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CREATIVE BUSINESS GROWTH

12 Steps to Feeling Confident Presenting Your Creative Work

When it comes to presenting your creative work, your confidence can sometimes escape you. Whether it’s graphic design options, web designs or copy drafts, it can be daunting to share your work and have someone else judge it.

Not only that. the prospect of having to find the words and conviction to present your creative work isn’t top of the list of every creative.

I don’t think I’m reaching when I say we’ve all been there… when maybe we’re a bit unsure if the creative work hits the mark. What will the reaction be? How will it be received? Will I be able to explain it properly and make my creative intention clear?

Happily, there are some things you can do to feel more prepared and present your creative work with unshakeable confidence.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have that Elon Musk level confidence in everything you put out into the world? And know that when you come to present it you will put your best foot forward and present like a pro.

Well sweat no more friend! Here are my 12 steps to feeling total confidence in your creative work.

Present your creative work with confidence

1. CHOOSE aligned clients

What does client choice have to do with presenting your creative work? Well, it has a lot to do with it. Because when you worked with aligned clients who appreciate your value and are committed to the process of co-creating, you’re far more likely to produce your best work. That means, creative work you feel proud of, that you’re happy to put your name to and that you’re willing to defend with passion.

1. CHOOSE aligned clients

 

What does client choice have to do with presenting your creative work? Well, it has a lot to do with it. Because when you worked with aligned clients who appreciate your value and are committed to the process of co-creating, you’re far more likely to produce your best work. That means, creative work you feel proud of, that you’re happy to put your name to and that you’re willing to defend with passion.

2. DEFINE the problem

When you know what problem and challenge your creative work is aiming to solve, it makes the process far more objective. You have clear criteria to assess whether it’s delivering to brief and when presenting your creative work, you bring everything back to how it’s addressing the problem.

2. DEFINE the problem 

 

When you know what problem and challenge your creative work is aiming to solve, it makes the process far more objective. You have clear criteria to assess whether it’s delivering to brief and when presenting your creative work, you bring everything back to how it’s addressing the problem.

3. CO-CREATE the brief

The creative brief is a shared responsibility. When you’ve had your client’s input on the brief, presenting your creative work is less daunting because you have a mutual understanding of the project objectives. Not only does the process of creating and presenting the work feel less lonely, like the responsibility is all on you. It also ensures there are no surprises, or only good ones at least!

3. CO-CREATE the brief 

 

The creative brief is a shared responsibility. When you’ve had your client’s input on the brief, presenting your creative work is less daunting because you have a mutual understanding of the project objectives. Not only does the process of creating and presenting the work feel less lonely, like the responsibility is all on you. It also ensures there are no surprises, or only good ones at least!

Present your creative work - co-create the brief

1. RESEARCH the opportunity

Supporting your creative work with solid insight is a must. When you’ve done your research and you feel empowered with knowledge it adds weight to your rationale and persuasive argument. So, ensure you’ve researched and have a perspective on what’s happening in your client’s industry, what they competitors are doing and saying, what motivates their audience and other brands they choose to surround themselves with. You should also be clear from this what the space and the opportunity is for your client.

4. RESEARCH the opportunity

 

Supporting your creative work with solid insight is a must. When you’ve done your research and you feel empowered with knowledge it adds weight to your rationale and persuasive argument. So, ensure you’ve researched and have a perspective on what’s happening in your client’s industry, what they competitors are doing and saying, what motivates their audience and other brands they choose to surround themselves with. You should also be clear from this what the space and the opportunity is for your client.

5. PARAMETERS for the execution

When it comes to the execution of your creative work, there’s no right or wrong solution. There are lots of ways you could approach and manifest the creative solution. So, setting some parameters is important. Developing a mood board to narrow down the style, imagery, colour palette and fonts that best meet the brief will give you more focus. It’s a good idea to present this to your client and have them approve it before you move to the next phase of work.

5. PARAMETERS for the execution

 

When it comes to the execution of your creative work, there’s no right or wrong solution. There are lots of ways you could approach and manifest the creative solution. So, setting some parameters is important. Developing a mood board to narrow down the style, imagery, colour palette and fonts that best meet the brief will give you more focus. It’s a good idea to present this to your client and have them approve it before you move to the next phase of work.

6. LIMIT the options

It’s tempting to give your client all your ideas to choose from. This is sometimes referred to as ‘evidence of industry’ but it can also throw your client (and you) into indecisions. And it has the potential to derail the project completely. When presenting your creative work, aim to limit your final presentation to 2-4 well developed and distinct ideas. This is not about throwing enough at the wall in the hope that something will stick!

6. LIMIT the options

 

It’s tempting to give your client all your ideas to choose from. This is sometimes referred to as ‘evidence of industry’ but it can also throw your client (and you) into indecisions. And it has the potential to derail the project completely. When presenting your creative work, aim to limit your final presentation to 2-4 well developed and distinct ideas. This is not about throwing enough at the wall in the hope that something will stick!

