Become the best presenter in the agency.

Writing tip #7

“We would like you to come up to Sydney to present to the CEO. Jess should present the scripts.”

This was an e-mail I was CC’d into many years ago when I was maybe a middling mid-weight creative. It was from the CMO of a client who was worth a fair whack of money. I don’t know exactly how much, but let’s say a million dollars for the sake of the narrative.

This was a pivotal moment in my career for a number of reasons, but mostly due to the fact that in the blink of an eye, I was suddenly worth a million dollars.

Having clients that want you in the room carries a lot weight. And as a creative, one of the ways to do that is to get really good at presenting the work. (Art Directors should absolutely strive for this too, but given Copywriters are more often than not doing the talking, it’s a mandatory for us.)

Now, there will be people out there thinking ‘I’m not a natural presenter’ or ‘I get nervous’ or ‘I don’t like public speaking’, and if that’s you, don’t stress, because almost everybody feels like this. Apparently Adele still spews before nearly every show and she’s more talented than me and everyone reading this put together, and she has to sing in front of 50,000 people for two hours - all you have to do is read a 30-second script about a new lemon scented toilet cleaner to five marketers and a plate of almond croissants. It’s not going to kill you, you’ll be fine.

So, how do you get better at presenting? Well, it’s really an extension of tip #2. The shortest route I can offer is to stop writing scripts and stop reading scripts. ‘What the fuck are you talking about? That’s my job!’ you’re now thinking. No, it isn’t. Stop writing scripts and stop reading scripts.

There’s little that grates on me more than watching a creative sit there staring down at a piece of paper, slowly stumbling through the words on a page as if they’re a 3rd grader reading ‘Hairy Maclarey’ for the first time. That is not how the ad will be executed. It’s not how it will be shot. It’s not what people will see on their screens. The client cannot go inside your brain and imagine how your script will translate. To do your own work justice, you have to paint the picture.


Not just in the presentation phase, but in the writing phase as well. Find a quiet room if you must, become the characters, create back stories, Daniel Day-Lewis that thing and method act. I have run around a room acting out a script while writing it before. Imagine you’re the people in your story. How would they move and interact, how would they talk, how would they react, what would their facial expressions be. It will completely and utterly change the way your fingers write or type out the narrative if you leave your own body and enter theirs.

Then, the tricker part, when it comes to the presentation - do the same. Perform the script. Inject emotion. Add pauses for suspense and drama. Be theatrical. Wave your arms in the air. Do voices. Whisper. Shout. Get up and move around the room. Don’t just read the words on the page, sell the idea. (I once sang a rendition of ‘November Rain’ with the Managing Director’s tie around my head while standing on a chair. I’m not saying you should ever do exactly this, but sometimes you have to do some weird things in this business.)

I’m not saying I was ever ‘the best presenter in the agency’, as that’s not for me to judge, but once I realised how important it was I damn well tried to be. If there’s someone better than you, pay attention to how they do it. Watch. Borrow. Steal.

If you want to have a lasting career, this one is a non-negotiable for me. You can’t just sit at your desk and write. Your work cannot sell if you cannot sell your work.

Writing tip #1 


Writing tip #2 


Writing tip #3 


Writing tip #4 


Writing tip #5 


Writing tip #6



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