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6 tips to ace your next UX design presentation

February 19, 2020
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Make your next UX design presentation a winner with these 6 useful tricks and watch out for these common pitfalls

Presentations aren’t easy. Failing to memorize all the information, getting your slides mixed up and stumbling over your words are just a few ways we trip up if we’re not prepared. It happens to all of us!

It might look like you’re just chatting, but there’s a lot of thought and work behind a good speech and accompanying images. Think of Steve Jobs. The man managed to not only unveil a product that changed the entire tech sector, but he also transformed his presentations into an art form. They were inspiring, captivating and entertaining.

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When you have a great web or app design idea, it’s a little like that too. You know how the website should be. You know what it needs to do, how to get it done and what you need to get there. But the client, or the boss, or other stakeholder, just doesn’t seem to get it.

Could it be that you’re not explaining it right? What are the key things to mind when doing your UX design presentation? Let’s take a look at 6 tricks you can use when it comes to acing your next UX design presentation, as well as how a prototyping tool like Justinmind can help.

Why UX design presentations are important

Sometimes, reading a report on a business idea falls short of getting stakeholder’s imagination going – it fails to get them to think of the potential at play. We have to sell our ideas if we want to get the green light from clients, managers or designers, we need to get used to public speaking.

UX presentations are the ideal time for you to paint a picture of what the product will be like, how it makes people’s lives better, and how it made users feel. This is your opportunity to show off all your hard work, to get other people on board with your project.

why ux presentations are important

A UX design presentation can bring about a lot of pressure depending on your audience – but you should always see it as a great opportunity. There tends to be a lot at stake, such as the lifeline of the project or even your own image and reputation. Getting through the pressure is a very valuable skill to have under your belt!

But selling your ideas isn’t the only reason to get comfortable with giving presentations – a UX presentation is more than a sales pitch. Your UX design presentation can be a solid add-on to your stakeholder communication and relationship. It’s not just about selling the idea, but also bringing stakeholders in and getting them involved in the work.

We got together with Salesforce Lead Product Designer Rakesh Patwari to go over How to make a good UI/UX presentation. Check it out!

Some other benefits to bad-ass UX presentation skills are that they:

  • Increase your self-confidence and the confidence of others in your work
  • Are an effective way to communicate your ideas and bring more people into the project
  • Let you demonstrate your knowledge and show off on skills

Why UX design presentations go wrong

Of course, the challenges of presenting a UX design vary from project to project, but there are a few common threads that get in the way of UX designers getting their presentation just right. For some, it may be the pressure of public speaking, while others may have a hard time taking stakeholders through the creation process, or focus on the wrong aspects of the work.

The main point that we all must get right, no matter who we are or who we are presenting to, is making the presentation captivating. We have to make it easy for the audience to stay with us on the UX presentation from start to finish – that means making the whole thing engaging and even memorable.

why ux design presentations go wrong

In the 2018 Prezi Presentation Survey, it was found that while we all know presentations are key to business today, there is a specific type of presentation that wins above others: conversational presentations. That same survey asserts that 64% of people found conversational presentations more engaging.

Talking UX jargon to non-UX folk

That’s an important lesson for UX presentations. If you want to go into detail and go over the technical aspect of the job, you will need to make it engaging so people don’t drift off. Chances are, you may be talking to people who do business and not design.

This brings us to the biggest danger when making your UX design presentation: not tailoring what you say and do to suit the audience.

When people hear terms they don’t fully understand, suddenly what you’re saying has no meaning. You want to use casual terms that everyone can understand, simulating a normal conversation.

There’s a reason Steve Jobs didn’t spend time discussing microchips or the coding of an iPhone: that kind of talk is only meaningful to a certain group of people and he wanted to reach the masses.

Relying on wireframes to get their point across

This issue is closely related to the tailoring of the UX presentation to your audience. Wireframes are a non-negotiable part of the product development process. They do all sorts of things like helping us define the structure of screens, lay down a navigation system, show the information architecture and help us with the flow and functionality of the product.

using wireframes in ux design presentations

But wireframes don’t include visual details – in fact, they are often described as the bare bones of the product. This means that for anyone to look at a wireframe and see the final result, they need to have been involved in making that wireframe. At least, they have to be well versed in UX design to fill in the blanks and see the finished result in their mind.

