Learn to pitch your interior design project and convince your clients

Congratulations! You’ve set up an interior design business offering design services, and are starting to attract clients.

You’ve had an initial meeting with some new clients about their design project and have begun to put your design ideas together based on their desires, needs and tastes. In this article, we will explore the techniques for getting your ideas across to your potential clients with a presentation that will help them visualize your plan and will make an impression on every level, helping you clinch the deal.

The Mood Board

Sometimes called an “inspiration board” or “visual territory board,” this is a technique for showing your clients your design ideas in an organized way before delving further into the details. It presents a way for your clients to understand and visualize your overall design concept, defines the project’s style, and conveys the look and feel of its final design. The term “mood board” is often used interchangeably with “presentation board,” but in fact they are different. A mood board visually represents the general idea of your design ideas, rather than lays out the specifics of the project. In addition to being a way for you and your clients to get a sense of each other’s vision, it is a tool often used by interior decorators, or designers offering e-design services, to convey their ideas to their clients.

The mood board is a collage that includes images, materials, and text, and presents color schemes, textures, furniture and accessories. It can be physical or digital, or a combination of both. To create a digital mood board, many interior designers rely on Canva, a free graphic design program with drag-and-drop design tools and over 50,000 templates to choose from.

Your mood board should include whatever inspired you during the design process after listening carefully to your clients’ goals for their design project. Be prepared to speak about your concept when you present it, so your ideas resonate with your clients as they begin to understand how you arrived at them.

Many interior designers present several mood boards so clients can choose the one that they prefer.

Presentation Boards

In interior design, a presentation board is also called a “concept board.” Like the mood board, it can be physical or digital. But unlike the mood board, it presents the actual design of the client’s space, detailing every aspect of the design plan, including flooring, color schemes, room layout and physical floor plans or 3D floor plans.

The old-school practice of hand sketching or hand drawing is becoming less popular in interior design as it gives way to more advanced interior design software, particularly 3D rendering. Although 3D rendering is more time-consuming that other presentation techniques and requires certain skills that must be learned, it captures an accurate picture of your plans and helps clients understand what their finished space will look like. The beauty of a 3D interior design presentation is that it is realistic and thorough, without room for interpretation, by allowing you to mock up every detail of your plan. In addition, it can be easily modified if your client wants to make changes, so in the long run, stunning 3D renderings, once mastered, are an excellent choice for design board presentation.

Presentation boards must be well organized and visually attractive. All the titles and labels included should be the same size and orientation, with a common color scheme and font, and a consistency in image style and size. Each title and label should describe exactly what is being presented. 

Design Schematic

Once your plan is accepted by your client, the next step is the design schematic. This is a complete room design, showing the layout of the room with furniture and accessories laid out to scale, indicating the exact location and dimension of every piece. It incorporates the interior design sample boards that you have created. At this stage, you must make sure your design plan meets local building codes. A design schematic also offers cost estimates, so your client knows what to expect and can make decisions based on price as well as aesthetics.

The design schematic differs from the presentation board in that it is the starting point of the project, defining and providing sufficient detail for the scope of the project for actual execution.

Pitch Your Design Plan to Your Clients

Some designers use a combination of physical and digital tools for their design presentation. You can pin fabric, leather, wallpaper and color swatches to your board, along with floor tile, upholstery and rug samples. These materials are very tactile and visual, and often do not translate on a virtual platform, which is why a physical presentation board is a good choice. You can also highlight your design concept with a PowerPoint presentation.

Here are a few more tips for presenting your design ideas to your clients and how to convince them to proceed with the project, as suggested by David Holston of Emery University in his LinkedIn article, “The 5 Rules for Presenting Design Concepts to Clients:”

  •   Never present a concept you don’t want your client to choose;
  •   Present more than one option: the straightforward, unchallenging choice you think the client will go  for; what you think is the best solution; and the so-called “wow” factor that pushes the boundaries and asks your client to think outside the box;
  •   Give your concept a name or a theme;
  •   Prove to the client that you understand the problem and show how you will solve it with your design; in other words, how the design meets the clients needs;
  •   Present in person.

The article concludes, “Presenting concepts is a combination of strategy and theater. The ability to present ideas clearly to the client is often the difference between success and failure, so it’s worth planning and rehearsing. Winging it or taking the presentation casually leaves you vulnerable to the client’s whims. Presenting your work in a professional manner with set standards and protocols establishes you as an expert and authority. Regardless of how good the design solution is, it must be communicated in such a way that the client has a rationale for liking it.”

You can easily find videos on YouTube and articles on how to create and present a design concept.

Good luck!

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