Presenting to clients 101

*This story was updated and edited for clarity and brevity by Jenna Heil on November 15, 2022.

It’s no surprise that artists and designers are full of passion, especially when it comes to projects they have poured their heart and soul into. However, when it comes time to present their labor of love to a potential client, it can sometimes be intimidating and daunting. You want your client to see your passion, understand your vision and recognize the hardwork and dedication you have committed to this project. To do this successfully, we have compiled some tips and tricks to help you prepare for your presentation and exceed with flying colors.

Before the presentation
First impressions matter, so it can be important to do research on who you will be speaking with prior to your presentation. Make sure to be punctual, greet all attendees and introduce yourself professionally. Take into consideration each aspect of your presentation, including wording and visuals. Think through the purpose and identify your main goal, whether it be showing research, presenting sketches or selling an idea. Then, bring this goal to life through a well-designed presentation that fits the allocated time. With virtual presentations being more common, be sure to prepare your office space, presentation as well as yourself for a potential virtual delivery. Lastly, practice, practice, practice.

During the presentation
On the presentation day, a few things to keep in mind are your body language and eye contact. Both are crucial for connecting with your audience and also show confidence and professionalism. It’s also important to avoid using any filler words, such as “like” or “um”. This is something critical to practice ahead of time. Take your time while presenting as your message should be well-worded, not rushed. Tell a story and talk through the design, how it came to be, benefits and how it might solve a problem the client has expressed. Keep in mind the 10/20/30 rule for PowerPoint presentations, meaning you should use ten slides for a twenty-minute presentation, and each slide should use a thirty-point font. Be confident, if you believe in your idea, it will come across that way in your presentation.

After the presentation
Remind your client of their wants and reiterate how your solution helps them accomplish this. Ask questions about next steps and be prepared to answer additional questions. Be open and honest with your client(s) about your limitations and keep communication open throughout the design process. Thank them for their time and the opportunity. If you are proceeding with this client and negotiating a proposal or contract, set clear expectations early in the process. Fully understand the cost, time and design scope that is expected of you.

Remember, the more you present, the more confidence you will gain, the more relationships you will build and the more your portfolio will grow. For additional questions or advice on presentation skills, please utilize RMCAD’s Student Learning Center or keep up with the RMCAD blog.

This piece was originally written by Andrea Guevara from the SLC. The SLC welcomes students from all programs both on-campus and online who strive to do better in the classroom while perfecting their craft. Self-schedule an appointment with the SLC at learning@rmcad.edu.