Music to my ears

May 28th, 2015 by Liz

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Some seven years ago I joined Eyeful Presentations. Picture my office back then: a barn at the back of the MD Simon Morton’s house in the middle of nowhere. For a short while it was just myself, Simon and Zoe (our wonderful then book-keeper, now head of finance) working in that barn. Peace and quiet. How things have changed today, sitting here at Eyeful Towers surrounded by 25+ other Eyefulites, in a rather noisy yet wonderfully busy and truly lovely creative environment.

At the end of each busy week, Simon would appear with a beer in hand, offer me one (which I always declined, pre-drinking at work seemed wrong!) and set up what he liked to call our “Friday Jamming Session”. This really consisted of him playing his chosen songs very loudly and rejecting my choices! During these sessions, Simon used to repeatedly play one song to me (“Janet Jackson, What have you done for me lately”, oh dear!). After this song had played for what seemed like the 50th time, Simon would then start sharing stories with me of his week, or years gone by at Eyeful. As much as I disliked his music choices and THAT song, I did start to enjoy those Friday sessions, I would bring in snacks (Fat Fridays still happen at Eyeful!) and my notebooks soon started to fill up with inspiration from these chats.

Today, the tried and tested methodology Simon shares in his book really resonate with those early days for me and how it shaped my work life, and my approach to the world of Presentations. My 23 year old self literally had no idea that presentations, PowerPoint, message, communication, could be so interesting!

It was with his love of music and applying this to Presentations that really got me hooked. With such simple explanations and ways of thinking, he was sharing some really complex business messages.

This was what he was sharing with our customer’s day in, day out and still is to date.

Each genre of music brings with it different instruments, different tempos, moods, different audiences. In all genres, despite the differences in the aforementioned, there are many similarities.

They all have the same chords and musical notes to form their songs, they all have the same words and language to form lyrics with. Yet, the variations we hear are endless. Each great musician knows all of the chords, the notes, the words. Yet they choose not to include them all, used sparingly they will create greater melodies, emotion and resonate more with the audience. The pauses, the build-up, the crescendos, the lyrics that are given the “space” they need to mean so much.

All of this applies to your presentations. It is as much about what you don’t include, as the content that you do include. The message that you deliver needs to be relevant, powerful, link back into the original aims of your presentation (remember to always refer back to the Must-Intend-Like of your audiences and your presentation). Your content supports your message at all times, it doesn’t detract from your presentation but ensures it delivers it effectively as long as you are striking the right chord.

So as a fellow “presentation composer”, I ask you to consider putting your content to music the next time you start to prepare a presentation. And if this has really got you interested, why not find out more about our Message and Content training workshop, which will enlighten you in even more ways.  Your presentation will then undoubtedly hit all of the right notes.

Now all I have to do is hope that Simon doesn’t read this blog and start playing that song again. But, if and when he does (which inevitably he will, he’s like a dog with a bone at times, I suppose that is why he has made Eyeful a success!)  I know that he will have a proud moment knowing that not only did I listen to the song he played, but the message he was trying to get through to me each time he played it!

If you would like to start dancing to the tunes of Eyeful FM (we really do have a Spotify playlist entitled just this!), then please stay tuned to the blog by signing up below, or please get in touch, I would love to chat. Especially on a Friday afternoon around 4pm when I need to appear busy whilst avoiding THAT song!

PowerPoint Voted More Boring Than Washing The Dishes

May 27th, 2015 by Matt

A colleague recently sent me something incredibly offensive. No I’m not talking about rude pictures or naughty words…

Nope, it’s an article detailing “The 50 Most Boring Things of Modern Life” and what’s so offensive is that PowerPoint Presentations are on the list!

Now I understand that for many people, attending a PowerPoint presentation can be the equivalent of taking a dozen sleeping pills and slowly losing the will to live, before drifting off into the land of nod.

But come on! If a builder builds you a wall in your garden and 3 days later the wall falls down – you don’t blame the trowel the builder used or the wall itself, you blame the builder.

And it’s the same with a terrible presentation, don’t shoot the tool or the event, shoot the presenter!

(For legal reasons, I am NOT suggesting you shoot anybody. Looking at them distastefully will suffice)

Out of the 2000 adults surveyed, PowerPoint Presentations came in at number 38 with a share of 16% of the votes…

Just below PowerPoint in 37 was Gwyneth Paltrow and just above in 39 was Coldplay. So I guess it’s nice to see that something other than Jennifer Lawrence is getting in between Chris and Gwyneth.

According to the pole, PowerPoint is considered to be more boring than ‘buying socks’, ‘Washing the dishes’ and ‘Gardener’s World’.

