Tips for Creatives on Presenting to Professionals

Annie Pancake// Tips For Creatives on Presenting To ProfessionalsHi everyone! So a few days ago I had an 'interrim feedback session' with the industry professionals who set our live brief at uni.

If that all sounds like jargon to you: our current brief was set by people invited into uni from the design industry who work at or own design studios, rather than being set by our tutors at uni. This was their first chance to see our work and give feedback before our final deadline in about two weeks.

This was my first contact with real life design-y people and I was kind of chill and I was kind of terrified. In that fateful hour, I learned a lot not just from the professionals, but from the people around me. I felt that a lot of creative people will end up working with bigger, scarier people who's opinion they really care about, so I compiled a list of tips for what or what not to do in these situations!

1. Don't rush

This is what I did! I offered to go first on the grounds of appearing enthusiastic and then put all my work out at once and flew through my presentation. I still had some good feedback, but I didn't really give them a chance to fully appreciate everything I had brought with me. My friend also told me that she had lost of people who spoke and presented so fast that you barely saw the work!

2. Bring presentation boards

So some people in my group brought sketchbooks, and some brought work on sheets, clipped together. In this setting, where we were showing our different avenues of thought and comparing ideas, those with loose sheets had work that was much easier to see and compare. Those who brought simple sketchbooks talked through them page by page, then left it on the final page whilst they received feedback. Those with sheets found it much easier to go back to their favourite parts and got a more rounded and fruitful feedback session. It also seemed a lot morre fluid than flipping backwards and forwards through a sketchbook. That said, bring your sketchbook too in case they want to look!

3. Print everything.

I saw a person show logo ideas on their phone. Do everything you can to get your work in a format that isn't going to go to sleep, run out of battery, dim the screen every 30 seconds or is only 4" wide. You can't show a phone screen to everyone at the table and it looks like you ran out of time to get to a printer. Spend the 60p or whatever and get them put on a3 boards.

4. Put everything you want to show in order and double check!

I saw so many people frantically and embarrassedly flicking through their mountain of aforementioned loose sheets looking for the one they wanted to show next. It's so simple to put them in order of your design process and keep them separate from your scribbly sheets of experimentation. I went in with all my 'sketchbook' work clipped together, and a separate pile of the important stuff I needed them to see, then put them out on the table as I talked.

6. Don't tell them "how bad you are"

A tutor on my course told me that she had seen several students open their presentations with something about how bad they were at presenting, or acknowledging how bad their presentation is going.

Yes, you are terrified and you want them to have sympathy for you, but all you're doing is putting a thought in their head that they may not have even had! Have confidence in your abilities and it will reflect a heck of a lot better on you than sympathy will.

7.Present to them

This one baffles me. When you are in these situations, you are there to show your tutor, your audience, your potential employer, etc your work, yet so many presented their work to themselves, flipping through their sketchbook without even turning it round for their audience to view. People can't see stuff properly from upside down! You should be familiar enough with your own work that you can talk about it without staring directly at it. Flip it round and talk them through the pages that way.

Disclaimer: these tips are for tutorials/feedback sessions and would not be the same advice as for job interviews and final presentations! 

I'm not saying I'm the world's best presenting person over (hey, halfway through I was hit by a humongous headache and grimaced through everybody else's presentation!) but here's to better presenting skills and impressing the Kind of a Big Deals!

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