Presentation tips for Architects, Part II

  • 30 Nov 2010
  • by
  • Misc
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As we discussed last week, presentations are very important for our profession. That’s the way we relate with our clients, and also with our colleagues. A good presentation could get your project approved, or quickly dismissed if you don’t plan it right. For example, a presentation to a client compared to a presentation for a group of architects is very different, even if the project you need to communicate is the same.

On the previous article we shared some tips based on Garr “Presentation Zen” Reynolds on how to prepare a presentation for architects. Now, we are going to share with you some tips on how to deliver your presentation. This is the most important part, as no matter how good the slides are, you should be the one in control of the presentation and not the large images on your background.

1. Start strong and keep it short

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It’s very important how you start the presentation. Even if your audience came specifically to listen to you (which adds some points) they can be easily distracted, especially if you start slow. Try to shorten your personal introduction as much as possible. A teaser of the project you are about to present is always good to keep the audience waiting.

As you can see on the above attention curve, the audience pays more attention at the beginning, and also at the end, when they hear your say “and in conclusion…”. Take this very serious, especially in relation to the Storytelling point we discussed on the previous article.

A good thing is to say “I’m going to do a 30 minute presentation”, and finish it in 15.

2. Keep the lights on

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Most of today’s projectors have higher Lumens (unit to measure brightness) and they can display the slides even in a room with good lighting. Turning off the lights can lead your audience to feel sleepy, especially if you fail to follow the previous point. Also, the audience can have difficulty returning their focus back on the presenter when required, and they may have trouble jotting down notes if they so desire.

You can even consider using an LCD display if you are talking to a small audience, which is often seen in many architecture practices these days.

3. Make good eye contact

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If you don’t connect with you audience, you are going to lose them, period. One of the worst things you can do is turn your back to them, or focus on your screen and read from your notes.
Look at them! They came to hear you, to understand your project from you.

4. Remember the “B” key

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Personally, I had no idea about the B key in Powerpoint/Keynote until I accidentally hit my keyboard and everything went black. The B key turns the screen (thus the projection) off, putting all the focus back on you. I use this to connect with the audience in times when the project can’t be explained through images, and I need them to focus on what I am saying.

5. Move away from the podium (and around the stage)

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The previous points are all about putting all the focus on you, and the podium is just a barrier between you and the audience. There are several things we can better express with body language, for example the gesture of a building and how volumes relate.

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Cite: P, Amber. "Presentation tips for Architects, Part II" 30 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=92892>
  • http://www.comendador.es Carlos

    I specially agree with #2. If your LCD display is big enough it’s a great way to explain your ideas to a client.
    Good tips.

  • joe

    I tried that ‘B’ trick in a university presentation but the audience assumed my powerpoint had finished so began clapping.

    I always try and present projects at uni with ‘good morning, my name is…’ and end with ‘thank you. any questions’. Knowing your audience is probably the best advice.

  • sf

    where are we… in a bank convention.

  • Herb

    great post for students in architecture school