Well that might be the case for some presentations out there and if you’re nodding in agreement, then you haven’t been to one of our customers presentations – and I think it’s fair to say the presentations we help them deliver are NOT boring…

 

If you want to give presentations that are well structured, engaging and that make the audience go WOW rather than ZZZ – then get in touch

The Good, The Bad And The Downright Great Of Training

May 22nd, 2015 by Liz

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A few months back, I was pushing my son Niall in his pushchair, and dragging my 5 stone boxer dog up a hill towards home and near the summit I found myself getting out of breath – I’m only 30 and I’m exhausted, I thought – this is embarrassing!

Enough was enough and it was time to do something about it and get fit.

I found an insanity class and signed up. During my first session I felt like I was going to simultaneously pass out and vomit – But I went home and decided it actually felt good – I felt good.

Fast forward 6 months…

All was going well, I’d been going twice a week and I’m feeling well on the way to getting fitter and I’m feeling pretty good in myself.

But then, disaster…

My insanity class gets permanently cancelled – which to my surprise I was pretty upset about – I should have been relieved!

But determined not to give up, I sought a new Monday night class and go along expecting the same positive experiences I’ve had over the last few months – but, it was AWFUL.

On arrival the instructor quickly asks me if I have done the class before and takes my money before squeezing me onto a badminton court with over 40 other people, where we battled for space, where people were bumping into each other, getting kicked and elbowed along the way – if I’d have wanted body combat I’d have signed up for that!

I left the class feeling that not only had I not received any attention or value for money, but the whole experience was a waste of time.

As we are soon to launch Eyeful’s new presentation training modules, as Head of Training, I thought it important to make sure we incorporated all the good experiences to our own offering and totally avoid the bad experiences that made my most recent training so poor.

My old class was good because, the instructor welcomed me properly and took the time to understand what I needed to get out of the class, rather than just grabbing my money and sending me straight in…

Eyeful’s offering is unique, well rounded and it’s modular approach gives us the option to fully review your needs and understand what you need to get out of the training whilst also tracking progress. We will do this via a variety of methods, pre-course “flip the classroom” learning material, post-course access to resources and a trainer that makes time for you before, during and after your training experience with us.

My new class was poor because I was shoved into a room with more than 40 other people with just one trainer, who wasn’t able to offer any individual help or advice or feedback to people.

At Eyeful we limit our training to a maximum of 6 people for each session – ensuring learners individual needs are given the attention they deserve. In turn, providing an opportunity for feedback throughout.

My old trainer found out where I was weak or strong and tailored elements of the training to ensure that not only I, but each of the 10-15 people attending got the attention they needed. To me, it felt like she was joining me on my fitness journey, she was there to support and motivate me. I felt I was getting a return on my investment.

Eyeful’s training will be the same. Our modular structure will ensure that individual people or teams can attend courses that are relevant to them, increasing their presentation strengths across the board and literally go on a journey towards delivering the perfect presentation.

I might just recommend to my new instructor that he comes along to our course on Understanding Your Audience. It might just give him the motivation and direction he needs to change his training ways and deliver a better experience ensuring that his customers return – because I sure won’t be.

If you like the sound of Eyeful’s presentation training then stay tuned to the blog and sign up below or get in touch, as we release more details on how you or your team can get on the path to delivering perfect presentations.

Story Season – Read All About It (seriously it’s all here)

May 21st, 2015 by Matt

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For the past 3 months, Simon & I have carefully crafted the blog series that is Story Season.

Our goal was to discuss the importance of story within presentations, look at the scientific case for using story, and ultimately to provide information, advice and general tips on how to incorporate story into your presentations.

You see, combining story and presentation can be a powerful thing, it can give your presentation a coherent structure to follow and help engage your audience with more memorable sticky content that they can remember and thus act upon. We highlight that your presentation tool whether it is PowerPoint, Prezi, Whiteboard or a tablet device needs to be right for your audience, as by always defaulting to PowerPoint you may well be weakening your presentation, rather than strengthening it by embracing new tools and technology.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed Story Season and found it a useful series of blogs.

To help you use story going forward we’ve created an online eBook of all the Story Season blogs and video’s available in one easy place that you can bookmark and return to time and time again – a print version is also available.

And don’t forget if you need any help, we are always happy to help author your next story just drop us an email or give us a call.

