Graphic Design Portfolio

If our presentations don’t stand out, how can clients expect our designs to?

I found the following video about Steve Jobs’ presentations to be quite good.

I’ve always enjoyed watching Jobs’ speeches, as they are excellent. He makes a speech like a show, with a strong opening, tons of enthusiasm and product demonstrations in the middle, and a good strong ending – often leaving the audience hungry for more. On a somewhat related note, as I was watching the race for President in 2007-2008, I couldn’t help but also be mesmerized by Obama’s speaking ability. Say what you may about the man, his Presidency, or his policies, but he is an exceptional orator. I have a hard enough time staying focused on some Hollywood movies for more than an hour, but the themes, content, enthusiasm, and experience both of these men deliver when they speak keeps me (and many others) focused intently on what they say.

Don’t just “say anything”

Many of the points the “Present Like Steve Jobs” video goes over are very relevant to speaking well, but one point the video didn’t mention explicitly is “Create Excellent Content.” For companies like Apple, and Steve Jobs, excellent content is usually assumed. However, for many of us designers, excellent content can sometimes be a little harder to come up with. As many college students can attest, when writing papers it is easy to “spew out a 10-page paper without really saying anything.” Speaking, writing, and even designing without really “saying anything” isn’t a new thing. But it is a trap that we shouldn’t fall into if we want to be exceptional designers. In his “Writing about Design” section in Graphic Design: A User’s Manual, Adrian Shaughnessy writes that all truly exceptional designers also have excellent language skills: “Look at all the smart designers who have clout and status. What distinguishes them? They all have language skills and aren’t afraid to show them.” (Shaughnessy, 2009, p 308). After all, language is how we create content and one of the most basic ways to convey a message.

I was just reading an article posted on Drawar.com that complained talked about how so many freelancer sites use the same words to express what they do. It said, “You sound like every other freelance designer out there. Don’t tell me what you do or how you do it, tell me why you do it.” (Drawar.com, 2010). This is a key reason why speakers like Steve Jobs and Obama often make excellent presentations. They don’t just talk “without really saying anything.” They don’t just talk about the “what” or the “how” of their goals and services. Rather, they change their messages from the standard rhetoric of their fields and talk about the “why” they do what they do.


As designers, we are tasked with creating designs that help companies “stand-out” from their competition. How can we be successful in helping our clients “stand-out” if we don’t first “stand-0ut” ourselves? This is one aspect of design that can make or break some designers when making a presentation to a client. If our presentations don’t stand-out, how can our clients expect our designs to?

What about you?

Do you find yourself rambling on and on without really “saying anything”? How can we be exceptional designers and stand-out in both our designs and our presentations?


Shaughnessy, Adrian. (2009). Graphic Design: A User’s Manual. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Drawar.com (2010). “2 Reasons Why Your Portfolio Site Sucks.” Retrieved May 16, 2010 from http://www.drawar.com/articles/2-reasons-why-your-portfolio-site-sucks/204/

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