If my presentation had a skip button, would people click it?

Bringing out the Wisdom — Week 4

An idea is only as good as your ability to communicate it. You can have great ideas, skills or potential, if you can’t show any of it, it’s useless. That’s what I believe in at least.

If design is about making stuff, communication skills allow you to make that stuff happen.

This week I’ve been presenting my research findings to my class and tutors. Four weeks of work, summarized into one presentation.

There is one question I always ask myself when creating a presentation: “Is this something I would keep listening to myself?” If this presentation had a skip button, would I click it and if so, when? Most presentations are boring, let’s face it. We listen because we want to be polite, not because we are engaged.

While being part of the audience it often feels like being asked to do all the work. To invest your energy into trying to keep focused. I think it shouldn’t be like that. The presenter should do all the work, not the audience. As a presenter, I strongly feel that it’s my responsibility to receive useful feedback, not the audience’s responsibility to give it. I can’t expect anything If I don’t manage to keep the audience engaged.

As a presenter, it’s my responsibility to receive useful feedback, not the audience’s responsibility to give it.

I’ve been wondering why and when I stop listening to somebody’s presentation. I think that reflecting on this, enables me to avoid these reasons when possible.

Firstly if I don’t know why I’m hearing this. If the presenter doesn’t communicate the relevance of the things he or she is saying, I get distracted. Obvious grammar errors show me a lack of care. If this keeps happening, I stop caring about listening too. If the presentation is anything but entertaining I get bored. Sure I don’t expect a stand-up comedy or a performance, but you could at least try to make it fun to listen to. A lack of structure makes me confused. I want to be reached out a hand, and taken on a journey. I don’t want to lead. Finally I want to see effort put into the graphic design.

Last week I spent quite a lot of time on finding a visual style for my presentation. Too much probably. Actually I got lost. I couldn’t find an appropriate style and I didn’t know why.

It took me days to find out why I was lost. I was lost because I hadn’t decided on the tone of voice of my presentation. I wasn’t sure whether it wanted to be serious, confident, or perhaps playful and experimental, so I didn’t know how to express this visually.

To me, finding a visual style is about deciding on the tone of voice.

Even after that realization, I found it hard to decide this because of the nature of my content. A lot of research findings that I collected were quite serious, rooted in science or based on what experts had been telling me. On the other hand I had developed my own interpretations and frameworks, based on this theory. I didn’t want this to seem too fixed or serious. Having these two contradicting tones made it really hard for me to decide for which one to go. Staying visually consistent seemed not really possible.

Eventually I did come up with a solution. Instead of trying to find one single visual style, I decided to have two. I had never tried anything like this before so I wasn’t quite sure if it would work out.

I decided to have two visual narratives, one that was more serious and one that was more playful and personal.

In practice this meant I designed my slides, printed them and then added my personal annotations, notes or doodles to show my interpretation of the theory. Visually I also really liked the imperfections that occurred through the process of printing and scanning. It made it feel a bit more authentic.

According to the feedback I received after the presentation, people thought this made my story very clear. They enjoyed seeing my thinking and as a result I got a lot of useful feedback.

Next week I will start to pivot my project towards designing for wisdom. I’m really excited to start to make this transition.

By the way, I’ve added all of my presentation slides below.

One of the things I do was

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