Here’s how you can do it well and then some.
Design is a collection of choices. Choices that involve careful consideration of what to do and what not to do. Designers regularly face an audience of people who need to be walked through a particular design. The design presentation. This is where the design can either find itself being implemented to change the world, or it can find itself buried in the archives section of your project folders.
A design is only as good as the designer’s ability to tell you the story of said design. The choices, the considerations and most importantly how it changes the status quo and makes it better.
What’s the Objective here?
Ensure you know what your objective is with the presentation. Be clear about the questions that need to be answered about your design. You can find direction in what kind of questions need answering by being aware of your audience. Your design should fulfill a business goal while creating value for the user.
If your audience is a team of developers, it’s better to present your design by explaining it through a flow diagram, which can help them chart out implementation in code. If your audience is project managers, it’s better to present your design by explaining how the design is a scalable improvement on the current design, which can help them understand what the production pipeline could be.
It helps if you hold off on jumping into the details of your design until you have made sure you have painted the big picture for your audience. Make sure they understand what is the ultimate objective of your design.
All Feedback is Good Feedback
It is in your benefit to take all feedback seriously. Even the ones that seem odd, they are seeing something you aren’t or they simply need to understand something better. Ask more questions to help clarify the context of the feedback when you don’t understand it or agree with it.
Most importantly, be willing to change your position on an aspect of your design. Be willing to iterate your design using the feedback by first being open to change.
Do not pretend to understand feedback when you have not understood it entirely or at all. Ask questions, questions are the single most powerful tool you have to establish clarity.
Do not be dismissive of feedback, you deprive yourself of different points of view on your design. Differences which can lead to an improvement of your design more times than not. No design is worse from feedback.
Ask for Advice
No man is an island, we create better when working with others. A collaborative design will be richer than a solo isolated design more times than not. Leverage the smarts and experience of your colleagues, they can provide a fresh perspective on your design. Practice your design presentation with them, they can help you anticipate questions you may face when doing the actual presentation.
Do not try to do everything on your own. More perspectives and brain power can improve a design faster and in more ways than one perspective and brain can. For example considerations of feasibility, marketing, user study and forecasts are all better done by a team than an individual. A team can be way more comprehensive.
Be Yourself, Use Your Style
Explain your design process to the audience. Be specific with every aspect. Express your own opinion on every design choice. Make sure your passion comes across, if you aren’t excited about your design you can’t make anyone else feel excited by it. Keep it comfortable and treat it as a discussion between you and the audience. Tell the story of your design.
Do not go over-the-top with too many jokes or by trying too hard to seem passionate.
Do not be overconfident and/or insincere, that is the quickest way to alienate your audience and skew the purpose of the presentation.
Treat Your Audience with Respect
An agenda is a must have to let your audience know what they are in for. If you feel the context of a past presentation is important, prepare a recap so the audience is on the same page as you from the beginning.
If you received feedback at a prior presentation be sure to highlight how you integrated it into the design. Show your audience their input is valuable and has improved the design.
Do not assume anything about what they know of your design. Go out of your way to ensure your design choices and all relevant context are established. Make sure you and your audience are on the same page.
Do not try to ‘wing it’. By doing so you are being disrespectful of the time and attention of your audience. Always have a plan.
Try to put your audience in your shoes in your design story. Use first-person by using phrases like “I use the app to…” or “I want to save a bookmark…” for example. Describe your design from a first-person perspective. Take your users with you through the story and put them in your position relative to the design.
Do not talk about users in the third person. Don’t say “Then the user taps…” or “The user scrolls…”. This creates an impersonal disconnect. You want people to care about your design and connect with the story behind it.
You should be able to sum up your design in a single sentence. A clear and specific answer to the question ‘Why?’ is the cornerstone of your design. Find the pain point your audience agrees with you on. Present evidence that supports your identification of the problem, use data.
Do not be vague and subjective about your design choice. ‘I like red’ is not a clear reason.