Presentation is nine-tenths the battle

When I was in my early years of high school, which would have been the early 2000s, I must have been working on some school project that I had to present to class. Me being the eager teenager that needed to share what I was doing to seek validation from those closest to me, I've shown this project to my dad.

It must not have been up to snuff (ie. not that great) as he remarked: "presentation is nine-tenths of the battle mate" and that it needed to be more appealing at first glance to make my teacher want to see more.

And blow me down, I still think about this, some 20 years later.

I always have this recollection at the back of my mind when working for my clients or even on projects that help market my own business. To make what I'm presenting to my clients or the audience I have online, look and sound great. But more importantly, to ask myself if I'm presenting my client's business just as great when developing an identity or a particular bit of design that needs to really attract their own clients, customers or audience.

As a brand identity designer, it's my job to make a business stand out in the way it presents itself from a first glance. So to gain a potential customer's attention nowadays is freakin' tough. It's no longer enough to just have a great product or service with standout features and benefits, to simply shout them from the rooftop.

Nor is it enough to pitch a great idea to someone without a standout presentation... it might work, but my educated guess is that it's probably a one in ten shot to landing that customer or deal alone. If it does land my next guess is that most likely backed up by a prior relationship or a highly regarded reputation you have.

So if I'm saying one part is the product, service or pitch, what are the other nine parts?

For all intents and purposes, I'm a branding designer and talk about branding after all. So the points I've come up with are about presenting your business with its best-branded foot forward upon first interaction with a consumer. This idea could just as easily be applied to courting a relationship, but let's keep it brand focused.

So let me take a stab in the dark here and you can tell me otherwise in the comments or a message 😉 BUT also give me a chance to explain each one as you scroll down.

Okay, here goes:

1. Your look

2. Your personality

3. Your voice

4. Your values, aspirations and interests

5. Your shopfront

6. Your media

7. Your experience

8. Your price

9. Your reputation

1. Your look

When we think about presentation, we instantly think about what it looks like. Obviously we're visual creatures and I think we are kinda kidding ourselves if we say we aren't judging a book by its cover. LIES! 😅

But let's say your 'look' is based on a few areas. The first being what your business looks like from a visual identity perspective. Pretty simple. This includes your logo, colours, fonts, imagery and graphic bits and bobs. This part of a businesses identity is what helps your brand to be recognised in the first couple of seconds, either from a distance or right up close.

But it can also include what you and your team look like. If you're a fitness brand, it might be fitting to actually look like fit and healthy individuals. Or it might mean you need to have a uniform that customers can easily recognise your staff as employees.

The other part is your signage, advertising, marketing, or the design of your PowerPoint presentation. If these aren't standing out and visually catching the attention of those you are targeting...big fail.

But one point to keep in mind about the way you look is that you need to be appropriate in the way you look. Something that fits with expectations (or maybe goes slightly against the grain to stand out). So if you are a tech brand, there's no point looking like a cosmetics brand. Even though this is common sense, we don't want to confuse our consumers nor is it always necessary to make a sign big bold and flashy just to get someone's attention. It's not always the answer.

2. Your personality

Have you ever just met someone and been instantly taken aback and delighted by that person's personality? Maybe they looked you in the eyes, said your name a few times to show they have taken an immediate interest you, made you laugh, blown your mind or given you enough confidence in them to just say "shut up and take my money!"...It's some real Tony Robbins kind of shit.

While working with a recent client, I was taking him through our brand strategy exercises for his business. One exercise was creating a list of adjectives that identified the feeling he hoped a customer would have after engaging with him and his business. One that stood out was 'infectious'. Not in a coronavirus type of way, but if you hope to be an infectious personality that people want to be around and feel instantly connected to, it lets peoples guard down quicker and the feel more inclined to listen.

So if your business, yourself, or your team have a personable, likeable, funny, warm, inviting or professional personality - dependent on what type of personality you wish to first convey that is appropriate to your business - you're more likely to get people to wanna stick around and listen.

3. Your voice

Your voice is definitely part of your personality, but the tone of that voice or the message that it communicates is what captures the attention of your intended consumer. It could be a voice that authoritative, enticing, educational, entertaining, encouraging... basically words that start with a vowel 😂

A lot of the time, the loudest voice that is heard most often, is the one that is heard first.

I hate to say it but it's a sad truth in our society, that those who have the biggest or most heard voice, win. Either because of their following, the stage they have made for themselves, opportunities they have been given and/or their straight to the point bravado. Even if what they have to say is complete garbage and potentially harmful.

However, being heard, to begin with requires a voice that is fitting to the consumer you hope to attract. An obnoxious male voice isn't suitable for a women&