Posts Tagged ‘Storytelling’

A New Face On An Old Friend? Watch This Space

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by Justine<

The internet is currently buzzing with gossip and speculation about the future of the smartwatch. I have to say that the whole thing feels a little bit odd to me, many of my friends stopped wearing a watch when their smartphone started happily telling them the time and date. Watches were stripped of their singular functionality and became relevant only to traditionalists and the fashion conscious.

I personally feel aggrieved that having left me as often the only watch wearer in the room the tech giants now want to deprive me of the opportunity to tell people (on polite request) that it’s five and twenty to three. Not only that but it seems having a watch that only tells the time could soon fall into the most uncomfortable of classifications, retro chic.

After over a decade of promise wearable tech is now starting to make an impact. We recently looked at the potential of Google Glass and it seems that lessons have been learned with smartwatch tech visionaries and developers are considering both function and form in order to avoid the ridicule faced by Glass wearers. Apple have been making headlines by recruiting four of the biggest names in design and the debate about what their smartwatch will look like is as heated as the one about what it will do.

Early adopters are already spoilt for choice and some of the tech giants are well into their second and third generations and are working on moving the smartwatch away from being a smartphone peripheral to becoming a stand-alone gadget. Whatever your thoughts on where it will end there’s no denying we’ve come a long way from the original Casio calculator watch (much admired icon of 80’s geek cool and now strangely back in vogue).

It does however remain something of a niche market, so what difference, if any, will Apples (highly likely and eagerly expected) foray into the marketplace make when it comes to modern business communication?

At the moment I can see very little impact on the horizon, in fact the whole smartwatch phenomenon seems to be sitting contrary to recent thinking on how effective 24/7 communication actually is. Huge industry names are already starting to try and rein in their employees ‘enthusiasm’ for continual communication. Value is being given to time spent ‘off grid’ and the difference between ‘available’ and ‘useful’ as an employee is a hot topic.

I’m feeling a little controversial today and I think we need to consider the fact that no matter how advanced smartwatches become, it will be a long time before they are much more than another swish looking piece of tech that conspires to create a distraction.

Great communication happens when everyone involved is engaged, in real time, with the conversation.

Many presenters already accept that they will be facing audiences that contain the kind of email addicts and social media enthusiasts who are compelled to continue communicating to the online world rather than paying attention to the real one. It’s no longer seen as rude to take or make a call during a meeting and many people still feel that leaving an email un-answered for an hour will cause some sort of unspecified cataclysmic event that will lead to their eventual destitution. It won’t.

Communicating through rather than via this ever increasing array of technology tempts presenters into to creating something so awesomely stunning that their audiences won’t dare to take their eyes off it for a single second. Or maybe you can set about hijacking all that tech and making it part of your presentation? If every device in the room is pulled into your presentation, your audience will have no choice but to pay attention. Unfortunately neither of these will achieve anything other than a huge investment and a righteously confused or thoroughly annoyed audience.

Your presentation needs to be more interesting than their email, more compelling than their facebook account and more important than a call from their optician. It needs to connect with them on a personal level, address the issues they face and position your solution as an easily actionable way to improve their situation.

Achieving this sounds quite daunting but it’s largely about using old skills in new ways – which brings us right back to watches.

I can never recall an incidence when I have rebuffed a request for the time. I once did just point to the time on my watch while my mouth was full of food, but I’m confident that the addition of a vaguely apologetic facial expression and a half smile still made the whole interaction effective for both parties. I also know that asking for the time with a quizzical expression and a tap on the wrist works well where talking is inappropriate or impossible. And I’ll never forget the look on the face of a small and very annoying child who was confused into silence by being shown the obviously bamboozling face of my analogue watch after his 638th request for the time.

This is the kind of simple interaction that forms the base of every great presentation and no matter how complex the content is you should be striving for the same results and fortunately for you that’s exactly what we’ve spent the last ten years helping businesses do.

