We are a presentation design company that talk a lot about Presentation Optimisation™. We talk about it on our website, in our articles, our blogs and our client conversations. So, for this article, I thought I would catch up with Eyeful's MD Rob Bailey to get some sage presentation advice as well as his take on what Presentation Optimisation™ really means…
Matt: To me, it’s the tried (and trusted) process that we put our customer’s presentations through to take them from their current state to become a really effective PowerPoint presentation designs, that resonates with their audiences.
Rob: Yes. To me, the aim of Presentation Optimisation™ is to create an audience-focused presentation which delivers on its intended use, whether that be to sell more products or services, arouse interest in a new offering, or to clearly communicate a new corporate vision. The key is that the final presentation fully engages your audience to such an extent that your desired call to action is clearly understood and acted upon.
Matt: To many people, processes are just a list of box ticking. But tell me, Why is the Presentation Optimisation™ process so important?
Rob: It’s a really powerful and well-structured approach that we take with all clients on their presentations. It has evolved over the last decade, as presenting needs have developed, but the core process remains as effective today as it was 10 years ago. It’s the foundation of Eyeful’s business; it’s what makes us different from other presentation agencies. The design of our clients’ presentations is (as you’d expect) extremely important to us; however when you combine that with a strong story structure, clearly defined messages, and engaging visuals that bring the story to life….that’s when you deliver a successful presentation.
Presentation Optimisation™ is the process that brings all of these elements together….it’s a process that keeps our customers returning to us week in, week out.
Matt: So, can you explain the process?
Rob: It all starts with a Presentation Optimisation™ workshop, either at our client’s offices or in our dedicated Eyeful Labs.
One of our presentation consultants will work with the client’s main presentation stakeholders to understand the purpose of the presentation (what end result is intended), the audiences it is being presented to, their requirements, and how the presentation can demonstrate how our client can effectively address those requirements.
The workshop is challenging, but importantly it provides an opportunity and environment for everybody to take a fresh look at what the presentation is aiming to achieve, to clear out any unnecessary noise and to develop a clear presentation structure which contains the key messages to be delivered.
It’s also important to note that design is very rarely discussed at this stage – this session is all about gaining clarity on the story, and the building blocks which underpin it.
The output from this session is a high-level Story Flow document which clearly outlines the presentation structure, along with the key messages for each chapter of the presentation.
The key to the success of any presentation is to develop a strong story – one that will resonate with the audience and deliver the intended response…..this is the purpose of the Presentation Optimisation™ workshop.
Matt: That sounds like an intense day!
Rob: It certainly can be, but sometimes it needs to be in order to get the right result. Presenting is always a privilege and sometimes a rare opportunity to be in-front of an important audience…..this may be your one shot at convincing them that your organisation is the right one for them to be engaging with. All of the time, effort and money you have invested in getting to this moment of truth, now depends upon you delivering that killer presentation.
It’s vitally important that all of that investment is not wasted via a presentation quickly cobbled-together in a Starbucks half an hour before the meeting.
Our consultants are presentation experts, with the experience and methodology to really focus the attention on what is important, and what is irrelevant to the audience. They provide a fresh pair of eyes, and allow the stakeholders to consider new ways of delivering their important message.
It’s a highly creative experience (and fun, we’re told), that consistently delivers powerful, engaging and, most importantly, effective presentations.
Matt: It sounds a bit like the Think element of our Think, Act and Deliver training [which has nothing to do with advanced PowerPoint training]…
Rob: You’re absolutely right… that element of our presentation training is based on the theories and best practices developed over 12 years of Presentation Optimisation™ workshops.
Matt: So do you use techniques like Audience Heatmaps, and Must, Intend, Like in workshops?
Rob: Presentation Optimisation™ workshops were where these ideas were born!
Matt: Ok, so after the workshop, the consultant sits in a dark room and draws out the presentation don’t they?
Rob: Yes, once the story, structure and key messages have been agreed, this is when the consultant hand draws the first iteration of the presentation… our storyboarding process.
Matt: Why go to the trouble of hand drawing? Why not just give it straight to the presentation designers?
Rob: This is where so many people go wrong when it comes to presentations. The first thing they do is open up PowerPoint and start dumping ideas onto slides. For anyone who’s ever used PowerPoint this is where you burn time. Even if you are pretty good with PowerPoint, you need to start on paper.
Remember that at this stage we are still concentrating on the structure and messaging of the presentation. The idea is to create a story structure and key messaging which can be delivered consistently whatever technology (or lack of it) is available to the presenter. So, although the end presentation may well be delivered via PowerPoint, it could also be delivered via Prezi, Keynote, or sketched out on a whiteboard (or napkin!), depending upon the environment in which it’s being delivered and the technology available to the presenter (the Presentation Landscape is a whole separate discussion for another day!).
Drawing on paper allows you to sketch out the concepts, see how the flow works, and amend where necessary before committing any time and expense to the development of the deck. It’s also a great way to filter out the noise and concentrate on visualising the key messages for each section of the presentation.
Matt: So, is planning and storyboarding on paper your number one tip?
Remember though, when an Eyeful consultant does this they rigorously test the presentation to make sure it has the right flow, structure and key messages to effectively communicate to the audience.
Matt: So this isn’t something a client could do themselves?
Rob: They could certainly try, but our consultants have years of experience. They can do it quickly and know what works in any given situation! They are also able to provide fresh thinking where a client may be too close to the project presentation.
Matt: So, then it’s onto the designers, isn’t it?
Rob: Nearly. We bring one of our project managers up to speed on the project and they manage this through the design studio.
Matt: So, they check the files and send onto the clients once they are happy?
Rob: Exactly. They manage the communication between all parties and make sure that files are sent on time and feedback is managed correctly and smoothly.
Matt: This is when the client gets a PowerPoint presentation that doesn’t look like a PowerPoint!
Rob: Absolutely, but remember… it doesn’t have to be PowerPoint. The final output could be any of the things I mentioned earlier.
We create the final presentation in whatever technology or format works best for the presenter to effectively engage with their audience. We even repurpose presentations for different presenting environments.
Matt: Once the presentation is signed off, is that Eyeful’s work done?
Rob: In years gone by it was, but over the years we have become more and more involved in supplementing the presentation with training. This can take the form of our consultant coaching the presenters through the new presentation structure, how to effectively present it, and the key messages to deliver at each stage.
It may also involve developing a script, or key points for each slide, or it could be as simple as demonstrating the delivery of the presentation through a recorded video. The key thing is that we are here to support our clients to ensure that the final presentations are as effective as they can possibly be.
Matt: Rob, thanks for your time and for putting Presentation Optimisation™ into perspective.