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Present your creative work - limit the options

7. INTUITION is your ally

In the realms of creativity, insight and intuition go hand in hand. Research is a powerful tool, but so is your experience and your natural ability as a designer. That should play a part in guiding your final selections for your presentation. If a concept doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.

7. INTUITION is your ally

 

In the realms of creativity, insight and intuition go hand in hand. Research is a powerful tool, but so is your experience and your natural ability as a designer. That should play a part in guiding your final selections for your presentation. If a concept doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.

8. PERCOLATE for a while

Give yourself time. We all work differently, and some people respond well to a bit of pressure or a looming deadline. However, there’s nothing worse than racing into a meeting where you’re presenting your creative work feeling like you needed more time, and the work isn’t quite right.

8. PERCOLATE for a while

 

Give yourself time. We all work differently, and some people respond well to a bit of pressure or a looming deadline. However, there’s nothing worse than racing into a meeting where you’re presenting your creative work feeling like you needed more time, and the work isn’t quite right.

9. RATIONALISE each concept

Before presenting your creative work, go back to the initial problem and objectives, the creative brief, and your research. Develop a sound rationale for each of your creative solutions based on these elements. Yes, you should explain your creative intent, but ensure you keep it objective with sound reasoning. It will prevent a like/dislike conversation which is difficult to manage because it becomes very subjective.

9. RATIONALISE each concept

 

Before presenting your creative work, go back to the initial problem and objectives, the creative brief, and your research. Develop a sound rationale for each of your creative solutions based on these elements. Yes, you should explain your creative intent, but ensure you keep it objective with sound reasoning. It will prevent a like/dislike conversation which is difficult to manage because it becomes very subjective.

Present your creative work - time to percolate

10. OPINIONS are optional

There are two considerations here. First, you may get opinions from others, solicited or unsolicited. I’m not suggesting that you’re closed to external input. But ensure it’s an expert opinion, from someone who understands the brief or who represent the target audience. Secondly, don’t compare your work to other designers. All that succeeds in to is making you doubt yourself and second guess what you’re done. Trust your process, your research, tour creativity and your intuition.

10. OPINIONS are optional

 

There are two considerations here. First, you may get opinions from others, solicited or unsolicited. I’m not suggesting that you’re closed to external input. But ensure it’s an expert opinion, from someone who understands the brief or who represent the target audience. Secondly, don’t compare your work to other designers. All that succeeds in to is making you doubt yourself and second guess what you’re done. Trust your process, your research, tour creativity and your intuition.

11. PRESENT in person

Presenting your creative work in person is crucial and doing it confidently comes down to your preparation and mindset going into the meeting. Having the opportunity to step your client through your rationale is essential to a successful outcome. However, emailing your work off, hoping it will speak for itself and allowing your client to put it to the vote with their family, friends and colleagues is a sure-fire way to undermine it. Before you know it, you’re into design by a committee. And each committee member will have different agendas, preconceptions, and preferences. Presenting your creative work in person is also a good way to gauge your client’s gut reaction. This is useful later down the track when they start to overthink and to second guess their decision or the work.

11. PRESENT in person

 

Presenting your creative work in person is crucial and doing it confidently comes down to your preparation and mindset going into the meeting. Having the opportunity to step your client through your rationale is essential to a successful outcome. However, emailing your work off, hoping it will speak for itself and allowing your client to put it to the vote with their family, friends and colleagues is a sure-fire way to undermine it. Before you know it, you’re into design by a committee. And each committee member will have different agendas, preconceptions, and preferences. Presenting your creative work in person is also a good way to gauge your client’s gut reaction. This is useful later down the track when they start to overthink and to second guess their decision or the work.

12. RECOMMEND a final direction

Making a decisive final recommendation does wonders for your confidence. This is about seeing yourself as the expert. As a consultant guiding your client to a good commercial decision. Be prepared to offer your opinion and to explain it. Often clients will ask for it. They want to know from the expert what they should do. But even if they don’t, you should give your recommendation anyway.

12. RECOMMEND a final direction

 

Making a decisive final recommendation does wonders for your confidence. This is about seeing yourself as the expert. As a consultant guiding your client to a good commercial decision. Be prepared to offer your opinion and to explain it. Often clients will ask for it. They want to know from the expert what they should do. But even if they don’t, you should give your recommendation anyway.

A final word on presenting your creative work

Presenting your creative work with confidence is a combination of process and preparation. Trust in your creative process and ensure you take time to prepare the rationale to share with your client. However, perhaps more important than these factors is your mindset. I believe creative confidence comes down to your headspace, and how you see yourself and your role in the project. Are you a designer doing work and giving your client the options to choose from? Or are you a consultant offering solutions and guiding your client towards the best direction for them? You can choose.

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