After the client signs the paperwork you transition out of the sales and into design implementation mode. Here’s where your design methodology begins.
The kick-off meeting should provide you with a deep understanding of your client. The goal here is two-fold. You really want to get to know who they are and collect the specifics so you begin your creative. This conversation is where intimates of how the design transformation will impact their lifestyle should surface. It’s not about 2 hours to measure everything, but rather spearheading a dialogue exploring details about who they are, the possibilities and what they value.
Fast forward four to six weeks and it’s time to present your ideas.
Your design concept presentation is when you need to bring your absolute A-Game. For your clients, it should feel like their birthday with butterflies in their stomach as they anticipate a gift. Here’s where you show clients that you’ve understood exactly who they are and your reveal of the absolute best possibilities for their space. It’s not enough to deliver an adequate, predictable or mediocre design and it’s not enough to half – fast your delivery of their future space.
The presentation should remove any doubts and provide an emotional yes. With luck, they’ll be so excited that they’ll happily push go and hand over the cheque. ( Who are we kidding? They wire money these days. )
To ace your design concept presentations, you need to do several things: Give yourself plenty of time, take advantage of the best tools available to present your ideas, and get all the details in perfect working order.
Step 1: Don’t Rush
One of the most common mistakes designers make when it comes to the design presentation has nothing to do with the design itself.
It’s failing to leave themselves enough time to do their best work.
Any artist knows the power of looking at their work with fresh eyes. And you can’t get that fresh-eyed perspective without rest periods built into your creative process.
You may know how long it will take to get an initial concept completed; however, if you haven’t scheduled time for rest periods and for the subsequent reworks, there’s no chance that you’ll be showing your client the best version of what you can offer.
Respecting this rest time is so important. Rest periods bring a stronger design perceptive — a real “wow” factor. They allow time for designers to be intentional with their designs for that particular client.
Mediocrity should not be an option. Delivering unique, outstanding work is particularly important for interior designers who want to cement their brand and carve out their place in the market. (For more, read my post on How to Start Standing Boldly in Your Designs Today.)
The excitement about the project and perhaps the accompanying cash inflow can cloud designers’ judgment as they’re establishing deadlines. Designers may also be concerned with making a good impression on the client and think that a quick turnaround is a good way to do that. It’s easy to be overly optimistic about what any of us will be able to accomplish in any given time period.
Perhaps you’ve heard of this note, underpromise and overdeliver. You’ll almost never regret giving yourself some extra time to make your design presentation even better.
Note: Building extra time into your creative process doesn’t mean that you can stop paying attention to the overall time against the project. Build flexibility into your fee but always be mindful. For more on that topic, check out the full blog post: How to Mitigate the Financial Risk of Spending Hours Trying to Land a Client)
Step 2: Choose Tools Carefully
Some designers start out by presenting storyboards that showcase their inspiration for the project. That inspiration really helps set the tone of what’s to come. As you make your way through inspiration, floor plans, drawings, furniture, fabric, wallpaper, paint suggestions and more – what’s important is that you’ve rehearsed your delivery.
Regardless of how you choose to organize and structure your presentations, you’ll want to use some combination of both physical and digital presentation tools. Which ones you choose will depend on the project itself and on the context of your meeting.
Physical Storyboards and Samples
Physical storyboards are old school. Today we replace your arts & craft project to PowerPoint for PC or Keynote for MAC.
Having samples on hand for things like fabrics, flooring, wallpaper, upholstery and more go a long way toward helping the client understand how the space is meant to look and feel. The ability for your clients to physically touch and move around the various design elements turns this presentation into a memorable WOW factor for them.
Step 3: Nail Down the Business Details
The designs themselves may be the most important part of your presentation, but they’re not the only thing you need to get in order to make the best impression possible. Presenting your interior design business professionally will also require getting the rest of your paperwork to be lined up. That means the decorating budget report and the project timeline.
Presentation documents should also include a
- Budget – This report should represent an overview of the sum of the items you’ve presented in the design concept presentation.
- Timeline – Here’s where we can forecast the project timelines; identifying resources and any potential hiccups.
All of this paperwork should be pleasing to the eye and branded with your logo and personal style. It’s important to have professionally printed copies available. I suggest holding it until the end of the presentation otherwise, you’ll notice the client fast forwarding through the pages and it’s a distraction.
Getting the all the details right reaffirms your client decision in selecting you. It shows them that you are the perfect interior design firm for them.The design may be what the client is paying you for, but the details in the paperwork can close the deal. Click To Tweet
If you want to speak with me directly about how to improve your presentation process, I’d love to help. I have availability for one-on-one coaching and “mastermind groups” where driven, talented designers meet to keep themselves on track and compare best practices monthly. Contact me to learn which services might be right for you.