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Which is more important, content or presentation?

This may be something of a philosophical debate, because both are obviously very important for any high-quality content product or service. However, if you had to choose one over the other, which would it be?

Content and Presentation

Content and Presentation

This is a tough question that probably requires tough answers, and a rough canvas of opinions got some of the usual / expected response that content is king, and without it there would be no point in presenting anything. Others took a more pragmatic position with the view that proper presentation or communication (of even poorly developed content) is vital to winning over your audience or customers. Ps. these equally apply to information, intelligence, and other forms of knowledge or content (including creative works).

Even though I am of the firm belief that content is king, it is a clear to see that unless said content is delivered properly to the right audience and consumers, it might as well just be a cup of salt water in the ocean, or a lamp under a bucket, for all the use and value it has. The point is that it takes the right recipient or consumer to establish the true value of any given content or information. Clearly, the end consumer or recipient of content is very important to this equation; and it would appear that a well polished presentation of mediocre content is likely to have more impact than a mediocre presentation of top quality content. Furthermore, in a world where digital content is a more or less dime a dozen, and many organisations are just starting to feel the impact of so called ‘big data’, it is vital to differentiate your content from the rest of the pack and this can be readily done via presentation of same. Surely this means presentation is more valuable, correct?

Well, I’m not so sure, mainly because one other important attribute, which probably trumps content, presentation or audience, is the ability to find the right content (and its presentation, in whatever form / format) in the first place. However, the fact that one cannot find a particular lost work of Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t make it any less valuable, especially for anyone that values such works of art. Furthermore, an overly elaborate, or otherwise misjudged, presentation can sometimes get in the way of the content and its message, and some things could also get lost in translation. But do these points make content more important than presentation?

Again, I’m not so sure. If anything both arguments lead to the conclusion that they (i.e. content and presentation) are really one and the same; and that either one lives or dies by the quality of the other. The inherent value of content is realised in its presentation, and likewise, the importance of presentation rests is the ability to deliver the right content, in the right way, to the right audience. This is the key challenge for most organisations, especially those in the content and / or knowledge based industries. It may be best to conclude by saying that if content is king, then presentation is the king maker. Does it really matter which is more important?

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  1. October 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I have always believed content is king until I had to make a recent presentation. The way you present material is equally important. In fact, I am thinking presentation might be even more important than content itself. An effective presentation and confidence about what you are presenting seem to matter most. In attending a few presentations, I have seen people with rather poor content engage and audience and capture their interest with stellar presentation techniques. Conversely, those with great content and poor presentation skills seem to go unnoticed, even if they have something important to share.

  2. October 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Good point. Like you I believe that good presentation and communication are critical to getting buy-in, and influencing outcomes; however because they are so intertwined, one can only conclude that good content also implies good presentation.

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