To find out how to hone your presentation into an efficient device that achieves a stated task (rather than a multi-functional one that fails all round and detracts from its main purpose) simply give us a call.

smartwatch

 

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New Horizons For The Presentation Lab

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 by Justine<

In the last ten years we’ve worked with customers on every continent except Antarctica. Working in new territories is always exciting and we’ve (mostly) enjoyed facing the challenges and opportunities that international working brings.

Our presentation consultancy service works so well because we take the time to get to know our customers, their businesses and their competitive environment and when this involves a new country it often throws up some interesting considerations.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, we’ve been almost tripped up by cultural differences, learned to assume nothing about emerging markets and occasionally experienced some amusing diversions caused by language and terminology.

When we made our first forays into Russia we soon found out that the phrase ‘Death By PowerPoint’ has only a very literal translation and through our blog comments we know that ‘Giddy as a Kipper’ is not a phrase that travels well (if at all).

What we do know is that everyone we work with has the same goal – to improve their presentations and make new and lasting connections with their audiences.

Almost as soon as The Presentation Lab Book was finished we learned that it would be printed in Spanish as well as English, which at the time caused almost as much excitement at Eyeful Towers as the book itself.

Just this week we have learned that the book will now also be available in Korean so we donned our ‘enquiring minds need to know’ hats and set out to find out more….

The first surprise came from learning that despite it being an isolate language (one that has no known relationship to any other language) there are approximately 80 million speakers worldwide – which is quite a big audience to get to know!

The Republic of Korea is home to the first cloned dog; an Afghan hound named Snuppy and has the second largest Chocolate Museum in the World. Every year people travel from around the globe to experience the Boryeong Mud Festival and Gangnam Style is the most watched music video of all time. All very interesting, but what about business?

Well it seems that Korea has lots of surprises here too. The 2014 OECD Pisa tests ranked South Korea as having the best education system in the world and that’s not the only place they excel. Soeul is ‘the bandwidth capital of the world’ with residents benefitting from an infrastructure investment that gives them the fastest internet connection on the planet and in urban areas 100 Mbit/s services are the average standard, and are currently being improved. Korean car manufacturers were the first to offer (and honour) extended warranties and Korean made electronics are household items around the world.

It seems fair to say that Korea is one of the big boys when it comes to impacting global commerce, they’re not about to rest on their laurels and they love chocolate, which makes them just the sort of people that we love to work with.

korea blog

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Innovation In Action – The Presentation Lab Comes To Life

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by Justine<

As its Friday afternoon and all our UK friends and customers are looking forward to a three day weekend I thought it might be a nice idea to share a little more of our ever popular innovation.

In this little gem Hannah took inspiration from stop motion animation to bring The Presentation Lab book to life.

The result is both captivating and quirky and about as far away from Death By PowerPoint as it is possible to be.

If this doesn’t send you into the weekend with a smile on your face I’ll be very surprised….

To find out more about how our expert designers can bring your presentations to life simply get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help your presentation realise its full potential.

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What Pitch Dropping can tell us about Pitch Presenting…

Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Justine<

Pitch (the tar like substance) is one of the slowest moving things around. It sits somewhere in the murky hinterland between solid and liquid and scientists have proven that getting it to do anything of interest takes a very, very long time.

Pitch (the ‘oh bugger they want to see us on Wednesday, what are we going to do?’) business kind is at the polar opposite of the action/reaction spectrum. It can evoke panic in even the most level headed of presenters.

So how on earth can the first type help us with the second?

It’s not about pitch itself but rather more about its place in one of the longest running scientific endeavours in the world – The Pitch Drop Experiment. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular phenomenon it involves waiting for some apparently solid pitch to fall through a funnel. As you might imagine this is not a whistles and bangs kind of experiment, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

The School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland began their experiment in 1927 since when it has dropped only nine times, In fact the custodian of the experiment for over 50 years Professor Mainstone never saw the actual event. In 1979 a drop fell at the weekend, in 1988 he was fetching a drink when it happened, in 2000 a video camera set up to record the event failed.

