The foundation of our service as UX designers is understanding the needs, goals, and frustrations of the users we are designing for.
But we don’t work in a vacuum. So another important aspect of our job is actually presenting our research, the designs we have created, and the outcomes of our proposed solutions.
We have all experienced both the good and the bad of presentations. The bad ones abandon a designer’s commitment for structure, clarity, and the ability to inspire. In their attempts to inform, bad presentations underperform in numerous ways – e.g., clogging slides with too much text, using language that doesn’t align with your audience’s knowledge level, or using no slides at all with the presenter scrolling haphazardly through the design, zooming in and out with dizzying speed.
On the other hand, the good presentations embrace the best in UX practices. Through sound format and logical structure they complement the design to deliver a clear, purposeful message that aligns with your audience’s level of understanding. And, like the design they are describing, they inspire!
Are you looking for some presentation tips to improve your next UX presentation? Read on!
1. Know your audience; Understand their needs
Is your audience your internal design team? Or perhaps client stakeholders? Maybe the group before you is a collection of end users. Doing research about your audience is not unlike the discovery you would engage in before crafting a new design.
Preparation impacts the general framework of your presentation and will determine your language, level of detail, and pace. Done correctly, each factor enhances the audience’s overall experience with your design.
Determine your approach: big picture or granular detail
Cater your presentation to how your audience likes to receive information. Client stakeholders, for example, will probably prefer the big picture perspective. Your design team, on the other hand, will want to see the underlying detail. Missing the target on this important factor will result in a presentation that is less warmly received – and may diminish the experience.
Identify what they would know
Making assumptions about your audience’s knowledge level is a balancing act. You want to make sure you don’t speak to information they already know. But you also need to be mindful to not assume that your audience knows more than they do. A brief overview and regular check-ins during the presentation can be helpful to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Empathize with their emotions
If your audience is impatient or doubtful, cater your wording to align with their emotions. If they are excited or optimistic, match that energy throughout your presentation.
By honing in on these key levers, your sharpened focus will also highlight how your design decisions will impact the product/company. Address these factors first, and you will set the tone for your presentation.
2. Identify the presentation’s ‘Job To Be Done’
All design presentations have a goal, a desired outcome. Get solid on this at the start so you can set that key principle and refer back to it when building your slides. Oftentimes, designers are giving presentations with two objectives in mind: deliver status updates, or solutioning. It can be helpful (and a boost to your confidence) to regularly refer back to your presentation objectives. Does slide X relate to goal Y? If yes, great, continue on. If not, remove or amend it.
Presentations for status updates
Presenting for status updates should be direct and to the point. Your message should provide clear information and explain why the design status is what it is. Assuming your presentation will welcome questions, do your best to anticipate likely questions to be asked, and prepare thorough, concise responses to them. Your audience will draw confidence from your preparation, which will enhance receptivity of your design.
Presentations for solutions
In presentations that offer solutions, be sure to begin with clear problem definition, followed by a description of the research you’ve performed to identify the what and the why. Don’t be afraid to inject some emotion as you work through your slide; you need to persuade your audience as to why your well-reasoned solution offers the right path.
3. Slide layout: the medium (sometimes) is the message
It’s really tempting to jump immediately into slide layout mode when creating a presentation. Resist the temptation. Having identified some of the questions (discussed above) has set you on the right path to build your deck. As you move forward, embed those learnings into the deck to enhance your user’s experience.
Avoid overcrowding your slides with text
The main objective of all presentations is to communicate an important message. Clogging slides with unreadable text confounds that objective. To avoid this, stick to a maximum of 3 main points per slide. Use graphics and other visuals to highlight your main ideas. Speak to the slide’s content without reading each bullet point verbatim.
Establish and maintain a visual hierarchy in your slides
Your slide deck should follow a logical, consistent order for how you want your information to be consumed. Understanding the needs and expectations of your audience will be an important guide. Utilize text and paragraph formats – e.g., bullets, font size, color, and the proximity of elements on your slide – to deliver a comprehensive, easy-to-digest presentation.
Simplify complex user flows and ideas
Remember: audience comprehension is your goal. So stay away from high-fidelity mock-ups when demonstrating user flows. Simplify these visuals by creating representations of screens to show high level workflows.
4. Utilize the tools you already use
We are no longer limited by the presentation tools as we once were! Designers and presenters have many exciting new options in our toolkits that give us way more flexibility with our decks. Here is just a sampling of the design tools we already use for our work.
Use the design tool you use for your day-to-day work
For us, Sketch and InVision work as a great pair for presentations. Build the deck in Sketch and upload your slides to InVision. This 1-2 punch allows you to use your existing designs and port them easily into your decks.
Make your presentation interactive
If you need to show a solution or a prototype, using InVision as your presentation medium lets you integrate prototypes directly into your deck.
5. Post-presentation activities
Thinking about the end-to-end user experience is also important with presentations. After the presentation concludes and the last question is answered, is your deck now obsolete? Or do you envision your presentation as a key part of the project and will be shared up and out? If part of a broader distribution, think about who may see it after.
Utilize slide notes or comments in the deck
Without your speaking to the slide content, does your deck contain sufficient context to be understood by anyone who views it? If you’re in doubt, consider using slide notes to complement its content. Another option is using the InVision comments tool as a reference for later. These are great options for those who could not attend the meeting or to document other discussions generated from the initial presentation.
Always include a date for the presentation
This is helpful for anyone viewing the presentation to note when decisions were made and communicated.
As UX specialists, we know that clarity of design and communication are critical to the value we deliver. Clear presentations that demonstrate empathy toward our audience and their needs, goals, and frustrations are evidence that we have purposefully considered the end-to-end experience. By meeting our audiences where they are in their journey, we make a huge impact on their work and increase the likelihood of our projects’ success!
Contact: Kyle Psaty, VP of Marketing at ITX | firstname.lastname@example.org | 585-899-4895