How to Present with Professionalism

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After you’ve landed your big client and slaved over the design for weeks with no sleep, it’s time to present your work.

You convinced your client to spend a great deal of money, and your presentation is an opportunity to show them why choosing you was the best decision they ever made.

In today’s market, everybody has a nephew that can design a website and it is important to set yourself apart from everybody else. As a designer, it’s not enough to just have a good portfolio; you need to carry through on the other aspects of business. Often, presenting your work and getting the client to approve the design is the most extensive part of the entire development process. Designs are rarely approved without the client requesting revisions. This can be a very time consuming process if you don’t approach the design presentation with professionalism and confidence. You need to anticipate the needs of your client and deliver a well-presented product.


When you have your initial consultation with a client it is important to really listen to what the he or she is saying. Limit guesswork down the road by asking specific questions about their likes and dislikes. Most importantly, show examples to make sure you are speaking the same language – a cluttered design to you might be their idea of a high-tech look. I like to use template sites like Template Monster or Website Templates because they have numerous variations for your clients to choose from. Go through several of these templates while asking about basic design aspects like:

By looking over other websites, you can make sure you and the client are on the same page and potentially save yourself a lot of headaches. Sometimes clients won’t know what they like or how to tell you. Asking the right questions gives them a chance to express themselves while portraying you as the knowledgeable and helpful professional. If you ask all the right questions and have all the pieces then the design puzzle is the fun part.


Preparation for your presentation is essential. When the client asks you about the elements of the design or questions the choices you made, replying, "I thought it looked cool," or even worse, "I don't know," will only make your job harder. If you have informative and logical reasons and communicate them clearly, the client is more likely to believe in your work. You are the professional and the client is coming to you to provide the answers. Try to be aware of your client’s level of knowledge regarding your product and adjust your presentation accordingly. While some clients will have a solid grasp of the elements and functionality of the site, others may need a more thorough explanation. If they don’t understand what a particular feature will do, try to show them a working example. You want to come across as confident and informative, but not to the point where you are talking down to your client. Nobody appreciates that.


I have worked with a lot of designers, developers, and copywriters throughout my career, and one re-occurring problem I see is that people who devote all their time to the products do not explain things as much as they should. They understand it, so why shouldn’t the client? When you are looking at your own work, you tend to glide through a lot of things because you have been looking at it for so long and you understand the layout, function, and concept. You have to keep in mind that the client has never seen this design. The way you present it shapes their impression of the entire product. During the initial design presentation with the client, you have to go through it very slowly and explain the details of your work. The easiest way to ensure that the presentation goes smoothly is to follow a few simple steps:

When I’m showing a design to a client for the first time, I want to make sure I go over every aspect. I don’t want them to have any questions when we are finished talking. Design is so subjective that it’s very easy to become turned-off. However, by explaining the various components of the site and the overall concept, you can steer your client in the proper direction.


A design is very rarely going to be approved with absolutely no questions, and it’s important to have a rapid and well thought out response when concerns arise. Ideally, when you are creating the design, you’ll think about why you put each element in its place. If by chance you just went with the flow, you should at least consider why each element is there and your overall concept before you present to your client (this is where the aforementioned “prepare” step comes in handy). You need to have an answer ready when they ask about each aspect. I have had clients in the past that simple quiz me during the design presentation. "Why did you put that there? Why is that at the top? Why did you use blue?" They just want the reassurance that everything you design is for a specific reason. If the client begins to think that you don’t know what you are doing or that you have doubts about the design, then they will doubt it too. Next thing you know, you are on your fifth revision and getting approval becomes increasingly difficult. No one wants to spend their time humoring requests to “just try this here” or “move that there.”

To avoid this scenario, work with your client, going through the design piece by piece and explaining the logic and usability behind each carefully placed aspect. Taking charge in a confident manner during the initial presentation will reiterate the fact that every element serves a purpose, not only for the design, but for the needs of your client and users as well.

Taking Care of the Client

Clients want to know that they are being taken care of. We all work very hard for our money and it’s important to have peace of mind when you make a purchase. By presenting your design with professionalism and leaving the client with no questions, you are giving them that sense of assurance. Additionally, you are setting their expectations for your future business relationship. Down the road, the client is less likely to question your judgment if their initial impression is that you are talented, confident, and knowledgeable. Keep in mind, however, that you should answer their inquiries courteously. If the client feels that their opinion or input is not respected, they will immediately become defensive and nearly impossible to please. Your goal is to make them embrace your confident attitude and approve your work. This not only has immediate benefits for you, but also serves your long-term goals, because a happy client who feels taken care of will certainly refer future customers to you.

Do You Know What You Are Doing?

If for some reason the client is still not happy and you have to do a redesign, maintaining your professional attitude becomes even more important. To avoid the repeated revision trap, come back with an even stronger level of confidence during your follow-up presentation. If you have an ambivalent or negative attitude, you are sending a message that you are just guessing or that you are uninterested in the client’s product. Either way, this attitude only reinforces the client’s doubts. Put a positive spin on your efforts and communicate that you put thought into their suggestions. Address the changes that were made and how you implemented their ideas into your work. This approach ensures that you are continuously moving toward your goal: design approval.

Often, presenting your design is regarded as an afterthought to the creative process. However, a professional presentation can be the tiny difference that sets you apart from the crowd. When you put extra effort into preparing for the presentation and anticipating the needs of your client, you are setting yourself up for positive results and maximizing your business potential. Presenting your design with professionalism will ensure your client that you are the right person for the job.

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