For anyone unfamiliar with public speaking or sharing their ideas in front of a large group, the idea of a presentation can be overwhelming. For some people, even presenting in front of a few people can cause jitters. However, at most companies where teamwork or creativity is encouraged, presentations are a common occurrence and mastering presenting skills is crucial as a result.
When you’re showing design-related projects to clients, the manner in which your designs are presented is often just as important as the material itself. Whether you are lacking confidence, or not fully explaining the reasoning behind your idea, you run the risk of leaving clients disappointed and unimpressed. The same concept goes for internal presentations at your company—without utilizing best practices for presenting, your ideas may seem mediocre and unfulfilling.
In order to grow existing relationships with clients, to win the hearts of new clients, or to impress and motivate your co-workers or supervisors, consider the following 10 tips when you’re sharing your team’s latest design projects:
1. Be Prepared
Like with most things in life, preparation is crucial. To make sure you’re comfortable with the ideas you’re speaking about, and to familiarize yourself with some of the key terms you want to cover, take time to organize yourself and ensure you’ve done your prep work. Many people assume that you need to spend hours upon hours on this aspect of the presentation process, however that typically isn’t the case. If you’ve done all the work leading up to this point appropriately and correctly, you only need a little bit of time to walk yourself through the presentation one final time.
2. Act Naturally
Public speaking is one of the top fears people have, and since presenting is a form of public speaking, it’s no surprise that for some people, anxiety can take over. To avoid this, focus on the points you feel strongly about. Remember that the clients or supervisors you’re sharing your work with are people too and that if you act naturally the entire presentation will go much better. Familiarity and confidence in what you’re presenting make it easier to act naturally.
3. Know Who Is On the Other Side
Think about how you would feel if you were working with yourself—and the way you and your team operate on a project. Remember that you’re dealing with the time, money, and expectation of someone else and keep that in mind as you highlight certain points of the project.
4. Personalize All Elements
Chances are that you’ve met with whomever your presenting once before to understand the needs, requirements, or expectations for the project. As you present, make it clear that you’ve heard what they had to say during prior meetings, and have taken that fully into consideration as you crafted the designs you’re sharing with them. Create a checklist of concerns or requests that have been vocalized, and as they come up in the presentation of the project, point out that you’ve done something a certain way to meet their wishes. Reinforcing the decisions you made throughout a logo design or the design of a webpage (even if they are something you always do) shows that the project is custom designed for that particular client, or for your boss’ taste.
5. Don’t Let Nerves Get the Best of You
If you’re nervous, it’s easy to say filler words as you speak. Saying things such as “you know?” or “like” or “um” can easily fill up a nervous conversation. While these terms may seem trivial, they can be distracting to anyone listening to you and make you appear unsure. Even if you’re 100% confident in the project and the material you’re presenting, those terms can take away some of your credibility. The best way to overcome the habit of using filler words is to make a conscientious effort to avoid them while you’re speaking. It’s okay to take a pause if you need a second or two to think about what to say.
6. Say It Once
For major points you’re addressing, it may be your natural instinct to spend a great amount of time focusing on them or repeating what you’ve said. Saying things like “So, as I said…” or “Once again” give the impression that the person you’re presenting to does not understand what you’re saying. Instead, at the culmination of the meeting, offer the opportunity to revisit any aspect of the presentation that needs reiteration.
7. Be Spontaneous
You don’t always have to stick to the precise plan you’ve outlined. You shouldn’t be reading from a script, and should be using any slides or notes merely as a starting point for what you’re discussing. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and verbally add or reduce the amount of time you spend on certain sections.
8. Be Positive, No Matter What
Positivity can go a long way. It instills trust in you and your team, and helps build credibility for your business and the quality of work that you do. If the ideas you present aren’t receiving as much positive acclaim as you had imagined, don’t become overly defensive. When alternatives or changes are suggested, instead explain that you can definitely explore the opportunity and that it’s not a problem. Even if you oppose the opinions that are vocalized, consider them post-meeting and create new ideas that are more aligned with the suggestions.
9. Read Cues from Reactions
To expand on the idea of being spontaneous during your presentation, always pay attention to subtle cues as you discuss certain points of the design. If the client seems really interested in a particular design element, spend more time going into further specifics on it than you had originally planned. Plan the general outline of the presentation, but always allow reactions to help you determine what you should spend more or less time on.
10. Own It
Even if you didn’t personally create every piece of the design, it’s important you be responsible for and a part of the whole project. Perhaps it’s a logo design and you created the structure of the design, but had no role in the color choice or font style used. If you’re receiving negative reviews on the logo color, it’s a bad idea to pass blame onto some else. Note that the color choice is not favored, and explain that you can easily change it to a preferred choice.
Effective Tips for Design Presentations
Collectively using these tips during your next presentation can help the success of your design project. Presentations aren’t always going to go seamlessly well. There are bound to be hiccups and issues now and then—it happens. Don’t let one failure keep you away from sharing your ideas again in the future. Learn from the errors you make, and allow mistakes to be lessons for the future.