Four Tips for Working with a Presentation Designer

February 26, 2013, Presentation Design, Presentation Preparation

You have an important presentation coming up, and you really want to knock it out of the park. You’ve put together compelling content and found a talented designer to help create your visuals. Whether you’re working with a presentation design agency or your company’s internal resources, you want to make sure the strongest possible presentation is created for your content within your timeframe and budget.

There’s more to ending up with a successful presentation design project than having the right designer. Following these four tips will help you reap the full benefits of the presentation designer’s creative mind, and help the designer deliver a remarkable product—one that communicates a clear message, sells an idea, and appeals to your audience.

1. Complete content. The best time to start a presentation design project is when the content is complete. Ok, sometimes your content isn’t 100% complete when the design needs to get started to meet your deadline, but do show the designer the entire deck, even if it contains some rough content. Your designer needs to see the whole picture for overall design as well as budget/timeframe considerations.

2. Communicate. Before the designer starts creating, s/he needs to understand the visual objectives of your presentation. Provide a description of your communication and business goals—overall feel, tone, and audience. When it comes to style and graphics, describe what you like as well as what you don’t. Think about colors, imagery, use of infographics, and always provide any branding guidelines your company may have. Avoid general, subjective terms like “make it cool” or “add some pizzazz.” Even descriptions like “clean and modern” could be vague and interpreted differently. Whenever possible, use visual examples of what you like—looks, styles, graphics, typography—and certainly examples of what you don’t like.

3. Collaborate. Working with a designer is a two-way street. The most successful projects result from a collaboration between client and designer. Access and communication foster an exchange of ideas for an ongoing conversation with continued momentum. When you are presented with design concepts, provide constructive feedback that the designer can use to flesh out the idea. If you are not the final decision maker, make sure to keep the decision maker involved throughout the process. Waiting until the end of the project to get buy-in could result in wasted time and budget.

4. Trust the designer. You are the master of your content, but you’ve put your visuals in the hands of a presentation designer for a reason—they’re the experts! Designers are problem solvers. Instead of telling the designer to “make that blue,” tell the designer that you think the visual should have a calming effect. Maybe the answer is blue, but maybe it’s actually teal. Remember, the designer has made design decisions for a reason—fonts have a distinct personality, colors express mood, images convey emotion—and they have created a visual not just for the sake of making something pretty, they want to help you tell your story and sell your idea. Try to let go of your personal preferences, and let the designer be the expert you hired them to be.