Posts Tagged ‘Presentation Optimisation’

An Open Letter to all Business Presenters

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 by Simon<

Hello you…

How are things?

We’ve been meaning to drop you a line for a while now but held off sending anything too close to the chaos of Christmas and New Year for obvious reasons. The festivities are now likely to be a dim and distant memory… as are the long list of New Years Resolutions (don’t sweat it – we think a little bit of extra padding looks rather good on you, if we’re honest). Now all of those pressures are out of the way, we’d like to ask you a favour… actually, three favours. And they all centre around that one part of your job that you find uncomfortable to the point of palpitations – business presentations.

Don’t worry – we’re not after the world… just three small things that will make all the difference to your presentation, and thus to your audiences.

1. Go on, go 16:9

Let’s start with an easy one – it’s time for you to move over to widescreen. Your laptop, your screen and your projector have all made the leap over to 16:9 ratio – it’s time you took the plunge too.

Have you noticed how old films and footage looks, well, ancient on TV when it’s shown in the old ratio and has big black bars down each side? Sorry to break it to you, but if you’re stuck using 4:3 ratio for your PowerPoint and Keynote, your presentations are going to look equally old fashioned.

But it’s more than simply keeping up with the Joneses. Blog picMaking the move over to 16:9 gives you more room to play with on your slides – create white space and let your slide breathe! Use the extra width to develop visuals that engage your audience! Heck, deliver slides that look like they belong in this decade!

If you’re responsible for stuff like corporate PowerPoint templates at your workplace, sort it out pronto and your colleagues will love you forever more. If you’re one of the users stuck with ye olde PowerPoint 4:3 template, harass the marketing team until they see the error of their ways (perhaps send them a link to this blog to speed things up) and make the move over. If they dig their heels in, whisper in their ears that the default ratio on the latest version of PowerPoint is now 16:9 – the world has changed and it’s time for them to catch up.

 

2. Don’t lose your nerve

We’ve spotted a bit of a pattern on important presentations. At the very start of the process, presenters (yep, you) are full of good intentions. You embrace the concept of ‘less is more’ both in terms of content on a slide and slide count, full of vim, vigour and determination that this time it’ll all be different – no bullets, valuable visuals and a clear audience-centric message. It’s shaping up to the best presentation you’ll ever deliver – happy days.

The problem is that as time marches on, you start to lose your bottle. You start to sprinkle a little more detail here and there, sticking in a complex diagram to demonstrate that you’ve really put the hours into the research and tweaking your message so as not to rock the boat.

Often, because the stakes are so high, you make the fateful mistake of opening up your presentation to committee. This truly is the death knell to any chance you had of developing a powerful presentation. By all means, call upon your colleagues for feedback and collaboration but never EVER rescind control – it’s your presentation… own it.

Collaboration = good

Committee = unmitigated disaster

Now don’t get us wrong, friend – we know that standing up and delivering a presentation this important is gut-wrenchingly stressful but don’t fall into the trap of compromising and diluting it as D-day approaches. Go back to the ideas that were the catalyst for version 1 of your presentation – the structure and message, the carefully chosen supporting content and the simple but effective visuals. Granted, they may not have been perfect but they’re likely to be a much purer more focused set of slides than the watered-down, ‘safe’ and ultimately homogenous presentation you’ve ended up with.

Go on – be brave, have faith and don’t compromise (your audience and your message deserve it).

3. There’s more to life than PowerPoint

Granted, this one might require a small leap of faith (call it a leapette). PowerPoint is not the only tool available to you as a presenter. There – we’ve said it…

Presentation Landscape WheelArmed with nothing more than a good understanding of your audience, a strong message and structure and, when required, the ability to visualise key elements of your story, you can deliver a presentation armed with nothing more than a pen and napkin/whiteboard/notepad.

If you wish to get fancy, you might want to dust down the tablet you were given a couple of years back in a pique of technological excitement (it’s not just for Angry Birds). Or you might want to try the multitude of other options out there (Prezi, Powtoon, Keynote, SlideRocket…the list goes on).

We’ve never had so many options to consider as presenters so have a look around and see what works for you and your audience…and what doesn’t. And it’s this last bit that is soooo very important. Whatever option(s) you choose, it is imperative that it works for your audience.

Not you – your audience.

Playing with new technology is always fun but if the net result of your experimentation is a presentation that bamboozles your audience or leaves them thinking more about the animation effect you used rather than your message, you’ve messed up.

So there you go…three simple changes to the way you approach presentations that will make all the difference. A difference to the way you engage with your audiences, a difference to the clarity and impact of your message and a difference in the results you’re likely to get from all your hard work. What’s not to like?

Have a wonderful 2015…

The Eyeful Team x

A Personal View on Eyeful Europe

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 by Simon<

The launch day excitement regarding Eyeful Germany has slowly subsided here at Eyeful Towers. The pre-launch fine-tuning, spell-checking and frantic conversations about foreign language Search Engine Optimisation has given way to a post-launch zen-like state.

