No matter what business or position you’re in, presentations can be stressful. A lot is at stake: your budget, your program, maybe even your job—not to mention your self-esteem. No matter who you’re trying to impress, standing up in front of a group of potential customers and selling them on your ideas can make you feel like a dancing monkey—especially if they don’t respond. It feels as if you’re having a one-way conversation. Plus, conference room crickets is what nightmares are made of.

Rethinking presentation pressure: Environments at Work.

For Boston-based interior design and furnishings company Environments at Work (EAW), which creates modern workspaces for forward-thinking companies, exceeding client expectations and building long-term relationships are their top priorities. To get there, they were doing the usual organizational strategy:

Step 1: Clients talk, designers listen.

Step 2: Designers do their work. (Alone.)

Step 3: Designers talk, clients listen.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1–3 as needed.

Frustrated by this outdated practice, the creative minds at EAW were sure there was a better way. They put their heads together and found new resources and technologies that let them turn their one-way conversation and presentation into a two-way conversation. And guess what—their clients loved it.

The key to EAW’s two-way conversation transformation is visual collaboration. They started with a seemingly simple change, which had a big impact: Instead of seating clients around a table and making the designer stand up in front of them (dance monkey, dance!), EAW brings everyone to the front of the room where a touchscreen wall displays their initial design ideas. Just like in theatre, breaking down the “fourth wall” that separates the presenter from the audience changes everything. Suddenly, you’re all on the same team, viewing the same initial designs and inputting different thoughts and ideas in real time.

All the world’s a stage. Let’s play.

Now, clients can interact with a virtual model of the space they’re creating. This change in dynamic transformed EAW’s whole design process. Their clients are engaged and excited, and their designers don’t have to guess that they’re thinking or go through multiple iterations to get there. Instead, they all work together in the virtual workspace with a clear, shared vision of what they want and clear communication on how they’ll get there. It all adds up to a faster, more social, and smoother design process—which is better for everyone.

The only drawback? Your clients might love it so much that they’ll never want to leave. One EAW client who was scheduled for a one-hour design session ended up staying for four. So, before you open the presentation conversation, you might want to order extra donuts.

About Bluescape

Bluescape enables companies to innovate, collaborate, and work faster and more efficiently. Its workspace collaboration solution gives dispersed internal and external teams an interactive digital workspace to meet, share, develop, and iterate on content, ideas, and products. Founded in 2012, Bluescape is headquartered in San Carlos, California and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Haworth. Visit Bluescape and follow Bluescape on social media — Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.