Portfolio presentation structure

Presentation structure

Intro, context, case studies. Make sure interviewers will understand the scope of your work and your background.
  • Some interviewers have never seen your resume or portfolio. Let them know who you are and why you are here. Introduce yourself.
  • Provide context: what was the company you worked at doing, the audience, and why does what you worked at matters. They might never heard of your company or country before, give them some frame of reference.
  • Presentation strategies: 10-10-10 or 15-10-5 minutes per project.
  • Telling a story is the best approach, but it should answer a hiring party's questions (hence consider structure).

Presentation structure outline

We decided to describe this structure because we noticed that people often forget to provide the context and listeners have to waste a lot of time trying to understand what’s going on and why a person talks about these projects.

1 — 2-3 minutes to introduce yourself and set the stage for the following story

  • It is worth mentioning why and how your experience is relevant to the job you are applying to and
  • how your experience highlights are relevant to the job

2 — Context and frame of reference:

  • When talking about past work, don’t forget to mention a company name, size, goals, business model. You don’t have to go deep into details, just enough information to set up the scene for your stories about projects.
  • Audience: what and why they became clients or users of that company’s products. Sometimes it is worth mentioning so that your listener would understand the motivation to use products and services you would be talking about.

3 — Projects:

  • Project # 1
  • Project # 2
  • Project # 3

We have a comprehensive guide on how to talk about projects.

Pick a strategy (described below) to make sure you cover stories that are relevant to your desired job

4 — Summary (optional)

  • Recap what you’ve just told so that they will remember better (the very short recap for 2-3 minutes maximum)

If all projects were done at the same company, you would save some time explaining the overall context: you would only talk about it once. A bit harder to allocate time if projects are for different companies. Think about allocating more time to explain the context for each company you are talking about.

Also note that you might want to turn your presentation into a story, not just a bunch of slides with comments on them. Telling a story is an important part of the presentation if not the whole presentation.

Strategies: 15/10/5 and 10/10/10/

Think about how you will distribute your time among the projects. If you will talk about three projects, you don’t have to dive into all the details for each project, but consider these two strategies:

15-10-5 minutes:

Start with the most challenging and interesting project for 15 minutes (a job position with a focus on product thinking), followed by something that can be compromised or something with little graphics and finish with a short story that has a remarkable outcome (literally 3 minutes to tell a story). The reasoning here is that your listener will understand that you can handle complex projects, but the last story will be uplifting and will leave a good impression.

5-15-10 minutes:

Start with the most visually striking project, followed by the challenging ones (if the job position emphasizes interfaces). The logic is that the candidate first demonstrates powerful visual skills, then strengthens the story with complex projects. If visualization skills are crucial for the job, you can show the interviewer from the very start that the basic requirements are met and lead the presentation to more complex topics.

Obviously, you can mix and match the timing strategies depending on the role you are applying for and the projects you are about to talk.

The idea is that you don’t have to distribute timing among the projects evenly. Your only goal is to deliver a message that will explain how good you are as a professional.

  • Your listeners probably never opened your resume or portfolio. Make sure you provide them with context.
  • If you have worked at one company and projects are grouped, consider talking about the company and audience first.
  • Pick a timing strategy based on your projects (e.g., 15-10-5, 5-15-10, 10-10-10).
Why aim at 30 minutes for a presentation
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