Tips for effective oral presentations of works of design
Graphic design and advertising work rarely sells itself. The oral presentation is an opportunity to present the design solution in a controlled and favorable setting accompanied by rehearsed explanations. It is important that the client and decision-makers at the presentation comprehend the same meanings of the copy and images that the designer intended. Everything about the presentation (physical environment, presentation background, appearance of presenters, etc.) affects the client's perception and acceptance of the work.
Public speaking is frightening. According to numerous surveys, speaking in front of a group is listed as the one thing Americans fear most. It is followed by heights, insects and bugs, financial problems, deep water, sickness, then death.
Recommended behavior for presentations
• Look professional.
• Dress to enhance, not distract from, the presentation boards.
• Rehearse to appear calm and prepared. The better prepared you are, the more you will be able to enjoy the presentation.
• Pump yourself up before presenting: convey confidence and enthusiasm.
• Set up in an impressive environment.
• Refer to outline or notes but don't read.
• Each presenter in a team should have the same-size note cards with blank backs (the side visible to clients)
• Anticipate and address possible questions.
• Be positive: tell only what works and why the piece is good.
• Speak from the audience's point of view.
• Active present tense is more persuasive than passive and past tense language: "Red was used to convey power" is not as emphatic as "Red conveys power."
• State facts, not opinions.
• Once you turn the client's attention to the work - speak only in 3rd person and about the work, not about your feelings, likes, beliefs, etc.
• Do not claim ownership of the objectives, target market, or design solutions. They are no longer yours - you are presenting them to the world and, especially, to the client.
• Use present tense and active language. "Red conveys strength." Not, "Red was used to convey strength." or "We feel that red conveys strength." Passive is not confident, persuasive, nor impressive.
• Look at the client during the introduction. Making eye contact with your audience during the opening introduction helps establish you as being in control and confident. It helps make a connection between you and the client.
Behavior to avoid
• Looking at the blank board or the wall - the audience will follow your gaze and you don't want them to focus on a blank wall.
• Saying 'Um' or 'Uh' (or anything similar) more than 3 times - makes you sound unprepared, hesitant, and not confident. A silent pause would be better. The more rehearsed and prepared you are, the less likely you are to have to say 'Uh'.
• Saying 'kinda', 'sorta', or any other wimpy descriptor more than once - use statements that are firm and demonstrative. It does or it doesn't - it shouldn't kinda/sorta do something. But it is okay to say an element is 'subtle' or an image or feeling is 'implied' - those sound better than 'sorta'.
• Avoid "I chose" "color was chosen" etc. Solving design problems is a complicated process - it's not about making choices from a catalog.
• Not having nouns and verbs or modifiers and subjects agree - like 'objectives is', 'objective are, 'target markets is' or 'target market are'.
• You do not own a target market. You do not own a logo. Avoid, "My target market is..." "My logo was..." The client may resent your claiming ownership.
• Discussing elements which did not work or elements from other similar solutions. Keep your rationale positive and focused on what is working in the piece, don't lead the audience astray by introducing elements or descriptions that take focus away from the piece.
• The client really doesn't care what you think, they are more concerned with how you can help their company make more money - "Red conveys power and passion" is more persuasive than, "I think red conveys power and passion."
• Make introductions.
• Briefly describe the problem assessment: problem statement, target market, and objectives.
• Show the work.
• Walk-thru the piece: state a brief overview of the major elements.
• State the creative strategy and concept conveyed.
• Thoroughly rationalize each element: graphic elements, color, typefaces, visual barbs, layout composition, illustration style, any other unique elements.
• Give closure: objectives met, wrap-up, etc.