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Donna Spencer on the Right Mindset for Presenting Your Work


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Donna is an independent design consultant. With almost 20 years of experience, she has gained expertise across the entire design spectrum – from strategy to delivery and everything in between – and loves all of it. She has designed for a wide range of problems across all kinds of industries, with a particular emphasis on information architecture and complex employee experience problems. Recognized internationally as a leading UX practitioner, Donna is a regular conference speaker and has written five UX-related books. She created the UX Australia conference and ran it for 9 years.

In this episode, we talk about presenting your work, how to encourage people to give you concrete feedback, how to better approach meetings, and some tips on presentation delivery.

Presenting Your Work

Donna is the author of a book called “Presenting Design Work” which, for its size, has a lot of invaluable advice on presenting. She shares with us that it is a book that has been written as a 45-minute talk first, which she writes it down as a book after receiving great feedback about it. She also has a few other books available on her website.

As a practicing designer, Donna says she has seen good and bad work presentations. She points out that people often do not think about why they are presenting and what they are doing there. The intent should be to get feedback so you can improve your product. The mindset change from when you don’t want to get criticized to encouraging good input to make things work better is one that anyone should make. After all, the goal is for the team to work together and create a better product upon receiving feedback from the client.

Encouraging Feedback from the Audience

But how do you get people to give concrete feedback? Clients are new to this; they often do not know what to say. You can easily encourage them to think of feedback in a more structured way.

When presenting your work, you can ask people to focus on areas based on their expertise or experience. If you frame it this way, they are more motivated to give you specific criticism. You have to teach them that their expertise is valuable and that their experience is here to be contributed. “We are all here to collectively make products right,” Donna says.

Rehearsing Delivery and Tips on Presenting

When you say everything out loud, your brain remembers and retrieves it more easily. Moreover, when you know your content, you can be open to everything else in the room.

Any design presentation requires preparation. The first thing Donna mentions is figuring out how to interact with the audience by researching why they are there and why they care and getting them to contribute. You need to know what they care a lot about and what they might jump on you about, metaphorically speaking.

She advises one more thing: “Do it twice. Show them through once and then go back to the beginning”. It helps the audience to stop and really understand if you go through it a second time. If you do it only once, it is gone too quickly.

Resources

You can connect with Donna on LinkedIn, her website, or Twitter. You can find her book “Presenting Design Work” here.

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