Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Creating Hot, New Client Presentations

-By Josh Murray

Never Underestimate Your Client

Client presentations require two critical elements - understanding and pushing their vision further within the confines of what they have defined they want.

The most important aspect of "selling" through your presentation is truly understanding the client's needs and desires. At the end of the day, what you are "selling" is understanding. To that end, I ask a lot of questions to really be clear of the client's approach and make sure I'm on target with their goals and expectations. To support their answers, I go to their Web sites and marketing materials to get a sense of their brand's aesthetic.

Once I have a sense of it, I usually try to push their vision just a little further and slightly out of their comfort zone. I'm a strong believer that most people are more progressive than they let on. We all get bored with the "same old stuff." My mantra of sorts is "never underestimate your client." Plus, we're the experts, and we know about a lot of event-related things that they don't, so why not expose them to what they will never dream of on their own?

Don't get me wrong. I create presentations explicitly to address client goals. That can mean specifically writing copy to respond to client requests, but it can also mean using imagery that really speaks to the mood or "vibe" the client is seeking. There are times when all the words in the world can't convey the feeling a picture puts across.

The Importance of Current Material and Graphics

For me, having current material and graphics in a presentation is paramount. We live in a culture that is hyper-current. Everything is always happening NOW. Trends come and go within weeks and, though people aren't always consciously aware of it, the media stays very current with design culture so everyone has a trained eye now. Basically, this means things can look "dated" much quicker than ever before. As an event designer and producer, you need to demonstrate that not only are you aware of trends, but you are ahead of them.

For instance, for a recent presentation, I worked with a few design and layout concepts that were unlike anything we had used before. The client wanted an edgy event, so to me it made sense that the presentation should "push" it a little too. Remember, the presentation is really the first interaction with the event itself. It sets the tone. The client wanted an event they had never seen before, so, I created a presentation that matched their desires. In the same presentation, we provided several concepts from which to choose. Giving them several options also allowed me to include one option that was potentially outside of their comfort zone. Guess which one they picked? You got it. The one out of their comfort zone!

Tips on How to Create Hot, New Presentations

 1. Look for inspiration literally everywhere. For instance, watch the media and really notice what they are working with in terms of imagery, fonts, layout. etc.
2. Browse different Web sites that tend to be trendsetters to see what "look" they are utilizing.
3. Take note of everything that you find intriguing. I always keep Notepad open on my IPhone and constantly make additions noting cool concepts.
4. Don't focus on what you note always being event-friendly. Down the road, you will figure out a way to integrate it.
5. Use this litmus test: "What can I do that will compel people to share images of the event on their social networks?" (If people are taking pictures and racing to post them on Instagram, you know you've got a winner!)
6. Google images is a powerful imaging source tool with fantastic features you should explore (and no, I didn't get paid for that plug.) PowerPoint and PhotoShop still work well for me.

The Number One Thing to Keep in Mind when Preparing a Client Presentation

Above all, remember that you are selling an experience. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. I see a lot of presentations that are very focused on each precise detail, down to line patterns. For me, that kind of detail is absolutely necessary for the event producer when planning the event, but in terms of the presentation, it can confuse the client. They want to know what the event will FEEL like. To convey that, you need to "zoom out" a bit.

Sometimes I don't even include a picture of an event or anything related to it. I will use a picture of a certain object that I think will elicit the right emotion to fit the event. I mean, what makes you feel cold. . . a picture of a white table linen, or one of a frosty ice cube?

How to make the event match that emotion is our job as producers.

Josh Murray is a producer at Extraordinary Events. He has been working in event management and production for 15 years with high-profile corporate clients as well as A-list celebrities. He may be reached at

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