It’s a little while now since I dabbled in art but today the ever informative internet has thrown up another instance where art can help us to understand presentations better.
Scientists have confirmed that Picasso’s The Blue Room is actually painted over an earlier image of a man with a moustache. This is not an unusual phenomenon, many artist did this as part of the creative process and to reuse expensive materials, indeed Picasso’s own Woman Ironing also hides a moustachioed gent (but Picasso’s penchant for hirsute men is not what we’re here for).
While it’s easy to assume that the original image was painted over with something better and was therefore inferior and not worth investigating, it’s important to remember that newer and better are not the same thing.
Fashions change in art as in everything. Anyone who’s ever bought an old house will know that peeling back layers of wallpaper can be a real journey through tastes that time forgot (and then remembered – and then forgot again). Sometimes things are replaced for nothing more than whimsy and in the case of a struggling artist I suspect that hunger or impending homelessness could also be great motivators to produce something more marketable.
Presentations are subject to the same kind of trends and pressures, often with similar results.
First there were the text heavy slides that included every minutia of the information that we wanted to share in painstaking detail. Then bullet points came along, allowing us to dispense with the standard rules for forming coherent sentences without a second thought.
It’s not that long ago that we all got very excited by clipart and merrily inserted images hither and thither, thus making the whole thing prettier.
Then there were transitions, animations, imbedded videos, motion paths – the list goes on and on. As each new thing arrives it is greedily incorporated into presentations and as its star wanes it is replaced.
But somewhere in amongst all this ‘improvement’ is every presentations ‘moustache man’.
He’s been painted over a hundred times but he’s still important because he’s the reason you have a presentation in the first place.
The problem is that as presentations become more and more advanced they can become more and more removed from their purpose. We’ve seen many variations on this over the years and the results vary from the plain ugly (Presentationstein) to the gravely misguided.
While art conservators employ the latest high tech to find out what’s behind the old masters getting to the heart of your presentation will be much easier, all you need to do is look at it through your audiences’ eyes and ask a few simple questions:
Does my presentation have a natural flow or story?
Is all the content relevant and necessary?
Do the visuals support that content effectively?
Is there a clear call to action?
If any one of these things is missing, obscured, or unclear it might well be that it’s been painted over and the result of this can also be demonstrated by art.
Whilst cleaning a 17th century painting of a coastal scene, restorers found a beached whale that had been painted over. While it’s easy to understand that a painting without a dead animal as its focus would be eminently more market friendly, restoring it did explain the ‘hitherto slightly baffling presence of groups of people on the beach, and atop the cliffs, on what appears to be a blustery winter’s day’.
Whether removing, enhancing or replacing content is for the best aesthetically is always going to be a matter of opinion, but when that process interferes with the integrity of your presentation, and prevents it from making sense, you’ve got real problems.
If you’re worried that your presentation message might have got lost along the way, we’ll be more than happy to help you, simply get in touch to find out how.
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.
Here at Eyeful we’ve built a bit of a reputation when it comes to knowing a thing or two about presentations and we’re proud to have grown from a back bedroom to a company with six international offices in less than a decade.
Over that time we’ve worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes covering every speciality and business sector you can imagine (and some that you probably can’t). Once you wade through the diversity of our customers there are some things that they all have in common, they all contacted us, they all listened to what we had to say and they all left with a fantastic presentation.
But pulling in the punters the first time is only half the game, to use a phrase we’re very fond of here at Eyeful Towers ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ and with well over 80% of our customers returning for seconds it seems we’ve got the recipe right.
So, what about those companies that never contacted Eyeful? Why should they be any more interested in The Presentation Lab book than they are in Eyeful Presentations and who the hell do we think we are telling them how their presentation should be and hawking the book at them left, right and centre?
In traditional Eyeful fashion we’re tackling this one head on.
Here Simon shares his credentials with the world and explains why it’s worth the naysayers taking a twenty quid punt on finding out just what makes an Eyeful presentation so special.
Sales Enablement is a hot topic, and as is want to happen when something becomes big news, there are thousands of pages of wisdom on the subject. But thousands of pages don’t necessarily equate to answers that make sense for you, and your business, right now.
Well known for our inquiring minds, we’ve decided to dig a little deeper into this murky netherworld to try and find out what it’s all about. In true Eyeful style we’re sharing the results of our investigation with our lovely readers, starting tomorrow we’ll be airing our insights on some of the key issues and we’ll be topping the whole thing off with a lovely new whitepaper which will be available to download next Monday.
So for those of you bamboozled by Sales Enablement ‘science’, unsure of whether there’s anything of worth hidden in the arguments or simply embraced by curiosity, watch this space and we will reveal all…
We’re currently looking for US based communication consultants to join our team. We need people who share our passion for presentations to join us on what we know will be an exciting journey.
We can sum up our success in one word – Eyefulocity. All our people have it…and it’s what makes our customers love us. If you believe that business presentations deserve to be engaging and would welcome a little Eyefulocity into your life, drop us a line…
Regular readers will know how we love to wrap serious messages in seasonal frivolity.
So without further ado, here’s a Halloween offering about one of the scariest (and least effective) of presentation shockers….Presentationstein
Turn the sound up, sit back and prepare to be horrified at what could well be happening to your presentation…
P.S. If the whole thing looks spookily familiar, simply breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth thinking happy thoughts until the panic dies down…..then get in touch and we’ll help you lay the monster to rest.
Nestled between the excitement of holidays and the anticipation of Christmas, autumn is a challenging time of year for sales teams everywhere. It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm as the nights draw in and the leaves begin falling – but there’s still work to be done, and targets to be met.
Many of you will be about to embark on the annual trawl through the lost opportunities of spring but before you pick up the phone it’s time to review why they were lost in the first place and what new offering you have for them. Maybe they have decided to defer their investment until next year or maybe you just failed to make a connection, and if you couldn’t connect in spring, how will you connect in autumn?
Many sales teams will have been using the same collateral for almost a year and that’s a long time in business. Products and services change and evolve constantly and your customers’ needs and expectations do too.
Here at Eyeful we know that making your sales team achieve that final push is easier than you might think, all it takes to breathe new life into lagging sales is a little fresh thinking.
With this in mind we’ve put together an autumnal update webinar designed to breathe new life into sales teams everywhere.
We’ll help you understand your audience better, reinvigorate your sales, explain why slides are out and stories are in and give you all the tips you’ll need to communicate effectively anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
It’s not about airy fairy strategies and fanciful ideas, it’s about the stuff that works and brings real results.
It’s free to attend simply click through the links below to register and we’ll help you make those sales.
A couple of recent news stories have given us pause for thought here at Eyeful Towers. Firstly it seems a Chinese zoo has been replacing exotic animals with domestic ones and secondly a new species of mammal has just been ‘discovered’ despite an example living in Washington Zoo for a number of years.
While this may seem, at first, to have little relevance to presentations but these are both great examples of how an audience (and a number of experts) can be lead merrily along the garden path, and what happens when they realise.
Respecting your audience is key to bringing them around to your way of thinking. If you underestimate the effort needed to engage and retain them, you’ve already lost them.
So when is a lion not a lion? In this example the simple answer would be ‘when it’s a dog’. It’s easy to look at this story and suspect that it’s ridiculous, but it wasn’t just the lion they replaced. The dog masquerading as a wolf could easily pass unnoticed (unless it was a miniature poodle) but dogs were also playing the part of leopards, while coypu (the largest of the guinea pig family) were labelled as snakes.
Which leads me to wonder just how long they really got away with it?
Audiences are not stupid, but as human beings we are usually reticent to contradict what we’ve been told by an ‘expert’. We’re likely to be suspicious and unbelieving but unlikely to do anything about it. We know something isn’t right but won’t speak out just in case we make fools of ourselves. So we quietly decide that the whole thing is rubbish and get on with our lives.
Your audience will react in exactly the same way if they believe you’re running fast and loose with facts and figures or if they start to question your integrity. If part of your presentation seems fudged it’s likely that your audience will ignore the whole thing – and you’ll never even know.
As for the mystery mammal now officially named the olinguito, it seems that the creature itself went a long way to pointing out the mistake by refusing to mate with the olingos it was housed with.
Unfortunately the experts who misidentified it weren’t taking any notice.
If you’re not taking any notice of your audience you’re unlikely to be able to communicate effectively with them.
Before you even begin to bring your presentation together you need to know your audience, who they are, what motivates them and why they should care about what you’re saying. And it doesn’t end there if you don’t pay attention to them while presenting you won’t know if they’re not engaged and therefore, you’ll be unable to react by adjusting your content and style to bring them back.
Fortunately we can help with both these problems without anyone having to study for a zoology degree. If you think you may have lost (or maybe never even found) your audience just give us a call.