Beating the Butterflies

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld via Think Exist

Perhaps only one thing strikes more fear into a Creative’s heart than not coming up with the big idea. That one thing? Actually presenting that big idea. And let’s face it; rarely does an idea sell itself. So for 99% of the time, presentation skills are necessary. But the reality is most Creatives, from the obscure to the Boguskys, view these presentations with a mixture of fear and trepidation. We’re human after all. And like others of our kind we’re prone to developing the dreaded “butterflies”.

How to overcome that fluttering feeling in ones tummy may be as simple as recognizing and remembering a few things:


Spend as much time preparing to present the work as you did putting the work together. Rehearse in front of your partner, your coworkers and the family dog. Jot down your key points. Again and again from memory. Do it until you know your material like the back of your hand.

Be yourself

Don’t stand in front of a room pontificating and throwing around $10 words. Present the work in a conversational and passionate way. If clients feel you’re BSing them, they’re less inclined to accept your solutions. It also sounds like you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. One of my favorite people in the business always warms up his audience with a relevant, funny story told with a Catskill Comedian-like delivery before launching into his spiel.

Know thy client

Ernie Schenck, of Hill Holiday, describes it this way:


“I try to bulletproof the work in my mind as much as possible. I can do that because other than new business, I know the clients I’m dealing with. And I go through a lot of trouble to do deep surveillance on each and every one of them. The quirky stuff they like or don’t like. That kind of thing. Know who you’re presenting to and you know what to avoid, what to say, what not to say, where not to go, how far you can take things.” via The Ranch Blog



Make it about them

Try to keep yourself out of it. Two words you should never utter when presenting creative to clients is “I” or “we.” You should make it about them. Remember you’re not selling your brilliance; you’re solving a business problem. So your presentation should be all about the business problem, and how the ideas you’ve developed might help that problem. By keeping yourself out of the equation, you make the conversation less personal, and you end up looking like more of an expert in the process.


Clients don’t want to be sold; they want you to be sold. You’re the expert, so present work you believe in. Have an opinion. Have a recommendation. Tell the client what they should do. After all, that’s what they’re paying us for. And, believe it or not, most clients want to like what you’re presenting and most of all, they want to like you. Got any presenting tips of your own? Would love to hear them.