Microsoft Updates Office Apps On iPad – PowerPoint Gets ‘Cold Sweat’ Level Functionality

May 19th, 2015 by Matt

And of course the one we are interested in is PowerPoint

New in Version 1.9.2
• New storage options: open, edit, and save your work to iCloud and other online storage services.
(requires iOS 8)
• Change slide layout: make your content pop by changing the layout of your slide.
• Insert from camera: insert pictures and videos from the camera right into your presentation.

Saving was previously restricted to your OneDrive so this is good and the ability to take a picture directly from the PowerPoint is cute, but hardly screams professional presentation.

But the ability to change the slide layout – well, anyone reading this who has ever had to change the layout of a presentation at the last minute is probably breaking out in a cold sweat.

Let me explain…

Changing the layout is for example going from 16×9 (widescreen) to 4×3 (Tv’s from the 90’s) or vice versa – and doing this has consequences…

In older versions of PowerPoint (pre Office 13) if you switch from 4×3 to 16×9, all of your slide content gets stretched… the other way and it gets squashed. Thankfully PowerPoint 13 and indeed the iPad app are pretty smart these days and they don’t do this. They preserve the slide content and don’t stretch or squash it.

However, you do still get issues where content that previously fitted together seamlessly, now doesn’t fit the slide size – which means going through the whole presentation and tidying your slide content – a tricky process, possibly on pair with trying to insert a contact lens, whilst on an aircraft during a sever bout of turbulence.

This also begs the question, why are Microsoft even giving you a task to do, that’s the PowerPoint equivalent of repeatedly poking yourself in the eye, anyway?

As surely, the very reason you have a PowerPoint on your iPad is that you will be giving the presentation in a conversational 1-1 style environment and thus the screen ratio isn’t really important, it’s not like you’ll be connecting to a projector for this type of informal communication.

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And if the deck is 4×3 it will pretty much fit perfectly on an iPad screen and worse case, if it’s 16×9 all that happens when you play the PowerPoint is some black bars are added to the top and bottom – which don’t really jar anyway, as the same thing happens when you watch a movie on your iPad.

The only reason you would really need to change the ratio, is if your presenting on a projector in a more formal environment – and if that’s the case, the PowerPoint file has no business going anywhere near an iPad!

The lesson here is – consider your presentation environment.

If it’s a formal area of the Presentation Landscape, so ‘1-many’ then you need to know what ratio the AV person needs your PowerPoint to be and have the deck designed properly on a computer, in the right ratio from the off – and hopefully in this day and age it’s 16×9…

If it’s an informal ‘1-1’ small conversational style meeting, then an iPad or tablet is perfect… and like I say, a 4×3 file would be perfect, but if it’s in 16×9 I really wouldn’t sweat it.

If you would like a technically perfect presentation either on a PC, a tablet, Prezi, or even on a Whiteboard – then give us a call on 01455 826390 or send us a message – I’m off to find my tape measure.

A Presentation Chat For The Discerning Presenter

May 15th, 2015 by Matt

We had an unexpected treat this week as Sander, Eyeful’s head of Europe, popped in for a visit. It was great to see our chum from Holland and in true Eyeful style, we grabbed a cuppa and sat down for a chat.

This mini movie is packed full of useful information for the discerning presenter…

Sander has recently worked with a company that (despite already being an industry leader) wanted to avoid becoming complacent. They asked Eyeful to help define their story, as well as to suggest new ways and new ideas to share their message. Find out how Eyeful created a cultural change in a massive organisation.

And what’s the deal with Prezi now? 2-3 years ago it was close to becoming the leading presentation tool in Holland, find out if this is still the case – whilst also getting a great example of how blended presenting works.

Eyeful Netherlands also recently supported a customer with their TEDx Amsterdam talks – and Sander reveals what elements made these a great example of a TED Talk presentation.

Enjoy…

If our two wise men have duly inspired you to take your presentation collateral to the Eyeful level – then please do just give us a ring on 01455 826390 or send us a message…

How To Look Good – Eyeful Style

May 8th, 2015 by Matt

It’s true, we don’t have a strict dress code here at Eyeful, in fact we have a pretty chilled out attitude when it comes to our people’s attire, which ranges…

Mix

From Sam’s very smart…                    Over to Jack’s jeans and band T-shirt        But, this is getting ridiculous –                                                                                                                                                                               Slippers!?  

Ok I jest, Sally should actually be commended for being here at all, as just a couple of weeks ago she was undergoing major surgery on her foot – and I’ve seen the scar – OUCH!

But here she is, back in the office working hard, fighting the good fight and making sure one of our customer’s presentations goes well…

So well done on the commitment front Sal, but I’m really not sure about your choice of slipper! Nan alert!

To get yourself your very own slightly over-committed presentation consultant, just give us a call on 0845 056 8528 (slippers, I’m afraid, are not included).

