On April 26 I went to a benefit for God’s Love We Deliver called Authors in Kind. They have current authors speak about the concepts of their books. This year, the benefit featured Harry Belafonte who spoke about his new memoir, Michael Connelly and his masterful police thrillers, and Adam Gopnik, a wonderful food writer for The New Yorker. It was a great luncheon held at the Pierre and takes place around this time every year. Linda Fairstein was the emcee. When it comes up next year, you all should attend. The authors sign their books, and you always walk away with a smile on your face.
This week, I have two presentations that I’m working on. It brought to mind the fact that I haven’t spoken about modes of presenting on this blog, and I think this is a good time (while it’s fresh on my mind!). I know that a lot of schools say that you should have presentation boards with samples glued on. I find that not as interactive, because most people like to feel the fabrics and also see all the materials at once. This is especially for clients that have a touch of ADD – it can all be quite disconcerting as they will focus on the things that you don’t want them to look at. I find that looking at renderings and a furniture plan (e.g. showing a photo of a sofa and then fabric that it will be upholstered in) is helpful to get the clients focused on exactly what you’re talking about. As the materials (fabrics, marble, wood, steel) start getting placed on the conference table, it starts to build in their mind the interaction of elements in the space.
One of the things that I do is remove all the labels off the fabrics so the clients are seeing the materials and not tags. We press all the samples so they’re not wrinkled, and I lay them out on a tray before the presentation in the order that I am going to present them. I also present the photographs of items (lamps, etc.) in the same order. To reduce stress, I have everything organized beforehand. I think it makes the client feel that you have it all under control.
I have a notepad in front of each person, and at the beginning of the presentation I ask them to write down questions, and I tell them I’ll answer them at the end of the presentation. This helps them stay focused and puts them in absorbing mode. Usually by the time I finish presenting the room, I probably have answered their questions.
I use black and white renderings, hand-drawn – black and white because I prefer painting the color in front of the client and a hand-drawn because it has a warmer, less-mechanical look to it. I start from the front door in, and when I’m presenting a room, I start with the ceiling, walls, floor, window treatments, upholstery, case goods, and then lighting. It makes it easier to organize this way, and it’s almost like putting a puzzle together. At the end of the presentation, I give the client a presentation book with the renderings and artistically arrange the fabrics for the individual rooms with the pictures. If I don’t have a picture, I include a room plan. In the back of book are pages of estimate cost (e.g. sofa costs $X amount), so at the end of the presentation, they know how much everything will cost.
It’s very helpful to have gone through questions with the client, finding out their likes, dislikes, and thoughts about the function of each room. This helps me design for the clients with their requirements.
What’s your advice on presenting?