When it comes to client pitches, there’s a fine line between confidence and pushiness. Obviously you want to avoid the latter. As a designer looking to redefine yourself as an expert on brand positioning, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Here’s how to build confidence in three tiny steps (without selling your soul).
1. Prep Like It’s Your Job.
Remember how you used to get up in front of the class in design school and talk off the cuff about your project. After all, you spent so much time working on perfecting the actual design that the presentation tended to fall by the wayside. It’s time to grow up and stop “winging it.” This isn’t to say that, as a designer, you don’t already have an impressive base of knowledge. You know more than you think you do when it comes to brand positioning. But that’s no excuse for a sloppy execution.
You need to conduct research, take notes and practice before you present. The research and note-taking parts are easy because these are the same steps you would take prior to any client pitch (right?!). You have to understand where the client is coming from and what they see the problem as. Again, this is something you do all the time as a designer.
Instead of looking solely at how design can solve the problem, however, you’re thinking about everything from design and media to how this brand is different from its competitors and what needs to happen long term. This requires a bit more time spent delving into the client’s background, goals and values than you might do normally.
After you’ve researched all the moving parts and organized your findings and notes, it’s time to step in front of the mirror and practice selling your ideas. Better yet, gather a group of friends, bribe them with pizza and present to real people. Push them to give constructive feedback—and not to shy away from critiquing your talking points or nonverbal communication.
2. Build Yourself Up.
If your goal is to reinvent yourself as a brand expert, your lack of confidence may stem from not having previous experience in this exact field. But as a designer, you work with brands all the time. It may be your in-house brand, your personal brand or a client brand, but you know your stuff. Before you step into the spotlight, however, you may need to remind yourself how excellent you are when it comes to brand positioning.
That’s a good time to glance over the projects you’re really proud of and remember the positive feedback you’ve received from clients and coworkers. Start with your portfolio, since that’s where your best work lives. Then go through old emails to remember the process, the challenges and how you overcame them in past projects. Now is the time to celebrate all those little victories you were too busy to acknowledge when they happened.
3. Challenge Yourself.
Here’s where you take all that built up confidence and explode it onto the world. You’re prepped and ready. It’s time to push that comfort zone. While you still might be experience pre-presentation jitters, you know you’ve done everything you can to move from “designer with branding experience” to “brand positioning expert.”
You’re simply taking what you’ve done for years and positioning it differently—to the tune of a bigger paycheck. After all, a million creative presentations later, you’re ready to wow clients with your new (old) skillset.
To learn more about how to build confidence, check out Marcia Hoeck and Ed Roach’s webinar Sell Without Selling: Confidence Building for the Business of Design.