Archive for the ‘Sales Presentation’ Category

Story Season – The Tightrope of Authenticity

Friday, February 27th, 2015 by Simon<

Those who have been following Eyeful’s Story Season over the last few weeks will have spotted a theme.

Yep, we truly love the power of story in presentations. We love the heightened levels of engagement they bring, the spark they create in audiences and the unforgettable images they create. In the right hands, they are a very powerful tool.

Yet we’re also consistently cynical about those that claim that ‘story’ is a presentation panacea. Stories fall flat on their faces when used inappropriately, out of context or as a short cut to a properly thought out proposition. They are also bound to fail if they are inauthentic.

AuthenticityOutside of all the science, the scenarios and hype, there is one simple truth – powerful stories rely on authenticity. They work because they connect, forming a bridge between the storyteller and the audience, sharing emotions, experience and ideas. In short, you have to ‘feel it’ to effectively share it.

Inauthentic = Ineffective (To The Point of Being Pointless)

We see inauthenticity everywhere, from the singer who mimes their way through an old standard to the stand-up who ‘phones in’ a performance. It just doesn’t work – the connection is lost.

It’s this authenticity issue that is one of the flaws that those with blind faith in ‘business storytelling’ seem to conveniently overlook. Marketing folk beware – foisting a pre-canned, generic and inauthentic story upon a business presenter is bound to fail for the simple reason that they don’t ‘feel it’.

Too Authentic?

The power of authenticity can, of course, go the other way – some stories are simply too emotional, too heartfelt to work effectively in a business presentation.

By way of example, allow me to share a personal presentation flaw. Shortly after the publication of The Presentation Lab, I shared a story to illustrate the power of visuals. I talked about how I felt as a spotty teenager seeing the extraordinary and shocking pictures of the Ethiopian famine for the first time. I recalled the emotional rollercoaster of Band Aid, from singing along to Spandau Ballet one minute and then sobbing with millions of other viewers as we watched the harrowing CBC news report of a skeletal child, near death, struggling but determined to stand (to a devastating soundtrack of ‘Drive’ by The Cars). And then, 20 years later, that incredible moment when she was introduced, fit and healthy, to the audience at the Live 8 concert.

The story was powerful and helped audiences understand the point I was making…but was frankly too personal and emotional for me to deliver. I choked up each and every time I shared it – the story simply proved too raw for me to tell without going to pieces so in the end I dropped it. It was too authentic.

So where to draw the line? In the world of business presentations, the power of stories come from the connection they make with an audience. Authenticity is a key element in ensuring that connection is made so treat it with respect.

Oh, and as ever, put yourself in the shoes of your audience – what would help you engage better? When traversing the tightrope of authenticity, I’d take a heartfelt but shoddily told story over a slick but inauthentic one every time. Or, like Don Draper, you can strive to get the mix just right:

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…

 

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.

Most B2B presentations are failing (and here’s why)…

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Jayne Thomas<

The vast majority of B2B presentations are not fit for purpose – scary but true.

Leaving this key sales tool unloved is a sure fire way to miss out on opportunities, damage your reputation and give your competitors the advantage. Ignore your presentation at your peril!

Eyeful’s Simon Morton is here to share some tell-tale signs that you could be missing out on sales as well as giving a few ‘insider secrets’ on turning up the sales power of your presentation.

Not sure if your presentation is fit for purpose? Simply contact us for a chat or download our Sales Enablement Whitepaper.

Sales Enablement is Failing Sales Teams

Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Simon<

A lot of noise has been made over the last few years around the topic of ‘Sales Enablement’. We’ve added our own 10p’s worth to the debate in the past and then continued to look on with a mix of amusement and bemusement.

The amusement comes from the reinvention of something that has been around since the dawn of mankind (or at least, since man started selling stuff to their fellow man). Call it what you want but Sales Enablement, in it’s most basic form, is the development of sales tools to help sales people, um, sell.

Apologies to any sales or marketing execs who are currently sat with chests puffed out with pride – the fact that you’ve moved with the times and converted your sales collateral to work in a new ‘easy to access’ format isn’t revolutionary, it’s merely keeping up with The Joneses.

Perhaps more importantly, the bemusement comes from companies large and small missing out on a huge opportunity. All too often the excitement, investment and time spent on delivering on a ‘Sales Enablement Strategy’ overshadows the real need of sales teams. They’re not after gizmos (although I’ve yet to meet a salesperson who doesn’t like a new tech toy) – boil it down and they’re after story, structure and clarity of messaging. They want tools that will allow them to beat the competition, close the deal and take home the commission.

Frankly salespeople don’t care what platform, operating system or colour sales tools come in – they just want it to help them deliver the deal. It’s as simple as that.

Here at Eyeful we’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with companies of all sizes across a range of industries. When the topic of ‘Sales Enablement’ is touched on, sadly a definite pattern is starting to emerge. Businesses are focusing their investment in the Delivery Mechanism (tablet sales enablement tools, fancy apps or training their sales teams to become slick ‘TED’ like presenters) without recognising that they are inadvertently recycling the same trite, unconvincing and generic content. It’s a little like remaking a bad movie – if it was boring and lacklustre in 2D, it’s going to be equally boring and lacklustre in 3D.

We implore sales and marketing professionals to take a step back and think beyond the hype and quick wins that Sales Enablement promises. If businesses took a moment to review the message and content they are dishing out in various forms, the more effective this whole ‘Sales Enablement’ bandwagon might be.

