We talk a lot in our society about children’s natural creativity and the myriad ways in which parents, schools, video games, television, devices, etc. ruin that creativity. There’s a lot of truth to the idea that creativity can diminish for lack of use, but it’s a mistake to believe that, like brain cells, creativity cannot be stimulated yet again.
To start with, creativity is probably somewhat misbranded. When we see children being creative, usually what we’re really witnessing is problem solving. Children’s creativity stems from curiosity—they want to learn and experiment and toy with the realities of the universe. Every creation has a purpose. The kind of creativity that adults practice (and we’re talking about the artsiest interpretations of the word “creativity”) is much different, much more abstract. Children’s creativity is pragmatic and utilitarian. Even if the primary purpose is fun, the fun part is in the discovery.
Adults in the workforce employ creativity on a daily basis, but we don’t call it creativity. We call it problem solving. And this is truly the pinnacle of true creativity. Groundbreaking technologies, businesses, sales, etc. all stem from problem solving.
How does this apply to presentations? The #1 self-deprecating comment we hear from our clients is that they’re not creative. It’s simply not true. Our clients represent the peak of creativity in their daily lives; they just associate “artsiness” with true creativity. And we suspect if this is true of the people that approach us for presentation design and content services, then it’s true for the broader population as well.
But just because you’re not skilled in Adobe Creative Suite, didn’t study visual arts and the effects of type treatments, imagery and graphics on human retention and understanding, and haven’t practiced the art of story-based presentation writing doesn’t get you off the hook. Yes, we help people do these things, but even if we’re not doing the work, you have both the ability and the responsibility to try to solve the problem at-hand: communicating your ideas clearly and engagingly.
Therein lies the key: it’s a problem to solve, not a creativity gap. And just like you solved other problems in your career, you can solve this one. How did you solve those other problems? You got curious—you learned everything you could about the subject. You researched the client and competition, maybe you went to graduate school, you joined LinkedIn groups, read discussion threads, trade blogs, followed industry leaders on Twitter. Successful businesspeople are masters at learning, because they’re always seeking new opportunities to solve the problems others can’t or (more often) won’t bother to solve.
So whether you enlist our help or go it alone, understand that not being “creative” is no excuse for phoning it in with bullet points and bare slides. You didn’t get this far by taking the easy route; you took the best route, and you succeeded.
Question: What is the best route for getting your ideas across? How can you improve your presentations, even if you’re not a professional designer or content writer?