This short breather has allowed me some time to ponder Eyeful’s growth overseas. Frankly, an international presence was never part of the plan – a quick glance at what could be loosely described as a business plan from 10 years ago makes no mention of expansion overseas whatsoever.

So why, after 10 years, have we ended up with presence in North America, Russia, Ireland, Holland and now Germany? Some of it was grabbing hold of the opportunity when it arose (Russia and Ireland), some of it was planned (Holland) and some because our customers demanded support over there (North America).

Some of these international experiments have been a great success, some less so. The difference? An appetite to challenge the status quo and push presentations forward – some parts of the world have it, some don’t (yet).

Which brings me to the excitement I personally feel for our expansion in Europe. Despite differences in language, cultures and (for the foreseeable future!) currency, the UK feels more aligned to the countries of Europe than anywhere else in the World. In much the same way as when I started working with Sander in Holland to build out a team of presentation experts back in 2011, expansion of our offering into Germany doesn’t feel like a ‘land grab’. It’s deeper than that – it’s more akin to building the team than breaking new ground.clogs

In my opinion, much of this comes down to culture. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some huge European based brands over the years and have spotted a pattern around a shared culture.

Irrespective of language (the majority of our Presentation Optimisation engagements are carried out in English but many aren’t) there was a common understanding that the work we were doing was important, valid and relevant. European customers truly recognise the value of great presentations and are hungry to look beyond our undoubted design skills to something more involved and ultimately satisfying*. It’s no coincidence that the concept of The Presentation Landscape came from a tour of businesses in Holland.

Hence the excitement as we open up new opportunities in Europe – the shared enthusiasm for great presentations is infectious. It’s driving us to raise our game, throwing more time, energy and resources at innovating on behalf of our customers. Europe is awash with businesses that want to push audience engagements past the trite ‘storytelling’ and ‘lipstick on a pig’ techniques of old and grasp new approaches such as Blended Presenting. Their hunger combined with our insight and experience can only benefit audiences across the Continent.

Our experience shows that Europe is ready for the challenge…and so are we.

* It’s interesting to note that sales of The Presentation Lab in Europe dwarf those across the rest of the World. Some of this could be attributed to local marketing (our own and the publishers) but I wager a general appetite to think beyond PowerPoint slide design also has a part to play.

Flying The Flag For Powerful Presentations…in Germany

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Simon<

It’s with a whole heap of excitement that we formally announce the arrival of our German website – http://www.eyefulpresentations.de

Eyeful Germany Website HomepageWhile we’ve been hard at work improving presentations across Europe for some time (and making quite a few friends along the way), this new development allows us to focus on the specific presentation needs of German businesses, large and small.

As part of this development, we’re delighted to welcome Thessa Roderig into the Eyeful family. Thessa not only shares the same unbridled passion for powerful presentations as the rest of the Eyeful gang but also has the unique insight of seeing it from the customer’s side of the fence.

Her experience of working with the Eyeful team on an important presentation proved so powerful that she’s decided to support our growth across Germany.  Frankly, it’s the best endorsement we can think of!

To learn more about this exciting news, check out the Podcast below or pop along to our sparkling, box fresh website here.

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

Reviewing the Reviews

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 by Justine<

Its six months since The Presentation Lab book hit the shelves and our initial nervousness about how it would be received has (almost) passed. Quite a few of our friends and customers have commented on how useful a resource it is but we’re realists here at Eyeful and we know that the real test is what people we don’t know think about it.

Many of us read reviews as part of the decision making process and we know that people who write reviews have two distinct areas of motivation. Reviewers generally share their thoughts because they are either delighted or incensed, reviews of a ‘not bad at all’ nature are fairly hard to find and part of the fun of reading reviews is the search for the hidden subtext and skewed perspective that may have spawned them. We know it’s practically impossible for the same hotel to be both disgusting and delightful; reviews are by definition subjective and occasionally tell us much more about the reviewer than the subject.

Reading reviews about something that you’re invested in is an odd experience. Yes, the book was written by our MD Simon Morton, but what it contains is important to us all. It’s the methodology that sets us apart from our competitors, enables us to produce engaging presentations time after time and keeps us enthusiastic about the task at hand. This is the stuff that keeps us all in gainful (and generally enjoyable) employment.

We know that our customers love what we do and that it gives them a real advantage, but our customers know us too, they’ve experienced our passion and expertise first hand. Putting all that into a book is like sending it out into the world completely unsupervised with no responsible adult to shepherd and support its journey. Finding out whether it can stand alone and succeed is nerve racking to say the least.

So, how is it fairing out there all alone in a big, bad world?