As we’ve said time and time again, if your prospect’s response to your pitch is ‘cool slides’, you’ve failed. Never let the temptation of cool technology or fancy aesthetics get in the way of your audience engaging with your message. And if you’re using the ‘Sales Enablement’ tag to merely add lipstick to a pig of a sales presentation message, you’ve missed a golden opportunity…and your competition is poised to make the most of it.

Is Short and Sweet Here To Stay?

Friday, September 26th, 2014 by Justine<

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of getting to the point here at Eyeful (although last weeks Ig Nobel 24/7 challenge was a bit much even for us).

Verbose business communications are fortunately becoming a thing of the past and while the odd 200+ slide, text heavy presentation still exists, you can be sure that we’re doing everything we can to consign them to history.

Keeping an audience engaged with relevant, understandable, information is the key to great business communication and nothing encapsulates this better than the ubiquitous elevator pitch.

While I’m personally a little sceptical as to whether an elevator pitch has ever been successfully delivered in and actual elevator, the concept of compressing your whole business into a few minutes clear communication can be powerful.

Our specialist presentation consultants work with our customers to achieve a similar level of clarity and purpose in their presentations and with all the opportunities that wearable technology could bring, we might not be far away from the elevator presentation.

But for those of you who still think that it’s not possible to cram everything into an easily digestible, audience friendly format it seems that a Japanese construction firm might just have the answer.

They predict that by 2050 they will have built a space elevator. Each elevator car will carry 30 people and its 59,652 mile journey into space is predicted to take seven days.

So in 36 years from now a 168 hour elevator pitch will be a perfectly acceptable option – until then our advice is to stick with a much more concise and audience focused approach!

space lift

Life’s a Pitch

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Justine<

The publication of The Presentation Lab Book has given us the opportunity to get in contact with some really interesting people who share our hopes and dreams for the future of presentations.

Having gamely resisted the temptation to set up a secret support network where we can quietly geek out about presentations to our hearts content, we decided that the best thing to do would be to spread the word in a valiant attempt to assimilate our ideas into normal society and improve the world of business communication, one presentation at a time.

One of the lovely people who got in touch was Boyd Blackwood, producer and host of Life’s a Pitch. Like us Boyd is working hard to get people to think differently about how they communicate. Boyd shares our belief that pitching and presenting are part of every business interaction and the skills needed to succeed should not be confined to official meetings in dusty boardrooms.

So when Boyd wanted to interview Simon to find out more about the man, the company and the methodology behind the book, Simon was more than happy to join him and share a little Eyeful love with his listeners.

Boyd interviewed Simon over two podcasts, both of which are available for free by clicking on the image below.

In the first podcast (episode 013) Simon debunks some presentation myths, explains how Audience Heatmaps are increasing audience engagement and talks about why presenting is a privilege and should be treated as such.

The second podcast (episode 014) covers Audience Pathway, Blended Presenting and ponders on why so many presenters feel the need to be so shy about their all-important call to action.

LAP2020

What Pitch Dropping can tell us about Pitch Presenting…

Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Justine<

Pitch (the tar like substance) is one of the slowest moving things around. It sits somewhere in the murky hinterland between solid and liquid and scientists have proven that getting it to do anything of interest takes a very, very long time.

Pitch (the ‘oh bugger they want to see us on Wednesday, what are we going to do?’) business kind is at the polar opposite of the action/reaction spectrum. It can evoke panic in even the most level headed of presenters.

So how on earth can the first type help us with the second?

It’s not about pitch itself but rather more about its place in one of the longest running scientific endeavours in the world – The Pitch Drop Experiment. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular phenomenon it involves waiting for some apparently solid pitch to fall through a funnel. As you might imagine this is not a whistles and bangs kind of experiment, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

The School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland began their experiment in 1927 since when it has dropped only nine times, In fact the custodian of the experiment for over 50 years Professor Mainstone never saw the actual event. In 1979 a drop fell at the weekend, in 1988 he was fetching a drink when it happened, in 2000 a video camera set up to record the event failed.

In fact it wasn’t until 2013 that anyone managed to capture a pitch drop on film and that honour was taken by a similar experiment set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin. In April 2014 the Australian drop was not only filmed but watched live on line by thousands of enthusiasts.

The scientific reaction was best summed up by Dr Shane Bergin, a physicist and senior research fellow at Trinity, “Eventually, when our one was caught on camera, it provided the world with a kind of scientific ‘Aaaah’ moment,” he says. “As in, finally, we see it!

Everyone knew the pitch was dropping but until they saw it for themselves it was difficult to make a personal, emotional connection to the event.

Business pitches face a similar problem; it’s relatively easy to explain the theory behind your product or solution, to provide statistics to back up its qualities and to regale your audience with how it has been successful at other times and in other places.

But what your audience really needs is the equivalent of seeing the drop fall for themselves.

They need to be able to experience your pitch in a way that connects with them, and they don’t have 86 years to hang around.

Getting it right is about understanding their viewpoint, motivation and situation and then placing your solution right into the heart of their world.

Unfortunately these are things that get the least consideration when panic sets in.

Eyeful and our sister company Sales Engine are on a mission to make sure that every pitch contains that moment. The pitch process can be an arduous journey littered with an unnerving trail of consonant ridden acronyms and intimidating processes that conspire to make the final scene, when you actually get in front of the decision makers, much more intimidating than it needs to be. Having experts at your side on every step of the journey makes a real difference.

So if you’ve got an upcoming pitch and you’re a little concerned that your drop is a long way from enthralling its audience simply pick up the phone, and while the professionals work their magic you can take a step back and possibly find a little time to enjoy the progress of the latest drop (ETA 2028).

pitch drop blog

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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