Posts Tagged ‘Presentation Skills’

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

Trust in Training – The Holy Grail?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by Sally Bailey<

We’ve been talking about trust a lot recently. Once the flurry of storyflows, storyboards and design concepts have died down, we’ve figured that the success of our presentation projects come down to this one simple thing – Trust.

Trust needs to be present before a client, no matter how confident they are, steps up on stage to deliver a presentation we created with them. Trust underpins the month/year/career-shifting pitch made by a nervous salesperson. Trust sits at the core of an internal presentation that communicates the need for change.

Eyeful Labs - Bubbling UnderTrust is equally important in training and coaching. It forms the backbone of any successful programme – delegates who ‘believe’ grab hold of their new skills and ideas and make the most out of them. Delegates who didn’t quite cross the threshold merely process their expenses and tidily place their course materials on the shelf next to their desk (‘shelf development’ over ‘self development’).

So how do you get it? If only it was as easy as waving a magic wand and ensuring the trust and belief of delegates but the reality is somewhat different. Trust has to be earned. There are no shortcuts or tricks of the trade – just bloody hard work.

However there maybe one exception…

Our Eyeful Labs training would seem to have an unfair advantage due to the topic in hand – presentation engagement. The quality of most presentations is, put frankly, awful – we’re typically starting from a pretty low standard in the first place. As such, by providing a simple, straightforward and logical way of improving the engagement between presenter and audience, we’re onto a winner from the word go. The very nature of the Presentation Optimisation means that improvements are obvious, discernable and repeatable.

Eyeful Labs’ combination of simplicity and process, coupled with huge (personal) leaps forward in terms of clarity and engagement means that trust is easier to win than most. The net result is that delegates are more willing to adopt Presentation Optimisation in the classroom and then have the confidence to ‘give it a go’ as part of their day to day lives, witnessing for themselves the improvements.

This trust creates a good habit that is hard to break, which is good news for presenter and audience alike. What’s not to like?

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.

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

Sales & Marketing Presentation Secrets Revealed

Monday, July 14th, 2014 by Justine<

Our Summer Season of webinars is well underway.

It’s a couple of weeks now since we kicked off with our first session focusing on the intricacies of Sales and Marketing presentations.

Eternally rubbish at keeping great ideas to ourselves, we shared the latest in presentation thinking and gave attendees some practical advice on how to develop, create and deliver Sales and Marketing presentations that get the job done.

For those of you who were unable to join the webinar live, we’ve released a recording of the whole thing that you can peruse at your leisure, all you need to do is grab a cuppa and a biscuit and click on the video below.

There are still opportunities to take advantage of our caring, sharing nature by attending our webinars on Technical Presentation and Event Presentations. All webinars are free to attend and further details and registration links are below.

Technical Presentations are always challenging because they tempt presenters into including every minutiae of detail, mostly because they think that’s what the audience will want. This creates presentations that fail to engage, meaning that most of that carefully collated information misses its target completely.

Join us on Wednesday 16th July at 12 noon (BST) to find out how understanding your audience and managing data can help you connect, click here to register.

Internal Presentations are often considered unworthy of attention, the audience is required to attend and is expecting very little (other than an email free half hour). The standard of internal comms influences how your people communicate to others both in terms of content and quality, so skimping on effort here can have a huge knock on effect.

Join us on Thursday 17th July at 12 noon (BST) to find out why internal presentation matter and how they can add value to your business in ways you never expected, click here to register.

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.

 

Join us at The Presentation SuperSummit

Friday, May 9th, 2014 by Justine<

SuperSummit is a new online platform designed to allow busy professionals to attend the type of event that they’d love to have time for without ever having to leave their desks.

To celebrate their international launch they have brought together the world’s leading presentation and public speaking gurus for a Presentation SuperSummit and our MD Simon Morton will be among the illustrious speakers.

Simon will be taking attendees ‘Inside The Presentation Lab’ at 16.00 on Wednesday 14th May as part of a week long programme that includes 18 sessions all aimed at improving your presentations.

The list of speakers during the week includes: Peter Arvai, CEO & CoFounder of Prezi; one of the biggest presentation platforms with 50 million users. Amit Ranjan, CoFounder of SlideShare; the no.1 platform for users to upload and share publicly or privately, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios. Jeremy Donovan, Group Vice President of Marketing at Gartner Inc. and author of Amazon’s no.1 bestseller “How to Deliver a TED Talk” and Bill Hoogterp, Founder of Own The Room whose clients include Sheryl Sandberg and Reid Hoffman.

Unlike a traditional summit, attendance is free and you’re able to easily cherry pick the sessions that you’d like to hear.

No transport to organise, no hotel to book and no cost means there’s no excuse not to join in….

Click here to find out more.

Spam Strikes Again

Monday, March 10th, 2014 by Justine<

Having a successful blog brings its own rewards, but there is a downside too.

Spammers love a comments box and trawling through nonsensical comments to find the genuine ones is a daily tribulation. As I’ve mooted before spam does have its uses and recent spamming trends have highlighted another way in which it can help us all be better presenters.

