You've done all the work behind the scenes. You've met a dozen times internally to strategize, brainstorm and collaborate. But now comes the most important part: presenting your work to your client.
Presentations are a high-stakes challenge. You're trying to sell someone on an idea, and no matter how good that idea is, if its value doesn't come across, then your client won't bite. Here's how to present your project, concept or work in a way that will get buy-in from even the most challenging client.
Share the story behind your project
Your work didn't just arrive fully formed. It's a response to a particular client need or context. When presenting your idea, take your client through the process that has informed your proposed solution.
Build a narrative where you:
- Succinctly state the problem you're solving and what you're aiming to achieve
- Communicate 3 key insights your team has gathered from your research and strategy meetings
- Connect these points to your concept and solution, highlighting the benefits of your approach
- Identify the required touch points or deliverables for the project
This helps set the stage so that your client understands how you arrived at your ideas and the thinking behind them. It's also a good time to highlight what kind of participation you expect from them at this stage.
Present your work in its best light
A brilliant idea won't seem so brilliant to the client if it can't be properly communicated. Take the time to put together a presentation that shows the execution of the idea in context and as close to completion as possible. If you're building a website or app, show your designs mocked up against a computer or smartphone. If you're crafting a social media campaign, mock up some sample Instagram posts.
A good pitch will be presented in a professional looking manner using appealingly templated and branded slides. Taking the time to get this right can take your presentation up a notch. The way you format your deck matters, too - stick to one idea per slide, and keep the text to a minimum. The core ideas should come across, but you want to ensure that your client is listening to you and not reading a wall of text instead.
Present multiple creative concepts
Whether this point applies to you will depend on the kind of business you're in, and the type of project your pitching. However, if you're in a creative industry, you'll want to present more than one concept to your client. Doing so presents multiple ways of showing the same problem, and helps a client offer more focused feedback about what they do and don't want.
For creative presentations, three concepts are the standard. Usually these fall on a spectrum: solid and not-too-challenging; creative but effective; and a trail-blazing design that pushes the boundaries. Clients will typically lean towards the first, but bringing in the others allows you to open a dialog about what's possible for the project. That said, only ever pitch ideas that you think have merit and that you won't mind the client choosing!
When presenting your three concepts:
- Give each concept a name and provide a brief introduction
- Focus on how it solves the problem, not what it looks like
- Highlight strategy and competitive advantage within your market.
This will keep the focus on the value of each design, rather than pure aesthetics.
Guide your client's feedback
No matter where you are in the project life cycle, obtaining feedback is crucial. It lets you know whether your work is on track, or what needs to change to ensure that it is. However, simply asking for feedback won't necessarily give you the input that you need. After all, if you're the one presenting, then you're the expert in this space, and the client might not have the skills or training to be able to provide the feedback you're looking for off the cuff and unprompted.
Instead, guide the client's responses to find out whether what you've presented meets their expectations.
- Whether the project or concept is on-brand
- Whether the project or concept meets all of their requirements
- Whether the project or concept aligns with their marketing or advertising approach.
The specific questions you'll need to ask will depend on what you're presenting, but this approach will help ensure that the feedback you receive is something you can use in your next iteration of your idea. For best results, don't take feedback throughout the presentation - ask your client to hold off until the end.
Test your presentation on your peers
Your client should never be the first person who hears your presentation. Before you present your project or idea to your client, present it to your peers. Have them ask questions about anything that's unclear, or to point out any gaps or redundancies. Rehearsing your presentation will also help you figure out how best to communicate what you want to say and how to say it - and will help you confidently put your best foot forward when you're presenting to your client.
Pitching for the first time and need help with your deck or presentation? Get in touch!