Posts Tagged ‘Blended Presenting’

(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.

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.

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.

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*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!

Out With the Old…

Friday, July 11th, 2014 by Justine<

With new web updates on the horizon, we’ve been reflecting over old content and it’s been really interesting to take a close look at some of our old stuff to see how it stands up in today’s presentation landscape.

As we’ve said before new isn’t always better and telling the difference between the next big thing and the latest one hit wonder can be a challenge, but it’s also true that great things wear well.

Fortunately for us it would appear that along the way we have indeed created a few great things (and, thank heavens, nothing bad enough to be hailed as ironically amusing).

Part of what made Eyeful Presentations the game changing company that it is today is that we laid out our aims and specialisms from the beginning and we’ve stuck to our guns.

We’re really rather good at presentations and while we’ve developed how our work can support and inform other parts of a sales collateral suite, we’ve never wavered from our original intent: improving business communication – one presentation at a time.

We’ve also stood by our intention to maximise ROI for our customers and ensure that no repurposing opportunity is left unexplored.

And we’re rather proud of practicing what we preach.

First aired in 2008 and briefly revived in 2012 here’s something from the Eyeful vaults that has stood the test of time much better than my wardrobe – and could even be erring towards retro chic….

 

Inside Eyeful Labs

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 by Justine<

Just over a year ago we launched Eyeful Labs, our immersive, interactive, presentation environment, designed to help our customers explore new ways of thinking about and delivering presentations.

In that time the Labs have grown to be much more than we, or our customers, ever expected.

They have become the place where presentation innovation, creative inspiration and the spirit of exploration come together with an Eyeful dose of ‘give it a go’ (and a soupçon of scientific insanity) to explore all things presentation.

Presentations are often the least loved and most abused part of any business collateral package and Eyeful Labs is our way of changing perceptions and giving presentations the time and resource they deserve.

At first, many visitors were unsure exactly what to expect (and to be completely honest so were we). But it soon became apparent that our combination of readily accessible presentation expertise and limitless coffee was hitting the right spot.

Soon customers were experiencing the effects in the best way possible and going on to action positive change in their businesses.

Today the Labs are a real hive of activity with customers, consultants, designers and presentation enthusiasts all adding to a mix that is pushing the boundaries of what presenters and presentations can achieve.

It’s a hectic, challenging, stimulating and provocative place to be, it’s The Presentation Lab bought to life – and we love it!short reel 2

To find out how your presentation thinking can benefit from a trip to The Lab, simply get in touch and we’ll help you explore the possibilities.

 

Coming Soon To A Presentation Near You

Friday, June 13th, 2014 by Justine<

Gadgets, gismos, and gimmicks always keep us on our toes.

Over the years we’ve seen so many examples of presenters who fall into the ‘all the gear and no idea’ category that our excitement about new tech always comes with a certain nervousness.

Almost every week a potential presentation tool hits the shelves and it can be quite exhausting trying to keep up.

So with the first half of 2014 drawing to a close I thought it would be a good time to catch up on some of the stuff that might make an appearance in presentations in the future.

We’re all more than familiar with touchscreen technology but some clever boffins at Fujitsu believe that when we interact this way we should be able to feel more than just a flat polished surface. A prototype of their Haptic Sensory Tablet was demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in February and promises to deliver tactile interaction.

Obviously the screen itself does not physically change to create texture but ultrasonic vibration and high pressure air are cunningly used to trick your brain into interpreting slipperiness, bumpiness and roughness that corresponds to the onscreen image.

One reviewer has described it as like being ‘a bit like being gently zapped by a rural electric fence – in a good way’ but it’s worth remembering that this is still a prototype and when refined it could be an excellent way of bringing an extra sensory element to your presentations.

3D has been edging into tech all over the place (we recently delved into the presentation potential of 3D holograms) and the first part of the year has seen two further ways in which 3D might become useful to presenters.

The crowd funded Occipital Structure Sensor attaches to an iPad and you can scan your surroundings in 3D giving you a digital image that you can then edit and manipulate. I can see this working really well when demonstrating how new machinery would fit into an already existing plant room or how a new floor covering would actually look in a room. And while the ability to do this isn’t entirely new, having the power to do the whole thing in front of a customer could be a really great way of encouraging interaction by exploring and comparing options.

3D printing has also made the transition into the mass market with the MakerBot Replicator Mini compact 3D printer providing a ‘just about’ portable way of creating objects on the spot. Many presenters like to leave something physical behind after a meeting and it’s an effective way of staying in people’s minds. Leaving behind a 3D miniature of your product, that’s been created while you chat, might well be a little more memorable than a branded pen.

What all these things have in common (along with the smelly presentations that we explored a while ago) is that they offer a chance to communicate with your audience in new ways by involving senses traditionally ignored by presentations.

Innovations like these entice presenters to put style before substance, a trap into which many have fallen (and some are still waiting to be rescued).

We love experimenting with stuff here at Eyeful and we’ve been at the forefront of encouraging presenters to utilise multi format presentations (we call it Blended Presenting) but we’ve always balanced these recommendations with one huge caveat; understand your audience first.

