5 Reasons Why You Should Go First

Creative departments are increasingly assigning multiple teams to projects. Gone are the glorious days of personal ownership, where a single team tackled a brief. Now creatives are expected to duke it out in gladiatorial combat for their CD’s. 

Oftentimes it means taking turns presenting ideas in a group setting—just like ad school, presenting to a room full of your peers. This can be a little unnerving, but it’s exhilarating when you have ideas you’re excited about. And you can make a statement with your work.

If you’re slated to present your work in a group setting on your next project, choose to go first. It has a few advantages. 

Here are five:

1. It shows initiative. 

Be willing to lead the charge by choosing to be the first on stage. There is always a moment when the CD says, “Okay, who wants to go first?” This means nobody is making a decision and it’s wide open. It’s your chance to take the ball and run with it. This can only reflect positively on you.

2. It shows confidence. 

Most people hate to go first. They’re simply afraid. Or they’d prefer to wait for others so they can stall for more time to mentally prepare and to form their arguments. So volunteering to go first shows boldness, which also reflects positively on you.

3. It helps you stake a claim.

Sometimes a great idea is so obvious, other teams arrive at similar conclusions. Which means, if you go first, you sort of get “first dibs.” Unless someone else executed the same idea better or is buddies with the CD (in which case, personal favoritism could unfortunately be a factor).

4. It helps protect your reputation if your ideas are weak.

Let’s face it, nobody bats a thousand. Sometimes, we haven’t nailed it and our ideas are a bit weak. When you go first, other creatives aren’t paying very close attention. That’s because they are mentally preparing for their turn and therefore distracted, so they won’t scrutinize your work as much. This is helpful if you actually respect the opinions of your fellow creatives. So, if you want to reduce embarrassment because you didn’t bring your ‘A’ game, go first.

5. It’s a win-win.

If you go first and your ideas fall flat, the CD will be more likely to forget about it, since he or she must absorb a lot of work. Bad work is more easily forgotten, so by the time the meeting has concluded, the memory of the flat ideas has started to fade. However, if your ideas are amazing, everything else presented afterward by the other teams will pale by comparison.

I’ve learned to love group presentations. It gives you a great opportunity to practice your skills on people who tend to be highly critical. If you hit a home run, everyone will remember it. And if your creative department is truly collaborative, ideas will be more likely to cross-pollinate around the room and benefit everyone by helping to create shared ownership.

So next time, choose to go first. And go strong, with full confidence and enthusiasm.