Is ‘out loud’ so very different?

I’m all about the words on the page. But sometimes it’s good to do something a bit different.

So a couple of Fridays ago I spent the morning running a presentation workshop for 2nd and 3rd years at the Bartlett. In a couple of weeks’ time they would have 12 minutes to present their projects to the examining panel, and I had two hours to help them make the most of those 12 crucial minutes.

So much of presenting, like writing, is telling a good story. It’s about having a clear structure – a beginning, middle and end, and taking your audience on a journey. It’s about finding common ground with your audience and leaving them inspired.

Presenting to clients is just like presenting to examiners, if slightly less scary. So here’s my 3-step plan for anyone who wants to get their audience on board and tell them a really good story. You could be talking about a specific project or something else entirely (and I’ve used the word ‘project’ below to mean whatever you want it to mean).

Step 1
Start with a wider issue. This will give you a way of finding common ground with your audience and stepping back from your project.

You could phrase the wider issue as a rhetorical question. That’s a good way of encapsulating it and engaging your audience.

Step 2
Carry the story forward by zooming in from the wider issue to your project.

But don’t just describe it – this is about showing the relevance and significance of your project, what it ‘means’ rather than what it ‘is’.

Step 3
Zoom out again by allowing the project to unlock your sense of purpose.

Does your project come out of one of the reasons you chose to study architecture/be an architect? Does it show how strongly you feel about the wider issue?

Elevate your theme to another level by showing your audience how much it means to you, and therefore how much it should mean to them.

Presenting was, I admit, not my usual theme for a workshop, but here is the very wise Martyn Evans in bdonline.co.uk:

‘An average presentation training skills course will teach you how to stand, breathe and make eye contact with your audience. A good one will teach you how to research, construct, write and tell a story first. Writing a good story is 80% of the job; telling it is the rest.’

So perhaps presenting is my thing, after all. And if you’re ever in front of an audience rather than a blank page, I trust this might be helpful.