Presentations and slideshows are common practice today in everywhere. We use them in schools, universities and in corporate world to communicate with others.
Lecturers today will not know how to teach without slideshows (if you are a lecturer, don’t take it personally!). Like it or not, presentations and slideshows are here to stay for a long time so you need to get used to them.
But, have you ever noticed how boring most of the presentations we encounter? If you have seen awesome slideshows that grasp your attention, definitely it would’ve been while you were dreaming at a boring presentation!
I thought for a long time that presentations based on slideshows to be forever boring and ineffective until I encountered a presentation from Show & Tell. It literary blew my mind (I’m still looking for the Cerebral Cortex). Show & Tell is a Sri Lankan based presentation company that is changing everything we knew about slideshows and presentations.
This is an exclusive interview for Jump.lk where Show & Tell unravel how it all began and how you can do the same.
What is Show & Tell?
Show & Tell is a dedicated presentations agency committed to making art and poetry out of presentations by transforming the way they are thought out, designed and delivered.
What services does Show & Tell offers?
Strategize – Our Strategize packing brings emotion and authority into your presentation so that it is both powerful and persuasive. We strip your message to its core, we poke it, prod it and turn it inside out, we play with it and we tickle it. And then we rebuild it, again and again until it makes our toes curl with excitement. We craft a message that people will care about, hanker for and fall in love with. We design and develop your presentation from scratch, weaving in meaning, excitement and credibility.
Prettify – The Prettify package is designed to give your presentation an instant face lift. We take slides and we make art. At Show & Tell, we know the secrets to designing slides that blend well together, complement your message and are infinitely visually appealing. Whatever style and personality you seek to project, we know exactly how to marry graphics, fonts and colour to make your message visually captivating.
Train – We conduct one-on-one coaching to develop strong presenters capable of doing justice to professionally crafted presentations. We teach you the tips and tricks of owning the spotlight, winning over the hardest critics and blowing minds with a heart-stopping presentation. From eliminating nervous mannerisms to using vocal variety to generate suspense and interest, we customize our training to suit the needs of both the presenter and the presentation.
What was your intention behind starting Show & Tell?
All of us have important – sometimes world-changing – messages to share. And most of the time, especially in business, we rely on presentations to get the buy-in, funding and support that we need to make our visions a reality.
Unfortunately, when we try to translate those messages into presentations, often we aren’t able to do them justice. Whether it’s falling into the trap of using boring PowerPoint templates or a lack of confidence in speaking in front of a crowd, presentations often fall short of achieving their potential.
How did you know that this idea would actually work?
We’ve all had to sit through snooze-fest presentations so it’s not hard to realize that there’s a major need. Working for a high-end technology provider with clients all over the globe, we had the unenviable job of translating complex technical jargon into easy-to-digest presentations that can seal deals, many worth millions of rupees. After some time we realized there’s an art to this. And there’s also tremendous value to be gained if you do it right.
We knew there was a need but we weren’t sure if there was a market for it. We approached a few friends and acquaintances and did a few pro-bono projects and the feedback we got was incredible.
We didn’t throw caution to the wind and dive head first into the venture (although many people suggested it). We didn’t want to become a burden to the company in its infancy. Instead, we put in extra effort working late nights and weekends to build a brand and market. Juggling two jobs isn’t easy, but it all comes down to passion and the willingness to sacrifice.
If someone wants to create a sexy presentation, what resources and tips you suggest?
First of all, you need a story. You have to find the emotion in what you’re talking about and create a message that hits home. Next, you need great colours, images and fonts and some sense of how to put them together in an uncluttered, non-boring way. The software you use isn’t important – whether it’s PowerPoint or Prezi or Keynote – it’s how you use it that matters. Finally, you need the confidence, charisma and practice to deliver your presentation powerfully. When these three come together well, it makes for a very sexy presentation indeed.
How do you become more productive? What are the tips and tricks you use?
We’re pretty self-motivated. Of course it helps that we love making presentations. Setting deadlines is also important and pushing yourself to meet them. We’ve also recently started using the Pomodoro technique and we’re big fans!
Use tools wherever possible. We discovered a really cool accounting system called WaveApps early on and it has been a lifesaver when it comes to maintaining accounts, from bills to invoices to management reports.
What were the problems you faced in the beginning? How did you overcome them?
Well, one thing is the fact that a presentations agency is unheard of in Sri Lanka. So creating awareness was something we had to do. Going to events and networking was probably our most valuable source of awareness.
Another challenge was that because everyone is so used to ‘Death by PowerPoint’ presentations, they often don’t see what they’re doing wrong or the potential to go the extra mile. We tackled that by showing them samples of what we can do and highlighting the high stakes of the presentations they were making.
How did you initially finance this venture?
So far, it’s been totally self-funded. We also channel our profits back into the business.
When you think of the word “success”, who is the first person that comes into mind? Why?
In our industry, it’s definitely Nancy Duarte who created the Duarte presentations agency in USA, which has been around for over 25 years and made over 250,000 presentations.
When you feel demotivated, insecure and doubtful, how do you overcome it?
By looking through past work and remembering the satisfaction of having done it. Also, having a source of design inspiration to go to in order to spark creative thinking. If all else fails, just remember: “I signed up for greatness. This comes with it.” And then plough on!
What is the best advice you can give to people who are thinking about starting their own business?
Don’t start a company just for the sake of being a director, being your own boss or making profits. These are short sighted goals and, once you achieve them, you lose interest in the business.
Do something you would want to do every day of your life. Find a genuine problem that you have faced and see if you can come up with a solution that can be monetized. By having experienced the problem, you will be invested in finding a solution and there will most likely be people out there who have the same issue and would pay for a solution.
Also, be frugal – expenses can easily add up!
What are the books that have most influenced your life?
What were the mistakes you made in the beginning? How did you overcome them?
One mistake we made was doing free work in exchange for the promise of future paid work. Another was to let our clients dictate our prices. These mistakes undermine the brand. You need to recognize the value you bring to the table and stand by it. In the end, our clients appreciated us more for doing that.
Another thing we could have done differently from the outset was make better use of data by tracking how we spend our time and using the data to inform our pricing and improve our productivity.
If you could have one billboard anywhere around Sri Lanka, where would you have it? And what would it say?
Close to a tech park (since tech companies are some of the biggest presentation offenders)! It would say The brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things
Where can we find you and your business?
You can visit our website at www.showandtell.guru, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/showandtellguru, LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/show-and-tell-pvt-ltd or Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/showandtellguru/.
We also have a blog where we post tips, tricks and insights about making amazing presentations – subscribe at www.showandtell.guru/blog/.
We also suggest you to checkout our portfolio for some of the best work we have done.
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