This is a guest post from my lovely friend, Fanny Marcellina. Her primary role is Management and Planning for creative projects. She is @fannyms on Twitter.
FOREWORD FROM AUTHOR
I wrote this post for current design students all over the world to help them develop a more natural and honest flow when giving presentations to lecturers in their universities (I remembers how hard it was).
1. Understand Your Brief
The most basic and fundamental thing in starting any kind of project is to understand what is being asked of you. A lot of problem arises when you present your work/ design/ idea without fully understanding what the brief wants.
Some ways to avoid this mistake are:
- At the beginning of project: Read your brief over and over again, pay attention to every wording, and don’t hesitate to google some words that is foreign to your vocabulary, you have to understand every word it says. Print the brief and stick them to your sketch book/ research folder
- Reread your brief in the middle of the project: Make sure you are still following it, if you’re having a trouble aligning your brief and your current development, clarify it with your lecturer/ client (never assume anything yourself)
- Read the brief again at the end: Make sure that your final result is still relevant with the original brief
At the presentation your lecturer/ client will always refer to their brief, and if you understand them and use it as a guide throughout your project, then everything should work out well.
Alexis’ Sidenote I learned a lot from my mistakes during this process in university. Why? Because I always jumped straight to my own conclusion instead of asking and clearing out with my lecturer what should actually be done. Don’t fall into this trap and if you do, pray that your lecturer will give you extra time to get it right.
2. Do Your Research
Research is one of the most important part of your project. It’s gathering information, informing yourself with many useful knowledge to solve the problems and back up your project.
After you understand your brief completely, you next need to conduct an extensive research to understand and get real facts about the product/ problem that is in your project.
Research requires effort and time and most people skip them! What most people don’t understand is that the more information we have, the easier it is for us to make our decision or come up with new solution.
During the presentation, a well researched project, backed up with facts and theories will looked more credible and believable.
Alexis’ Sidenote Some people love research (like me and Fanny), some hate it to the bone. Think of research as you are getting on your spaceship, exploring and discovering a whole new planet out there. Think of it as a chance for you to roam free in the wild to discover all the possibilities out there. Research is not a burden, it’s your time to run wild.
3. Use Visual Aid to Back Up Your Design/ Ideas
You need a visual aid to help your case. I am not talking about regular slides straight out of power point program, I am talking about beautiful custom PDF pages which compliment your project nicely.
AS A DESIGNER, YOU CANNOT JUST USE YOUR WORDS TO BACK UP YOUR IDEAS OR THEORIES.
Alexis’ Sidenote This can be really tedious to do and time-consuming. You may hate it and you may think it takes too much time. But trust me, if you don’t do this, then you’re going to hate it even more when the audience asks you for visual evidence and you don’t have any simply because you were too lazy to finish your visual aids. Which one would you rather pick?
4. Take Your Audience/ Teacher Through Your Journey
Include some of your crucial sketches/ mockups and failures throughout the project in your slide.
This will give them a better understanding to your project and reduce the chance of many unnecessary questions at the end of the presentation.
Alexis’ Sidenote I already know most of you hate doing this. You just want to jump straight into Photoshop. But it will show that you have actually worked really hard! Just draw sketches! People will see your hard effort. Show it off!
5. Rehearse Your Ideas With Friends and Family
Practice your presentation with your trusted friends, the one that you know can give you a honest and constructive feedbacks.
Rehearsing your presentation with audience is always better than doing it alone, even if the person you’re presenting to doesn’t understand anything about design or your particular project, it is giving you the opportunity to test your idea and presentation method, is it going to be clear enough to understood by the client/ end customers later?
Alexis’ Sidenote Don’t be scared. Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid of criticisms. You can take it. Come on. Just ask them. You don’t have to take anything to heart. It’s just their own opinions not facts. What they say may be false. Practice accepting criticisms with love. It will make you tough and indestructible.
6. Speak Clearly and to the Point
During your presentation make sure you are calm and confident (with enough preparation above, you should feel confident enough now). Speak with calm clarity, make sure your voice is clear and loud enough for everyone.
Don’t forget to pay attention to your talking speed, you wouldn’t want to speak way to fast or way too slow.
(This is why practicing beforehand with an audience is always helpful.)
Alexis’ Sidenote Don’t bullshit. Don’t ramble. Don’t waste your time or anybody else’s time. Stick to 1-3 points in your head and find different words to communicate that across.
7. Make Cheat Note in Bullet Points
Having a printed or written cheat notes in hand will help to keep you on track and not rambling everywhere. You can highlighted the important part that you need to emphasize.
It will help you from forgetting important information/ idea that you need to point out.
(Sometimes the mind can go blank during a presentation due to over anxiety).
Alexis’ Sidenote Stick to 1-3 main points. Not 20. If you write too much on your cheat note, you won’t use it at showtime.
8. Make a Good Impression With Your Audience
Always maintain a good eye contact (not too strong, or you could come off as rude/ offensive) and smile.
Feel confident about your presentation (don’t spend your time looking at your piece of paper/ the projected slides)
Use hand gestures to emphasize your points and make your presentation less boring.
Alexis’ Sidenote Dress well. Stand up straight. Smile. Be honest. You don’t have to be confident but be honest (in fact, showing vulnerability is the strongest way of showing confidence). Answer from the heart. Don’t be fake and don’t try to sound smart.
9. Create a Good Conclusion For Your Presentation
Don’t leave your presentation hanging, create a strong closure that convince people of your case, and always leave them with a clear solution or a thought.
Alexis’ Sidenote Well said, Fan.
10. Answer All Questions Asked With Clarity, Accuracy and Good Nature
Try to suppress your own emotions and never get offended during presentation because all the questions and feedbacks are not personal and you can use them to help you grow to be a better designer.
USE THE RESEARCH YOU’VE DONE TO HELP YOU ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS THROWN, DON’T PANIC WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER AND TRY TO ANSWER EVERY QUESTION HONESTLY AND CALMLY.
Alexis’ Sidenote What Fanny said.