Eyeful Tomatoes

July 1st, 2015 by Simon

I’m happy to go on record as a frustrated gardener/farmer – a kind of cross between Monty Don and that chap on Countryfile.

Each year I throw myself into the growing season with gusto, confident that my explorations into the more exotic crops will pay dividends (quite why I thought that watermelons would grow in Shropshire is beyond me).

Eyeful TomsSo while the more adventurous of my horticultural experiments limp slowly towards the compost bin, I always have the ‘old faithful’ tomato plants to fall back on.  Over the years, a tradition has emerged of bringing the excess tomato crop into ‘Eyeful Towers’, thus spreading compost and a sense of hearty organic wellbeing around the office.

This year’s crop got snapped up pretty quickly so perhaps it’s time to expand the repertoire – chilli peppers anyone?

“Coming a Close Second” – Beaten by a Better Story

June 25th, 2015 by Simon

Let me paint a picture of what could be viewed as sales nirvana.

You’ve been asked to pitch (along with a number of other companies) to a new prospect who has a well defined need perfectly matching your company’s services.  It’s a level playing field but, on the surface at least, it looks like things are weighed in your favour – you know the sector, have the better product, can demonstrate expertise through great testimonials and, joy upon joy, your pricing is extremely competitive.

Happy days indeed…  The date of the pitch is booked, you deliver it with well versed confidence and await the phone call.

“Thank you very much for your time but we’ve decided to go with another vendor.  It was a tough decision but you came a close second”.

You lost. 

In case of emergencyIt’s official yet still seems unfeasible for the simple reason that all the cards were stacked in your favour.  Best product, best references, best fit…yet they decided to go with what is widely recognised as lesser competition.

Cue the excuses…

“They’d made up their minds before we even met”

“The competition must have bought the business”

“Maybe they’re related to the competition?”

In my experience, it has less to do with these (occasionally) plausible excuses and more to do with something at your end – the ugly truth is that the competition’s story was simply better than yours. 

But what does this mean?

In simple terms, they delivered their message in a way that truly resonated with the prospect.  This might have been the way they engaged the audience at the start of the presentation (here’s an idea – open up your pitch by sharing insight and understanding of your audience’s needs/sector than rather than banging on about how many offices your business has around the globe).

It might have been the way they used technology and visuals to memorably connect with the audience (a simple visual is worth a thousand corporate speak bullet points).

Heck, it might have simply been the fact that they listened intently to the specific needs of the prospect rather than rolling out the same ‘one size fits all’ generic presentation that had bored less inquisitive prospects before.  Perhaps taking a moment out to carefully plan their response won them the deal.

In short, when it came down to the inevitable beauty parade, you turned up on time, went through the motions as professionally as the next person…but left without ever demonstrating your understanding of their needs or building an authentic connection with the audience.
You undoubtedly have a great story to tell (most successful businesses have a plethora of engaging content hidden way gathering dust) but the sad fact is that you’ve probably forgotten it over time.

Step 1

Take a step back from your well worn ‘creds presentation’ and review it through the eyes of your audience – does the story engage, excite or entice?  Do you feel any connection with it whatsoever…or is it the same collection of business buzzwords and elaborate and overly complex diagrams that do little to differentiate you from the competition?  Answer one simple question – is it fit for purpose in today’s marketplace?

Step 2

Go through your win-loss reporting for the last 3 months (or longer as sales cycles dictate) and honestly ask yourself the question – how different would this be if your sales team were equipped with a story and tools that truly and comprehensively engaged your audience on their terms?

Step 3

Go back to a selection of those lost deals and ask them what they remember of your pitch.  If the answer is that they recall your key message, chances are your presentation is in good stead and you may want to review your value proposition.  If the answer is “um…I can’t recall any specifics”, it’s time to review your story and presentation.

Unfortunately sales isn’t like the Olympics – there are no prizes for second place.

PS – If steps 1 – 3 don’t focus the mind, call upon the professionals to conduct a thorough Presentation Healthcheck and get your story back on the straight and narrow).

Tech Season – The Presentation Landscape

June 22nd, 2015 by Matt

In this week’s Tech Season we look at a concept called the Presentation Landscape.

