Navigating Canva for Effective Presenting: Best Practices

Canva blog August final
3 ways to turn your Canva deck into a winning presentation.

It seems our presentation wanted to play hide-and-seek today. Don’t worry, I’m an expert in charades.” Have you used a similar comeback while facing a technical glitch during a presentation? 

While incorporating humor, now and then, in presentations is a great way to maintain audience interest, it’s unfortunate when it has to be used to cover up technical presentation glitches.

Many of our clients have faced audio and visual glitches while presenting directly from a design platform like Canva. While Canva is great in offering the self-design features we all appreciate, let’s not forget it isn’t made for presentations.

So let’s talk about ways to leverage Canva in a way that works when presenting.

Reasons why you shouldn’t use Canva when presenting

Here are a few reasons why Canva doesn’t cut it as a presenting software.

Presenting in a browser or PDF viewer is less than ideal

With Canva, you can present in your browser, meaning you need a very stable internet connection. If that goes out, you’re without your presentation. Alternatively, you can download your file as a PDF. Though slide transitions and presenter notes will not be included with PDF exports.

Aspect ratios need to be set manually

The ratio of width to height of an image is its aspect ratio. Suppose if an image is 4 units wide and 3 units high, its aspect ratio would be 4:3.

When the aspect ratio of your Canva design doesn’t match the screen or projector you’re using, things get wonky. Pictures might look stretched with loss of resolution, text could turn all weirdly elongated, and your layout just won’t sit right. On the flip side, content clipping can occur too, when parts of your slide vanish into the presentation’s “Bermuda Triangle.” It’s almost like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

The default aspect ratio for PowerPoint is 16:9 but it can be easily changed to 4:3 when needed. In Canva, most people often use the 16:9 aspect ratio but it is harder to switch between the other sizes needed. 

The transitions don’t work when downloaded

Here’s the deal with Canva and its transition game. When you download your presentation to a PowerPoint presentation (which we recommend) the transitions don’t translate. You will need to add those transitions again; an extra step but the lack of transition, like the famous fade, can be a letdown when you want your slides to flow like poetry.

Doesn’t have ‘Show all Slides’

Canva doesn’t let you see all your slides on one page which might hinder seamless navigation between slides. Now, let’s say your audience decides to do a little hop, skip, and jump, going out of order. How do you bring them back to the slide you’re talking about? Without the ‘show all slides’ feature, you have to pass through every single slide to reach the one you want.

This also puts a cap on your presentation creativity. So, when you want to skip ahead or go back smoothly Canva says, “Nope, stay in line, folks.” 

The presenter’s view is sub-par

Canva’s presenter view is quite challenging and doesn’t have all the features of PowerPoint. This view, designed for the presenter’s use, sometimes displays private notes instead of the intended content on the projection screen, leading to confusion.


3 options for a better presentation (and how to leverage Canva effectively)

Follow one of these options to ensure you don’t have any AV presentation blunders.

Option 1: Create your presentation in Canva and export it as a PowerPoint.

This option allows the best of both worlds: design in Canva and then adapt to PowerPoint. When creating your presentation in Canva to download to PowerPoint, don’t use unknown fonts or transitions. Once exported, make sure to go through your presentation in PowerPoint and look for any missing fonts or layout issues. Translations from Canva to PowerPoint are not always straightforward. Something beautiful in Canva could look weird in PowerPoint. Once you get your slides perfect, you can also add in transitions and presenter notes within PowerPoint itself. This option will likely give you the most creative freedom but it does take time to ensure the design translates correctly. So don’t wait until the last minute if you choose this option!

Option 2: Create your presentation in Canva and export it as PNGs to add to PowerPoint.

When you download your presentation as PNGs, you can add each PNG to a blank slide in PowerPoint. This is a great option when you have very designed slides because it ensures all your fonts and designs are perfect. The downside is that you won’t be able to do any transitions for specific elements, like line-by-line text or photos. You can, however, add slide-to-slide transitions since it treats each slide as one piece of content.  Don’t forget to add your presenter notes!

Option 3: Use PowerPoint! Design your presentation in the good ol’ fashion software.

While PowerPoint may not be as easy to use as Canva, its new “Design” feature does assist with slide design and a PowerPoint file can be shown offline if there are connectivity issues.

For those who know how to create great presentations in PowerPoint already, it may be worth it to continue designing with this good ol’ fashion software.

Reminder: It’s also important to note that Canva isn’t the only presentation software that can be wonky. Google Slides can also be difficult when presenting. 

If you’re working with an AV company, they can often help guide you. Use them as a resource to ask, “Hey, will this presentation deck look good on screen?” 

It’s always important for your AV team to see your media ahead of the event.  Just make sure you don’t share the read-only version since we often have to do a little magic to make the presentation work. Don’t worry, we promise not to mess up your slides! 


Let’s amplify our community, together

At Live Oak AV, we pride ourselves on working with our clients and presenters to ensure seamless presentations and event experiences. From weddings to fundraisers, we’ve been amplifying our community through professional audio-visual services for over 20+ years. Reach out if you have questions about presenting and AV or get our monthly newsletter for more presentation and event tips.

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