To find out more about Blended Presenting and how it can help you get your message across you can check out page 168 of The Presentation Lab book or simply give us a ring and we’ll be happy to help you get it right.

sensory blog

“You’ve really changed things here”

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 by Simon<

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve lucked out when it comes to choosing a profession.

My passion for presentations and the art of engaging audiences has fuelled some amazing adventures and experiences across the globe and latterly, becoming the author of a successful book on the subject is the cherry on the cake. Everyday I’m surrounded by the incredibly creative Eyeful team who not only support my wildest flights of fancy but also act as catalysts/provocateurs for the next phase of the journey. And, to top it all, I get to spend time with some truly amazing customers. Yesterday was one of those days.

Yesterday was spent with the CMO of a multinational technology company. It wasn’t notable because of a whopping slice of new revenue or kicking off a timezone spanning project. It was powerful because of five short words:

“You’ve really changed things here”

Let me give you a little background. We were first called upon 12 months ago when the European office had identified that their presentations were simply not working. They had the wherewithal to recognise that the problem was not because their PowerPoint slides looked a little shabby or that their marketing teams needed their softskills polished. They’d identified more fundamental areas to focus on – going back to the foundations of how they developed their presentations and building them back up again. Which is where we slotted into place.

What followed was a series of full-on, interactive workshops with teams across Europe sharing our Presentation Optimisation process, from Audience Heatmaps via Audience Pathway Storyflows and finishing up at a Blended Presenting strategy. Presentation Optimisation became Presentation Optimization as we were invited to start working with the mothership.

However it’s not the scale of the engagement with the customer or the jet set lifestyle that’s exciting (although we are grateful!), it’s the impact it’s having across their business.

“You’ve really changed things here” means that the fundamental processes we’ve shared with the international teams are now being applied day in, day out. As a matter of course, executives ask to see the Audience Heatmap for the presentation they are preparing to deliver. The simplicity of the Audience Pathway presentation structure is being applied in other forms of communication, from e-mails to internal comms documents. The ‘simplicity is not stupidity’ mantra is working…and things are changing.

We’ve spoken before about our ‘funny tummy feeling’ measure of success. The realisation that our good ideas coupled with a great organisation willing to try something different can have such an impact took the ‘funny tummy feeling’ off the scale. I’m still smiling 24 hours after the meeting which has to be a good sign…

To learn more about the Presentation Optimisation approach, pick up a copy of The Presentation Lab book or, better still, get in touch. We’d love to hear more about you and your business presentation frustrations.

Surviving (and Thriving) in Business

Friday, May 16th, 2014 by Justine<

There’s been a bit of a buzz around Eyeful Towers this week surrounding the TV phenomenon that is The Island with Bear Grylls.

Bear is well known for his extreme survival shows but this is about 13 ordinary blokes who have been left on a desert island for a month with 6 knives, minimal survival training and, it would seem, very little common sense.

Fortunately for the debate about which of us would make it through, the website for the show includes a quiz that aims to demonstrate whether you would survive or thrive, and finding out which of us could cut the mustard has revealed some interesting stuff.

Aside from the revelation that some of us would fail to even survive (and are glad of the opportunity to find this out without ever having to consider our own toe nails as a source of protein), the show and the quiz got me thinking; if the modern life leaves you ill equipped for survival, is there any place for survival skills in modern life?

When faced with an important survival decision, experts use the acronym S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Orientate and Plan) and it occurred to me that this was not so far removed from the advice we give our customers when it comes to creating an engaging presentation. Also, while I have no evidence to support the hypothesis that a poor presentation ever resulted in anyone starving to death, the quality of your presentation can make a difference to whether your business simply survives or continues to thrive.

The ability to capture, kill and cook a Caiman crocodile isn’t going to make a great difference in a modern business environment but the ability to capture, engage and influence an audience certainly will.

And that’s where we can help.

We happen to know a thing or two about the importance of understanding your audience and can offer some great ideas about how to communicate in the ever changing presentation landscape, we can even train you to be more savvy when it comes to the technical side of designing and delivering your presentation.

Any one of the team here at Eyeful can help you create a presentation that will enable your business to thrive, but if you need to take one of us to a dessert island for survival support you’ll need to choose wisely!

the island

The Sweet Smell Of Success

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 by Justine<

We like to keep an eye on the future and take a good look at things that might (or might not) shape how presentations evolve.

Our meanderings into technology have taken us to some interesting places, Google Glass has made an appearance, we’ve pondered the benefits of second screen, examined patent applications for immersive technology and ruminated over the prospects of 3D presenting.

Today I’ve spotted something else that might be appearing in presentations of the future – smells.

Smells are very interesting because they are so evocative, a smell can bring back memories and emotions in a way that few other sensory prompts can and that’s becoming more relevant than ever.

Making a connection with your audience has always been important, but it’s only recently that the importance of understanding why that connection might be emotional, rather than purely factual or visionary has come to light.

Trying to harness the power of smell is nothing new. Scratch and Sniff has been used sporadically in a wide variety of applications since the mid 1970’s (in fact some of us may never fully recover from our younger brothers Scratch and Sniff Garbage Pail sticker collection)but this is something quite different.

