The PLAY Creative process is the framework that lets us build ideas and bring campaigns to life. It’s efficient and effective, but that’s not even the best part.

What’s great about the PLAY process is that it can be used to craft creative solutions to just about any problem, regardless of your operations.

In the fourth installment of a six-part series outlining each step of our creative solution-seeking roadmap, we’ll focus on the Presentation step. We believe great work should be able to sell itself…but a thorough and thoughtful presentation never hurts.

In case you missed any of the first three steps:

Part 1: Discovery
Part 2: Brainstorm
Part 3: Idea Generation

Depending on the size of a project or campaign, this step  can be a nerve-racker. Anyone staring down the barrel of a presentation can attest to how scary it can be. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, a presentation is little more than laying out and organizing the legwork that’s happened during the Discovery meeting, Brainstorm session and Idea Generation phase.

“Places, Everyone!”

A good presentation is really just a byproduct of great preparedness and organization by everyone involved. What’s more, it’s usually not enough for each person to just be aware of and prepared for the aspects of the job they’ll be part of. Every team member should have a holistic view of the project’s goals and the scope of the work the team will do to achieve them.

Just as important is having every key aspect of the project organized and accessible—even the stuff that didn’t make the cut or won’t be included in your presentation. Every note that led to a sketch, every sketch that led to a mockup, and every mockup that let to a final design should be accounted for and readily available as proof of how a concept came to be. Nearly all presentations have a ‘sales pitch’ aspect to them, and you’ll almost always need some sort of proof to justify your work and sell it. Being able to clearly explain the thought process that turned one comment into a note that turned into a sketch that turned into a finalized campaign graphic is the best way to ‘sell’ that work.

Similarly, committing to being organized for a presentation always helps prevent headaches and frustration during Brainstorms and Idea Generations. If during the planning phases of a project you hear team members saying things like “what is this supposed to look like again?” or “remind me what the client said about this?” then there’s a good chance you’re lacking in organization. Everyone involved should know exactly where to go to find information supplied by the client, down to the notes taken during a phone call. This includes everything from brand standards to market research and everything in between.

Keep an Eye on the Big Picture

Organization of the presentation itself is just as important as the planning. In fact, organizing a presentation is often the first time when all elements of a campaign are laid out in full for your whole team to see. Since all this planning was done over the course of multiple weeks, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus on individual aspects of a project. This can lead to a slippery slope of losing sight of the big picture.

Once all those elements are put together, you’ll need to consider how they all relate and play off each other (We usually call this a final user experience test). For example, we might pitch a killer Instagram ad that links to an awesome landing page that we developed for a campaign. But if the contents of the landing page don’t relate to what the user came to expect after clicking on the ad, they’ll be confused, marking a failure on our part—all because we lost sight of the forest through the trees in this hypothetical scenario.

Now, if you’re prepared and managed to perfectly consider a campaign’s goals and how they factor into every facet of the project, the final user experience test will be a breeze. A formality, really. However, the perfect campaign preparation isn’t exactly a real thing. The time you commit to a final test will help you tease out any snags and, goodness willing, you’ll have time to fix any issues you uncover.

Keeping close tabs on how a project fits together all through the course of the planning is the best and easiest way to prevent this. Then, when it comes time to present the idea in full, it’ll be easy to explain how it all works together. Keeping the main goals in mind throughout your planning is the practice you need to pull off the perfect presentation.

What a Successful Presentation Looks Like

Of course, there’s still the actual practice itself to consider when preparing for a presentation. Here at PLAY, even with our meticulous planning process, we still mandate at least two dry runs for every presentation before the big day.

We advocate for treating presentation prep just like campaign planning—by making sure every point in the presentation relates back to the big picture goals of the campaign in a clear, cohesive way. The first dry run gives you the chance to flesh out any parts of the presentation that are unclear, especially for people who haven’t been intimately involved in a project every step of the way.

The client fits into this group. Even though it’s their project you’re working on, you’re the ones who have been planning it day in and day out over the recent weeks. For the presentation dry run, bring in a member of your team who hasn’t been working on the project, give them a very brief rundown before you present (they shouldn’t go in completely blind, because a client wouldn’t) and go to town.

As an outsider, they’ll be able to tell you where your presentation is strong, where it breaks down, and whether any aspects need more or less explanation. They should also be able to tell you how well you sold the idea.

With that internal feedback in hand, quickly tweak your presentation to improve any areas that are lacking, but don’t reinvent the wheel. Depending on how many tweaks you made after the first run, a second run is almost always worth your time. After practicing your presentation twice, you’re going to be about as prepared as you’ll ever be. Just remember not to read directly from your PowerPoint!

Have a big presentation coming up that you want some pointers for or an audience for a dry run? Maybe a killer presentation deck or some infographics? Drop us a line. We’d love to help you wow the room!

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