.

Top of the pile was Prezi, an innovative take on traditional slideware which, when used sparingly and at the right time, can be incredibly powerful. The flipside of this, of course, is that when used poorly and inappropriately, Prezi can be truly horrible. Delegates seemed to agree – many had tried it but few had returned to it on a regular basis for pitch presentations.

I was surprised to learn that an increasing number of high stakes bid presentations are now being delivered remotely. With the value of these bids often being in the tens and hundreds of millions, this seems a very brave thing to do! Remote presentation tools have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years (in particular video conferencing) yet I personally still struggle with the idea of building rapport and a relationship with pixels on a screen. Now this may be a personal tick I need to overcome as timescales shorten and travel costs increase but, in the meantime, if I can possibly find a way of sitting in front of an audience, I’ll bend over backwards to ensure I do.

The good news from all of this new technology and thinking is that bid presentations are benefitting from people approaching things differently. As with any development process, there will be things that people try which end up an unmitigated disaster whilst others will flourish and become ‘best practice’ for a business overnight. The key is to pick and choose carefully, making educated bets on the right approach to take for a particular audience.*

[* Gaining a good understanding of your audience is a particular passion of mine – for more information, reference The Audience Heatmap concept here].

Some things never change

Sadly there are some constants in the world of pitch presentations, one of which is out of the control of most presenters – leadtimes.

There is a consistent frustration voiced by bid teams when it comes to preparing their presentations – they’re given completely unrealistic leadtimes. One delegate shared an example of where the weighty bid document needed to be submitted by close of business on the Thursday. On the Friday, they received a call from the prospect asking them to deliver a presentation to the board and procurement team the following Tuesday.

A few things spring to mind:

  • Is this some sort of sick power play by the prospect?
  • Is the presentation simply serving as a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of the main document?
  • Is there any process in place to truly test the value of each bid or has the decision been made and the fast track presentation process simply a way of getting through the formalities as quickly as possible?

What makes this all the more concerning is that the delegate was a senior member of a bid team for a huge, well-respected technology business. Each bid is for millions of dollars and likely to underpin the strategy of the prospect’s business so surely the process should be a little more robust than this?

I don’t have an answer to this particular quandary but I do have a huge amount of sympathy for the bid professionals on the receiving end of this short-term approach. All I would do is implore the bid team not to lower their standards when preparing the pitch presentation – see it as the huge opportunity it truly represents and throw every morsel of energy you have to make the most of it.

In conclusion, the bid professionals at this year’s APMP event demonstrated all the attributes needed to create a powerful pitch presentation – an understanding of their audience, the ability to cut through the ‘noise’ of too much content and an eagerness to try new things (such as Blended Presenting) to ensure that the presentation opportunity is grasped firmly with both hands. If we maintain this forward momentum across all pitch presentations, the future is bright indeed.

Stop Posting and Start Doing…

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 by Justine<

There’s quite a commotion online at the moment about the launch of the new Post-It App.

It’s obviously a clever piece of kit. It allows you to take photographs of up to 50 physical Post-It notes and then digitally manipulate them.

These virtual Post-Its can be pinned to your start screen, shared with collaborators and even exported to a PowerPoint, Excel of PDF format.

After reading a few excited posts about how useful it’s going to be I found myself asking a simple question ‘Why would I need to do that?’

Here at Eyeful we spend quite a lot of time encouraging our customers to step away from the tech.

Our tried and tested Presentation Optimisation methodology follows a path that begins with a pen and paper and there’s a good reason for that – it encourages you to think about stories rather than slides.

To me, the ability to write on a bunch of Post-It Notes then digitise and manipulate then seems like it might add unnecessary time and effort into what should be a simple process and is therefore an excellent way to procrastinate – and potentially not much else.

Bringing ideas to life and sharing them effectively is about identifying clear aims and objectives, adding a decent smattering of creativity and then pushing towards your desired outcome with some good old fashioned hard work.

If something will work better on paper, use paper – if it will work better on a computer, get typing. But maybe that’s where the genius of this app lies, in helping identify which creative path will work best for you.

It also seems to gel nicely with how we use tech today. When a teacher writes a homework assignment on the board some children write it down and some simply take a photo with their phone. I’m going to hazard a guess that most of us have taken photos of written information we need to remember or want to share (I personally confess to delighting in capturing weird signs and humorously worded instructions at every opportunity).

We store information in this way because it helps us ensure that the information is completely accurate and can’t fall fowl to bad hand writing or poor spelling (with the obvious exception of the aforementioned signs). It’s factual, unambiguous and easily accessed.

I can see great potential for collaboration too, although I might be a little nervous if I knew my hastily written and individually cryptic notes were going to be shared. I might even want to run a couple of them through a spellchecker before committing them to paper thus creating a process that would go something like this – computer – paper – photo – computer – before anyone else even got to see it.

Whatever you think about the app it does raise some interesting questions about how and why we communicate.

