DesignX Discussions: How to give better presentations

Every week, we pose a question to our members to shake up the conversation and involve everybody. This is our latest #TopicOfTheWeek recap, discussing how to better present your work to clients.

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy 
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti 
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready”

We’re all well-versed with the opening line of Eminem’s Oscar-winning Lose Yourself, but those three lines ring true in the boardroom as well as the rap-battleground.

When pitching work to clients, it’s understandable to feel tense. There’s a lot of pressure, from yourself, from your employer, and from your client, to hit a home run. But, satisfying the client isn’t just about what you’re presenting, it’s about how you present it. Do you stutter through the presentation? Avoid eye contact? Rush through the pitch? All of these can take away from the amazing work you’ve done.

As is the norm with our DesignX Discussions, we turned to our community to get their tips and techniques on better presenting their work.


The first theme was about how to frame your presentation.

Stuart Thursby is deliberate in pacing the presentation and setting things up before showing the client a single pixel, Amanda De Mello summed it up well with the pithy “Know your audience”, and Chris Baldesarra makes sure to tie everything back to the project goals:


Maria’s advice is crucial for not only giving a great presentation, but setting effective expectations for after the presentation. What information is needed to move forward, and who needs to provide that information?


The biggest discussion to come from this week’s topic was about tone, the influence and impact of ‘upspeaking’ or ‘upticking’, where somebody raises the pitch of their voice at the end of a sentence, turning statements into questions. The risk is that upspeaking can make it seem like you’re looking for validation or reassurance with what you’re presenting.


Of course, no matter how well-rehearsed your presentation is, Brian Walker has dropped some wisdom that trumps every other piece of advice:


Interested in learning more about giving better presentation? Check out the latest Logo Geek podcast, which Stuart flagged for us.


What about you? What are your techniques for pitching work to clients? What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten to give stronger presentations?

Share your ideas below, or join the Toronto or NYC DesignX Slack groups and connect with other like-minded creatives in the community.

Check out these other recent DesignX Discussions:

Toronto’s best working cafés

The secret to great company culture

What’s your crowning achievement?

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