Great Work is Nothing without Great Presentation, in Computer Arts
FINE Senior Designer Rick Landers is featured in the Computer Arts October 2018 issue, ART284. This special issue explores the thinking behind award-winning branding work, like how it's a collaboration between agency and client. And Rick's article explores this idea. How, for example, this relationship is formed in the design presentation, where client cues and focused delivery impact interpretation of the work.
Great Work is Nothing without Great Presentation
By Rick Landers
The more studios I worked in, and the more time I spent with our industry’s best, the more I learned design is about the presentation as much as it’s about the work itself. What you say, and how, impacts the client’s personal interpretation of it, and whether or not they believe it’s solving their problem.
Practicing improves your presentation, and it also improves the quality of what you are presenting. The pacing and the storytelling around the big moments are worth careful thought. Rather than pore over a presentation that goes far into specifics, it’s best to pay attention to your client’s cues rather than divert their attention away from the solution and to the details that won’t have much final impact.
It’s taught me how to pause on the big moments and celebrate them, leading discussion to the points that matter most, the ones that influence how the rest of the work will take shape and ultimately determine the brand narrative.
It’s easy to get caught up in the details — to become overly excited and overwhelm the client with elements that don’t resonate, or even impact their decision. They want to know we’ve solved their problem. They want to see it. So by crafting a narrative around that, clients become ambassadors of the work, as if it’s been collaboratively created. Hint: it has. Reflecting this back to them strengthens not just their personal engagement with the work, but investment, too.
Art and design are personal. And wherever your presentation skills are at, reactions are always subjectively inspired. Preparing for that ahead of time, say in more of a museum-like setting, you can gauge those visceral reactions and then backstep into the moment when this feeling was evoked.
Using this, I listen to learn my client’s priorities, assessing their design aptitude. I always speak in their language, repeating back to them what they’ve told me as a reminder of what’s been said, and then share the most impactful moments of how the work addresses it. Looking at art in a museum or in a book should remind us to spend time with it before we can speak effectively about what we see. If we did this more, maybe we could bring more value to what we say.
It’s important to go into presentations confidently, assured the work meets the need no matter the flaws, while thinking about how you’ll communicate the solution as you create it. If you believe in your design enough to share it, you’ll feel good about presenting it. And the only way to feel good? Practice.
Article originally published in the October issue of Computer Arts magazine.