Story Season – May The 4th Be With You

May 4th, 2015 by Matt

This week is the final foray into Story Season – and I think it’s quite poignant (and completely unplanned) that it should fall today on May the 4th – Star Wars day.

Star Wars is the ultimate story. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen it or not, like it or not – everybody knows Star Wars.

My wife has never seen a single one of the movies, but she already knows we’re booking a baby sitter and going to see ‘The Force Awakens’ as soon as it hits cinemas later this year.

If I’m honest, I had fallen out of love with Star Wars after the recent (ahem, 10-15 years ago) prequels, Jar Jar Binks just didn’t do it for me.

I actually find it quite surprising that I’m so genuinely looking forward to episode 7 hitting screens – I thought I wouldn’t be bothered. But upon seeing the trailer, hearing that music and seeing a quite frankly rough looking Han Solo (it doesn’t matter how old he is!) utter the words, “Chewy we’re home…” and boom I’m right back there on Christmas Day 1986 (or something like that). I’m 34 years old and most of my childhood Christmas days blur into the same day – except for one.

One Christmas day morning, a 5/6 year old Matt Roper woke up and left his bedroom to find the hallway floor decorated with about 50 different new Star Wars toys – I say new, my mum had clearly visited Keith’s second hand toy stall at the Market in Derby.

They weren’t wrapped or even boxed, but laid in a sort of action scene mix of figures, space ships and other random vehicles from the Galactic Republic.

It was literally mind blowing. And a hugely unforgettable moment in my childhood.

And that’s what I want to talk about when it comes to presentations – key memorable content.

And there are lots of examples in Star Wars of memorable content, there’s the Death Star exploding (twice), the very first scene where the Star Destroyer comes into shot – and who could forget, Jabba the Hut!

There’s the moment in Empire Strikes Back where Luke is hanging on by a thread, his hand just severed by Darth Vader’s light saber, who then twistedly ask’s him to join him on the dark side, because, “I am your father…”

Now that’s a heck of a plot twist, when your mortal enemy actually turns around and says, hey I’m your dad, let’s rule the universe together. It doesn’t matter if your 6 or 60 – that’s deep.

These kind of magic moments travel too – produce an ‘I am your father moment’ in your presentation and the audience is going to take note and remember it long into the future.

A word of warning though…

You’ve got to make your presentation story and your messages memorable (we call this sticky content) not just create a whiz bang moment.

Everyone in the world of presentations knows about Steve Job’s famous MacBook in an envelope. A very cool, very clever moment that everyone remembers. But what else do you remember about that?

The key message there was “This laptop is very, very cool, because it’s very, very thin.” Not that it has a great processor, a fantastic hard drive and outperforms every other laptop on the market. Nope, we know that, that laptop was very, very thin.

The way to make your content engaging, memorable and still resonating with your audience long into the future is to use story! Yes the very thing we’ve spoken about for the last 3 months.

And this is where the Star Wars story gets it so right, it has it’s jaw dropping “I am your father and have a very, very thin laptop in an envelope, join me on the dark side and it’s yours…” moments. But it’s the fact Star Wars takes you on a journey across the galaxy which is what keeps audiences hooked and makes the whole thing ‘sticky’.

“By introducing a structure, story or narrative arc, you can give your message the opportunity to grow legs, travel and get shared time and time again.”
Eyeful MD, Simon Morton in The Presentation Lab.

Get this right and your audience will be that version of me as a wowed 5 year old walking amongst all my new toys and down the line they will still remember your presentation and your message – and that’s cooler than owning your own light saber. Zrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

But if you don’t consider yourself George Lucas when it comes to crafting stories, then fear not – just get in touch – as our expert consultants are the Jedi Masters of creating sticky presentation story – as for them, the force is strong.

Google, Loch Ness And Some Rather ‘Different’ PowerPoint Inspiration

April 30th, 2015 by Matt

Lock Ness

For years the Loch Ness Monster has been hunted by journalists and tourists alike, all eager to spot the mythical beast and get a great picture!

Well google has now taken it a whole heap further by sending their street cams to Scotland to map the entire loch.

You can literally head to google maps now and type in Loch Ness and instead of traveling around the roads of the loch, you can now drop onto the water itself and travel around on a boat – nice, if slightly pointless!

So if Nessy is real, the poor old dear doesn’t stand a chance of staying hidden now!

In all seriousness though it’s amazing how far people like to push technology and indeed the strange uses we find for things that weren’t actually created for that use.