The Presentation Landscape is a fascinating concept that Eyeful’s founder Simon Morton came up with after spending many years working with customers and helping them to create more effective presentations.

It is a concept I absolutely love because it un-muddies the waters around presentations and the technology used to either create or deliver them.

And that is an important distinction to make here. The technology you use to create your presentation will not necessarily be the technology used to deliver it.

rsz_landscape_2

So, where do you start?

Newsflash – Presentations do not start by opening up PowerPoint. Those that do, are the presentations you hate giving and hate receiving even more.

The technology that would be used to create and deliver the end presentation is not where a presentation begins. It’s not an afterthought but a consideration for further down the line.

So you need to put the tech on hold and think long and hard about your audience, your message and your content.

The creation sequence is in 4 stages:

rsz_presentation_stages

Let’s assume you have read The Presentation Lab book, or at least our recent Story Season and thus you have considered your audience and worked out your message and story you intend to deliver.

If this isn’t clear to you, hold at this point and talk to Eyeful – our consultants are presentation messaging experts.

After stages 1 & 2 are ready, you actually just for a moment need to jump ahead to stage 4 and consider your live presentation environment and situation.

Your presentation delivery will sit in either the formal, interactive or informal area of the presentation landscape and it’s this which defines what the software and hardware options are.

Ignore this and you could end up presenting to ten people on a tablet device, sitting down over a coffee with a single prospect and pulling out a laptop and a projector. This isn’t just awkward – it’s plain daft.

So look at the landscape and choose the best and most relevant delivery software which then indicates what creation software you should use.

You can now get cracking on your support visuals.

So there you have it – the presentation landscape in all its glory. Use it wisely, keep it in a safe place and share it widely with colleagues who continually get their presentation technology confused.

If you haven’t already do follow this blog as we release more and more articles for tech season. This week we are releasing more blogs with examples of where differing presentation scenarios might sit on the landscape.

And next week we will start on the technology… there will be software reviews, technological tips and even a look at alternative technology such as using a phone to control PowerPoint.

And if you have any technical questions please feel free to ASK MATT! Just drop me a message at the bottom of this blog post and I’ll get back to you.

Or if you have a presentation to give and need some expert advice for any stage of the process just pick up the phone and give us a ring on 0845 056 8528.

Are You Trying To Fax An Elephant?

June 18th, 2015 by Matt

The Power of Story – The Content Battle

Here at Eyeful we know a bit about content. When we began in 2004 it seemed like every presentation included a picture of a Head Office and photos of the board members. We got to where we are today by being the first presentation company to ask why?

Once we’d persuaded people to cut out the unnecessary we started to get them focusing on what really mattered…

The breakthrough started with a simple premise – message and content reign supreme.

We stopped talking about slides and started telling stories.

There’s a reason that you recount the plot of a film when trying to remember an actors name – it’s the power of story.

Tapping into this power can allow you to draw prospects in and help them engage with your content.

It’s not touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo stuff we’re talking about; it’s the heart of Sales Enablement.

Connecting with prospects and communicating effectively with them is the difference between “interesting” and “where do I sign?”

Telling your story

A great story that no-one hears is no story at all.

Once your people know the ‘what’ of messaging it’s time to address the ‘how’.

The array of hardware, software, technology and methodology available to modern business storytellers is stupefying. Many companies invest heavily in technology to get their story across but unless the message, the tech and the audience are compatible you may as well be trying to fax an elephant.

rsz_1fax_elephant

While the vast majority (theoretical physicists excepted) will immediately see the absurdity of that statement, many Sales and Marketing functions will have been guilty of attempting similar feats.

Presenting to ten people on a tablet device, sitting a single prospect in front of a cinema sized screen and dimming the lights or wasting precious time battling uncooperative technology are all examples of how to get it wrong.

There are no bad ways of communicating but there are a thousand ways to communicate badly.