Scientist at Bristol University have been working on bubble technology and while this may sound like a fantastic way to disguise ‘being childish’ as ‘working’, it’s actually bringing some interesting communication concepts to life.

It works like this; bubbles containing smells (which can also have images projected onto them if you so desire) are created. The bubbles float into the audience and the smell is released when the bubbles burst. You can think of it as a quirky interactive bubble machine or give it its official title of ‘chrono-sensory mid-air display system’ either way the result is the same.

At the moment this has a delightfully gimmicky feel to it and I’m sure that there are advertising agencies and entertainment execs spinning cartwheels at the possibilities. But, just occasionally, the gimmick becomes the norm (remember how we laughed at people who thought carrying a house brick was more convenient than stopping at a phone box?) and because smells have the power to communicate differently this might just be one of them.

Bringing a new dimension to a presentation is a risky business (and one that should not be attempted at all without first making sure that the presentation itself is fit for purpose). But in an increasingly interactive world, where touch communication is an important part of our technology experience, maybe bubble popping is not as odd as it may seem.

While chrono-sensory bubbles may still be some way from being a useful addition to the presenters toolkit, there are other ways that you can make sure you connect emotionally with your audience. For Instance The Presentation Lab book has a chapter dedicated to this new area of presentation thinking and some great tips on identifying where emotional connection is important and guidance on how to achieve it.

How you approach building emotional connections with your audience is sure to be an area where fanciful ideas appear and disappear faster than this blogger can type, but the fact that those connections need to be made is not in doubt.

Google Glass – For One Day Only

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 by Justine<

Todays the day that techies in the US get a chance to find out whether wearable tech has a future in the real world as Google release some of their super specs to paying customers.

Google Glass is officially still in development but for one day only, over 18’s in the US with a healthy bank balance, a little bit of luck (and the ability to fill in a form) can get their hands on a pair to find out for themselves what all the fuss is about.

Google have been really clever in creating a buzz about the giving people chance to pay handsomely to become part of what is basically a market research exercise, but aside from that, what can wearable tech bring to business and will it be changing the presentation landscape?

Technology journalist have had their hands on it for a little while now and the results of their endeavours range from enthusiastic to bemused and if nothing else it’s given us a great insight into their daily lives.

Currently concerns seem to centre less around functionality and more around looking a bit of an idiot when you wear them and the social reaction that they can provoke.

google glass

Socially the potential of the technology is controversial, anyone wearing them will (eventually) be able to record and/or live stream everything they see and use functionality such as face recognition to summon up all the web information that’s available on anyone they see. Google have not been shy in acknowledging that their glasses need to be worn responsibly for people to avoid becoming ‘Glassholes’.

At the moment it’s quite easy to spot wearers (unless they’re socialising with Star Trek extras in full make up) but we all know that Moore’s Law holds true throughout technology and it won’t be long before we can’t even tell who’s connected and who isn’t, especially if they swop the voice activation for optical tracking.

There’s no question that the functionality they will eventually provide can enhance the wearers experience it’s going to be in identifying when it is, and isn’t, appropriate to wear them that will provide the real challenges.

So what about business?

As we’ve discussed before the way people do business is changing, formal meetings have given way to informal conversations and deals are done without people ever meeting, but the one thing that remains the same is the trust needed to build business relationships. People do business with people, and the way those people interact makes a difference to the outcome.

We’ll all admit that the first thing we do when we hear from a potential customer is type their name and the name of their company into a search engine to find out more. Where are they based? What do they do? How big are they? What kind of culture do they have? These are all questions that will help us work more efficiently with them. But that search will occasionally throw up something else, a derogatory blog, disparaging review or a facebook image of them after one too many cocktails for example. And it might just be me, but sitting across the room from them while they do this through their glasses feels a bit raw, like a root canal without the anaesthetic. And if I’m doing the same there may well be an air of internet jousting that doesn’t feel like the basis for a great working relationship.

So far the whole thing feels a little alien and it should, because having access to vast swathes of information about everyone you meet and everything you see in real time is, if we’re honest, a little weird, we’re human beings and we rely on intangibles like instincts and experience to help us decide what and who we like.

But it’s not all big brother doom and gloom.

The ability to share your presentation (or more probably parts of it) with people as part of an organic conversation is important in modern business communication and with Google Glass you can do that, and although passing your specs to them reeks a little of primary school tomfoolery it’s certainly going to be something they remember.

And as the technology progresses there will be new ways to allow them access to your presentation, wifi transfer from your glasses to theirs for example. Or maybe one day your glasses will be able to project a 3D presentation onto a table top in the ubiquitous departure lounge and maybe (if you’re really lucky) no one will say Help me Obi-Wan Kanobi, you’re my only hope……

No one really knows where this technology will go and whether it will become the equivalent of a laserdisc or a smartphone, but here at Eyeful we’re always on the lookout for ways to help our customers present, and communicate, more effectively so you can be sure that we’ll be among the first to tap into its potential.