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Have you ever given a presentation?

This Bootstrap Advertising series is to help give you ideas to use to gain exposure for your design business. Because after all, people won’t hire you if they don’t know about you.

So far in this series, I’ve covered Bartering Your Services For Exposure, Promoting Yourself On Client Projects and Getting Free Media Exposure With Press Releases. But in my opinion, one method trumps all of those, and that's making presentations.

Making presentations is one of the best ways to get exposure and actually land new design work. Almost every time I make a presentation, I end up with at least one new client.

I’m not talking about design pitches or presenting to your clients. I’m talking about getting up in front of a group of people and presenting on a topic that is beneficial to them, AND paints you as an expert when it comes to that area.

Did I lose you? I know that many designers are introverts, and the thought of getting up in front of a group of people sounds terrifying. However, if you can find it within yourself to conquer that fear, I can almost guarantee it will be worth it.

Save your trepidations for now and hear me out. Who knows, I may convert you.

Why Presentations?

Presentations are a great way to educate people on the part of the business industry that you are familiar with—design. It may be branding, marketing, advertising, online presence through websites or social media, or any other design aspect that the average business owner might find useful.

Regardless of what aspect of design you decide to present, just the fact that you are presenting it gives you credibility in the eyes of those watching. The fact that you are presenting to them, that you are educating them, that you are bestowing valuable knowledge that will help improve their businesses elevates the way they see you.

They may have known you before as just another graphic designer, but you graduate to becoming an expert once you present. And as an expert, you become someone they admire and look up to. And when it comes to hiring a designer, who do you think they’ll consider? One of the many designers from your area? Or, the expert designer they admire because you gave them valuable advice during a presentation?

It sounds strange, but it’s true.

In March of 2020, I was at a podcast conference in Orlando, Florida. A few of us designers met up for an impromptu get-together in the hallway outside the conference rooms. We had a very in-depth conversation on the impact good design has on the success of a podcast.

As with any conference, several other attendees, non-designers migrated their way to our conversation. They were curious as to how design could help their shows.

My fellow designers were very knowledgeable, and we had a great discussion. It was obvious to anyone listening that each one of us knew what we were talking about.

During our conversation, I mentioned I was presenting the following day on the importance of good podcast cover artwork to help grow a show. When we were done, and we parted ways, several podcasters stopped me to ask questions. The other designers walked away unaccosted while I had a small gathering around me. These people chose me because I was a presenter at the conference. I hadn’t even presented yet, but the fact that I was, was enough to elevate my status above the other designers as far as these podcasters were concerned. The conference had chosen me to present; therefore, I must be someone worth listening to.

That’s the power of presenting. It elevates you in the eyes of those you talk to.

And you know what? A couple of those people hired me to help brand their podcast. And I gained several more new clients after my presentation. It works.

Where can you give presentations?

You may be thinking, “That’s easy for you Mark, you started a podcast branding business, so it makes sense for you to present at a podcast conference. But I don’t have a niche like you. So where am I supposed to present?”

I’m glad you asked.

You don’t have to travel to big conferences with thousands of people in attendance to present. There are many opportunities for you around where you live. In fact, presenting close to home is even more beneficial because you have the bonus of word of mouth afterwards.

“You’re looking for a designer? I heard so-and-so present recently, and they really knew what they were talking about. So you should give them a call.”

Places you can give presentations.

Chamber of Commerce.

  • Special events.
  • Small business month (October)
  • Business trade shows

Business Associations

  • Municipal Business Associations (Downtown, Waterfront, Central, etc.)
  • Women's Business Associations
  • People of Colour Business Associations
  • LGBTQ+ Business Associations.

Business Enterprise Center

  • Small business startup presentations
  • Entrepreneurial help presentations

Municipal Events

  • Lunch and a talk
  • Business growth seminars

Local Library

  • Themed Presentations
  • All sorts of presentations

Networking groups

  • Local Networking Groups
  • National Networking Groups

Co-working spaces

  • Business Growth Sessions

Schools

  • Present to Business Students
  • Present to Marketing Students
  • Present to Design Students

If you look around, I’m sure you can find places or venues around your area that would love to host your presentation.

And don’t just look for existing opportunities. Make them. Approach your Chamber, library, Business enterprise center, etc. and ask them if you can put on a presentation. Many of them would be happy to accommodate you.

What to present?

The idea behind any good presentation is to keep it simple and keep it focused. How much you present is determined by the time allotted to you and to whom you’re presenting.

In most cases, pick one topic to talk about. The broader your presentation, the more confusing it will be. The more focused it is, the more memorable it will be.

The best presentations provide 2 to 3 pieces of actionable advice at the most. But, of course, one piece of actionable advice is even better.

Instead of giving a presentation on branding a business, which entails a lot. Give a presentation on choosing a colour palette. The idea is to narrow down the topic so as not to confuse people.

Possible presentation topics include:

  • How Landing pages can help increase website conversions.
  • How to focus on benefits instead of features in your marketing material.
  • How to understand Web analytics.
  • The importance of consistency with your visual assets.

Who you’re presenting to will help you decide on what topic to chose. For example, if you’re talking to a group of retailers, you may want to talk about increasing sales by marketing with floor decals. Or how different colours on a website can increase conversions.

If you’re talking to a group of new entrepreneurs, you may want to talk about using visual assets to help build a brand. Or the importance of creating visual assets that appeal to their target market, not just the business owner.

If you’re talking to a mixed group of businesspeople, you may want to talk about the importance of branding in social media. Or how to identify your competition. That’s actually a good one. Unfortunately, many new business people don’t know how to identify their competition.

The skies the limit to the number of topics available to present.

And if you find yourself unable to narrow down your topic, maybe consider doing a series of presentations instead of just one. Whatever works.

Making presentations works.

In my opinion, presenting is one of the best ways to garner exposure for your business without spending anything. Not only that, but there’s an excellent chance that you pick up some work from it. It's worked for me time after time. Over the years, I’ve made presentations at:

  • Chamber of Commerce events.
  • At a Starter Business seminar put on by our local Business Enterprise Centre.
  • A business series put on by our local library.
  • At several local schools.
  • At networking events.
  • At trade shows.
  • At conferences.
  • And more.

And almost every time I gave a presentation, I gained new clients from those who attended.

So try to get over your fear if presenting is not something you’re used to doing. It helps to start small and work your way up. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become.

As you get better at presenting, you'll discover people will invite you to speak at their events. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll actually get paid to present. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Until then, try to settle with the new clients that come your way from those you help.

Presenting, it’s worth looking into if you’re not already doing it.

Remember, the idea behind this Bootstrap Advertising series is to get your name out there. To get as much exposure for your business without having to spend anything doing it. I believe in you. So go out and do it.

Resource of the week Swatchos.com

Swatchos is a deck of 130 cards to help you choose colours for your design projects.

Each card has one clour on the front and six on the back. The front is the primary colour, and the back shows darker and lighter versions of the colour on the front. That’s 903 colours in total with millions of possible combinations.

Each colour shows the CMYK value and the Hex Code.

And because they’re cards and not in a book, like the Pantone swatch books, they’re really easy to mix and match to find that perfect colour combination.

And once you do find that perfect combo. Use the downloadable swatch files for Adobe CC and pick the colours within your favourite applications.

I bought my deck through a Kickstarter campaign.

But you can get yours by visiting swatchos.com. There’s a link at the top of the page to where you can purchase your deck.

Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

 

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