If you’ve ever worked at an ad agency or had to prepare any kind of presentation to pitch your ideas you know. You felt that dreadful feeling when the brief comes in. It’s the fear. The fear of looking at a blank sheet, whiteboard, or Google slide. The fear that no good ideas will come out of you today. Maybe no ideas at all. The fear that you will miss the deadline. By a lot. The fear that the client will hate it. Even worse, ask to “tone it down a bit”.
We feel you.
As an advertising agency, we deal with having to present creative ideas on the regular. Over the last seven years, we have hit countless walls and had enough successes to be able to distill some of the things we have learned into a few practical tips to set you on the right path to delivering effective presentations. So let’s start.
#01: Why are you doing this presentation?
The “obvious” answer is this: to win the project. However, experience has taught us that this is not the only case. We have done presentations because we only wanted to amaze the client with our abilities and not to “simply” win the project. We have done presentations solely because we felt it was better to send a well-designed PDF file than a boring email. In other cases, we have prepared a presentation to share a story that inspires our audience.
Regardless of why you are doing this, you have to know beforehand what your end goal is for this presentation. Some of our worst presentations (by our standards) were the ones that didn’t have a clear purpose from the beginning. To be honest, we put this article together because of a bad presentation.
#02: Set the stage
To warm up the audience and manage their expectations, it has proved helpful to open the presentation with something they are already familiar with: the brief you received and worked on. If your understanding of the brief is correct, you will instantly win a couple of sympathy points from your client.
#03: Blow their mind
Now that you have captured their attention and they got a taste of what they are about to see, show them something that will blow their mind and will make them engage with what you are presenting.
It might be your big idea on how their product will change the world. It can be an unconventional solution to the brief. You might have an over and above idea of what has been asked of you or you might tell a story that your audience will identify themselves in.
Pro tip: always tell a story. People rarely care about technical presentations.
#04: Make it clear
For better or worse, you will not always be there to deliver the presentation. You will probably send the document once your meeting is over. Someone will go over the deck to see the ideas again as they were not fully paying attention because hey, zoom fatigue. The junior brand manager will forward the deck to the senior brand manager. Even the decision-maker, might not be in the room. In due time, you will want to go back to your deck.
For all these reasons, you need to make sure the presentation includes all the juicy information and makes full sense on its own.
#05: Don’t let slides tell your story
People have been trained to read a text the moment they see it, long before the brain gives an order. To avoid losing your audience’s attention, ensure you don’t show slides that include information you have not talked about.
Pro tip: remain silent for a couple of seconds, after having changed your slide. Let people read your slide and regain their full attention right after.
#06: Build bridges
When delivering a presentation, you are telling a story; one story. Your slides are not standalone stories, they work more like chapters of your story. Going from one slide to the next, it is necessary to find a way to connect verbally and/or visually the slides.
Your slides support your story and not the other way around. It is crucial that the story can survive without the slides.
#07: Ask what you want
Make sure that you have clear “asks” in the presentation. What are you looking for once the meeting is over? Do you need feedback on the design proposals? Do you need approval on the budget? Do you seek feedback on your approach? Do you want the audience to pitch you with their ideas? Let everyone know.
By doing this, your audience will understand what they need to do, once the meeting is over and, hopefully, they will do it too.
#08: Let’s sum it up
Probably the best thing since sliced bread is summary slides. They give you -the presenter- the opportunity to go through what you have presented and showcase how your ideas complement each other to meet the initial goal.
It also allows your audience to remember the key points of what you just said. Contrary to you, they are being bombarded with brand new information and the human brain has a certain capacity of processing new information in a limited time.
Pro tip: if your presentation is extensive enough, remember to have summary slides after each section.
Like anything else. The more presentations you build and deliver, the better you become. Simple as that.
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We are jetdrops, an advertising agency who love doing presentations. Wanna receive a fully customised presentation based on your needs? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.