Walking the Tightrope: by Sarah Rowlands

Created: Tuesday, August 1, 2017, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 9:45 am

Updated: at

Sarah Rowlands of Presentify looks for similarities between walking the tightrope and designing presentations for the enterprise market.


Leio McLaren Unsplash
Photo Credit: Leio McLaren | Unsplash

1859, Niagara Falls. Charles Blondin, celebrated French tightrope walker, strolls calmly across a tightrope stretched 160 feet above the falls. The amazed spectators and press hold their collective breath as Blondin performs extraordinary feats such as standing on one leg and lying down for a rest on the tightrope. In later variations, Blondin crossed on stilts, blindfolded, in a gorilla costume and pushing a wheelbarrow. The most daring, however, was his offer to the crowd upon his first attempt: Would anyone be willing to cross the falls with me, on my back?

Unsurprisingly, no-one took him up on this on the first offer! However, later, his manager crossed upon his back, proving it could be done, and perfectly safely, and proving that all that was really needed was a leap of faith.

We sometimes see the need for this kind of belief that ‘it can be done differently’ in designing presentations for the enterprise market. Trying to balance the conflicting desires for innovation with strict corporate guidelines can feel like walking a tightrope – sometimes blindfolded! But a willingness to take risks can pay off, big time…

Break away from Hal

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Remember: your PowerPoint is not Hal, so don’t allow it to take over your presentation. Your presentation should come from you, not the software with which you are conveying it. All too often, corporate templates and ‘the way it’s always been done’ squash innovation, but that doesn’t mean that you should cast the style guide aside altogether. It is possible to stick within the corporate guidelines of font, color, and style, whilst bringing a fresh look and feel to your presentation material.

Best supporting actor

Your presentation should win nominations for Best Supporting Actor, rather than the main role. The person in the main role is you, the presenter. So don’t give it all away with the text on your slide! Let the text on your slide be minimal and carefully chosen to intrigue your audience so that you can verbally expand upon your point.

Striking a balance

Coming up with something fresh whilst also retaining a corporate look and feel can be challenging, but it needn’t be. What it comes down to is understanding what you want to achieve. After all, tinkering with the design without paying attention to use cases will only result in something pretty, but impractical. If you want both, think about how your material might be used and who by, as well what your audience may be expecting of you. If deviating too far from a corporate template may be frowned upon, there are all sorts of way to rejuvenate tired corporate templates. Check out some examples to take inspiration from here. Faint heart never won fair client, after all.


Sarah RowlandsSarah Rowlands is a Project Assistant for Presentify, a company dedicated to driving business forward through presentation storytelling.

Presentify’s unique presentification process offers a consultative, creative approach to visualizing your company’s message and can really help your presentation material stand out from the crowd. Sarah enjoys cycling, circuits, and content writing – check out more quirky, imaginative content on the Presentify blog.

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