The Crit

Upon scavenging the library racks for useful sources on design ideas, I came across a book essentially enterprising for students who constantly fail to comply with expectancies posed by critics. After spending the entire afternoon flicking through and trying to absorb the essence of its contents, I was able to procure the highlights into condensed notations which expresses the key ideas transpired by the authors.

However, I’d still highly propose that if given the resources, do have a first-hand read at this book because the compilation below is a personal extraction of what speaks importance to me. Though seen as blatantly obvious and probably common sense, I think these are usually the lackluster ingredients missing from student’s presentation. The extractions are divided into three phases of reviews: planning, practicing and suggested techniques during the commencement of a review.

Before proceeding to mastering the techniques of presentation-giving-absolution, one should first understand the purpose of conducting a review. A review is an evaluation to showcase your ability to fulfill the objectives of a project and a chance to explain your personal objectives to the critics. If you are successful in implementing this, chances are your presentation won’t steer the listeners into misinterpretations of your project intentions; setting the tone of understanding right throughout the presentation.

Planning A Review

Considering the physical setting and the audience can enhance your presentation experience

The common scenarios observed from an average architecture student before an important review would be spending the eleventh-hour frantically trying to complete drawings, touching-up a computer-generated model or panicking over the quality of printing. This is why time management is crucial to prevent last-minute catastrophes from happening, because there should always be a substantial time-allowance for preparation; something students tend to overlook behind the resolute obligation of completing projects last-minute – preparation is equally as important. In planning, it is impactful if we draft our flow of presentation in the form of a storyboard or a mind-map which covers considerations such as:
  • Who is presenting?

Are you the sole presenter, or is there a group of presenters that needs the presentation segregated into fractions?

  • Who are you presenting to?
Is it a closed-door session with a panel of judges? To a small crowd of course-mates? Senior students who probably think they know better than you? Think of what can efficiently enable clarity to be directed at a particular audience.
  • How long have you got?
If it’s a five-minute presentation, you’d probably need to really consider what are the key things you’d want to address. Having a shorter time doesn’t mean it is easier, instead, it poses a bigger challenge to get the message across in a limited time-frame while still able to allow the listener to fully understand your intentions. Thus, self-discipline is vital to prevent yourself from being sidetracked onto lesser important things.
  • Where are you presenting and how much space have you got?
Applies if you decide that a certain ambience would make it more comfortable for both you and the target audience.
  • What is the purpose of the review?
An interim review is usually a mark of your progress and an opportunity to receive feedback for development; specific reviews are assessments of your level of understanding on a certain skill or field of study.
  • What are the main ideas/ concepts that you want to get across?
You should be highlighting something(s) that meant great importance to you which you want to deliver. These key ideas should be mentioned with clarity and in some cases, repeatedly, to really showcase your project priorities.
  • How does your work connect with existing knowledge?
Is there a certain experience that you want the spectators to relate? You can probably refer to something the listeners and you have in common: a recent site-visit, a lecture, a childhood memory etc.
  • How have you addressed the aims and objectives of the project?
Do you think you can successfully radiate them in the way you present your work?
  • What do you want to get out of it?
A successful presentation ties together the visual and the verbal presentations of the project in one cohesive whole.
In preparing for a review, we should identify personal strengths and the right presentation media that can bring out the best in us. It is pointless using a media that would jeopardize your credentials to demonstrate the verbal and visual incoherence of your presentation. Some of the common media includes:
  • 2D visuals on the wall facing the audience should be able to speak for itself even if a verbal presentation is required.
  • Projector presentations should be well-formatted
  • Video production is an easy way to make the presentation seem well-prepared but prevents interaction with the audience.
  • 3D visuals would ignite physical interactions from the audience.
  • Displays around a table can develop discussions among listeners, making it more casual.
These are several formats of presentation that you can consider to maximise your strengths and suitability to the occasion.

 Practicing for a review

Seasoned pros admit to practicing in front of a mirror before a presentation

Practice makes perfect, but this phase is so frequently neglected by students, that when time comes, unleashes stutters, mumbles, and confidence issues during reviews. In order to prevent this, you can get a couple of friends to help you while you rehearse your presentation and ask them to summarise your presentation to see if your delivery was clear enough for people to understand. Also while practicing, look out for:
  • your opening punch line; is it confident and directive enough?
  • jargon; it is annoying
  • communication of complex ideas in an understandable manner

Do’s and Don’t’s during a review

Some public speaking skills can be used while a review is being conducted

So all the hard work, planning stages, practices have mounted to this moment – your final performance. Here are a list of things you may need to consider reminding yourself:
  • Body language
Distracting habits should be minimised, while transpiring confidence and composure; basically anything that can make you appear as someone in-control.
  • Use your body
Be animated; use gestures to emphasise on key parts of your presentation, this will keep the listeners interested in both you and the content of presentation.
  • Use your face
Remember to smile every now and then; you don’t want to look grumpy and despicable
  • Tone of voice
Varying pitch and rhythm can help convey your enthusiasm and keep listeners interested.
  • Be yourself
Being pretentiously someone else will usually lead to discomfort, prompting reviewers to question the level of integrity within your work.
  • Sleep

You probably don’t want to look like a terrible mess at the twilight of your efforts; staying focused and fresh can probably win you a couple of points for looking the part.

Also, a few things that might arouse irritations both for you and the reviewers which you might have to anticipate:
  • Dealing with interruptions – perhaps you’d like to mention early during your presentation that you’d appreciate questions and comments at the end of the session. Anyhow, you can choose to deal with interruptions as politely and swiftly as possible to prevent the audience from being strayed too far from your presentation.
  • Don’t start by apologising – you are making yourself look pathetic! You have already put so much time and effort into your project, the biggest turn-off would be to start saying “Oh, maybe the drawing isn’t properly illustrating…” or “I think this part can be better but…” or “I don’t think you can see this but…”. Be confident; there’s no need to downgrade yourself by highlighting the weaknesses of your work.
  • Don’t speak too casually – no matter what the occasion, it is important to have a sense of professionalism; remember that you are the speaker and you’d want to command respect as a presenter.
  • Don’t ramble just to fill up time – by talking less, the audience are able to take in more.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ – it is better than inventing an answer.
  • Don’t finish on a weak point – prepare a confident ending and pause to say ‘thank you’.
  • Make eye contact with the audience

These were the culminations that I’m able to contemplate after going through the book.  I view these mentioned aspects as something architecture students can use to catapult themselves beyond their existing level of presentation skills, ending their projects on a better note. So often students put in so much into a project and falter pitifully at the very end of a review, hence, this entry should serve as a guidance to be more prepared for a presentation.

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