When it comes to presentations those are seemingly easy questions to answer – we use PowerPoint and we want them to buy our product. However the journey to achieving this effectively involves forgetting what you want to achieve and going back to basics to understand what your audience wants to achieve and if the Post-It app can help you achieve that, then I’m all for it.

post it blog

Windows 10 – First Impressions

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 by Justine<

Its two years since Windows 8 was launched and having mysteriously circumnavigated Windows 9, Microsoft is now unveiling its latest offering, Windows 10.

In our review of Windows 8 we wondered aloud whether some of the changes to the look and feel were really necessary and if they would alienate existing Windows users.

That feeling of ‘change for the sake of change’ seems to have been echoed by users worldwide and is supported by some rather damning statistics only 13.4% of desktop PC’s run Windows 8.1 and that’s significantly less that the 23.9% that still run on the now unsupported Windows XP.

It does seem like Microsoft has taken this response on the chin, Windows 10 sees the return a proper Start button and familiar menu (unlike the Windows 8 upgrade that just pretended to be one).

Many people felt that Windows 8 was too skewed towards touch screen functionality and that this bias created a much lumpier, less intuitive, interface for those on traditional PC’s and Laptops – particularly business users.

Fortunately for Microsoft most of their traditional audience still exists and is still using their products, they simply didn’t bother upgrading to Windows 8. This means that Windows 10 needs to hold the attention of Windows 8 fans and be friendly enough to persuade those that haven’t upgraded that now is the time to do so. If they fail to get the balance right nobody wins.

Early signs are good, behind the return of the beloved Start button there’s a lot more going on. A new ‘Task View’ feature allows you to display all your current apps, you can create multiple desktops and view them simultaneously and you can have up to four documents or applications open on the screen at once.

It also seems that every feature and App has been given the love it needs to work seamlessly through both a touch screen and a traditional interface and they should be able to identify and adjust to your chosen interface smoothly.

For those of you who can’t wait to get your hands on Windows 10, early versions will be made available to tinkerers in the very near future.

For the rest of us it’s time to sit back and wait for those in the know to get rid of any glitches and the really patient amongst you might like to wait until 10.1 reveals where Microsoft thinks the original is weak.

As soon as we get our hands on it we’ll be sure to let you know how it performs, but until then we’re always on hand to help you whatever presentation tools and technology you’re using.

 

My Kingdom For a Phone….

Thursday, September 25th, 2014 by Justine<

My journey to work this morning was not particularly noteworthy, the weather was average, the traffic was average and none of the others drivers did anything worthy of even light swearing.

But about 30 minutes into my 40 minute commute it occurred to me that I might have left my mobile phone at home.

I don’t consider myself to be a technophile; I’m old enough to remember when you had to be in the room to see a TV programme that interested you (and there were only three channels to choose from). So I was a little nonplussed to find a panicky knot forming in my stomach at the very thought of a day without my phone, there was even a brief consideration of whether I had enough time to go back home and pick it up (despite the obvious answer being no). I eventually settled the uneasiness by convincing myself that ‘at home’ was OK – at least it wasn’t lost, or was it?*

What’s even more worrying is that I spend the whole day sitting at a desk that has on it a computer and a phone – meaning that there is literally nothing I need my mobile for.

But technology long ago passed through the era of addressing needs – now it’s all about addressing wants.

We don’t need to constantly know what the hundreds of random people (most of whom we’ve never met and never will meet) that we call ‘friends’ on social media are up to, but we certainly want to.

It seems that simply having access to technology compels us access technology.

So what’s going on? Is it obsession, addiction, dependency or something altogether more (or indeed less) sinister?

A recent experiment involved 163 students giving up their mobile phones for an hour and taking a series of anxiety tests to find out if they were affected by the deprivation.

Apparently it transpires that even those of us who don’t manage to use our phones 25 hours a day (a figure arrived at by double counting the time we’re using it for more than one thing) will suffer some level of separation anxiety.

We’ve talked before about how hard it can be to engage an audience, discussed ways of turning surreptitious phone checking to your advantage and looked at whether wearable tech will have an impact on presenters and audiences. But now it seems we’ve got far more to worry about than we thought.

Talk of creating technology free zones is already stirring up the kind of angry, civil liberty, personal freedom, type responses more often seen in relation to huge social, political and legislative change but in reality trying to enforce anything is getting harder by the day.

Twenty years ago you could have asked people to turn off their pagers, ten years ago turning off phones would have done it and five years ago it would have been phones and tablets. Today you might need to ask people to relinquish phones, tablets, glasses and smartwatches to get close to the same effect. Five years from now implantable tech might just make the whole thing completely impossible.

It doesn’t matter what you think about our reliance on technology the important thing is acknowledging that it exists and understanding how to overcome the challenges and maximise the opportunities.

We talk about how Blended Presenting can help increase audience engagement and encourage interaction but maybe soon we’ll have to start thinking more deeply about Blended Spectating to make sure our stories can be heard above the constant stream of outside information.

Whatever the future of Audience Engagement you can be sure that Eyeful will be there, innovating to our hearts content and making sure that our customers are one step ahead of their competition.

Picture1

*for any of you still bothered about the whereabouts of my phone please don’t worry my husband emailed me to say I’d left it on the kitchen table and he’s put it in the cupboard above the oven (?) just in case I get home before him!