Simon Morton founded Europe’s leading presentation design company Eyeful Presentations in 2004. His goal was big but simple—support businesses to create more powerful, engaging and effective presentations that make the most of opportunities and deliver results. 16 years, thousands of presentations and millions of engaged audience members later, Eyeful’s mission continues. Simon is globally recognized as a thought leader in the field of presentations and now dedicates much of his time to speaking, writing or coaching businesses on how to make the most of every presentation opportunity.
In this conversation, Simon talks about the Presentation Ideas Europe online conference, being held on May 28th, 2020.
Indezine is a media partner for this event.
Geetesh: Simon, you are doing a session called The Pitfalls of Presentation (In)Efficiency as part of the Presentation Ideas Europe Online conference next month. Can you tell us more about the biggest takeaway in this session for attendees?
Simon: I’m really looking forward to getting involved in the Presentation Ideas Conference for Europe later on in the month. There are some great speakers and there will be a lot of value, no doubt, that people will get from the conference.
My particular area of interest will be around efficiency. The peril of presentation inefficiency is the topic that we’ll be talking through, and the reason I’m so passionate about it is that there are so many presentations that are still being created, and they take up a vast amount of time. Your presentations have a bit of a reputation for being “the thing” that will suck all of the time out of your schedule in terms of creating slides, in terms of researching content, in terms of rehearsing.
There’s a whole bunch of things that will take that time up, and we want to make people as efficient as they can be. Now, you might think that the presentation that I’ll be delivering is just full of things like shortcuts and plugins and ways of getting more done in a shorter period of time. But, actually, our main focus for the session is getting people to rethink what they define as efficiency, in terms of presentations. That’s because what we really want people to be focusing on is how much investment do I need to put in to get the results I want from my presentation?
So, we’ll be looking at things like where should I spend my time? What’s my main focus and what should that be in going forward? We’ll be looking at how you can repurpose and reuse content that’s already sat within your organization, so you don’t fall into the trap of recreating something that already exists. And finally, we will be sharing some ideas on how you can improve the presentation culture within your organization. Yeah, an idea of getting people to think more efficiently and more focused in terms of presentations, rather than just judging their effectiveness on the number of slides that they create.
I think it’ll be a really interesting and useful session, and will certainly prompt people to think a little bit differently about how they not only prepare for their presentation but also how they judge the outcome of it as well.
Geetesh: We are living in strange times where remote connectivity and working from home have moved from being complementary to being the norm. So, how do you introduce the human angle in such scenarios? Can you share some ideas?
Simon: This new virtual world that we find ourselves in has thrown up a number of different challenges and opportunities to think differently when it comes to presenting, and one particular area that I think is worth exploring and thinking a little differently on is the human interaction between presenter and audience. In my opinion, the best way of doing that is by utilizing the good old webcam. My thinking is really, really simple.
Presentations rely on interaction. They rely on a connection between the presenter and the audience. Now there’s been some really interesting debate, quite lively at times, on LinkedIn regarding the use of webcams in presentations, and there’s a school of thought that says, “Actually, if you still have a talking head showing as you’re presenting slides it gets in the way and your audience doesn’t know where to look.”
Frankly, the slides are there merely as visual punctuation in my mind, and you, the presenter, are the presentation. So shutting yourself off to make way for a slideshow or for a demo and just excluding you completely—I think kinda gets in the way of the interaction that makes presentations work as effectively as they do.
It does all fundamentally go back to a thing that we talk about a lot here at Eyeful, which is the audience. The audience is the most important stakeholder in any presentation. It’s a phrase we use a lot, and that comes down to how you plan and deliver things like webinars and other presentations virtually.
One of the ways of doing that is actually by putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. They want it to be shorter than it might normally be in a face-to-face presentation, so look at your content and figure out what’s most relevant to your audience and give them great value early on.
I’d also suggest that actually rather than approaching things in a more broad-brush approach, which is typically what a lot of webinars do, they try and cover a lot of bases and make sure that everybody kinda gets something from the event. We can be way more focused now. We can actually present content that’s relevant to just 10 people in a webinar, and just deliver that to those 10 people.
So rather than run a webinar that may take an hour and be a broad-brush approach to 50 people, why not do five presentations to 10 people, make them 15 minutes of great, valuable content. You’re gonna get more out of it. They’re gonna get more out of it. And that human connection, that engagement, by utilizing the webcam is still very, very much a key part of that process.
And the final thing I’d say is, and certainly, as groups get smaller you can make your engagement more conversational. Humans like to interact with each other. So you know, rather than presenting a formal, I-talk-you-listen way, how about just sharing ideas and them prompting an open forum where people can offer their thoughts. They can ask questions, they can test their understanding, and actually, it stops becoming this, you know, a monologue of information that’s being thrown out there virtually and actually becomes a much more cohesive and more dialogue-led engagement, which I think is gonna be way more interesting for the audience, and certainly more effective as a presentation tool for the presenter.
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