Story Over Slide Layout: Tips for Presenting Design
by Manasi Agarwal
posted on 02-03-2017
You’ve done the real work: sketched out the options, spoken to customers, and gathered data from analytics to solve that knotty UX problem that’s been persistently eating away at your product’s UX like the plague. Many hours have been spent, toiling away on aligning everything to pixel perfect dimensions and a there is a folder full of open files with the changes that have taken place over each design iteration.
It’s time to make a presentation to the key stakeholders about your designs, and getting together a deck that explains the whole process and weeks of work into a half an hour meeting seems like a task of mammoth proportions.
This is one of the many circumstances in which designers have to switch hats and become communicators who are prepared to deliver a presentation. The key is to get the point across without letting critical information get lost in translation. Here are a few pointers that can help along that way:
Tell a Compelling Story
Weaving a story around the communication of vital information and infusing it with the right amount of emotion and energy, results in a great presentation. Your narrative should start with an introduction that sets the stage, a middle that contrasts what a vision of could be, and ends with a reward or resolution to the design problem. Much like the hero’s journey storyline that popular films and computer games have used so often.
Know Your Audience
One of the fundamental mistakes designers make when presenting their work is a lack of understanding of their context. Design school critiques focus largely on how well the project was executed and whether the required design process was followed to get to the final output. Within a large organization however, including aspects of the business and technical details of implementation within the user story can help bridge the divide between designer and audience. The delivery itself should be peppered with humility, as the messenger of the story you should recede into the background.
In today’s distraction-filled age of perpetual busyness, there is a new premium on brevity. Making each slide and each minute count is of utmost importance, and the only way to achieve a succinct deck is by editing out all the minor details that we might have spent hours on, but do not contribute to the larger story. Besides, the art of conciseness leaves room for conversation; which is far more important than one-sided delivery of information in the product development cycle. It also expresses an inherent respect for the listener’s time; which is bound to contribute positively to the presentation’s goals.
The process of editing a presentation to be precise leads me to this final point. At the onset of creation of the deck, it is extremely useful to define for oneself the ultimate goal of the presentation and what one hopes to achieve at the end of it. Is it persuasion: getting people to buy into an idea or concept that needs to be executed? Is it to initiate more of a conversation and discuss the various open ended questions with the stakeholders? Or finally, is it just to educate and convey information and facts to the audience, as a springboard for further ideation (which is particularly useful at the beginning of projects)?
A great presentation can achieve magical results, both for the project, and for you. We can do ourselves a great service, by focusing on the story that needs to be told rather than spending hours over the layout of a slide. Designers who can effectively convey, convince, and paint a glorious picture through narrative will captivate even the most unimaginative minds in the audience!
Topics: Creative Inspiration & Trends, Design
Products: Creative Cloud