We put together our first multimedia presentation in 1975. Admittedly there were no computers involved, but it's remarkable what you can do with a couple of Carousel projectors, a cine projector, two record decks and a lot of gaffer tape.
The product at that time was run-flat tyres - anyone remember Dunlop Denovo? The technology was impressive but, it has to be said, not packed full of emotion. But the concept of not spinning through the central reservation into a Scania was sufficiently immediate to interest everyone.
There's never been a written rule to dictate that presentations have to be boring. Which is strange, because the vast majority of them rank a poor third behind watching paint dry and collecting classic cornflake packets. We were convinced of this back in the seventies when we first raised an audience's enthusiasm by giving them compelling graphics and complementary sound. More than thirty years on, we're still of the same opinion.
So if we had to describe ourselves in a phrase, we'd probably choose presentation designers as the quick description.
Which probably doesn't tell you what we'd really like you to know. To be perfectly candid, any decent designer should be able to put together a presentation that looks good. It's content that really persuades, and no amount of design will help if the core material isn't persuasive enough.
And that's where we really get going. If you speak to our clients you'll often hear them tell you that we've found new angles to their proposition. We're immodestly good at putting ourselves in your audiences' shoes and helping you discover what they want to hear from you.
Gresham, a long-standing client, put it eloquently, following a presentation to a top-three retail chain. They won the business, and the client told them "All your competitors' presentations were about how good they are. Gresham's presentation was all about us."
We don't believe you have to present the same way everyone else does. Let them drone through "today's agenda" and a fifteen minute preamble about how wonderful their company is. You'll be giving your audience the information they've come for, and they'll know for certain that you've put this presentation together specifically for them (even when you haven't!)
Most importantly, both you and your audience will be enjoying the experience.
So, yes, we can put together the presentation system that will visually wow your audience. But more importantly they'll enjoy the experience and you'll make your point.
Where it all began - IBM Storyboard Live! came on four disks. We had to deliver our ground-breaking multimedia on one.
So how did we get to today's systems, given the somewhat manual nature of our first multimedia ventures? Harvard Graphics provided the next epiphany, somewhere in the late eighties. We found ourselves creating presentation screens in sumptuous 16 colour graphics. We'd then set up a camera in in front of the monitor, photograph our creation and send it away for processing. Technology? Leading edge stuff mate!
IBM introduced Storyboard Live! in the early nineties. It's definitely no overstatement to say that it changed everything. Computers were pretty widespread by now and we jumped onto the roller coaster by creating (we think the the very first) interactive mailshots. They were crammed onto a 1.4MB floppy disk by means of crowbars and swearing, and we had many frank discussions with clients about what could be left out.
But we'd put ourselves on the crest of the wave that would become the multimedia revolution.
With the nineties came the multimedia boom. Suddenly everyone was producing CD-ROMS, practically all of which were about World War II. We produced our share, with retail titles for FlagTower, Marshall Cavendish and BBC Worldwide.
But our principal involvement stayed with business-to-business digital marketing. By now Macromedia Director had made its entrance and we threw ourselves into finding just what we could do with it. Rather a lot as it turned out, as we proved when Macromedia asked us to demonstrate to over a thousand multimedia developers how we'd integrated Director with a relational database. Easy today, but ground-breaking in the mid-nineties.
This last project was the start of something important. It was a CD-based catalogue for Whitecroft Lighting, featuring over a million product variants. Recognising the challenge of keeping something of this scope up to date we developed a self-updating system that automatically downloaded new or changed products and fitted them seamlessly into the catalogue structure.
The self-updating system opened up a whole new world of possibilities. When we came to develop a new presentation system for Sunterra we were ready with working answers to a whole lot of tricky questions. Like, for example, how do you maintain current content for sales teams located all over the world? Is it possible to gather information about their presentations so that sales performance can be monitored?
It was in the power of the Sunterra system that the Configurative idea began to take shape. A shape that has developed into today's intelligent system. Now it's possible to integrate interactive software demonstrations into your presentation, to capture audience responses, to let the audience guide the flow... in fact just about anything you can think of.
It's taken more than thirty years, but Configurative has taken the brakes off presentations.