Architects and Landscape architects are excellent at design but can sometimes have trouble expressing those ideas to the client. When English is your second language, you may have less opportunity to practice presenting concepts to clients, but when the times comes, you'll want to have some expressions up your sleeve.
One of the common aspects of a client design presentation meeting is to sell your ideas and build an argument around why you believe the client should agree to build this particular design. It would help to show them your expertise but also practice your marketing and listening skills.
One activity I do with my students is I get them to sell a building, landscape or design project to me that they have never seen. We do this so they can practice removing the emotional connection they have to the building and to structure their responses by guiding the client through a story of:
What is the bigger picture such as the existing environment, surrounding urban area, the overall shapes and connections?
Why you've made some of the decisions you made?
How does the concept work overall? For example, try putting yourself in the shoes of the client and how they might use the space, the building, the landscape etc.
An effective presentation is a skill, based on the findings of marketing, negotiation theory and, of course, psychology as well as having sound technical knowledge of design. Remember your job as an architect and designer is to do some essential things during your presentation:
Sell the lifestyle and the ways the design will be used to the client (not just the features of the end product)
Explain how the project is going to benefit them, not always the technical features of the design. Some will know more than others too, but when you address the needs of the client first, you'll spend less time talking about the technical aspects.
Try to tell the story visually with fewer words.
With all that in mind, I've created a list of possible sentence starters you can use for different scenarios when presenting your ideas to clients. There are obviously many ways to do this, but this list will give you some ideas.
Note: if you work for a business it's good to try and use 'we' rather than 'I' when you're referring to the concept as it shows you're part of a bigger team.
If you work for yourself of course you can just use 'I.'
Greetings: showing your appreciation to the client for coming
We appreciate you taking the time to meet with us today.
Thanks for joining us today. We're glad to have you here.
Introduction to the concept: give an overview
Today we are going to present the concept we have been working on over the last few weeks.
We're happy to share our ideas with you today.
In today's meeting, we will discuss two options, then we will show you some options for materials By the end of today's meeting we hope to have a clear idea of the next design phase.
We would like to start by .... + ing verb (explaining, showing, discussing, demonstrating).
In today's meeting, there are several things we are going to address including
Feel free to ask questions as they come up
Feel free to interrupt if you have any questions
Before we begin, I want to point out that ... point out = to tell someone some information
Just to let you know ... (a polite way of point out something indirectly)
Transition/ Signposting language to move from one point to another
First of all
Firstly, secondly, thirdly, lastly
What I'm going to talk about next is
Next, we're going to look at
Next, we're going to address
Highlighting the important points of your presentation
I'd like to point out that ... We should point out that
For us, one of the most important aspects of this concept is
We'd like to draw your attention to this important aspect
Referring to plans and images
As you can see in the plans
As you might notice
Here you will see
Can you see on the plan how
Let me draw your attention to
Referencing advice/knowledge from other professionals
The engineer mentioned that
According to the Council/City/Local Council, we can do this
As the landscape architect mentioned it might be a good idea to
The architect noted that
I might need to check with the engineer/architect/Council/surveyor
We will need to discuss this with the engineer/architect/Council/surveyor before we move forward
Expressions for making the client feel heard
We/I understand that this is the most important aspect of the design. This is why we decided to focus on this part first.
From your perspective, I/we can see this might be a problem for you which is why we have thought about some alternatives.
I can see why this would be your preference and I think it would be a good choice in this circumstance.
This works in your favour because you said you wanted to focus more on . . .
We’re on the same page and I think we can really work with this idea.
Thanks for pointing that out to us. We think it’s a great idea and we can work with it.
Posing questions to the client
What stands out to you most as the advantages of this concept?
How would you feel if we tried this instead?
Would it be okay with you if we explored some other options?
How would it work for you if we tried a few other options?
How does that sound?
Does that make sense to you?
Responding to questions or queries
That's a great question, sorry I forgot to mention that
That's a great question
Thanks for pointing that out, I would say that
In answer to that question
To answer that question
The short answer to that question is
What did you have in mind? (If they make a suggestion but you're not entirely sure).
Making note if you're not sure of the answer
That's a great question, can I do some more research and get back to you?
I'll make a note of that and get back to you.
Can I get back to you? I'd like to find out more information first.
I'm not familiar with that, can you explain more?
I'm afraid I don't have the answer to that, I'll make a note and get back to you.
Talking about budget
What kind of budget can we expect to work with for your project?
What are your expectations around the budget?
Are you prepared to consider /We need to consider some options around that budget.
You mentioned that you want to keep to budget. What did you have in mind?
Are you willing to stretch the budget?
We'll see how far we can stretch the budget.
We need to make a few changes to the scope to allow for this budget
Are you prepared to change the scope of works?
Finishing the meeting
Finishing off the meeting or 'wrapping it up' can go in so many different directions depending on what you need from the client to keep moving on to the next step. Here are some things you might say to the client:
Thanks for coming today, if you have any other questions at all you can send me an email or give me a call anytime.
I'll let you know about those questions you had as soon as I find out.
If anything comes up after today please get in touch.
We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Let us know when you would like to make time for our next meeting.
If you found this list useful then share it with someone who you think might find it beneficial. If you have any other suggestions then let me know.
Want to know more about how I use these expressions to practice with my 1:1 clients or to know about my 1:1 coaching, then you can send me an email today.