Workshop with Mike Monteiro: own that pitch

Published:  January 18, 2016

Good design do not always sell themselves. It is pertinent that designers know how to persuade clients and sell their ideas. But what are the pitching faux pas designers need to avoid? We ask Mike Monteiro, co-founder of San Francisco’s Mule Design Studio.

“The most important thing to remember is the pitch isn’t about you. No one cares about you. No one cares about how many awards you’ve won. People want to know if you can understand and fix their problem,” says Monteiro.

Monteiro, who is well known for his F*ck You, Pay Me Creative Mornings talk and the Let’s Make Mistakes podcast, will be in Melbourne this month to conduct a workshop titled “Presenting design like your life depends on it (with Mike Monteiro)”. The event is brought to us by Melbourne’s very own Floate Design Partners

The full-day workshop on Jan 28 has only 20 spaces available (hurry!) and is an opportunity for local designers to learn how to take charge of a room, tell a good story and get the right kind of feedback to improve their work.

desktop caught up with Monteiro to get a brief insight on what we can learn from the workshop and about the tricks of nailing that pitch.

Image: Mule Design Studios

Image: Mule Design Studios

What are the top things agencies or designers must check off when planning a pitch?

I judge how well a pitch is going by how much the client is talking. It’s a sign you’ve already started working. So go in with really smart questions that show you’ve got an interest in what they do. Use the pitch as an opportunity to find out more about who they are. And what they need. Remember that it’s a two-way interview. You’re trying to find out whether you want to work with them as well.

What are the three big “no-no”s when presenting to a client? That is what must agencies or designers avoid?

  1. Never show up with spec work, you have no idea what the actual problem is yet. And you end up looking like you’re trying to impress a parent, not have a conversation with an equal.
  2. Not explaining how what you’re showing them matches up with the goals of the project. Every presentation should answer the question “How is this meeting my client’s goal?” Start by reiterating what the goal is and then tell the client how the work meets it. And yes, I mean tell them, don’t ask them.
  3. Wanting to make the client happy. That’s not your job. No one hired you to make them happy. They hired you to solve a problem. Solve that problem to the best of your abilities. And if your client is suggesting things that may take you off course, it’s your job to tell them. Remember that you were hired because you are an expert at your job, and the client is an expert at their job. Don’t attempt to do each others’ jobs.
Image from

Image from

Based on your experience, how do you find that balance when it comes to maintaining a relationship with a client? 

Every relationship with a client should be based on honestly and respect. When someone hires me, my job is to help them be successful. I don’t compromise on their success. So if they’re asking for something that compromises their success I tell them no. If I’m doing crappy work I expect them to tell me that as well. I’m very careful when choosing my clients that I’m working with people who are willing to be honest and blunt. Otherwise we’re not doing good work together.

Presenting design like your life depends on it (with Mike Monteiro)
When: Thursday, January 28, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: Floate Design Partners – 351 Elizabeth Street Melbourne, VIC 3000
For more information and for tickets, click here.

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