To be fair some of the gobbledegook is quite amusing and I now have an encyclopaedic knowledge of where to buy a wide variety of pharmaceuticals, niche pornography and ‘replica’ designer goods. This, in turn, has given me a handy social barometer in that should I ever be called upon to access this bank of information, I’ll know it’s time to get my coat.

Most of these spam comments are high on enthusiasm and extraordinarily low on punctuation and grammar, but there is one spam message that appears again and again like a horror film villain that refuses to lie down on the off chance of a sequel.

This particular miscreant believes itself to be a master of disguise but for anyone used to filtering this sort of nonsense it’s easy to spot, here’s an excerpt for the un-initiated:

 

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more

than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|

I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|

{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch}

your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or{newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?

{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in

order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe. Thanks.|

{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}.

 

As you can see there is some scope for personalisation here but no amount of ‘delete as applicable’ can disguise its true nature and because some spammers can’t even be bothered with that, I can tell you that in its pre personalisation entirety it runs to an impressive 1858 words.

I’m sure that this format can lead to thousands of permutations, but I can state with confidence that they are all as rubbish, formulaic and soul destroying as each other.

It all amounts to a lot of effort that communicates nothing and singularly fails to achieve its goal – in this case my pressing of the ‘approve comment’ button.

This is, of course, my cue to segue gracefully into the subject at hand, presentations in general and more specifically the dangers of sticking to what you know.

Here at Eyeful we’ve seen thousands and thousands of presentations and we know that presentations of the insert name/company/product genre are still alive and kicking (until we get our hands on them that is).

A presentation that you’ve been using for years is not the same as a successful presentation. And a presentation that is almost identical to your competitors is even worse.

Audiences are savvier than ever and business is much more competitive. Your potential customers will know exactly what your competitors are offering and your presentation needs to show them exactly why they should spend their money with you.

Presentation software and hardware has moved forward in leaps and bounds and there is no excuse for relying on old formats or wasting valuable resource on the latest tech just because it looks good.

Fortunately for business everywhere we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve that can help your presentation stand out from the crowd. Presentation Optimisation is a proven way of creating presentations that have real impact and Blended Presenting can help you make connections like never before. There’s also technical PowerPoint and soft skills training and The Presentation Lab Book to get your presentation juices flowing.

Sales pitch over, this is the real world and there’s no point spending time and money fixing something that just ain’t broke. Which is why we’re always happy to provide a free* Presentation Healthcheck to anyone interested in what we do.

We know that floating in a vast sea of mediocre presentations there are a few things of real beauty and if your presentation already shines we’ll send you on your way with a gold star and a pat on the back.

So, if you’re worried that your presentation might have a certain spamminess or that your presentation delivery might not be as good as your competitors them drop us a line and we’ll help you connect with your audience in a way that insures their approval.

Presentation healthcheck

*completely and utterly free of charge and obligation – like free things used to be.

 

 

Good Ideas Travel Well – Great Ideas Do It In Style

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 by Justine<

Eyeful Ireland’s very own Ronan Kinahan has been hob-nobbing with the great and good of Irish politics and industry. Ronan joined some very influential figures on a recent Irish trade mission to the gulf and was thrilled by the reception.

Initially expecting to speak to around 100 delegates word had obviously got round that he was on the bill and registrations were closed at 400 attendees! Never overwrought by the scope of a project Ronan went on to speak to an enthusiastic audience about Vibe Integrated Presentation Skills before moving on to demonstrate just what Eyeful can do to elevate the communication and engagement power of the lowly slide.

Despite the whole experience having the potential to overwhelm (with a side helping of star struck and a soupcon of etiquette panic) Ronan managed to keep a cool head and his seminar was a fine example of how to get it right.

Presenting on how to present is a very singular challenge and an audience can easily be lost if there’s the merest hint of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Fortunately for Ronan and, more importantly, the 400 eager faces that awaited his wisdom the whole thing was a resounding success and created a lot of interest and eagerness to learn more.

Eyeful Ireland can help your presentations shine and you don’t even have to be in the Emerald Isle to take advantage of Ronan’s expertise, simply drop us a line or pick up the phone and we’ll make your presentations stand out from the crowd.

Ronan framed

Pictured left to right: Julie Sinnamon Chief Executive Enterprise Ireland  / Enda Kenny Prime Minister Ireland / Ronan Kinahan (Vibe / Eyeful) / John Bruton Minister for Enterprise

The Eyeful Labs Experience (As Told By Our Lovely Customers)

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 by Justine<

Eyeful Labs has been making waves for a while now and it’s fair to say that the results are better than we could have hoped for.

Those that dare to venture into our dedicated presentation environment all tend to leave smiling and often compliment us on the quality of our sandwiches, but there’s much more going on than a nice day out of the office and a free lunch….

Here some visitors from iS Health tell us all about their Labs experience and share why it’s worth taking the time to consider your presentation in a different light.

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If you’d like to chat about how Eyeful Labs can help your company think differently about presentations (and presenting) just get in touch, we love to chat!