Somewhere in the depths of time a phrase was coined that should strike fear into the hearts of storytellers everywhere – ‘Death By PowerPoint’. This phrase has become shorthand for everything that is wrong in modern business communication and has implications that reach far beyond traditional slides delivered in traditional ways.
Every interaction you have with your prospects and customers is, in the purest sense, a presentation. You present your company, yourself and your product or service every time you interact. And once you realise that every part of your Sales Enablement process is another presentation you’re ready to start addressing the issues that can cloud your story and overshadow your message.

Knowing how to communicate effectively for the (seemingly) limitless combinations of audience/technology/environment/time combinations can seem daunting but is largely common sense and a skill that anyone can master. We call it Blended Presenting but in this context it can be thought of as the interactive and engaging aspect of Sales Enablement.

Regardless of the tools and technology used, they only need to achieve one thing – bringing your prospect and your story together.

If you need help doing this, then just contact the presentation experts.

Tech Season is Open

June 12th, 2015 by Matt

After the excellent feedback we received for our recent blog series, Story Season, it got us thinking about the next logical thing to talk about that will help folk’s like you on the path to better more effective presentations…

And the next logical step? Technology!

PowerPoint has come in for some serious bashing over the years, phrases like ‘Death by PowerPoint’ and ‘PowerPoint is evil’ have been bandied about – some organisations have even banned PowerPoint.

I have my own thoughts on the small orange one and I’ll save these for later in Tech Season.

But if PowerPoint is so bad, let’s find out what else is out there and if there truly is a better option?

And that’s just talking about presentation production software, I’m not stopping there!

Over the next few months I’m going to be going into geek overdrive, I’ll be digging out new programs, apps, tools – any kind of technology that I can get my hands on that might help improve and make your presentation life a bit easier – from creating to standing up and presenting – I’ll thoroughly test them out and review their usefulness for you, I’m going to geek it up big time!

rsz_apple_watch

Tech Season kicks off properly next week with an introduction to the Presentation Landscape, which will give you a full understanding of where technology sits when it comes to presentations. It might sound like the be all and end all, but technology only plays one or two parts in the presentation process.

So keep an eye out for this one, or drop us a comment below and sign up to be alerted to new blogs, as this information you don’t want to miss. If you can’t wait for the next blog to decide which piece of tech you should be using for your presentation just give us a call, we’d love to talk to you.

The Best Presentation Training In The World?

June 11th, 2015 by Liz

You heard it here first…. Eyeful’s really rather exciting, new and improved Training offering is about to launch!

Today, I hit print on a document that’s been 18 months in the making – but with the Eyeful website going through a complete rebrand, I was tempted to hold fire on writing this blog until the site goes live.

But in true Eyeful style, I’m just way too excited about what I’ve got to share, to wait until then.

So here it is…

The Presentation Lab book was released to critical acclaim last year and this amazing piece of collateral was too good not to share in more ways, so we’ve used it to inspire our all new modular training offering.

The training we’ve been delivering for the last decade was good, it was working well and was delivering real impact for our customers.

The kind of feedback we received was positive…

“Strategic, Focused, Challenging, Thought Provoking, Inspirational”

These were the things we heard most, which of course made us happy, very happy in fact.

But as the saying goes, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.

And the release of The Presentation Lab was just the impetus and direction we needed to start thinking and tinkering with our training packages.

And we spent a lot of time thinking. In the Labs, on the drive to and from work, at the weekends and on the odd sleepless night too.

And so, here it is, our new and improved modular approach to Presentation Training.

rsz_training_graphic_2

We’ve focused the training on 4 key areas.

Story Using Story to engage with your audiences.

Visuals Using Visuals to deliver results.

Delivery Tools Using the right Delivery Tools in the Right Way for maximum impact.

Bitesize 90 minute bitesize “lunch and learn” sessions.

Each subject area contains flexible modules that allow you to focus on the areas that you need the most, and not have to sit through a day’s worth of training just to get to that part.

The modules in each area compliment and strengthen each other, providing the most flexible approach to the training you receive.

We’ve painstakingly spent the last 18 months listening to your feedback and created a new offering in line with what you need.

We’ve put this program together with you in mind, we’ve looked at all types of training that’s out there, taken inspiration from the best ideas and mixed these in with our own methodologies, creating a blend of modules that will give presenters like you, the very best chance of presentation success.

