sure we can design, draw and maybe even prototype......

But how many of us can write? The abiity to write, do explain your design in a narritve fashion shows not only clairty of thougth but gives you a big edge in presentations. I used to do a lot of “pitches” to C level folk, as well as market research back in the day and found that if I could litterly tell a story about the product or process that my reception is far better. Many people are not “visual” but almost all people have a minds eye. How many use verbal and writing skills in their presentations?

Everyone can write, just not well. A lot of designers (at least at the academic level) tend to think that hyping their projects up with big words like “synergy” and “juxtaposition” makes them seem smarter, when really they’re just telling a convoluted story about the BS they made up an hour before the deadline.

I think what you’re really talking about though is creating scenarios to walk people through what the product is and how they use it, rather than technical mumbo jumbo that fills most presentations. My last real project at school was an entry for Microsoft’s Next-Gen competition, and since we developed an interface (but weren’t permitted to submit or show it for the competition) I had to describe the entire interface and it’s features verbally. So we created a fictious elderly couple and I went through and described how the system would improve their lives, rather than what the system itself did. I think it worked rather effectively, except I never properly submitted the entry on Microsofts crap website, so we never actually entered the competition…oh well, always next year. :blush:

Yes, a “tell me a story”, true communication rather than words to impress your fellows.

the majority of the designers I know, especially the good ones, aren’t all that at English…me included.

English is not my first language, so I try to keep it concise, just like how I like to present my sketches.

Actually, I am more bothered by the way people speak. I’ve met many fast speakers(native speakers) who don’t organize their thoughts before speaking. Therefore, the purpose of their “speech” is really to express what they want to say, and not getting people to understand what they have in mind. It’s two different mentalities. People like that often take 10Xs the time it takes to express the same idea if done with a bit of organization.

Also, simple paragraph organization from middle sch education helps.
"Topic sentence - content - closing/conclusion "

Too bad I never got that part into my head back then, or else I would have a much easier time.

Also, along the line of communication but a bit off the topic, I don’t understand the way some/many western individuals communicate(business or personal). When you still have some kind of value to them, they will all behave like your buddies. However, the moment they think that you are of no value to them, they stop all forms of communication. People I know and I have experienced this from many Americans and Europeans across different industries. i don’t know which part of the western culture this is from. IMO this is an absolutely unprofessional and immature behavior. More so when I know exactly who the person is!

I do mine concisely. Besides your design should do most of the communication. I notice that natives usually take written English for granted. I tend to be more conscious when it comes to English than my
mother tongue.

Part of it is the competitive nature of buisness and the grouping of ally’s with a segreating them from your social circle. For the most part people in the west have “freinds, assoicastes, family” with assoiciates a loose collection of people that you work with but may be freindly with but not “forever”.

Your visual presentation is only part of the early stage, if the produt is compleat in final production form in cluding packaging then it should be able to stand alone as it will on the store shelves.

I just finished reading the book “Made to Stick”. Probably a good book for a designer’s library.

It offers up some good techniques to get ideas communicated more effectively (in six easy steps). It provides both written and verbal examples.

One of the most effective methods is “tell a story”. It makes the idea more concrete and memorable.

The book is an easy read. A lot like The Tipping Point or Freakonomics.

I am glad somebody else is doing that, too many presentations are hand waving and trendy words.

writing and communication in general (both oral and visual) is IMHO, one of the most underestimated tools/skills of a good designer.

a concept/product is only as good as the ability of designer to communicate the value and position. too often this is not really thought out or pitched with the target audience in mind (ie. sales rep, marketing dept., CEO, consumer, or supplier) so extraneous details or superfluous story get mixed into the communication and doesnt hit the important points.

that being said, i’d also say there is a time and place for BS. storytelling is the foundation of fantasy, and ultimately there is always some aspect of it in any pitch. the classic “imagine the following scenario…” is just one way to deliver it.

my top tip on clear communication that has always worked for me is to keep in mind in any presentation (written or oral) 3 key points. everything said should go back to those points, and any Q&A should be directed back on topic to address one of the three. given that most people remember likely less than 50% of any given presentation, they should at least be able to come away with the 3 key points a day or week later if a presentation is properly formatted.

given all of the above, sometimes it is true that a picture is worth 1000 words. crosses language barriers and sometimes the less specific nature of a visual vocab is better to help communicate a point than specific words that have a context, fixed meaning and definition.


Agreed, I use the “story” most often in dealing with technologies that are not quite “here” yet. the q and a at that point helps me difine areas that need to be adressed both from function and from form. Later the story in combination with support the prototype or mockup to close the deal. I don’t use the BS, “c” level people have very good BS filters, and so do many average joe’s and jills. What is misunderstood is that a presentation is a sales event, not just informational and the story goes to that old thing about combining audio and visual for maximum impact. In a nutshell, if you cant do a “60 sec advertizement” on a fully fleged concept you dont have a product yet.

The discussion with my friends who have had similar experiences with westerners is that we, Asians, communicate with the basis of sustaining the relationship and look forward to the opportunities that may arise in the Future, not just the current. The current deal may not go through, but we still can be friends and include each other in our own network maps. Every new person we know personally becomes one new invaluable resource that we can use in the future, and nobody knows what will happen in the future.

Shutting down the communication simply displays the lack of basic relationship management skills, let alone showing the client or “associate” that they can have confidence in you.

Back to the topic. Needless to say, writing skills is very important especially in the world where emails have become one of the main ways of communication. Even within the company’s departments, the ability to write concise messages is vital to the project as one department communicates with another. If done efficiently, it will affect schedule which means money loss and rolling heads.

I think it’s safe to say that designers spend way more time on writing emails and making phone calls to clarify details to engineers/CAD as opposed to sketching or designing. It is a part of our job to make sure that the final out put is as true to the design intent as possible.

Its not shutting down relationship skills just a different perspective on them and how wide that group may be. Buisness is viewd as a competitve enviorment and your cohort on one project may be your competitor on another, just a simple fact based on culture. I enjoyed a long working relationship with some people in HK back in the 90’s but as i moved into other fields the relationship (not for the lack of trying) witherd, the reason is simple, distance, and self intrest. Project or task communication is SOP for lots of people besides designers, hell the folks in shipping have as many head aches as we do, its just down the line from us. The comunication I am speaking about it the ability to convey the essance of the product to another no matter what there background or culture is. Thirty years ago I was told by a very smart guy (bucky) that if you cannot explain what your idea/product is to a 6 year old you dont know what the hell your doing yourself. I recently read 50 manifesto’s at icon mag… and it was a HOOT, more danm double talk, 5 syalable words and other techno babble to impress their peers. You can use the buzz words as short hand among peers but lord a goshen, some of them were like overhearing of a couple of drunks sitting at a bar.