That’s why it’s not a good idea to use wireframes in UX presentations to stakeholders. They look rough because that is how they are meant to look. The untrained eye, however, won’t see the potential and strength of the base of the product. They will see empty boxes and black and white lines.

To the average stakeholder, few things are as anti-climatic as being presented with a wireframe. It falls short of expectations, and results in an underwhelmed audience.

Not validating ideas before presenting them

This issue is usually accompanied by lack of preparation for UX presentations. It’s imperative to show stakeholders that their input is welcome, but that the project is in safe hands. Ideas are only worth presenting if you’ve done your homework and feel like they have been safely validated.

Nothing can crack your confidence in yourself like presenting an idea to stakeholders, only to have them find holes in your theory within a few moments. Even if it’s a minor idea that doesn’t involve the entire project, it will deliver a blow to how you feel about your own skills – and can impact your ability to finish the UX design presentation well.

It’s imperative to look for these holes in your theories, to validate everything you possibly can so you feel 100% confident in what you say.

Making presentations too short, or too long

Your UX presentation should feel like you’re telling a story. Stories have a beginning, when we set the scene and prepare the audience for what is about to happen or set a destination for the story. They have a middle, with the bulk of information on where we want to go – how we will get there and what that might bring us in terms of benefits.

They need an ending, something that gives us closure and answers remaining questions the audience will have.

Your UX design presentation should have a similar structure to a story. You need to give yourself time to develop the important arguments and share the most crucial information.

Making the UX presentation too short will result in confused stakeholders, who expected much more detail. You’re likely to leave the audience with many burning questions, and unclear ideas regarding the project.

On the other hand, making it too long will make it easier for you to lose the audience as they lose their focus and drift far away from you and what you’re saying. Long presentations often dilute their most important points, making the entire experience less powerful. It’s important to stick only to the important parts and maintain a certain pace as you present.

Performance anxiety (not restricted solely to UXers!)

We have all suffered from anxiety before speaking publicly. After all, not all of us can be as natural presenters as Steve Jobs – but we can certainly try. Most of us suffer from the same symptoms: dry mouth, difficulty speaking loudly and clearly, fidgeting around, having trouble maintaining the pace of the presentation and so on.

All of these can harm the impact of the UX presentation, and leave you feeling like you could have done better.

performance anxiety in ux design presentations

It’s true that just because you get nervous when speaking publicly, it doesn’t mean that the work you did is any worse than it was before the presentation. The important thing to consider is that even if a movie turns out great – it’s box office performance will be hurt if the trailer is terribly put together.

People take their first impression of you seriously. And even if these people know you already, it is likely to be their first impression of the product. This means that the anxiety you feel when presenting needs to be under tight control, so people can focus on what you’re saying as opposed to how you’re saying it.

6 ways to improve your UX design presentations

So what can you do? Plenty! Let’s break down the rules for delivering steller UX design presentations, and how a wireframing and prototyping tool like Justinmind can help you.

Practice, practice, practice

Dr. Jill Taylor rehearsed her TED talk presentation, My Stroke of Insight, 200 times before delivering it. Maybe you don’t need to go to these extremes. But the idea is to practice until you know your UX presentation like the back of your hand. You want to be saying it in your sleep. You want to be able to close your eyes and see your slides clearly.

practice is crucial for ux design presentations

A good way to see how well you’re doing is to record yourself giving the presentation. Not just audio but video, too. This way you can pick up on any ticks or awkward movements you make then correct them. Watching the videos with your teammates will help you spot areas where you need to improve.

Your UX design presentation should be smooth and feel natural to the audience, which means you need to stay calm through it all. A lot of us fidget around, distracting the audience from the arguments and points.

The solution could be as easy as holding a pen in your hand - you can fidget with that discreetly instead or moving around the room or shifting your weight from left to right.

Use eye contact strategically

Have you ever had someone look at you far too often, for far too long during a presentation? Or found that you have trouble looking at people straight in the eye as you talk due to anxiety? These are normal issues to experience when giving your UX presentation, but it’s important to try and improve.

