So, you’ve finished your design and now you’ve been asked to present it to the team. You want to do justice for the work you put into your design, but you’re not entirely sure how to present it effectively. What do you do?
Well to start, try to remember some of the presentations you’ve had the opportunity to watch over the years. Specifically, try to remember one that was really good at articulating a concept effectively and one that you left the presentation debating whether you fully understood what the presenter was trying to say.
To better understand why the first may have worked, whereas the second did not, let’s take a look at how to present UX design concepts effectively.
Setting the stage for your presentation
There are three key things to figure out when prepping your presentation and they are the meeting format, your audience, and next steps.
The meeting format is important because it is ultimately what will help set the expectations for both the designer and the stakeholder during the presentation. Start with the agenda, a presentation is a story that you are telling your audience so think about the parts of that story and the order they need to come in to keep the audience engaged and following along. By visualizing all the parts of the presentation upfront, the audience will know what content is coming up and also when they should ask questions.
As you begin to think about your audience, consider their individual roles and experience. Are they likely to already have foundational knowledge in UX design and the process? If not, you’ll want to make sure you’re not using any UX-specific jargon unless you’re planning on providing a brief definition or explanation along with it. This will also help reduce the number of questions at the end that stray away from the core topic of the presentation.
One of the last things you’ll need to do when prepping your presentation is determining the next steps and action items needed from the stakeholders or executives, along with a timeline for when they are needed by. To help make this part more seamless in your presentation, it is helpful to prime your audience with what the goals and outcomes are at the beginning of the presentation.
Putting the user first
As previously mentioned, a presentation is nothing more than a short story and one thing all stories share is having a main character. In a UX design presentation, that main character is your user and one of your goals will be to help your audience understand and empathize with your user to gain stakeholder confidence in your design solution.
To help encourage empathy for the user, it is important that you dedicate several slides to providing a detailed background on who the user is and the key pain points they are currently experiencing with the product or their workflow. By highlighting these early on in the presentation, it will help clarify the context surrounding the design solution you are recommending for them.
The stakeholders and key decision-makers want to make sure that their designers are making user-centric design decisions, so it is very important that you include areas within your presentation to explain key insights from your user research sessions. To help strengthen these points, display actual quotes from your users to help your audience better understand things from your user’s perspective.
Making sure the concept is understood from start to finish
As you begin working through the story of your presentation, try to picture what the beginning, middle, and end are. A best practice is breaking up your agenda into three core parts, the introduction, which includes the problem statement, scope of work, persona. The user research and/or design solution, which includes walking through the different research methodologies you conducted, the pain points and discoveries you identified, and the solution you are proposing to alleviate those issues. Finally, the key insights, summary, and next steps, which will provide you with an opportunity to clarify the concepts discussed in the presentation and what the expectations moving forward will be.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of your audience, what will they need to fully understand what you are trying to convey through your presentation? Include visual mockups using wireframe software to help people see the things you are talking about; a pain point may be difficult to empathize with if the person is unfamiliar with that aspect of the product. It can be helpful to dedicate a section of the presentation to walkthrough a prototype or wireframe, but depending who your audience is or the time you have to present, you may want to simply link the prototype in a slide for people to view on their own when you share the deck with them afterwards.
When running through your presentation try to think of questions that people may have for you as you walk through each slide, then find clever ways to answer those questions in the presentation. This is the best way to ensure clarity throughout your presentation and reduce the number of questions that will inevitably be asked near the end.
The length of your presentation may vary depending on the meeting type. There may be times when you only have 5–10 minutes to present and get buy-in or feedback from stakeholders. In these situations, you’ll need to assess what your immediate goals are for the meeting and only include slides that will help you achieve those. For example, if you simply need to know if your design work is addressing the user’s pain points while aligning with business goals then you may want to only include slides that articulate those pain points, how your design helps resolve those issues, and map the outcome to the business’s objectives.
If you are fortunate enough to have 30 minutes to present, you’ll want to spend 20 minutes of that time going through the presentation and leave the remaining 10 minutes for questions and answers. In either case, it is important that you begin all presentations by expressing any specific feedback you are hoping to receive from your audience so that they are focusing on that as you are present. You’ll also want to determine what the expectations were for the design deliverables to begin with so that you can highlight those as you present, which will ultimately help with stakeholder buy-in.
The art of mastering the design presentation can seem difficult at first, especially if you’re not the most comfortable person speaking in public, but if you approach it from a human-centered perspective you will find it a lot easier to put together. Just remember to think of it as a story by making sure it has a beginning, middle, and end, a main character that is clearly articulated to the audience, mockups and visuals to help align expectations, and a summary and next steps to have everyone understand what will be happening next.
Dan Silveira is a UX designer, foresight strategist, and writer based out of Toronto, Canada where he works for a major enterprise technology company. He is passionate about design and sharing his experience with others in the field.