Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Best Pitch: Selling your Ideas with Style, an event put on by the Graphic Design program and Design Student and Alumni Board at the University of Minnesota. I was part of a panel, along with Jane Tilka, Founder of Tilka Design, Jes Lahay, Director of Creative Content at LaBreche, and Darryl Kluskowski, Chief Creative Officer at YAMAMOTO. Below is a brief recap of some things that stuck out to me from each of our presentations, as well as some shots of the beautifully handcrafted gift that we received for presenting.

Presentation Highlights

Jane Tilka kicked things off with a great overview of the process they follow when presenting creative. Her emphasis was on the planning and research that is done before the design phase, with the takeaway that design holds value because of the quality of the research.

My presentation focused on design as visual communication versus “making things look pretty.” I discussed some of the pitfalls of spec creative and walked through an example of an infographic that we put together recently to sell our ideas and strategy for a new business opportunity.

Jes Lahay had a really creative approach to her presentation, where she discussed ways to “ditch the pitch” and reinvent it to be more effective. She walked through ways to make yourself more comfortable during a pitch, to connect with your audience and get their attention and emphasized the importance of front-loading your presentation to win them over within the first 6 minutes.

Darryl Kluskowski was a real pleasure to watch, a true entertainer. And that was exactly his message, that a pitch is all about putting on a show. “Don’t show up and throw up” was a line he used to explain that you need to build a story to present your creative. He also offered an interesting perspective: the people we are pitching are looking forward to our presentations, and it might even be the highlight of their day, so we need to make them exciting.

The Gift

At the end of the evening, we were each presented with a wooden box containing a bottle of “Miracle Tonic,” in keeping with the event theme. It is so well-designed and beautifully handcrafted that I wanted to share a few pictures with you and give a huge shout out to the designer, Ellen Schofield. She is in the MFA program at the U and has obviously mastered the laser cutter that they have available on campus. Check out her portfolio for more great work.