In fact it wasn’t until 2013 that anyone managed to capture a pitch drop on film and that honour was taken by a similar experiment set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin. In April 2014 the Australian drop was not only filmed but watched live on line by thousands of enthusiasts.

The scientific reaction was best summed up by Dr Shane Bergin, a physicist and senior research fellow at Trinity, “Eventually, when our one was caught on camera, it provided the world with a kind of scientific ‘Aaaah’ moment,” he says. “As in, finally, we see it!

Everyone knew the pitch was dropping but until they saw it for themselves it was difficult to make a personal, emotional connection to the event.

Business pitches face a similar problem; it’s relatively easy to explain the theory behind your product or solution, to provide statistics to back up its qualities and to regale your audience with how it has been successful at other times and in other places.

But what your audience really needs is the equivalent of seeing the drop fall for themselves.

They need to be able to experience your pitch in a way that connects with them, and they don’t have 86 years to hang around.

Getting it right is about understanding their viewpoint, motivation and situation and then placing your solution right into the heart of their world.

Unfortunately these are things that get the least consideration when panic sets in.

Eyeful and our sister company Sales Engine are on a mission to make sure that every pitch contains that moment. The pitch process can be an arduous journey littered with an unnerving trail of consonant ridden acronyms and intimidating processes that conspire to make the final scene, when you actually get in front of the decision makers, much more intimidating than it needs to be. Having experts at your side on every step of the journey makes a real difference.

So if you’ve got an upcoming pitch and you’re a little concerned that your drop is a long way from enthralling its audience simply pick up the phone, and while the professionals work their magic you can take a step back and possibly find a little time to enjoy the progress of the latest drop (ETA 2028).

pitch drop blog

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The Curse of the Conference Call

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by Justine<

Regular readers will know that we often talk about the Presentation Landscape and try to help our readers understand that presenting isn’t all about standing in front of an audience with a carefully prepared deck.

The best communicators understand that every business interaction is a presentation; even sharing new ideas informally can be more done more effectively if you apply some presentation best practice.

Before you dismiss that as unnecessary advice think about a child trying to persuade a parent to get them a puppy by arguing that it will help them be more responsible and get more exercise. These are not the reasons the child wants the puppy (those are mostly to do with cuteness), but they are the reasons they think their parents (the audience) will want to hear and will (please, please, please) respond to.

Childhood puppy requests should always be listened to with a huge amount of scepticism and it’s important that solid terms are negotiated before a parent even thinks about giving in, which tells us two more important things. Firstly that we have an inherent instinct to communicate in ways that will best engage our audience and secondly that even when we’re not doing business we’re using the same kind of skills and instincts.

So, presenting less formally or presenting without slides is easy because we can trust our instincts and rely on our natural ability to connect and negotiate.

Unfortunately this whole theory seems to fall flat on its face when it comes to conference calls.

It seems that once the people you are trying to communicate with are more than a few feet away all the things we know about engaging and negotiating are thrown out of the window.

Getting a conference call right is about understanding that it is part of the Presentation Landscape and not just an easy excuse to look busy. Rising to the challenge involves all the key presenting skills – know your story – know your audience – be clear with your messaging – make your call to action transparent and concise.

There are no revelations here, yet so many conference calls fail to achieve anything other than inactivity, annoying snapshots of people’s personal lives and uncomfortable silences. Unfortunately this is because they can easily fall into the same ‘no need to bother, it isn’t really important’ abyss that is also often home to Internal Presentations and without help, that’s where they’ll stay.

The clip below is both amusing and toe-curlingly uncomfortable to watch, but the sad thing is that at least some parts of it will ring true with anyone who has ever been on a conference call…

How we do business today means that conference calls are a necessity and businesses that work to understand where they sit in the Presentation Landscape and address the challenges they present will be better placed to take advantage of the opportunities they bring.

If you’d like to know how the creation of a great presentation can be beneficial to all your business communication simply download our free Sales Enablement Whitepaper or give us a call.

