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5 ways to improve your design presentations

4 min read
Andy Orsow  •  Apr 22, 2016
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In this Design Snack, we’re taking a break from software tips to talk about how to present design work. If you’re not in the mood to be wildly entertained and educated by a short video, feel free to read along below.

1. Accept that presentation matters

If you’re at all like me, curling up in the fetal position beneath your desk often seems like a better choice than presenting work to stakeholders. But here’s the deal—your presentation is as much a deliverable as the actual work you’re presenting.Twitter Logo You might have beautiful designs or a great concept, but without the right presentation, nobody will know how great it really is.

Think of it this way: I could tell quickly tell you the facts about Star Wars—Luke, Yoda, Jedis, Darth, the whole “surprise, I’m your dad” thing—and you’d have a lot of the same information as people who watched the movies.

But the difference is—if you sit down and watch the movies, you don’t just gather information. You care about what’s happening. You become engaged in the story.

And that’s exactly why thoughtful presentation matters. It’s not about information. It’s about making people care. 

“Presentations aren’t about information. They’re about making people care.”
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2. Tell your story

Your story doesn’t have to be complex or elaborate—it might be as simple as saying: “As a user, when I land on this screen I have a few possible goals,” and then talk through what those goals are, and how your design helps them best accomplish those goals.

This way, you put everyone in the user’s shoes, and they can become part of the story. As an added bonus, when you do this type of thing it puts the focus on the experience and the goals, instead of how you changed that button color from green to blue.

3. Use notes

Unless you’re participating in Mad Men Cosplay Week (that’s a thing, right?), it’s totally cool to use notes.

Having a list of items you know you want to touch on as you talk through your work is the best way to make sure you’ve hit on everything important—and it’ll keep you on track when things inevitably get knocked off course.

4. Make sure you’re all on the same page

It’s easy to make assumptions, but ask yourself: Is everyone clear on the goals, context, and audience for this project? It never hurts to remind everyone of that background info before or during your presentation. Especially since it’s not uncommon for people to swoop in mid-project and want to give their 2 cents. 

“Before you give a presentation, make sure everyone’s on the same page.”
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If you eschew the ease of assuming everyone knows what you know and make that information central to your presentations, it’ll be easier to redirect unhelpful or ill-informed feedback back towards the main goals of the project.

5. Bonus tip: Boards

We’ve been loving Boards for our own use, but don’t take our word for it. We’ve got some other great examples of how people use Boards in their daily workflow.

How Creativedash uses Boards

How InVision uses Boards

How Engine Digital uses Boards

What do you want to learn?

We’re expanding the topic range of Design Snacks from just Sketch and Photoshop tips to softer skills like this post. So now’s your chance—what do you want to learn about? Hit me up on Twitter at @andyorsow and let me know.