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How to present and build culture and your competitive advantage

Everywhere you look these days there’s some kind of change on the horizon. Companies are restructuring, offshoring and battling to stay ever present in consumers’ minds to stay ahead.

The result? Battle scars that get left on teams and team members, that if not fixed, continue to eat away at your company’s culture, productivity and profits.

More and more clients and departments are waking up to the fact that a company’s performance is driven by an engaged team and culture. As Gallup states on their website: “A strong culture makes employees want to perform better and makes customers want to spread the word about you.”

But building a strong culture isn’t easy. It doesn’t mean having ping-pong tables and bean bags. It does mean making sure that everyone in the company is aligned and eager to work towards the same values and vision.

The best way to do this is to focus on how you communicate internally, whether you are a manager, leader, a CEO, or an executive.

Everyone in your company needs to feel part of the equation. They need to be clear on how their role fits into the puzzle and fulfils a greater purpose. This needs to be more than words on the wall, on posters or coffee cups.

Often, it’s up to management to communicate and motivate teams towards a new vision or higher purpose through a presentation at a town-hall style meeting. This is usually supported through crowded and boring slides full of flashy org charts, mission statements and goals that do anything but leave your team feeling energised.

If you look at the majority of presentations, the content is presenter centric. The speaker talks about how good they are, shows off all the data they have, and how much growth the organisation is undergoing.

This kind of approach instantly alienates our audience. They are left thinking, but what about me? Why is that important? How will my world be affected as a result? In a nutshell, why should they care?

Thanks to the digital world we live in, our audiences’ needs and demands are constantly changing, which is what makes communicating so hard! In general, people want a more personalised approach, a more intelligent approach, and that is why it’s crucial to put your audience and their needs first.

Your presentation is your opportunity as a speaker to connect with your audience and create a united front. This only happens when you write, design and deliver a message in your presentation that puts your audience first and includes these 3 vital things:

  1. Being honest

    We need to remember we are connecting with our teams and employees, human to human. Unfortunately, we often think that as leaders we need to be different and that can translate to being cold and insincere.Instead, just be honest. Start with the reality of the situation – what is the situation right now, how are people feeling and what challenges is everyone facing? Don’t hide any bad news. Lying or covering up the truth only makes things worse. But make sure you move to the solutions and positives, show the future opportunity that everyone can be a part of.
  1. Sharing common ground
    You need to create common ground with your audience, to really address their key concerns and show them that you understand where they are coming from. The best way to do this is by sharing stories that show emotion, that show you understand where they are at and what they are faced with, perhaps because you’ve been in a similar situation before.
  1. Putting your audience’s needs first

    Do your homework and actually research the people in the room – why are they there? What challenges are they facing? How can you help them?

Resist the temptation to just read from slides and talk profit. Help your audience to feel that you are equally invested in the same outcome, whether that is company success, profitability, or future job security. Show a weaker side and your audience will really feel like you are all part of the same journey.


Learning to communicate well internally is your key to communicating well externally. After all, your greatest advocates are those people working with you, alongside you, every day, always.


Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold and beautiful ideas.

She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication & training agency, Microsoft MVP, and author of the book ‘Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.’ Emma will be speaking at IML’s Sydney TEL Talk: Enhancing Innovation and Creativity – How to make an impact.


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