The effectiveness of a design is not only ingrained in the design itself – it also depends on the way in which the design is presented. Even the most intelligent and innovative designs cannot be successful without persuasive presentation. So what makes a presentation effective? We conducted some brainstorming to determine what makes a presentation memorable:
In his well-known book “Understanding Media” (1964), Marshal McLuhan states that the way in which a concept is communicated – not necessarily the content of the idea – greatly influences the audience’s perception of the concept. Non-content features such as the way in which an individual speaks or the form in which they present their ideas have been found to have an impact on the cognitive and emotional responses of viewers (Doveling et al., 2010). This is important, as emotions and mood have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to be persuaded. In particular, emotions affect valence whereby positive emotions may increase the attractiveness (positive valence) of a message (Griskevicus et al. 2010). It is therefore imperative for designers to deliver effective presentations in order to strengthen the impression that their designs make.
Often the conclusion of a presentation is where a critiquing process will take place. Critiquing is a method of systematic analysis which aims to evaluate both the presentation and the content of the presentation. Although frequently overlooked, critiquing is an important stage in the design process which allows the designer to look at their work objectively. As design aims to find the best possible solution to a problem, it is important to gain insights and perspectives that may assist in improving a design. Furthermore, as a designer it is extremely difficult not to become emotionally attached to your work – critiquing allows for an unbiased opinion that may pinpoint flaws or areas for development within the design (McDaniel, 2011).
The central concept of critiquing is to facilitate feedback. However, the way which feedback is provided is important in ensuring the feedback is understood and acted upon accordingly. In order to be effective, feedback must be informative and constructive; it should identify and explain why an element of the design may or may not work and possibly expand on this with suggestions for improvement. In order to do this, we must understand the parameters of the design, as there is no point criticizing elements that are out of the designer’s control or making suggestions that are implausible. Finally, it’s just as important to point out the strengths of the design as well as the weaknesses. A critique is not about finding things to dislike – its about critically analyzing WHY elements of the design may or may not work. Critiques should not necessarily be based on personal opinion but a mix of individual opinion and evidence from fact, such as design theory or current trends (Dannels & Martin, 2008).
Presentation and critiquing are fundamental aspects in the design process which allow the designer to highlight the strengths and limitations of their design in order to develop a seamless design solution. The critiquing process allows for further development of a preliminary idea into the final design. The presentation of the final design forms part of the design itself, and is extremely important in validating the success of the design in the mind of the audience.
Dannels, D., & Martin, K. (2008). Critiquing Critiques: A Genre Analysis of Feedback Across Novice to Expert Design Studios. Journal of Business and Technical Communication 22(2) 135. doi: 10.1177/1050651907311923
Doveling, K., et al. (2010). The Routledge Handbook of Emotions and Media [EBL Version]. Retrieved from http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/%28S%28kpnsjrdb1bhuieh0xfyap2av%29%29/Reader.aspx?p=592916&o=96&u=065xKk7nIxAd77FGgvqekQ%3d%3d&t=1400990320&h=C8CA1281CBC368A2E8DFCCDD96A743949041B3FA&s=13070555&ut=245&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1#
Griskevicus, K., et al. (2010). Influences of Different Positive Emotions on Persuasion Processing: A Functional Evolutionary Approach. American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/a0018421
McDaniel, C. (2011). Design Criticism and the Creative Process. Retrieved from http://alistapart.com/article/design-criticism-creative-process on 25/05/2014.