Eye contact is a powerful non-verbal communication tool. It can be an easy and quick way to establish some sort of connection between you and the audience. It can make the tone of your entire presentation feel more casual and direct, like you’re speaking to each one of them directly.

direct eye contact is important in all kinds of presentations

Eye contact must be respectful and confident. Research by Nicola Binetti also  found that most people prefer direct eye contact to last from 2 to 5 seconds. This can be a good rule of thumb for you as you present your work – a bit of practice is all you need here.

It’s also important to look people in the eye when they are talking to you. This may not be the case when a younger crow is concerned, but older stakeholders might still feel like looking out the window is bad form.

Use prototypes to illustrate progress, not wireframes

As we said before, presenting wireframes to people who don’t have any experience in UX design is a dangerous move. It requires a lot of imagination on the part of the stakeholder, and opens the door for disappointment in how raw the design looks.

That’s because people are visual beings. Stakeholders want to know what you’ve been doing this whole time, what you’re working towards and how we can all get there. And so, you may want to consider giving the people what they want: a prototype.

A wireframe might work to define functionality to designers, but not all kinds of stakeholders will appreciate them. Use them in UX presentations at your own peril.

Of course, having a prototype at hand takes time and effort – and at the early stages of the product development, it might be impossible to obtain. In these cases, we urge you to either create a low-fidelity prototype specifically for the presentation or simply use images that imagine the finished product.

Use mockups and stylescapes to aid imagination

It isn’t uncommon to have a client who knows literally nothing about design. Without a shared design language, it can be difficult to express tricky concepts and user experience design rationale.

That’s why using a visual aid like a mockup or stylescape is really useful. Mockups can help your client visualize and imagine how the final product is going to look, much like a prototype.

Having a visual aid can be a powerful add-on to your UX presentation. Just consider Dr. Jill Taylor, the speaker that detailed the experience of her own stroke. She brought an actual human brain to her TED talk – if anyone in that room wasn’t listening before, they definitely started after she pulled out a human organ.

use prototypes for visual aid in presentations

While presenting a mockup or prototype might not be the exact same, it does show that your aid can have a huge impact on the audience. In Dr. Jill’s case, her aid had a real wow factor. With your mockup, you could go for the wow factor and focus on the visual side – or go the opposite way, and highlight the functionality as opposed to looks.

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration or information on what your mockup should look like, check out our post: 7 mobile app mockups to download.

Hold a Q&A session

Remember the single most successful type of presentation? Ah, yes – engaging and conversational presentations. Making your presentation conversational can be a challenge. You need a bid of structure to make sure you check the right boxes, but you also want flexibility to answer questions. How can you balance each side?

A brief Q&A might be the answer. It’s easier for you to allocate a specific time when stakeholders can ask their questions, so you don’t lose your train of thought or pace during the presentation.

hold a Q&A session during your ux design presentation

It’s also a time when you can really talk and have a less structured form of communication with the audience. Give them the freedom to ask anything they like – and in turn, they will help you hash out any doubts or observations they have. As an added bonus, this gives you another opportunity to show off all your knowledge and work by showing them you know all the details.

Aside from reinforcing the main points in your talk, the Q&A segment can also be used to highlight your expertise further, depending on how you answer the questions. Knowing all the details and answers gives you another opportunity to show off all your knowledge and work. Beware of freezing and not having the answers to the questions, though.

Not knowing the answer to all questions is a possibility - it is also human. Show them that even though you don’t have the answer, you’re very willing to find one and get it to the stakeholder.

Try to think of any questions that might arise from your presentation and practice, practice, practice. Get more people involved if you like, give the UX presentation to them and see if they have any questions. Try to put yourself in the stakeholders shoes: what is more important to them? What is their own area of expertise? What details are they likely to pay most attention to?

Conclusion

When it comes to giving a powerful presentation, the secret is adapting and covering your bases. You want to make sure to deliver all the crucial arguments, while molding the UX presentation to the audience. Remember to do your homework, to be prepared and be in control of your own nerves.

Combine snazzy mockups and high fidelity prototypes with good eye contact and a smile. Speak clearly and be open to two-way communication instead of it being just you speaking. Remember that your audience wants to stay with you from start to finish – you just have to make it easy for them.

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Rebeca Costa
In-house writer, usability enthusiast and patron of all sleep-deprived designers