Because we always want to deliver more to you. That’s just what we do, what we are in fact all about!

This is a very exciting time for Eyeful and if you think your team could benefit from seriously upping their game when it comes to creating presentations, then follow our blog and keep an eye out over the next week or so as we release more in-depth information around each of the subject areas.

If you just can’t wait and would like to book into the labs whilst we still have summer availability, then please do get in touch.

We would love to chat.

The 5 Levels of Audience Reaction

June 4th, 2015 by Matt

Are your presentations not hitting the heights you would like? Are hard earned opportunities falling faster than Felix Baumgartner?

Perhaps a clue as to where you’re going wrong can be found in a fairly obvious place…

Here at Eyeful, we bang on a lot about the importance of your audience, because well, they are kind of important – not much of a presentation is it, if nobody’s there?

And your audience’s reaction could well give you a clue as to if you are going wrong…

The 5 levels of audience reaction:

1

Level 1 – Death (By PowerPoint)
Warning Signs
Silence – just you, the hum of the projector and a sudden awareness that everybody in the audience has ‘passed on’ – you have quite literally taken their will to live. Well done.
General Causes
Severe, acute boredom, possibly down to a presenter with all the communication skills of a traffic warden.
Solution
Run. Make a ‘you’ shaped hole in the wall and head for the hills.

rsz_12Level 2 – Complete or partial suspension of consciousness
Warning Signs
It begins with the gentle thud of smartphone on carpet, closely followed by the dulcet vibration of the soft palette and just a very teeny tiny amount of drool.
General Causes
Boring content and slides that look that they were cobbled together in the           car park.
Solution
Ask the PA person to turn your mic volume to max, lots of Coffee and possibly 20cc’s of adrenaline – for the audience, not you.

rsz_13Level 3 – Agitation
Warning Signs
Wide eyes with a stare that says, “I’m going to hurt you, bad”.
General Causes
Overkill, inaccuracies or false information…
Solution
Prepare to defend yourself by any means necasary; a strong umbrella is good, if you have one of those small pocket ones – forget it. Grab a chair or a laptop, an iPad will do, but it’s more offense than defense.

 

rsz_4Level 4 – Blank. No inclination of love, hate or a wish to kill you where you stand
Warning Signs
There is none, this is why it’s so scary.
General Causes
It’s hard to say for sure, poor presenting technique, mixed up messages, poor slides, no call to action – any of these could be to blame.
Solution
Back out of the room very slowly & quietly, avoid any sudden movements and do not under any circumstances make eye contact.

 

rsz_5Level 5 – Delirium
Warning Signs
A smiling, grinning, euphoric state coupled with the inability to think or speak clearly.
General Causes
An infectious disease / an amazing presentation with strong clear messages and outstanding visual design.
Solution
Check you are not in close proximity to the outbreak of any diseases. Upon receiving the all clear, pat yourself on the back for contacting Eyeful and having a world class presentation created.

 

In the event you didn’t contact Eyeful and you completely and utterly winged it, then we applaud you.

If you would like a presentation that achieves the heady heights of a level 5, without leaving it to pure blind luck or a serious contagion – then simply click here

Introducing ‘The Mantra’

June 4th, 2015 by Simon

We’ve been having a bit of a clear out over at Eyeful Towers recently.  Not so much in terms of the clutter you’d expect (old CD cases, bits of redundant technology, that sort of thing) but in the way we think about ourselves.

We’re 11 years old now (although God only knows where that time went) and over this time we’ve morphed and evolved in line with the needs of our clients, changing technology and our own abilities and aspirations.  In short, we’re a completely different beast to the fresh faced and charmingly naive business we were 11 years ago.

It’s time to re-align ourselves and capture what makes Eyeful, well, Eyeful.  At this point, most business sages will point you in the direction of a Mission Statement but frankly, we’ve always had a bit of a problem with such things.  Often they are at the root of many of the issues we see with our clients’ presentations (pre-Eyeful-ing, obviously).  They tend to be verbose, pompous and distant from the people who they should be touching – your team and clients.  More of a lesson in clever business speak than an attempt to truly communicate what you’re really all about…

So where to turn for inspiration?  After much pondering and research, we came across a YouTube clip from Guy Kawasaki* who pretty much nailed what we were after – a Mantra.

