Sucking Less When Presenting Creative

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By: Account Lead, Dina Sorser

“Presenting creative is both hard and scary. After 25 years of doing it, I only suck less than I used to, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.” Some refreshingly honest words from Michael Griffith, VP of UX & Executive Creative Director at Bottle Rocket. While at SXSW, I had the opportunity to hear Michael share some useful tips on the best way to present creative. Every agency/client relationship is unique but the following tips can serve to provide a good framework for successful delivery, from set-up to wrap-up.

Before the Presentation:

  • Everyone coming to the presentation should build a relationship with the clients – this includes account and creative folks.
  • Name the comps, but give them strong names beyond Option 1, Option 2, etc. Make the names short yet descriptive.
  • Remove all friction, or at least as much as possible. Adding cute or funny tidbits into the presentation often just serves as a distraction.
  • Present at least 2 options but no more than 4.
  • Don’t provide a sneak preview of the creative – it relinquishes control and allows clients to form an opinion without context.
  • Whenever possible, present the creative in person.
  • Invite clients to your office for the presentation – this allows you to control the environment and introduce the broader team.
  • Come early to prepare the surrounding – nothing is worse than spending the first 10 minutes of the meeting trying to get the projector to work.
  • You are not just selling the creative, you are selling yourself and your company – prepare accordingly.

During the Presentation:

  • Bridge your work – begin by recapping why you are here and what you are trying to solve for.
  • Show the creative in context – for example, how a mobile execution will appear on the actual device or how a pushdown unit will look on the hosting sites’ homepage.
  • Build a story, but don’t build drama. No need to make the agency recommendation a big unveiling. It’s often best to tell the clients which execution you recommend before it’s even shown.
  • Put the concepts in the order that makes the most sense. The agency recommendation doesn’t have to be the last option.
  • Blow past small mistakes but don’t ignore the big mistakes.
  • Split the presentation responsibilities. Account can present strategy and designers can present the creative. This demonstrates close collaboration and teamwork.
  • End the deck with a visual summary of all the creative – so everything is snapshotted on one slide and you are not flipping back and forth in the deck.
  • Whenever possible, end the meeting early. Clients will be happy to get the time back and prolonged discussions give clients time to change their minds.

After the Presentation:

  • Clients want to be heard, so listen.
  • Make the decision simple – focus and guide the client discussion. Avoid wasting time fielding questions on a concept you are not even recommending.
  • Never say, “So that’s it, what do you think?” The more specific your questions are, the more specific the feedback will be.
  • Don’t resurrect old creative. If none of the comps hit a home run, then start fresh.
  • If you can’t get a decision in the room, politely press clients for a quick response. The best and most decisive feedback typically comes within 24 hrs of the presentation.
  • After the meeting, debrief with the team. Solicit and give immediate and honest feedback and align on next steps.