Some of you may have heard about Canva, an Australian “unicorn”, cloud-based business that produces a great product that helps clients make a range of digital and paper publications. However, I recently received an email on “the secret to engaging presentations” from them that stated, “The secret is all in how you show your information!”.

This could not be further from the truth. It all starts with getting the content and messaging correct.

The best analogy is a movie. A beautifully shot movie with a bad story line is still a bad movie. A well written one with a great story line that is poorly shot is still a good movie, with perhaps room for improvement. It’s the same for your presentation. If your message isn’t clear, it doesn’t matter how good your slides look, the message won’t land. Have you ever walked out of a presentation asking, “what was that all about?”.

In order to be effective in a presentation, you need to achieve 2 things with an audience: they need to remember what was said, and who said it.

To do the first, you need to ensure your message is relevant to the audience, is engaging and is convincing. This requires you consider the content that the audience needs to make a decision (as opposed to what you want to tell them, they aren’t the same thing), has a narrative that provides an appropriate structure and your key messages are clear.

When this is done, then it’s important to brand it strongly. That’s how people will remember who said it.

I would also argue that its not about the information at all, it’s about the why. Have you ever tried to lose weight? I bet before you started it wasn’t that you didn’t know what to do. You had the information, yet you weren’t already slim. What had to change was the why in the process: you needed a strong reason to lose the weight. Very often in presentations, particularly these days, people have the information, what they lack is the understanding of why the needed to act on it.

Sorry Canva, you got this one wrong.

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