The game changer

By Elspeth Pridham
April 11, 2019

Emma Hooton of Studio Hooton shares what she learned at the BIID Presentation Skills for Interior Designers course

Whether you’re naturally confident or suffer from ‘presentation fear’, you’re capable of more than you think. I signed up to the BIID presentation course by Claudette Williams and it was a game changer. The tweaks she made to the way I present sample boards, manage clients and approach networking had an instant impact. Suddenly we were winning and running projects with increasing ease and the business quickly made a step-change in terms of the size and value of contracts we won.

What surprised me the most was how simple the techniques are. I went into my first training session expecting to improve my pitching skills and came out with a new perspective on communicating the Studio Hooton brand.

Clients look for knowledge and creative vision. They are investing time and money in projects and want to have absolute confidence. It is so rewarding to see clients turn around to loving a design they may have initially rejected. They are looking to you for reassurance – and the way you deliver it is crucial.

Of course there will always be challenging situations – from clients changing their minds to renegotiating budgets. This is where the training comes into its own. It gives you the tools to manage personalities and situations, stay in control and influence decisions to ensure you deliver the best outcome.

But it’s not just about winning and managing projects. Every time a team member picks up the phone, answers an email or meets with a contractor, they’re presenting your business – so if you’re running a studio, it’s worth investing in training for the whole team.

Top tips from Claudette Williams, owner of Creatively Speaking and professional presentation coach who runs a course for the BIID on Presentations Skills for Interior Designers.

  • If a client is wavering on a decision, revert back to the design principles – why you chose it together in the first place. They want your reassurance and confidence.
  • For extra support when dealing with a wavering client, always give business reasons for your creative choices. The initial brief is your guiding light.
  • Pause during presentations to give clients space and time (longer than you imagine) to digest something you’ve put in front of them or a design suggestion. Don’t be afraid of silence. It’s not dead air – the client needs time to think.
  • If you are doing a talk or an important presentation and are feeling the nerves, ground yourself and slow your breathing before you start. Choose footwear that makes you feel stable. It makes a huge difference to know where your feet are.