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Eyeful Presentations – On Standby During The Commonwealth Games…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 by Justine<

This evening sports and pageantry enthusiasts will be settling down to watch the opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As we know from the 2012 London Olympics the next 11 days will include much to educate and inspire audiences and athletes.

It’s easy to think of the Commonwealth Games as a poor relation to its bigger, brasher cousin the Olympics, but the challenges are the same on every level. Every athlete is trying to give their very best, every spectator is expecting to see sport at its highest level, every person involved in bringing it together is invested in its success and every sponsor is hoping to get the best possible ROI.

Which reminds me a little of how an important presentation comes together…

Here at Eyeful Towers we love a sporting event, and having fully recovered from The World Cup we’re gearing up to enjoy whatever Glasgow brings. To get into the spirit of the thing we’ve all taken a few minutes to find out which sports would suit us best via the entirely scientific channel that is the online questionnaire and the results have been rather interesting.

Should England need to fill a Hockey field in an emergency, we’re (apparently) more than able to help out. We can also (in a dire emergency) swell the ranks in Badminton and take on other Commonwealth hopefuls in both Wrestling and Judo… and we have in our midst a couple of the best disguised athletic throwers you could ever hope to meet.

Which, by my reckoning, makes us exactly the kind of team playing, tactically astute, ready to get stuck in, self-disciplined, multi-talented people you’d want helping you with your next presentation…

Whatever triumphs and tribulations the Commonwealth Games brings, you can rest assured that we won’t be waiting in vain for a call to step in, we’ll be concentrating on what we do best – helping our customers make lasting connections with their audiences.

Commonwealth Stadium

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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.

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The Words That Took A Man To The Moon (And What He Said When He Got There)

Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Justine<

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.

Whether you believe it was one of the greatest examples of just what the human race can achieve or prefer to think that it was flung together in a back lot in Hollywood, there is still much for the modern presenter to think about.

While the motivation behind landing on the moon was largely scientific it became something much more, getting to the moon was about showing off – which nation would have the ingenuity, resource, finance and let’s be honest, sheer kahoonies to get there first?

The stage was set seven years earlier when US president John F Kennedy gave his address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort. You may not be familiar with the speech in its entirety but I’m pretty sure there’s a phrase you will probably have heard “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.

This one sentence played a large part in swaying the American public into believing that the moon was an important goal, a justifiable use of limited resources and a profoundly patriotic endeavour – one sentence allowed a nation to dream and mobilised vast resources to achieve a goal with little or no quantifiable ROI.

If every sentence was that powerful, I’m sure that presenters everywhere would need to be more thoughtful about what they said.

But the linguistic inspiration doesn’t stop there.

At 02.56 GMT on July 21st 1969 Neil Armstrong used just 12 words to convey an event and a feeling that no-one listening could begin to comprehend (and one of those was lost in transmission). “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” is an oft quoted phrase because it achieved what all great communication aims for – complexity through simplicity.

Only 12 people have actually walked on the moon, yet many of us feel some connection with, and understanding of, the experience because those words encapsulated the whole thing so graphically.

If every sentence had that power to create that depth of empathy and emotion, presenters everywhere would need to be more careful about what they said.

Words themselves have no power at all, but the phrases that marked the beginning and the end of the race to the moon share something that every presenter can use to their advantage.

Both phrases were delivered with an integrity and an intensity that connected with their audiences emotionally.

Emotional connections are often dismissed as being a bit ‘touchy feely’ – they’re borderline new age gobbledegook and not at all business like. But in the race for customer engagement addressing your audience on an emotional level can make a huge difference to how they relate to you and your product or service.

Here at Eyeful we’re at the forefront of understanding the why and how of emotionally connecting with your audience. The Presentation Lab book has a whole chapter dedicated to achieving this (page 210) and we’ve developed a methodology we call Audience Heatmaps to help you find the right balance.

Not every presentation will have the power to loosen the purse strings at Congress or inspire a million children to dream about rockets, but you can make a difference to your audience, simply by understanding them better.

Simply pick up the phone or drop us a line to find out more…

moon

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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.

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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….

 

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