To be a good creative presenter, you need to know how to tell a story.

by / Wednesday, 10 July 2013 / Published in Concept development

Really great presenters, don’t show clients “concepts”. It’s easy to think that, because they’re so good at presenting. If you boil it down, the biggest agencies in the world, with the top creative people, still have to create layouts with page dimensions, typefaces, images and dynamic media. They’re no different than you or me, in that way. The real difference is in the magic of the story they tell, about the layout.

If you have a good brief to work from, and you’ve done your best work with clear communication, good design and no spelling errors, your work is as good as anyone’s. The idea that this layout is superior to that one, is an illusion. The worst ad you’ve ever seen communicates exactly as well as the coolest ad you’ve ever seen, if all things are equal. The smart idea makes you smile because you get it. The awesome design draws you in because you admire it. Just remember, you evaluate things differently, because you’ve done this work too. You might see a beautiful hand-built table and think, “Wow, that’s amazing.” A craftsman would look at it and have a detailed opinion about it’s faults and strengths, and likely feel differently than you about the finished product. The point is, your work isn’t the magic. It’s the necessary stuff. The magic is what’s behind it, and how you got there.

Here’s an example of a great creative set up, when presenting your ideas to clients – all the amazing presenters I’ve learned from do this, or a variation of this:

> Identify the challenge: for example, “In a social marketplace, we can’t say ‘BUY NOW!’ unless we have an audience asking when they can buy.”

> State the obvious, about where we currently are: for example, “We have an amazing product, but no presence. No one knows who we are, so we’re lost in the shuffle.”

> Talk about your new creative territory: for example, “So, we approached the problem, like an opportunity. We came at it from a whole new direction!”

> Payoff with titling your concepts: for example, “With no further adieu, here’s our first concept called ‘The Wayward Shopper’ concept.”

Don’t take those phrases literally, of course. Your brief, concepts, client and project will determine what that story is, but you get the idea. This is far more engaging than just spilling your lasers on a table, or just launch your creative PDF, and saying, “So, …here’s my first idea. I don’t know if you like it or not, but I have a few more. So…” <– THAT is creative death. I’ve had to watch train-wrecks like this in client presentations before. It’s painful. If you don’t present the work with enthusiasm, it’ll be hard to sell it. However, once you’ve set it up, you can show your concepts and talk about them directly, one by one. Using the above method, you take the client on a little journey from the last time they briefed you, until this moment. They’ll feel part of the process, and that’s important. Well, they ARE part of the process, so share the good stuff with them too. Have fun when you’re presenting – think of it like, “An interesting thing happened to me on the way to the office this morning.” It’s a fun setup, and get’s them listening.

Be brief, be interesting and to the point. It takes practice, so watch others do it, and learn. If the client sees you love the ideas, they will tend to agree. Don’t just show them your layout, tell them the story of the layout. They’ll enjoy the presentation, and you’ll become addicted to seeing them nod their heads and smile.

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