As we get to that time of the year when students are working on their last project of the semester, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some unsolicited advice and help you score big points on this final presentation! Sit back and take in all the wisdom we have to offer as we kick off Episode 098: Architecture Presentations.
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It’s All About the Narrative jump to 6:11
- We have talked about the Big Idea many times on this show and even did an episode about it. The lesson for arch presentations is that you should tell a story with your project. That story should be about the Big Idea. A well-thought-out concept that can weave through the entire project is the number one item when presenting your project. If you can keep that narrative involved from the beginning to the end of your presentation, it will be more successful. Also, it will feel like a much stronger project; sometimes regardless of the images to support it.
- All stories have a beginning; build-up, climax, and resolution. Your project narrative should be the same. Look and think about Freytag’s Pyramid for stories. Starting with exposition to set the problem, a rise to explain your process, the climax of your solution, the fall of your solution, and the conclusion of what was learned. Why? How? Why? And the results to that are important to the story that you are telling.
Scale is Important jump to 12:20
- This is about making sure you tell the story and different scales. What’s the story at the regional scale, the local scale, urban, scale, building scale, site scale, and detail scale.
- The building scale and the human scale are both important for the project story. How is each scale impacted by your project? Can you explain it?
- Use the correct scale to tell the correct part of the story. This can be critical to the understanding and conveyance of the narrative. And the wrong scale can mess it up completely.
Order the Images for the Story jump to 16:39
- Think about how you are going to tell the story. Place the images, drawings, diagrams, etc. in the proper order to tell the story. It does not always make sense to create or present a directly linear story from large to small. Use the scale and the images to tell the story in the way it needs to be told. It’s not just about starting big and going small.
- If it is in person, actually physically order them so you can navigate the presentation in a way that still allows the rest of the story to be seen and maybe even “hides” what is coming up. If it is online, think of the same ideas and maybe there is a method to keep some portions visible or in the mind as you progress through the slides or whatever.
Practice jump to 22:44
- Do not go into a review without a plan and even better a “script” of some point to help you tell the story and maintain focus. It can even be very simple, but it should be something. Do not go into your presentation empty-handed. You may know your project better than anyone, but that does not always translate into the ability to speak about it to others so they understand it.
- Practice the story and be comfortable with the messages you are going to present. Sometimes practicing the narrative actually tells you what drawings or images you may need for the presentation.
- Which method is the best? From worst to best, I’d go with:
- Manuscript (worst)
- Outline (PowerPoint)
- Extemporaneous, and then
- Improvisation (best)
The list above is a consolidated version of a podcast topic we discussed almost 75 episodes ago and if you haven’t listened to it, we dive into far greater detail when it comes to standing up in front of a room of people and having to speak – just click here: 024: Presentation Skills, Tips and Techniques
At the 31:45 minute mark, I spoke about a project I did in school that was made up of mirrored cubes that was amazing, and even though I planned to never show this project (or any project of my from my time in school) I dusted this project off just to help make a point:
Not too shabby and I am only partially embarrassed to show to you …
Use Only What is Necessary jump to 32:41
- While you may have a set list of requirements for the project production, it is necessary to be selective in the images you utilize to tell your project’s story. If you can, make sure to have useful images at a size/scale that helps the narrative. If you are stuck with a prescriptive list, still maybe focus your additional effort on those drawings and images most important to the narrative.
- When it comes to the diagram renders make sure they are ones that really support the story of the project. Is there a major element in the project? It better be drawn or rendered or both! It needs to be shown and seen as part of the narrative. Make sure that happens.
Rabbit Holes jump to 41:07
- Stay focused as much as you can. Try not to get off track and derail your presentation. If you get interrupted by a jury member, try to respond but then get back on track. If you have practiced and are telling the proper story, the potential for you to be interrupted is less likely.
- Although it is not always a good idea to go down random rabbit holes, it can be useful to tell a somewhat off-topic story that can support or even better explain your narrative or part of the presentation. For many, the story can be the way the point is better understood and often even more memorable.
Don’t Point Out Omissions jump to 46:38
- Please do not talk about things you did not complete. Do not point out the shortfalls of your project. I can promise most juries will already spot them, or if they do not, it can be to your benefit within the presentation. So do not talk about the tasks you did not accomplish. That never results in anything good. In fact, in most instances, it only makes things worse.
- Talk about what you do have to show. It is again, that simple. If you didn’t make an image, drawing, diagram, or render for that idea, just skip it. Do not ruminate on the fact that it is missing. This is again about staying positive and staying focused on the work that has been completed.
While it was difficult to come up with a presentation-related Would You Rather question, this one does have its merits and we were able to have an engaging discussion.
Would you rather? jump to 56:27
Would you rather only cook food you prepare for the rest of your life, or only eat food that magically appears in front of you when it’s time to eat?
This one was a stumper for us both. While we ultimately did not choose the same answer, we did actually agree at the end of it. Why or how is that possible you may be asking? Well, it was due to the nature of the question and our discussion about possible modifications or clarifications to the main question. Yet on this rare occasion, we end up with the same conclusion about this Would You Rather quandary.
EP 98: Architecture Presentations
This list is full of straightforward items that may be forgotten by the most experienced student. The goal here is to make sure you take some time and plan out your presentation. All of these tips can aid you in a successful studio presentation, but you have to put in the work. You have to plan. You have to be prepared. These are all suggestions to help you prepare. As they say, “Preparation is the key to success”.
additional reading and resources: