Posts Tagged ‘Storytelling’

Visually Speaking, The Signs Are Good

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Justine<

The power of visuals is something that pervades everything we do here at Eyeful. When we optimise a presentation it often involves taking concepts or data and developing a visual that clearly expresses the content and it’s very often a case of less is more.

With so much technology available many people are tempted to fall in the trap of using every visual trick available to make an impact on their audience but when those images are conveying information a deeper connection is needed.

In the past we’ve looked at how graphics can convey messages effectively and as today is the 83rd birthday of a seminal tome on the subject I thought it was time to have another look.

Now I’m sure some of you will be expecting me to introduce you to a long forgotten publication by an early visual innovator, and indeed when this book first hit the shelves in 1931 there were a lot of sculptors, architects, painters and designers pushing the boundaries, but you’d be categorically wrong.

Today we are celebrating the birthday of The Highway Code.

The kind of informative visual imagery that The Highway Code contains is the sort that is easily dismissed. We see road signs every day and once the L Plates go in the bin, we often pay little conscious attention to the messages they convey. But that’s where their genius lays, road signs use simple visuals to convey concepts that need to be fully received and understood without distracting from the task a hand – in this case driving.

When it comes to presentations your visuals need to perform at a very similar level, they need to communicate their information clearly without distracting your audience from your message.

There have been vast leaps forward in information technology since the road sign was invented and while we do now see the occasional variable message or ‘matrix’ signs we haven’t really welcomed them. Sometimes their information is useful but here in the UK (where we seem to have a particularly low tolerance for things we deem unnecessary) they are often derided as being a ridiculous distraction. For example the nothing-to-report message ‘Tiredness Kills – Take A Break’ is often countered with the observation that taking your eyes off the road to read the flipping sign could also be quite dangerous.

That’s why traditional road signs are a thing of beauty and should be an inspiration to anyone who wants to get their message across clearly without and causing a distraction. But before you all go splashing out £2.50 of your hard earned money on this inspirational masterpiece there are a few things that you need to consider.

The messages that road signs convey are clear and in order to get the same effect from your presentation visuals you also need to have clarity of message, it is often unnecessary to pass every minutiae of detail to your audience and decided what stays and what goes is all about understanding your audience.

Getting it wrong is easy and even the best intentions can lead to the presentation equivalent of this…

 sign

It’s also important to remember that simple is not the same as clichéd. There are some visuals that are best consigned to history we’ve seen them all before and unless the message you want to convey is ‘couldn’t be bothered to find a better visual’ they are best left alone.

Fortunately, here at Eyeful we’re always on hand to help you get it right, we have training courses to help you find out more, specialist consultants who can guide the way and the best designers in the business to bring your presentation to life. (And for those of you who’ve already opened Amazon in another tab to check out The Highway Code, we’ve a book that you might be interested in too.)

Simply drop us a line to find out more.

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Big Data – Best Served In Small Helpings

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by Justine<

As a blogger I spend quite a lot of time searching the internet for inspiration, information and opinion. Sometimes I know what I’m going to write about and sometimes I’m just fishing for the spark that sets the whole thing off. This produces two things – blogs (which is the whole point) and data (which is a by-product).

Every time I access a search engine or visit a site it creates data about that interaction that is collated, sorted, stored and (occasionally) used, but this is only the beginning of Big Data as we know it today.

When it comes to marketing, data is undoubtedly useful.  It’s great to know what your prospective customers might be typing into a search engine and where they might be when they’re doing so, but the inherent problem with Big Data is in its very scope.

The internet exploration that has bought me here today will also have created some misleading data, I cast my eye over an article about using elephants as a scale of measurement, but zoology and quantity surveying are not really of interest to me.

I also read articles that I did not agree with, visited web pages with grammar that bought me out in hives and read one blog that I actually found quite offensive. So while the owners of those sites may be pleased to harvest my data and send me their next marketing campaign, I will be less than pleased to receive it.

When we’re trying to sort out what data is (and is not) useful it helps to think of it like water. Businesses rely on data that comes in a reliable, controllable stream (like a tap) sometimes referred to as Small Data. It helps them understand their marketplace in order to formulate marketing strategies and develop campaigns that target the right people. But too much data becomes a flood that overwhelms businesses hindering their progress and bad data (like dirty water) is not only less than useless, it can spoil the data around it. In this particular simile Big Data is a veritable tidal wave of information and without the capability to manage it correctly it can easily sweep away everything in its path.

From a Big Data perspective my internet shenanigans created lots more information than you might expect. On top of all the actual data I generated there’s a proportion of implied data that comes to life too. Blogging is part of my job so therefore I’m employed, a taxpayer and the proud owner of a national insurance number. I do not work from home so therefore I have transport needs. My computer uses electricity so therefore I have energy requirements. Already I’ve qualified for a plethora of marketing lists and that’s without even beginning to look at the trail of electronic communication that I create every day, or considering the fact that I bank online and my GP has a computerised system for recording my health. (I also inadvertently clicked on a link to an advert for cat food, and I don’t have a cat – sorry).

When so much information is generated it becomes fairly easy to find proof of just about any hypothesis you can think of, for example my cat food mistake could well become part of an ‘increasing demand for pet food in the East Midlands’. Data rarely allows for the foibles and failings that may create it and is always ready to trip those who may rely entirely on its veracity.

Big Data is a messy place and whether or not the thought of incessant spying keeps you awake at night, there’s still plenty to think about.

For many of the businesses that we work with the data balancing act neatly divides into two areas for consideration ‘data in’ and ‘data out’.

‘Data In’ is the stuff that will help you develop your product or service.

‘Data Out’ is about whittling that information down to the stuff that you need to share in order to persuade them to buy it.

So let’s pretend that Sid has invented an amazing new thingummy that will revolutionise how people brush their hair, Sid thinks it’s a great idea and he’s sifted through some Big Data and found out that lots of people have hair and a large proportion of those that do claim to brush it at least once a day. Sid knows exactly what the hair care market is worth and has worked out the exact demographic of his target audience and priced his product accordingly.  He’s even done some good old fashioned market research which has created some Thick Data which when added to the Big Data has led Sid to believe that there is a vast untapped market for his new triangular hair detangling apparatus (RRP £49.99, batteries not included). Sid has paid someone to develop the prototype (who have no doubt consulted some of their own data too) and travelled around the world (creating travel data) to look at manufacturing facilities before placing an initial order for 50,000 units.

Everything Sid’s done so far has been backed up by seemingly sound data and now all he has to do is get the retailers on board. Obviously all the remains is to cram all the data (Big, Thick and Small) that has bought Sid to where he is today into a lovely presentation where it will make every retailer as excited as Sid and the orders will come flowing in.

Unfortunately, that simply won’t work.

The data that Sid collated and used is more than likely interesting only to Sid. It’s also quite likely that any data which didn’t reinforce his obvious excitement regarding his genius invention was ignored and /or replaced (apologies to Sid here, he is an otherwise upstanding and honest citizen). What the retailers need to know is how Sid’s fango dango new device will sit within their product range, how it will appeal to their customer base and whether the supply arrangements and costs are right for them. No problem at all, Sid has all that data too, just add it in to the presentation and we’ll be onto a winner.

But that won’t work either.

Because data is like water a great presentation should contain just enough, served in the right way, to efficiently quench your audiences thirst. Too much data and they’ll struggle to swim through it.

Balancing data is a tricky business and when it comes to presentations there’s more to consider than you might think. Audience Heatmaps are important in understanding which data to include and which to discard. Incorporating data into your story can be challenging and displaying data in a way that engages might well involve using infographics, graphs or charts.

As we know the presentation landscape is also changing and presentations are becoming less formal and more interactive making it even trickier to communicate raw data effectively.

Here at Eyeful we’ve been challenging concepts on presentation content for a while now and managing Big Data comes naturally to us. We’ve developed ways to help our customers identify the data that matters to their audience and then express it in a way that engages them.

We know that endless graphs and chart are soporific and that it’s easy to alienate an audience if they feel that you’re trying to blind them with science. How do we know? We simply asked them.

If you’re worried that Big Data might be drowning your ability to communicate effectively then we’d be happy to show you how your presentation can be improved with a Free Presentation Healthcheck (which will generate no extraneous data at all, but may well make a huge difference to your business).

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Who Should Buy The Book?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Justine<

We’re going to avoid the obvious temptation to suggest that everyone should reach for their wallets and invest in a copy of The Presentation Lab: The Formula Behind Powerful Presentations. This is Eyeful Presentations and we’ve got a reputation to uphold so we’re going to try and be a little more objective and a lot more helpful.

Firstly we can summarily deter some of our potential audience by clarifying the following: if you’re looking for a book that tells you how to make your existing PowerPoint slides prettier, this isn’t it. It’s also not a book that regurgitates the same old “text is bad, images are good” insight that we all kinda know anyway.  So, dear reader, if that’s what you want you can put your twenty quid away and keep browsing.

This is a book designed to be read and then actioned upon.  An unread book is an inherently sad thing and the universe mourns for its unappreciated existence and unfulfilled potential…no more so than when it’s a book written with the avowed intent of making the most out of each and every presentation.

So buying the book is really neither here nor there, the real question is – Who should READ* the book?

Well we’re confident in saying that there’ll be something of interest to anyone who ever has to formulate/write/design/deliver a presentation. And there will be much fuel for evangelism by those who suffer at the hands of poor practice in any of those areas too.

But maybe most importantly this book should be read by anyone who for one moment thinks that any of their competitors might have got their hands on a copy. We’ve often reminded our readers that a poor presentation is a gift to your competitors and a presentation that isn’t making the most of the latest presentation thinking and innovation will be the gift that just keeps giving.

For any of you still in doubt, our intrepid MD (and author of the aforementioned tome) explains all…

 

*please be aware the Eyeful Presentations in no way intends to encourage or endorse the acquisition or retention of The Presentation Lab book by any means other than the tradition ‘cash for product’ exchange system.

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Your Chance To Hear Exactly What Simon Says

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 by Justine<

Following on from the success of his Smarta webchat our intrepid MD, Simon Morton will be guesting on the panel of entrepreneurs at the Birmingham launch of the Santander Breakthrough 50 awards.

Simon will be joining Neil Westwood, founder of Magic Whiteboard Limited, Hannah Wolsey, MD of Urban Coffee Company and Smarta COO Matt Thomas to answer questions and share insight on how to grow a successful business.

Simon has been making quite an impact as a speaker recently and the Eyeful story is one that many start-ups and SME’s would love to emulate, so I’m sure that it will be an interesting evening for anyone interested in starting or growing a business.

The Event is taking place on the evening of March 18th at The Malmaison Hotel in Birmingham; tickets to the event are free and can be booked through this link.

e speak

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If Music Be The Food Of Love…..

Friday, February 14th, 2014 by Justine<

A couple of years ago we decided that it was time to lavish a little Eyeful love on an area oft neglected by businesses – hold music.

Being on hold can be one of the most life-force-sucking wastes of time available and it’s easily made better (or worse) by the quality of what you’re forced to listen to. After all you’re not going to dare to stop listening because of that infernal universal law ensuring that your call will only be answered during a period of inattention on your part.

In true Eyeful style we decided to eschew Greensleeves and turn our backs on unending lists of services that would be available, should anybody ever answer the phone. We set out to make the on hold experience altogether more entertaining. So every month a member of our HQ team chooses a favourite track and we tell our holdees a little bit about that person and why they picked that track.

Consequently (and quite apart from being one of the best presentation consultancy and design services in the world) I’m confident in saying that we’re probably unique when it comes to receiving requests to be put back on hold.

The whole project has been much more successful than we could have imagined and now we’re hoping to spread the love by offering our friends, customers and followers the chance to join in.

All you need to do is click on this link and tell us what you’d like to hear and why, then our Earful audio guru Matt will work his magic and you’ll be able to hear your favourite tune every time you ring us.

shiny icon eyeful music (2)

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Between The Covers of The Presentation Lab

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 by Justine<

A couple of weeks ago our illustrious MD Simon Morton shared his thoughts on why he undertook the task of committing our presentation expertise to paper. Writing The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula Behind Powerful Presentations was a huge undertaking and while it’s impact on us, and our customers, is already being felt, it’s impact on the larger world of business communications is still to come.

Modern presentations are the product of years of advances in software and technology and making them visually stunning is easier than ever before. Not only that, but there are a plethora of books telling you, minute step by minute step, how to get PowerPoint ‘popping’ – The Presentation Lab is not one of them.

So once you’ve stripped out the whizz bang of visual impact, what’s left to fill a book?

Well, for those of you who like your presentations to connect and engage rather than dazzle and stupefy, there’s a whole lot of great stuff to get your teeth into and here’s a quick look at what’s on offer….

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Sales Enablement – The Content Battle

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 by Justine<

Information overload is a phrase that becomes more appropriate the further technology advances. There is so much information available at the tap of a keyboard, it’s getting harder and harder to get your story heard.

What many people don’t realise is that differentiation is not about being different; it’s about being who you are in a way that your customers can engage with.

Here Simon explains why it’s important to not only understand your marketplace but also deliver a message that resonates with your audience and creates real connections.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at The Power of Story and our Sales Enablement whitepaper will be available for free download on Monday 10th February.

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Sales Enablement –The Debunking Begins

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 by Justine<

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…

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Another Presentation Book – Is That Really Necessary?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 by Justine<

Self-promotion is always a tricky balance. Regular readers will know that it’s easy to both overdo it and almost forget to fly your own flag.

But in true Eyeful style there are some things that we can’t help getting a little bit over excited about and The Presentation Lab book is one of them.

Since its inception ‘The Book’ as we like to call it has had its very own blog and with publication looming on the horizon (we’re not quite counting down the ‘sleeps’, but we are planning the party) we’re all getting a little giddy about the whole thing.

But, some may say, there’s still an important question to answer “Does the world actually need another book on presentations?”

The only man who can possibly answer that is someone who gave it a lot of thought before committing to the whole (laborious, amazing, frustrating, challenging, enlightening, all-consuming, gratifying, mind-map-a-licious, exhilarating,  audio fuelled and stationery intensive)  process of putting pen to paper – so here he is….

 

The Presentation Lab: Learn The Formula Behind Powerful Presentations is available to pre-order now via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers of repute.

 

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It’s All About You….

Monday, January 20th, 2014 by Justine<

Or Is It??

Sometimes a news story pops up that really gets us thinking. Often as not it’s something that makes us look at presentations from a new angle or gets our juices flowing about communication in general and last week threw us a corker.

Chen Guangbiao is a Chinese businessman who has created a business card that is causing quite a few raised eyebrows.

We’ve chatted about business cards here before and the important part they play in making a first and (hopefully) lasting impression. But the reason we’re so interested in Chen Guangbiao is that he has provided an outstanding example of a couple of mistakes that we help our customers eradicate in their presentations.

You can see this tome of self-promotion in all its glory here but I’m more than happy to share his listed achievements:

Most Influential Person of China
Most Prominent Philanthropist of China
China Moral Leader
China Earthquake Rescue Hero
Most Well-Known and Beloved Chinese Role Model
China Top Ten Most Honorable Volunteer
Most Charismatic Philanthropist of China
China Low Carbon Emission Environmental Protection Top Advocate
China’s Foremost Environmental Preservation Demolition Expert

And yes, they are all listed on his (average sized) business card along with more contact details than you could wish for….and a photo.

All of which carries us seamlessly to the subject of content cramming.

There are people who believe that the more information you share, the more informed your audience will be. On the surface there seems little to argue with here but the Human brain has many amazing qualities including the ability to shut off completely when overloaded. We know that busy slides are a sure fire way of disengaging an audience – if you can’t be bothered to pick out the important bits, why should they be?

Moving on….as mind boggling as his list of achievements is, it’s not immediately apparent what he can do for me. To be fair he does also include his job title (and it’s more informative than some I’ve come across) but by the time I’ve waded through that far I’m not sure that I’m still interested. It’s easy to be dismissive but his egocentric synopsis is exactly the same as using the first four slides of your presentation to introduce yourself, your head office, your executive board and your organisational organogram. You run a real risk of your audience switching off before you get anywhere near the point of your presentation.

Both these mistakes can be avoided by taking the time to understand your audience, if you can give the information they need in a way that they can easily relate to their circumstances, then you’re on the right track. If you can also get under the skin of their motivation and make that the centre of your messaging then you’re onto a winner.

So where does that leave us when it comes to assessing the merits (or otherwise) of this particular rectangle of card? Well I can only say this…if the point of this card was to create an online buzz that got bloggers, experts and pundits talking about it, then success has been achieved. Unfortunately for Chen I can’t help feeling that we weren’t exactly his target audience and that by not taking the time to work out who was and why they might want do business with him; he’s missed a real opportunity.

If any of this strikes a chord with you or (and this one’s purely for our own personal amusement) you have a business card that can rival Chens please get in touch, we love to chat.

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