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Lessons from Pentagram #3 (Part II)
Mastering the Eloquent Dance of Design Presentations
Last week, we talked about designing a good presentation.
Today, we need to talk about presenting those beautified slides.
5 key steps to crushing that prez
1. This isn’t war.
I took a class back in 2014 on communication skills. Every time I went up to the board, I’d raise my sleeves up, take a deep breath and start my speech. The coach caught me in the middle of my sleeve raising. Interrupted: “you’re not going to war you know?”. The client (or your boss) isn’t your enemy. In fact, they hired you. They believed in you. They were ready to pay for you. Start with that mentality.
Feeling stressed? It isn’t imposter syndrome (because that is pure B.S. to reframe systemic inequality as an individual pathology, especially for women). It is perfectly normal.
For a very stressful presentation, I find it easier to start by sharing my excitement “I’ve been working hard on this and I’m really excited to show it to you”.
2. Silence please!
There is a reason why some calls are called workshops and some are called design presentations. If it is a presentation, I’ve found it easier to go from A-Z without interruption. I usually simply state that I’m going to do so and they’ll be space at the end for questions to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Oh, and make sure their mic is muted. There’s almost nothing worse than a random phone call in the background to disrupt your presentation.
3. Speak their language back at them.
I only recently put a name on a technique I like to use with clients: active listening. If the client previously said, “I want to the website to me more dynamic”. Present your work by saying “We made the design more dynamic by [design change]”. “Dynamic” design means nothing, at least to us designers. To them, it means something. And there’s nothing more powerful than feeling heard.
Tip: Refer to point 5 to make sure you clarify their language before you make the design updates!
4. Don’t ask for personal opinions
Design and design presentations aren’t about the receiver’s taste. It is about how the work answers the brief. Avoid at all costs, the “how do we feel about this”.
Be precise about what feedback you’d like to get, ask:
Does this graphic communicate the right message?
Is there any additional contextual information that we missed?
Does this creative direction feel relatable to the general audience,
including specialists of the field?
5. Play feedback tennis
Feedback is like a tennis match. It isn’t about catching the ball. It is about throwing the ball back. Until something happens and the ball ends out of the lines.
Let’s see it in action:
[Client]: I don’t like yellow
[Designer]: I hear that you don’t like yellow (active listening!), how is yellow an issue for the audience, the message, or the tone of this piece?
The client here has two options:
A. realizing this is a personal preference and how irrelevant this comment is
B. giving more detailed feedback.
[Client]: I guess it feels aggressive and we’re trying to be approachable
[Designer]: Yes, I totally see how that could read as aggressive, how about I rework the yellow to make it warmer or play with another color?
✨ Bonus: My therapist taught me the “Yes and” method (inspired by comedy) and this is my new favorite technique to use during meetings!
Alright, that’s it y’all. Share your tips for presentation in the comments and let me know if those help!
Why color temperature is important, demonstrated with movies and photography.
The ‘Sunken Place’ is real in UX design.
Seth Godin and ethically reclaiming meaning from work.