Presentations

There are myriad books teaching presentation techniques. See the bibliography for some good ones with advice on everything from length of speech to size of fonts. This page is here to address something much more fundamental.

No matter how slick your presentation, no matter how much you incorporate 3D visualisations, mood-boards or multi-track demos, it won’t be worth a damn if you can’t present it. Very few clients will reward a shambolic presentation, no matter how great the ideas.

If the doctor who’s planning to operate on you can’t remember your name, drops his thermometer, apologises for the X-ray machine crashing and then starts laughing to hide his embarrassment, how fast are you going to be running in the opposite direction?

Clients are often trying to make a decision about something they don’t really understand. This makes them nervous. Sometimes the creative work they need to commission can make a significant difference to their companies and consequently their jobs. This makes them very, very nervous. One of the main purposes of your presentation is to convince your client that you are competent, well prepared, able to communicate and think on your feet – and after all that, your work has to be good. So whatever style of presentation you are going to use – be prepared.

“It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech” ~ Mark Twain

Write down what you want to say, prepare your slides or reveals of products and then rehearse it. Then rehearse it again. Then try going through it without reading from a script (so you can look at your audience rather than mumble into the page). Then sleep on it and try it again in the morning to see if it still makes sense.

There are many tips and techniques to making a good presentation but without preparation, none of them are going to help you very much. However, one thing is worth remembering; if you’re going to use a projector, make sure you have advance access to it. You’ll want to know the technology before you have to stand up in front of your potential client, lest you get one of the devices with the special chips that detect fear and turn it into disaster.

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