- Presenting you work is a daily activity. If you're working in technology, then is something you have to do on a regular basis. However that doesn't mean that you prepare for it all the time. Maybe you do it for big projects and big reveals, but why not prepare on a regular basis to tell a story about what you're doing, why it matters, the problems you're solving, and the impact it could have or is having. Those stories are what keeps businesses alive or crashes them into the ground. In this video I'll share my latest thinking and pro tips on creating a successful presentation.
My goal is to help you feel confident, prepared and excited for you next presentation. One thing to keep in mind is that this video is not about teaching you how to visually design a presentation and the best practices around the look and feel. We'll save that for another episode. But what you can expect to get out of this content is a clear method on the approach that you can take for every presentation so you can make sure your message is getting across in a concise manner. With that in mind, let's continue the presentation and video.
To follow the template you'll need one of three things, a whiteboard, a free InVision account so you can use Freehand, or a you can use my storyboarding template that's inside the exercise files. You can recreate the worksheet on a whiteboard or you can go digital and use InVision's Freehand tool, which I'll be using here mainly because I can bring in multiple people into my story before I take it to a higher fidelity. If you don't want an InVision account, then you can follow along with just a sheet of paper or a whiteboard.
The next step is for you to go to the Freehand worksheet. There are a few quick steps that will allow you to utilize the template within your own account. First visit the URL. The goal here is to copy this Freehand quickly so you can have it in your InVision account and so you don't have to edit the public version that the community will be using. One key thing to remember, this Freehand is a public Freehand. So please don't delete it. The first step is to copy and paste my template Freehand into your own Freehand so you don't have to rebuild the template.
Let me show you how to do this. First sign in to InVision, click the giant plus button in the upper right hand of the screen. Then select create new Freehand. Over the years I've used all three of the format options. And they all work great. The process is what's most important. Here's a pro tip I want to share with you because I prefer to switch between analog and digital to practice my craft. I'll mix it up frequently and have the printed version of this presentation worksheet laying around in my studio.
That way I can grab them whenever I have a thought that I want to work through. Now that we have our new Freehand to work through, let's look at the blank template. The Freehand is made up of three sections you can leverage. An example of a filled out version of the template, an example of a filled out version of the template that also shares my thinking during each stage of the presentation, and an example of a blank worksheet that you can use for your next presentation.
The template starts with you answering four core questions, what is this about, why is this important, what are the desired outcomes, what do you want to happen next? If you don't have answers to any of these questions, then it might be a sign you need to do some more research and understand more about your project. Write each of them out in the Freehand. Then start by thinking through how you can introduce this topic to the team. Consider who your audience is and how you'll need to modify your delivery.
The good news is you already answered some of the hardest questions up front. And those answers are going to help guide you through the worksheet. So let's walk through the template. Start by introducing yourself. Be friendly and welcoming to your audience. Try to imagine you just inviting them all over to your house. But keep it professional. Then you'll want to set the context of your presentation and answer the question that everybody's asking. What are we here to do? Follow up by talking about why it's important.
The why could potentially take five to 10 slides to get your message across. And the point is, you won't know til you work through it. But try not to be concerned about having too many slides. What is important is how the content is delivered and the pace it's delivered in. Consider showing what you have and what the team has tried in the past, what worked, what didn't work and what did you learn from it. You could show the research conducted along with the key takeaways of what you learned.
The team only needs the cliffs notes and not the entire play by play. So be concise and to the point. Who have you worked with on this project and how have you leveraged the experts, the design system and the team. Then you'll want to build up your supporting material of both broad and narrow content to show your process. Consider two or three things you want your audience to take away from it. Show the work. Show the process. Show the edge cases.
Show all the entry points. Show the possible areas of failure. Show how you'll be measuring success. Is it time on site, more users in the system, more renewals or faster completion steps? You'll want to decide on a few different methods of sharing this content. The more ways your audience has to access your presentation the more opportunity you'll have to get the feedback you need to reach your presentation's goals. Here are a few methods I'd suggest. Recording the session so people who couldn't make it can watch it later.
Share a PDF or a source file of the presentation. Link to an InVision project. Share a link to the home of your recordings so you can keep an inventory of your presentations and the purpose of them so they can referenced at a later date. Start to wind down the presentation and build up to the next steps. Thank everyone for coming, for their feedback and begin talking about next steps. I'd suggest coming to the meeting with next steps that you would propose to help seed the conversation.
The question is going to come so consider getting prepared with your design, product and engineering partners ahead of time so you're ready. The last step before you leave is to make sure all the burning questions are answered and no leaves are left unturned. These are the steps that I use as I think through my presentations. And I've created this template based on the number of times I've done this. I've used this presentation template for years. It's helped me stay focused and organize my wild thoughts so I can work smarter.
In our daily activities there can be so many distractions, some good, some bad. But that same thing happens to you and the audience in the room. You might even have a typical meeting room problem where even people who are in the same building can just call in versus finding out where the rest of the team is and go there in person. What ends up happening with all these distractions is you have teammates who need the focus. They need the structure, especially when you have 30 to 45 minutes to critically think, debate, plan and prioritize.
So why would a presentation be important in this scenario? Because it can act as one of many of the team's treasure maps that will lead them to the golden chest. They need to follow their course, travel together, bring supplies, learn together and follow the steps. I mean who doesn't want to be delivering your team a treasure at the end of every presentation. Even if your design you're presenting needs a lot of work. It's the understanding that matters. It's the understanding that you'll come prepared with the questions you know your team's going to ask.
It's the thinking behind how you ascribe the customer's problem. It's the thinking behind how you will help your team empathize on a deeper level with the work you are doing and why it matters. If you work in technology, presenting you work is not something you can easily avoid. It helps you move more ideas from your head into a design and then into a product and it has potential to do so much more. UX Design is not just about the interactions and visual design aspects of a product.
It's about the story your customer's going to tell about how to help them become better. This story isn't just for the sales or marketing team to figure out. It needs to be understood and practiced by the team and the originator of the content or idea. The company needs to tell that story and even more important, a story that people working on it can believe in. What I'd like to leave you with is when a person does something on a continuous basis, you start to understand their patterns.
And these patterns show signs that you can learn from and iterate on until the process and experience is next to perfect. When I think of what a presentation is and can do, I think of it as a research graphic novel that helps me narrate my journey in user experience design. It helps me make a record of specific time and history which is then transformed into a reflection of our world. It also tells us that we are okay in our society and sheds light on the problems we decide to take on.
If you want to dive deeper into understanding another side of the presentation thinking process, for example design critiques, then check out my video of the series called Design Critique Fundamentals. There's a similar pattern for managing an open critique with you and your team. If you're presenting every day and you have special tricks that you use, then I'd love to discuss them with you. Also, if your interested in sharing your presentation with me after applying this template, then I'd love to see it. Find me on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter at abridewell, or you can post a question on our Practical UX Weekly LinkedIn group.
Thanks for watching and I look forward to seeing you next time.
To continue the conversation with Drew and other user experience professionals, join Drew's Practical UX: Lessons from the Trenches LinkedIn group.
Check out Practical UX Weekly (2017) for 40 more tips and tricks.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.