For example, there’s the classic story of builders using their van engine to cook a bacon sandwich (not really advisable from a health & safety angle), right up to the ultra-modern testing of drones to deliver packages for Amazon.

We at Eyeful too, hold our hands up. We’ve done some pretty unusual things with PowerPoint over the years!

We’re all about pushing it to its absolute max and yes we create presentations so good you won’t believe they’ve been made with simple old PowerPoint, but this isn’t what I’m talking about.

There are actually some really useful things you can do in PowerPoint other than creating presentations.

On our designer’s innovation page you can find examples of both inspirational and slightly offbeat uses of PowerPoint.

We have some lovely animated videos, a Christmas gift picker and Jack has even created ‘Lil Phil’, a PowerPoint game!

For a bit of fun and an office round of Catchphrase, I created a PowerPoint soundboard of Roy Walker Catchphrase quotes and sound effects – which worked really well!

And we don’t stop there, that’s how we push PowerPoint at work, we also use it in some pretty weird ways at home too. For example I used it to design my decking project, whereas an anonymous colleague says he, “used PowerPoint for designing Valentine poems for previous girlfriends.” Who knew you could be romantic with PowerPoint?

Optimized-quiltpatternAnd finally, perhaps the best ‘odd’ use of PowerPoint, was by our designer Hannah, who has used it to design a patchwork quilt!

So if you ever need to create the layout of something, then PowerPoint can be a really handy tool to use, because it’s just so user friendly, you can re-size a slide into the same square or rectangle shape of a room or object and you alter the size and create a diagram to scale of whatever it is your creating.

Unfortunately, the easy to use nature of PowerPoint is also the reason there are so many poor presentations out there – and why PowerPoint gets such a bad rap.

If you’ve created any odd things with PowerPoint, perhaps you could share it with us? But, if the weirdest thing you’ve created is just your everyday slides, then my advice would be for you to go ahead and use PowerPoint as an unusual tool, design your decking, layout your lounge.

And when it comes to high stakes presentation creation, contact the experts who can create fantastically designed presentations – and lovely patchwork quilts.

Story Season – 3 Story Themes To Help Connect With Your Audience

April 28th, 2015 by Matt

Story ThemesWelcome along to this week’s Story Season, this time round we are going to look at how to use a story theme to help deliver your messages to your audience in a more effective way.

As let’s be honest, trying to turn a presentation into a story isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.

So if you are struggling, using an external theme might just help give you a place to start. Inspiration can come from anywhere – a news article you read earlier that week, a story shared by a friend or a chance remark from a member of your family. They can all act as a powerful catalyst.

There’s nothing tricky about it – applying a theme to your presentation is basically delivering your messages with a particular angle. This helps the presentation to carry the right levels of emotion, motivation, or even bravery that will empower your audience to act on your message.

How do you do this?

There is a chapter in our founder, Simon Morton’s book, The Presentation Lab – that details story themes. I’ve picked 3 of these to use as an example.

The first thing to do is consider your own presentation scenario and audience. I cannot stress how important it is at this stage to understand your audience, use audience heatmaps, find out who they are and what makes them tick.

Then choose the situation and audience scenario that best fits and apply the relevant theme along these lines to your presentation.

Pick Yourself Up and Try Again

Your Situation: You’ve taken a hit, things have gone wrong. But you’re a plucky company not ready to give up.

Your Audience: In this case it’s your staff. You’re looking to motivate your team, you need them to dig deep, find the passion to go again and make it work this time.

Real World Example: Steve Jobs bouncing back after being fired from his own company, before returning to lead Apple to its current level of success.

David & Goliath

Your Situation: You’re either a start-up or an established company entering an industry you’re not established in.

Your Audience: They are demotivated and don’t believe in the venture. You need to convince them that hard work, dedication and commitment will pay off.

Real World Example: Apple moving into the smartphone market to take on the might of Nokia. Look where they are now.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Your Situation: You are within a large corporate organisation, where things have gone so stale that change is a four letter word. But, you have a new idea.

Your Audience: Uninterested and stubborn. You really need to paint a firm picture of how your idea is going to make a difference.

Real World Example: 3M’s post it note was invented by accident, but instead of throwing it out and employee pushed and persisted for 5 years that it was a good idea – After its release the development team won 3M’s Golden Step Award, for major new products that are significantly profitable.

These are just a few examples, but there are literally hundreds of stories out there, both fictional and your own personal stories that could be used to help deliver your message to your audience.

So hopefully this blog will give you a place to start and you will be in a position to begin creating a presentation that uses story to engage your audience with the right tone and helps get you the results all of your hard work deserves.

If you need any help in creating a compelling presentation story, then just send us a message