5. Sep 2017

Presenting like a pro

How do you hold a presentation that is interesting and well-delivered? I wanted to find out and signed up for the workshop “Presenting your work with confidence”, hosted by the great Mike Monteiro.

The workshop consisted of two main parts: In the morning, Mike warned us about the 13 mistakes that designers (but not only designers) frequently make during presentations.

In the afternoon, each one of us had to hold our own 5-minute presentation. We then received feedback from the group and had to hold it again, trying to improve on the points mentioned.

The workshop was challenging, but at the same time it was a lot of fun and very entertaining. I would like to share my favourite take-aways with you:

Tip #1

That’s right.

Make sure you establish clear rules with the client. The most important one is about giving honest feedback:

“For the project to succeed, you [the client] have to be honest. If we do something stupid, you have to tell us! We can’t read your mind. Also: if you don’t give us honest feedback, the project will get expensive.”

Tip #2

What she says.

When holding a presentation, get up! It will help you own the room and everyone will know who’s in charge. I find this is also a great tip for moderating workshops.

Personally, I felt much more at ease walking around when holding the presentation, so pacing isn’t always a bad thing!

Tip #3

Don’t start like that.

NEVER, EVER begin your presentation with an apology. Apologies are a really bad start for a presentation. Don’t say “I didn’t have enough time to prepare” or “I’m sorry to take up your time today”.

Instead, say something like: “Thank you for coming. I’m really excited to be here and to present our work. I’m sure that by the end of the meeting, you’ll be excited too.” (and prepare accordingly, of course (wink)).

Tip #4

Not sure about cute though.

Talk business, not technicalities. The client doesn’t care what font or colour scheme you used. They do care about business goals like reaching more customers or increasing sales. So make sure you anticipate their questions and adress them during your presentation.

Tip #5


If you don’t immediately have the answer to a question don’t go “uh, umm…. hm, ah…”. You’ll lose aaaaaall the momentum you just had.

Instead just say “I don’t know right now, but I’ll find out for you!” and move on.

Tip #6

Well, tough.

The answer to “I don’t like blue” is “I don’t like eggplants”. In other words: It doesn’t matter if the client doesn’t like it, they don’t have to! What matters is that you based your design decisions on research.

So if during your research you find out that 9 out of 10 bank customers think blue is the most trustworthy colour there is, it doesn’t matter if the client doesn’t like blue.

Tip #7

Let me tell you.

We’ve all heard this from a client: “This solution looks really easy. Why did it take you three weeks to come up with it?”

Well, because simple is hard and that’s why it takes so long. Or, to say it more poetically in the words of Mark Twain:

“I would have made this a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.”


If you like these tips, I highly recommend Mike’s workshop: Presenting your Work with Confidence

Also, check out his books:

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