Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting approval, part of Running a Design Business: Presentation Skills.
With some clients, it's smooth sailing. They clearly communicate their vision and hire you to do what you do best. The majority of time however, some or part of your work will be challenged. That's part of the design process. The saying goes, the customer is always right. Keeping that in mind, a designer needs to master how to respond, when challenged. Showing empathy, and keeping authority, is a diplomatic dance that must be mastered.
Determining what's holding the approval back will help you know what to do. It's commonly one of these issues. Sometimes the proposed design communicates the wrong or a confusing message. If that's the case, circle back to the approved criteria and find where the disconnect is. Define and get consensus on the message, and make sure you know the scope of the problem. Maybe the proposed design is wonderful, but can't be implemented because of time or money.
In this case, the designer created the problem and needs to take responsibility to solve it. Propose ways to leverage the resources needed to make it happen. Scale back carefully. And try to convince them of the value of the additional investment. Sometimes the people you're presenting to don't have the authority to approve the work. A good strategy would be to empower those present, with concise rationale for the design.
Ask them what the real decision makers will be most concerned about, and request that you be included in the meeting when the real decision makers see the work. Some clients can be very uncomfortable with change, keeping the projects stalled. In this case, present examples of previous successful before and after scenarios to instill trust. Give the client a little time to process the proposed work. Also, communicate the consequences of non-approval in terms of time and money.
It's common for projects to change direction from when the project brief was created, or maybe some new directive has been adopted. Without sounding punitive, discuss any time or money implications Determine if this is a chargeable change in scope. You have to think on your feet in these kinds of situations, because you need to be concerned but not over exaggerate the impact of the revisions, and what they might have in terms of deadline or overall project cost.
Most importantly, get consensus on the new direction, before redesigning. If you're having trouble thinking on your feet, tell the client you'd like to take all of this work back, and speak to your team about these changes. Then re-present the work. The bottom line is, clients approve designs they understand, and are delighted by. Designs that speak clearly to their target market. Understand your ability to influence your client in a meaningful way, and motivate them to give you the desired response.
- Presenting one-on-one, to a team, or to a larger audience
- Choosing a presentation format
- Introducing your design and providing context
- Persuading your audience
- Developing visual aids
- Creating a great first impression
- Understanding verbal and nonverbal cues
- Getting approval
- Facilitating a Q&A session