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How to give a UX writer portfolio presentation that lands the job

The UX writer portfolio presentation is tricky business, but it doesn't have to suck. Swipe my secrets for success.
ux writer portfolio presentation
ux writer portfolio presentation
In: Job search

The UX writer portfolio presentation is intimidating AF, am I right?

Most of us aren’t natural public speakers, let alone animated extroverts who thrive when they’re put on the spot.

That makes the UX writer portfolio presentation tricky business.

Not only are we expected to show our work and share our process, but we’re supposed to save ~15 minutes for people to question us with little time to think.

It’s 100% normal to feel this way, especially if you’ve never done a UX portfolio presentation before.

I’m here to tell you portfolio presentations don’t have to suck, and you might even be able to have fun when you’re presenting your work.

And that all starts with how you think about the UX writer portfolio presentation…

How to think about the UX writer portfolio presentation

So far, we’ve made a lot of connections between interviewing and dating, and that’s gonna continue with the portfolio presentation.

Continuing with the analogy… you already matched on Tinder (application accepted,) has a great chat on the app (recruiter screen,) and had an even better first date (hiring manager interview.)

Now it’s all about where the relationship is gonna go. Do you still align on values? Are you both still looking for the same things?

The portfolio presentation is like the next three dates. That’s because, during the portfolio presentation, the hiring team is continuing to evaluate if you’re a good match for the team.

Consider each piece of work you present as a “date.”

During each project, the hiring team is looking to understand your experience, your skills, and what you’re like to work with, all so they can decide if you should become “official” (aka hired.)

What makes a good UX writer portfolio presentation

A good UX writer portfolio presentation:

  • Tells a chronological story
  • Highlights your unique role in the project
  • Highlights how you collaborated with others
  • Explains your thought process behind design decisions you made

Let me explain…

A good UX writer portfolio presentation tells a chronological story

I’ve talked a lot about showing, not telling, and that continues to be critical in your portfolio presentation.

As a refresher, “show” means to story-tell, or to bring someone along for a ride in specifics. “Tell” means to state facts and describe the obvious.

Here’s an example of “showing:”

The catch was this push notification needed to appeal to someone fresh off a promotion and someone in a mountain of debt.

To balance the emotions of these very different users, I knew A/B testing would be key, so I worked with the Product Manager to arrange an A/B/C test to understand which writing strategies would work best.

I formed three hypotheses:

1. By being as concise as possible and only stating the facts, the push notification will best communicate with users and inspire action.

2. By including a poignant user benefit, the push notification will best communicate with users and inspire action.

3. By offering support, the push notification will best communicate with users and inspire action.

After conducting the A/B/C test, we learned hypothesis #1 inspired the most action.

And here’s an example of “telling:”

I wrote the microcopy for this push notification because it won the A/B/C test and proved it best resonated with our users.

Throughout your portfolio presentation, you need to tell a story that shows and illustrates what happened during the project vs telling about the result.

I’m betting you don’t commonly gab to your friends about your UX writing endeavors, but now’s the time to start.

Find someone you know, and practice telling them about your UX writing project just like you’d tell them about that crazy date you went on or the outrageous sale at World Market.

Just like you would with a story from your personal life, start from the beginning, because the person only has the context you tell them. Describe the situation, why you did certain things, and notable events along the way.

This shouldn’t be a short story. Just like you’re gonna gush about every single aspect of your date, illustrate the intricacies of your project.

If you can get comfortable telling the story of your UX writing project to a friend or someone you know, you’ll be in excellent storytelling mode for your portfolio presentation.

A good UX writer portfolio presentation explains your thought process behind design decisions you made

This goes hand-in-hand with show, not tell.

Don’t stop at stating the decision to highlight a user benefit — articulate why that user benefit and all the steps you took to land on it.

Don’t breeze collaboration — explain how you collaborated with others to reach a user-oriented compromise.

The more you can describe your thoughts, feelings, and process, the better you’ll describe the story of your project and create a compelling presentation.

A good UX writer portfolio presentation highlights your unique role in the project

Your portfolio presentation is all about you. That means you need to be the star of it.

To be the star of your portfolio presentation, you can’t be afraid to talk about yourself and emphasize the important role you had.

For the imposter syndrome-affected among us, that’s tough. We tend to err on the side of humility vs flaunting. But you’ve gotta flaunt it. That’s the only way to convince the hiring team of your value.

If you say “we did this” and “our idea,” the hiring team is going to have no idea what your role was, and the only reason they’re listening to your presentation is to understand what you can do.

Go through your presentation, and specifically write down what you did. Make an outline, so you know where you can say “I did this” and “my idea was.”

You need to clearly delineate when you did something and when it was a joint effort. And when it was a joint effort, be specific about whom it was a joint effort with.

Speaking of joint efforts…

A good UX writer portfolio presentation highlights how you collaborated with others

Erase “our” and “we” from your portfolio presentation vocabulary.

Instead, highlight the specific roles involved, like this: “The product designer, UX researcher, and I…”

This specificity makes it crystal clear where you fit into the process and what roles you have experience working with.

By combining your specific responsibilities with whom you collaborated with, you’ll quickly and expertly paint a picture of what actually went down during the project and why you were important to its success.

My best piece of advice

Practice, practice, practice.

When I was interviewing at Netflix, I practiced my portfolio presentation with my now fiancé at least 6 times in the days leading up to the interview.

The more I practiced, the more I knew my story like the back of my hand. And that opened my mental bandwidth to answering on-the-spot questions.

Happy UX writing 🖖

Written by
Slater Katz
As founder of The UX Gal, my mission is to make learning UX writing fantastically-simple and landing a job easy. I've held UX writing jobs at companies like Netflix, Fitbit, Verizon, Afterpay, & more.
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