Matthias Cornette is based in Belgium and is currently in his second year of running a presentation agency called SHOOW, where he assists customers such as Pro League, NN Insurance, and others in creating and designing beautiful presentations and presenting in new ways.

In this episode with him, we talk about the mistakes in presentation design and data visualization that people in the business world often make, why having one idea per slide is not that scary, and how to present and visualize any data better by avoiding repetition and having a story.

How he ended up in the presentation space

Matthias shared that for him, it started when he was nine or ten years old and attended a Microsoft Workshop, where they would explore Word, Excel, and also PowerPoint. After that, in school, he kept making a lot of presentations. Later, at work, one of his bosses pointed out that Matthias is great at presentations, and suggested doing something with it, after which Matthias started making presentations as a side job.

The first few months he taught himself advanced PowerPoint by searching things on the web and watching tutorials, and one event leading to another, he was able to get his first clients and establish his agency, SHOOW. So, everyone, if you say that there are no materials out there – there are, you just must search for them.

What do people struggle most with

Businesspeople face several issues, but one of the most significant, according to Matthias, is the absence of structure in presentations.

For example, what happens when you see a presentation and find slides that appear to have been jumbled together in the manner that one person has created slides one to ten and another person slides ten to twenty without much coordination and collaboration? You are left with an impression that they have not put in the work. They lack a defined structure and have also made the error of jumping right into PowerPoint.

Do not start your presentations directly in PowerPoint

Matthias revealed that he always starts with post-it notes. It’s simple to create a presentation structure using them that can be readily modified at that level, preventing mistakes later in the presentation creation process.

Ask yourself, what is your goal? What are the different topics that you will discuss in your presentation? Assign one subject to one post-it. Then arrange. Add your subtopics after that, and you’ve got your primary structure. Now you can confidently go to your content and design, instead of starting with them.

"If I have one idea per slide, I'll have way too many slides"

That is a misconception. Do not be counting your slides, assuming that each has to be on-screen for one minute. You can leave a slide on for two seconds solely to draw attention to the image, text, or statement on it. As the presenter, you have complete control over your slides and may change them as often as you need to.

But, first and foremost, consider how much time you have available to speak and present, and tailor your presentation accordingly.

Most clients believe their issue is related to design

However, this is not the case; their main issue is structure and transitions between subtopics and slides, i.e., the storytelling.

We have all seen slides where the presenter goes from slide five to six with the words “Okay, I will present this now” or “Uh, yeah, this slide there”. Storytelling is not that simple, but it is so worth it as it allows you to easily transition from slide to slide while keeping your audience interested, and it simply appears more natural and professional.

Presenting data better

Matthias mentioned three data challenges that he has experienced. To begin with, data is frequently provided dryly, without a narrative. Second, there is often an overabundance of detailed information about the data. Most of the time, you won’t need to go into great detail with the information you offer. Only communicate what is required for your presentation’s aim; do not include details simply because you are familiar with them if they are not helpful to your message.

And finally, avoid repetition or stating the obvious, aim for a short and sweet message that communicates. For example, you can easily modify the slide title “Q1 results” to something more meaningful, like “300 percent growth in Q1,” which communicates the major takeaway you want your audience to know from that presentation right away. The title of your slide should be the clue to that part of your story.

Business world presentation problems

Matthias noted that he is a podcast listener of ours and reminded us of some insight from Andrea Pacini, one of our previous guests. One of the worst mistakes is when people are giving a presentation for themselves because you should never give a presentation for yourself. If your audience is not considered, your presentation will not have the impact you mean for it to have. The audience should always be at the center of your presentation.


You can connect with Matthias Cornette on his personal LinkedIn or check out his SHOOW Agency website here.

Listen to the full episode!