FireFox is blocking Twitter content

To view content on tw-rl, follow these steps...

  1. Click on the shield in the address bar.
  2. Toggle the switch at the top of the panel.
Sign In →
Read Thread
Here’s a long thread of things I did in my portfolio presentation for my current IC design role. This isn’t advice on what you should do, but it might make you think differently about giving presentations. So. 🧵 Bits and bobs below, with some reflections at the end.
🍪 I handed out Australian biscuits* The presentation was scheduled over lunch. I thought a little snack — one that said a bit about me — would reflect my personality, thoughtfulness & break the ice before we got started. It did all of the above. *Kingstons; fight me Aussies.
🙋🏻‍♀️ I spent 5 mins letting them get to know me as a person. I covered my personal background (places I had lived), what I loved about my last role + team, my hobbies (improv) and interests (pop culture) and showed a gif of me faceplanting off a skateboard.
Lots of advice out there tells you to keep these intros to 30s to 1min. Blah blah blah. I made it proportional to the time I had to present (50m) and didn’t rush it. It was important.
It was important because it wasn’t just 5 mins of casual ramble. It was packed with intention. As much as I wanted to demonstrate my work, I also wanted to demonstrate what kind of team member I’d be. I did so in my intro and through the stories I told about myself.
Talking about the places I lived and some of my hobbies demonstrated curiosity and a strong interest in the domain. Talking genuinely about my previous team spoke to what I value in a team. Hurtling from a half pipe showed a thing or two about a willingness to take risks.
A few more things on this. This all allowed me: 🔸 Time to settle in and calm my nerves without messing up a key point about my work. 🔸 Set the scene around how I might have approached challenges in the work I was about to present. 🔸 Engage the audience immediately!
📉 I was advised to present 3 case studies. Instead I used one of those case study slots to talk about projects that had gone wrong in my past. I talked about what went wrong, how I was successful or unsuccessful in remedying it, and what I learnt from the experiences.
Something something something about getting the cart in front of the horse or rather just getting right in front of the question: “what is a challenge you faced, and how did you deal with it”. I didn’t have to deal with answering that question during the interview portion 🙃
🍴 I also thought about the experience of walking through the 3 recommended case studies like eating your way through a 3 course meal. I don’t think people want to eat the same thing 3 times. They want 3 delightfully distinct meals! A culinary journey, hooked on every bite.
My 3 course meal: 1️⃣ Deep and complex project. 2️⃣ Failed projects and learnings as mentioned above. 3️⃣ Fun lil side project. Varying length. Pace. Complexity. ~Flavour~ This showed many facets of my work, skill, thinking, and approaches. 😗🤌🏼✨
🔈 I played music and showed video throughout. Presentations are a performance and an experience. I leaned into that, and tried to make the whole experience as immersive as possible. Video helped me set some project context, music underscored some of the stories I told.
I relied on the recruiter a lot here. I told her what I wanted to do, I asked her to check what the setup would allow me to do. Folks, don’t sleep on your recruiter. They can help a great deal. More on that later. Of course, I had a back up plan if all went wrong.
🍪 Remember those biscuits? I used the same ones in my presentation, as a metaphor, to help explain a concept in a project. I don’t really have a good reason for doing this. But I thought it said a bit about my storytelling abilities. It also got some gasps and giggles.
🔮 I ended my presentation with a relevant story. It was optimistic, dorky, and spoke to why I was interested in the team and work. It was about Charmed, of all things. It ended the presentation on a high note and more importantly: it was memorable. People remember stories.
In fact, when my new manager emailed me to welcome me to the team, he did so with a lyric from the Charmed theme song, How Soon Is Now by Love Spit Love (originally The Smiths) 😌
💌 After my presentation and interview, I sent a recorded presentation as well as the deck with my “thank you for your time” email. Some people weren’t able to attend the presentation. I thought it might be helpful for them to have the option to watch if they wanted.
... I think that’s all the notable things. Or at least, what I can remember. If I think of any more, I’ll add them. But some reflections —
⏰ If this all sounds like a lot of work, it was. I probably spent 60+ hours on this, on top of my role at the time and during a serious dip in my mental health. I didn’t sleep. I put my neck out. I stressed a lot. However, I really really really needed (and wanted) the job.
For reasons out of my control my job stability was in a precarious position, which meant my US residency was too. I needed to find something fast. And yet, when getting too bold could have been risky, I was still able to roll the dice.
It is no doubt a privilege to be able to step out of the norm and do things that, for others, could be risky or deemed unprofessional. My experience, level, resume, and background definitely gave me a leg up here.
🤔 However, could people try be a little bolder and a little more unconventional with their portfolio presentations? I think so. For me, it was important to find a team that would appreciate the style of presentation I wanted to give. That was a big test for my future team.
🦻🏽I also made sure, as best I could, that the environment was right for the style of presentation I wanted to give. I wanted to go in as safely as possible. Context was important. I quizzed the recruiter on the format, what the team responds to, who they were, etc.
I can’t stress enough how useful recruiters can be in the interview process. Their job is to put good candidates in front of the panel. If you do well, they do well. I’ve found that good recruiters will help me as much as they can. So, I ask ask ask all of the questions.
🤠 Finally, I’ve given some truly abysmal presentations, but each time I learn from them. Ultimately, I’ve learnt that an ability to present in a compelling way is one of the most valuable skills for a designer.
So if I was to end with just a little bit of advice? Practice, practice, practice and don’t be afraid to get a little bit weird. We all need it.
I want to add a few more things after sleeping on this, and reading some of the replies.
🌏 With many of us working and interviewing remotely, some of these things might be hard to to. However I would say that ensuring our presentations are engaging and thoughtful of our audience is even *more* important right at this moment.
People are fatigued. They’re distracted by home, kids, extra meetings, and this panorama. They’re also likely multitasking. Try to take extra care when crafting your presentations - be it for work you’re presenting to your team, or a portfolio you’re presenting to a hiring team.
I like to try say as much in as few words as possible. I like to be as relevant and as targeted with what I show. I like to introduce visuals that might give offer a tiny moment of delight. Interesting stories matter even more than ever.
🚩 This thread skims the issue but doesn’t dive into the fact that the whole interview process in tech is deeply flawed. It favours people with time to spare. It favours extroversion. No one should need to put in 60+ hrs of time and effort like this. There has to be other ways.
🥸 Reading back, I’ve made this all sound very easy. It’s not. Giving presentations like this require you to step out of your comfort zone. For me, it requires me to fight every anxious bone in my body. But, it is possible. And you can do it. And you will grow from it.

My Notes:

Select to add to your #gallery:
Kylie Timpani

Pro Curator

$99 /yearPay what you can