New job offer after ‘Best Ever’ Presentation

Brendon was offered a new job on the back of a ‘best ever’ presentation

 You might also like to hear how Brendon was asked to repeat his interview presentation so it could be used as a training video.

They said it was the best presentation they had seen and, of course, offered him the job on the spot.

Brendon landed here having been a lateral hire into a Big 4 firm who needed to catch up on the sort of training that longer-tenured consultants had received. 

Clarity First filled the gap for him, and many other senior consultants who want to polish their skills so they can level up their careers.

Hear it from Brendon…



Learn how Brendon achieved this.

Hear from other program participants


Is killing PowerPoint really the solution?

Is killing PowerPoint really the solution?

Many have called for the Death of PowerPoint as they are understandably under-whelmed by so many presentations.

But given the many complex elements that make up a powerful presentation, it is too simplistic to blame the presentation tool. 

It is, after all, hugely powerful when managed well and so widely used it is hard to kill off.

So, the question remains: how do we create consistently powerful presentations with or without PowerPoint? 

Two words: stop rambling.

If the presenter gets to their point quickly they will engage their audience far better than dragging everyone through all the background detail and a seemingly endless list of irrelevant charts and diagrams first.

Here are four ideas to help you stop rambling your presentations (using whichever tool you prefer):

Firstly, the hard part: Identify the main point you need to make for this particular audience – your ‘so what' – and write it in a sentence.

Yes, just one. Write it in 25 words or less, in words that are simple and clear enough for someone removed from the situation, such as your grandmother, to understand.

Secondly, chunk your supporting points in a way that will work for your audience

Work out if you need to persuade your audience that this is the right big idea, or whether they will want to know how to implement it.

  • To persuade, you will need to choose to engage them through their minds with analysis, or to engage them personally through narrative story.
  • To provide an implementation plan, step out the actions one by one in logical order.
  • To do both, use deductive logic to prepare an argument story, incorporating what you judge to be the right balance of analysis and story.

Thirdly, create your PowerPoint (or Keynote, or Slides presentation) and get someone to help you with the visuals if they are critical to your presentation.

Neil Young of is both fast and fabulous. With or without Neil, make sure you have one message on each page and a diagram to match, avoiding too many bullet points and using font that is large enough for your audience to read. Wherever possible, use more pages rather than less.

As you have already worked out, there is quite an art to this.

Gene Zelazny of McKinsey & Company fame provides outstanding counsel on this subject in his two excellent books: Say it with Presentations and Say it with Charts. Both are available from his website:

I take no fees from either Neil or Gene.

Lastly, make like Winston Churchill.

Wear a hole in the carpet as you walk back and forward in front of the mirror practicing until you get it right.

There really are no shortcuts, either with making a good presentation or with getting rid of PowerPoint.


Davina StanleyDavina Stanley is founder of the Clarity First Program, which helps mid-career experts communicate so their good ideas get the traction they deserve – fast.

Davina is a fan of PowerPoint (when used well) and of Neil Young who is a master information designer.

Neil can be contacted at

How thinking like an entrepreneur can help you conquer your fear of presenting

I have thoroughly enjoyed Marie Forleo's quirky videos, powerful interviews and insightful business posts over the past five or so years.
Marie's sassy New Jersey gumption offers some powerful no-nonsense ideas all of us can learn from as we strive to grow ourselves and our teams.
Recently I also binged on her new book, Everything is Figureoutable and wanted to share some insights that might help you address a challenge many clients tell me is a big one.
Do you love presenting to a group, or does it make your knees quake?

If your knees wobble, your palms sweat or your voice quivers even the slightest bit, here are three ideas from Marie's book you might find useful:

  • Fear is our friend, not our enemy (even when sweating in front of 100 people)

  • Rewiring our self-talk is essential (and easier than you might think)

  • Everything really IS figureoutable

​​I dig in a bit deeper on each of these points here.

Fear is our friend, not our enemy

It is not uncommon for my clients to tell me how nervous they are about making high-stakes presentations. I get it. I too get nervous when taken out of my comfort zone, especially when in front of others.
Marie encourages us all to harness the energy that comes from the fear, rather than being daunted by it.
Here are a few ideas from her on how to overcome this debilitating F-word:

1.    Name it to tame it: She rightly says that one reason our fears become so debilitating is that they are vague. We don’t slow down enough to thoroughly question or assess its probability. We also don’t think through the worst-case scenario and how we would cope with that. Once we know what we are afraid of, how real it is and how we would cope if it came to pass, it is so much easier to face it and deal with it.
2.    Know that action is the antidote to fear: The trick is allowing ourselves to feel fear while we take action. Make the call even if your pits are sweating. Speak up, even if your voice shakes. Present even if your knees feel like they might collapse!  As she says, doing the thing is far easier than the terror we inflict upon ourselves by stressing over it in our heads.
3.    Accept the truth about failure: It’s not as bad as you think it is. To quote Marie, “I win or I learn, but I never lose”. Everyone fails. Failure is an event, not a characteristic.
She recommends thinking about the word ‘fail’ as a faithful attempt in learning. That’s it.
I must remember this the next time I send a deluge of emails by mistake or miss a typo in one of my emails!

Rewiring our self-talk is essential

Also a Carol Dweck Mindset fan, Marie encourages us to avoid the #1 tell-tale sign that we are blocking ourselves from progressing so we succeed.
Our self-talk includes phrases like “I can never do this”, “This won't work for me” or perhaps “I know this already”.
While there are times when both of these statements are valid, she encourages us to be careful if we use them any time someone tries to encourage us to think about or try something new.
When nervous and getting ready to make an important presentation, consciously rewire this inside voice to say “I can and I will”. Add to that “If I focus on the basics, and talk to the room as though they are individuals, the rest will work out just fine”.