Well, despite the obvious temptation to bust the first rule of reviewing and say ‘not bad at all’ we’re going to have to shed some of our traditional British reserve and say ‘pretty damn good’. The fact that people seem to like the book is lovely, but the fact that people are putting the ideas and methodologies into practice for themselves is even better; in fact it’s bloody brilliant!

We love that one reviewer read the book and decided not to do a traditional presentation at all, we’re thrilled that people found a presentation message that works for all types of communication and we feel a small burst of pride every time the words ‘useful’, ‘accessible’ and ‘practical’ appear. It’s also worth noting that Simon felt it a personal triumph when a reviewer cited his ‘sense of humour’ as a selling point.

All in all it seems that The Presentation Lab is doing us proud just by being itself, which makes it a bona fide member of the Eyeful team!

Presentation lab soft copy

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.

blog2blog3 blog4blog1

 

Internal Presentations – How To Make The Difference

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 by Justine<

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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….

 

Customer Care the Eyeful Way

Friday, June 27th, 2014 by Justine<

Successful companies need to master two things, a great product and great customer service.

Some companies approach this through a process that should strike fear into the hearts of consumers (and business owners) everywhere and is most charitably described as ‘managing customer expectations’.

All too often this actually means lowering customer expectations so that they’ll be impressed by whatever they get.

We do things a little differently here at Eyeful.

Many of our customers’ approach us with presentations that they know are failing visually and while we’re more than happy to help them spruce things up in the short term, the value that we can add goes much deeper.

Anyone who has experienced our full Presentation Optimisation service will know that while our slides are indeed gorgeous they are also engaging and effective – two things that all great communication needs to be.

So we’ve got the great product part licked, what about the customer service bit?

Well over 80% of our customers return to us, presentation after presentation, and that’s because we work hard to raise, and then exceed, their expectations.

Right from the first panicky phone call we let customers know exactly what’s possible by taking the time to understand their business, their audience and their objectives before we even start work on their presentation.

For some customers the whole thing can seem a little bemusing, having brought in their old banger for an MOT, it’s a little disconcerting to drive off in a brand new Ferrari – and with their wallet intact.

Here one of our specialist presentation consultants, Sally Bailey explains how we build and maintain great customer relationships.

Finding out what a bit of Eyeful love can do for your business communications is easy, just get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help.

The Three P’s That Make The World Cup More Than Just Football

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 by Justine<

Apparently something interesting will be starting tomorrow.

It’s called the World Cup and you may have heard some chatter about it.

So, ever keen to remain topical I have been tasked to blog about it and somehow make it relevant to business presentations. I’ve ventured into football once before when a certain Mr Klinsmann decided to use PowerPoint for strategy demonstrations (and whatever the results on the pitch, I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me an obvious hook to hang the blog on)!

Having established that I have very few credentials, I’m going to plough on regardless and see where we end up…

Obviously the football itself is a big part of The World Cup, but much like the Olympics the sport is not the whole story.

Even as someone who has never willingly watched a football match, there are a few (well four) things even I know about the World Cup. I know that England won it in 1966 and after that we’re down to the three P’s Paul, Pickles and Panini.

Paul is of course the psychic cephalopod that correctly ‘predicted’ the outcome of matches in the 2010 World Cup. Initially specialising in the assessment of German chances of victory, Paul went on the correctly predict the outcome of the Spain-Netherlands final.

Pickles was the dog that sniffed out the missing Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966 after it was stolen from a stamp exhibition (!) in Westminster. Unfortunately Pickles wasn’t on hand in 1983 was it was stolen for a second time (or was it)?

Panini are the makers of the sticker albums that have been a feature of the World Cup for as long as I can remember. I may have even been sucked in to collecting at some time in the early eighties (kids will do just about anything to fit in), but even at that tender age I could have told you what a couple of mathematicians from the University of Geneva have just worked out – that the economics of completing the album on your own are truly frightening.

So with Brazil 2014 upon us, how on earth can these three P’s help us be better at another one – presentations?

As I established at the beginning, I’m pretty much ambivalent about the game itself. But there are things associated with it that have piqued my interest and I’m always up for the sweepstake*.

The next time you present it may be worth considering that at least some of your audience will be a lot like me – not really interested in what you’re about to present.

It’s entirely plausible that they won’t be impressed by statistics (145 goals scored in the 2010 World Cup means nothing to me), and very likely that their enthusiasm will be pretty hard to ignite (although I’m keeping a keen eye of Terrence the Tortoise). While the main event won’t have much to interest me, some of the stuff lurking on the sidelines certainly will.

A tough crowd; but not an impossible one – if you take the time to try and understand them and create a story that means something to them.

Knowing what interests and motivates your audience will enable you to create a presentation that engages them and turning around a disinterested audience is one of the best (and most productive) experiences in business.

To find out more check out the Audience Heatmap section of The Presentation Lab book (page 210) or give us a ring.

1950 world cup

*When Bosnia and Herzegovina lift the cup in Brazil I, for one, shall be cock-a-hoop