So what is Eyeful all about these days?  In short, we’re about optimising the business presentation experience.  This might be through creating the right story and structure for you, implementing the right presentation technology (we’re fiercely agnostic) or providing presentation creators and deliverers with the skills to truly engage an audience.

So far, so good…however a Mantra is nothing more than an aspiration if you don’t have the ability to deliver on it.  So we looked at what fuels our Mantra – To Optimise The Business Presentation Experience – and realised that it was time for our renowned ‘Eyefulocity’ culture to step up to the plate.  Impartiality, passion, fairness, curiosity and teamwork have long been the key ingredients that make Eyeful tick.  The same goes for the Mantra – without these deeply ingrained behaviours powering the vision, the Mantra is little more than a cool cousin of the dreaded Mission Statement.

The Eyeful Way

So there you have it.  The clutter of 11 years of evolution has been cleared away and we now have a Mantra that will drive, guide and support the next phase of the business.  It retains our maniacal focus on the art of presentations but gives us sufficient ‘wriggle room’ to extend our influence in related disciplines.  To date our experience has allowed us to confidently use our skills and insight in the areas of sales enablement, internal comms and technical presentations.  Looking to the future, the Mantra provides an anchor from which we can exploit new opportunities when the time is right.

And you know what?  We’re rather excited about what the future holds – not just for ourselves but for our customers, readers and partners too.  Fancy joining us?

* Guy is a World renowned smart cookie who has built up a huge following with his no-nonsense approach to business, some of which I agree with (The Mantra approach) and some I have problems with (see the Myth Busting section of The Presentation Lab).

The Winning Edge Feature Life After PowerPoint

June 2nd, 2015 by Matt

Are you baffled by presentation technology or do you have a total over-reliance on using PowerPoint all of the time?

Well, let us un-muddy the water for you.

Eyeful’s MD Simon Morton has written an article on ‘Life After PowerPoint’ in the May/June edition of The Winning Edge magazine, where in a case study style piece, he carefully explains the situation one of our customers found themselves in…

“A quick review of the existing decks identified the issues – it was packed to the rafters with data, statistics and legal caveats that did little to build need or instil confidence in the solution for the prospect.”

“All of this would be troublesome on small ticket sales, but with an average order value of over
£2m – it was quickly becoming a major issue.”

Simon goes on to detail how we worked together to help the customer resolve this, using a combination of technology and aiPad Man blended approach – which lead to some great results…

“In terms of cold hard facts, average order values have started to move up and there is a sense that the ‘box shifting’ ethos of old has been swapped for a more value-added partnership.”

To get the full story of how Eyeful helped achieve these results, check out the latest issue of The Winning Edge, or click here to see a copy of the review on our website.

The Winning Edge is a member only magazine of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management. Here you can find lots of information with tips on sales and marketing and where you can sign up to receive the latest issues of The Winning Edge.

To find out what the best technological approach would be for your presentations, just drop us a line.

What happened when Microsoft came to play

June 1st, 2015 by Simon

We’ve built up quite a rapport with those nice people at Microsoft over the last few years.  As is often the case when you’re working with a huge business like Microsoft, the relationship has many sides:

Customer: Yep – we’ve worked with them on all manner of different presentations over the years, from sales decks through to helping them craft messaging for partner events.

Supplier: Yep – our business runs on their software, from the Dynamics CRM solution that logs incoming leads through to the Office 365 suite that underpins much of what we deliver to our customers.

Sounding Board: Yep – when we want to push PowerPoint that little bit further, we can pull upon friends and contacts here in Europe and overseas in support.

…and most recently as the subject of a forthcoming video about how businesses like ours (i.e. small but perfectly formed) use their technology to our advantage (i.e. maintain Global reach and our position at the forefront of our niche).

The results will be ready to share in a few weeks but in the meantime, here are a couple of ‘in situ’ snaps of Eyefulites to whet your appetite:

Oliva Walsh - Ignoring The Camera Rob Bailey - Loving The Camera