Everything really IS figureoutable

I had the great fortune to grow up on a farm in rural Australia where we rarely had everything we needed to fix a surprise problem. We were also too far away from a shop to find the ‘bit' we needed to fix it conventionally.
This meant we became very good at thinking laterally and solving problems and I agree with Marie on this one, whether we are facing a practical or professional problem.
If we assume ‘everything is figureoutable’ we will have more courage to face a challenge, such as preparing and delivering a presentation.
However, she rightly quotes far fancier people than me in making her point. You might find these useful for yourself, or your teams:
She quotes British Physicist David Deutsch in saying that ‘everything that is not forbidden by laws of nature is achievable given the right knowledge'.
 I assure you: standing in front of a group and ‘nailing’ your presentation is definitely NOT forbidden by the laws of nature.
She also quotes the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (2010 film):
ALICE: This is impossible
THE MAD HATTER: Only if you believe it is.

And lastly, a succinct one from Tony Robbins: It's never about your resources, it's about your resourcefulness”.

For more about Marie's book, click here.

PS Don't be put off by her New Jersey ‘sass’ or lack of ivy league credentials. Forbes has a thing or two to say about her and Oprah describes her as the thought leader for the next generation.

PPS Watch out for updates to the Clarity First Program for March. The team and I are loving taking it up a notch.

Please note, this post contains Amazon affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases. This helps me cover the costs of delivering my free content to you.


Davina has helped smart people all over the world clarify and communicate complex ideas for 20+ years.

She began this work when she joined McKinsey & Company as a communication specialist in Hong Kong where she helped others use the Minto Pyramid Principle. She continued helping others when living in New York, Tokyo and now back in Australia.

Her clients include experts across many disciplines across Australia, Asia Pacific, New Zealand, the UK and the US. She currently coaches a number of C-suite executives as well as many mid-level folk.

Getting to the So What just got easier

Getting to the So What just got easier

This new book introduces seven most commonly used storyline patterns for business communication

How often have you invested significant energy to prepare a piece of communication only to be confronted with this most uncomfortable question from your audience: “So what?”

It’s one of the most uncomfortable questions in business.

Your audience asks because they want to know why the ideas in your presentation should matter to them and to the business, and they want to know in one simple statement. You might have spent hours, days or even weeks preparing, but they want a succinct answer that summarises everything for them in an instant. And you want the earth to open up and swallow you because you don’t know how to answer this question succinctly.

If you don’t answer this question well, all of your work can be for nothing. Early in our careers, we were both on the receiving end of this question and not ready to answer it. Those memories are some of our most crushing, yet also our most instructive.

What’s the solution? To avoid the embarrassment and frustration of not being able to answer that one simple question, you must state the ‘So what’ clearly and unambiguously at the beginning of your communication and then make the case to support it.

But, how do you do that?

Our new book, The So What Strategy, outlines a three-step process to do just that while also offering our favourite seven storylining patterns so you don’t need to start from scratch.

  1. Start thinking before you prepare your communication: During this phase, we encourage you to dig deep so you can articulate your purpose clearly and also be confident that you understand your audience well.
    1. Your purpose should state: As a result of this communication, I want my audience to …. know, think or do something specific …
    2. Your audience should be broken down so that you are clear who the decision-makers, influencers and others are and what specifically interests them about your topic.
  2. Structure your thinking: Here is when we recommend mapping your ideas into a logically organised hierarchy – what we call a storyline – so that you can articulate your main point in just one sentence and back it up logically. There are three things you should know about storylines:
    1. Storylines require you to map out your higher-level ideas so they synthesise or summarise the ideas within each section of your story. Doing this forces you to clarify your own thinking so you can articulate a more powerful case. It also helps you ‘throw out’ ideas that are interesting but not directly relevant to your main point.
    2. Storylines enable your audience to scan your documents quickly to identify key themes. This enables your audience should ‘get the gist’ within 30 seconds of engaging with your communication. It also enables them to find your key points quickly, rather than hunting for them, or assuming they can be found buried somewhere near the end of your communication.
      If you scan this article, for example, you can see that I have organised it around one idea (introducing our three-step process that enables you to answer the ‘So what?’ question) that is supported by a grouping structure, consisting of three actions: start thinking, structure your storyline and share your communication. This is a relatively simple example of what we are talking about.
    3. Storylines don’t need to be built from the ground up every time. Having worked with storylines for more than 20 years each, we have identified the most commonly used patterns. Click here to download a preview chapter.
  3. Share your communication: Once the structure of your thinking is clear, this can be translated directly into any form of communication: phone conversation, email, paper or PowerPoint pack. The key is to make sure that the structure of the thinking drives the communication, not the problem-solving journey you went on or the medium itself.

Davina Stanley and Gerard Castles are founders of Clarity College and Clarity Thought Partners. They are also joint authors of The So What Strategy, released this week. Both trained at McKinsey & Company and serve some of Australia’s most respected organisations.

Keywords: books, leadership communication, online business writing training, the so what


Davina has helped smart people all over the world clarify and communicate complex ideas for 20+ years.

She began this work when she joined McKinsey & Company as a communication specialist in Hong Kong where she helped others use the Minto Pyramid Principle. She continued helping others when living in New York, Tokyo and now back in Australia.

Her clients include experts across many disciplines across Australia, Asia Pacific, New Zealand, the UK and the US. She currently coaches a number of C-suite executives as well as many mid-level folk.