How to present your architectural ideas and design to your jury on presentation/crit day?
This is a guide to acing your architecture crits and presentations.
On this special episode, episode 10, I respond to a question sent in by Valentine (IG @valentinelederer).
Valentine is a freshman architecture student who is struggling to prepare for her oral presentations. When she presents, she feels as if she is having to rush and is leaving out important information. She feels as if she doesn’t have enough time to communicate all the information and knowledge she has to share.
The truth is, she’s not alone. Tons of students and professionals struggle with presenting their ideas. This can be quite problematic, as I explain in the video. So many technical workers have amazing solutions to problems and incredible ideas – but if they cannot communicate these ideas and solutions, then they are fruitless and have no life.
If you want your ideas to be realised and you want success with your architecture school presentations, crits, reviews or jury, then you must follow the advice given in this podcast episode.
I hope you enjoy the show! Feel free to discuss anything in the comments below. I try to respond to every comment 🙂
Hey! My name’s Kyle.
From a sample of 25,000 students that applied to enter architecture school:
15.30% of them were accepted.
8.50% of them made it through to the second half of their education.
2.04% of them were awarded a degree in Architecture (post-graduate)
0.78% of them ended up working a job in architecture.
Successful Archi Student is a platform for architecture students to learn off one another to become the LESS THAN 1% of students who end up being successful in the profession.
On the podcast, you’ll hear from practicing architects, other successful students and myself, Kyle, a third year architecture student from South Australia.
Doing so, you’ll learn the tips and tricks to excel past the rest of your cohort and build the skills needed to take your work to another level.
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Episode 10 Transcript
This is the Successful Archi Student’s Podcast episode 10.
Hey guys, what is going on? Welcome to Episode 10 of the Successful Archi Student’s Podcast. This is a special 10th anniversary, even though we’ve been doing this for only a couple of weeks, but it is exciting. It’s really exciting today for me because I’m answering a question that was asked by one of the followers on Instagram, the question was asked by Valentine, I’ll put her name on the screen so you can check her out if you want. (@valentinelederer)
Valentine actually sent this really, really long message, which I quite enjoyed reading. Pretty much what she said within that message is she’s struggling to prepare for her oral presentations. And the reason why I’m so fired up about this topic is because this is something I had problems with when I first started architecture and a lot of students, a lot of students have troubles preparing for their oral presentations and presenting in general.
I won’t read out her whole message but really what she’s saying is that yes, she’s struggling to prepare for her oral presentations. And she gives an example where she might have five minutes to talk and she’ll end up leaving some stuff out. For example, she’ll leave out the shape of the roof because she’s run out of time and a professor or juror or teacher whoever is marking it will pick her up on that and say look, you missed out on the shape of the roof. Obviously you haven’t considered it when in reality, she spent a lot of time considering that detail. She just left it out because she forgot about it. What she’s messaged me today is that she’s getting penalized for running out of time in their presentations.
So first of all, I just like to say thank you so much for sending this message, Valentine, I really enjoyed reading it. You said some really nice things at the start there. So I really appreciate your support. And that kind of goes for anyone following the page or following the podcast. If you have any questions about architecture, or you just want to talk about life, I’m always open if you send me a message, I’m definitely going to reply. And I love hearing from you guys as well. So shoot me a message if you want to talk about anything.
So it sounds like to me the problem that you’re explaining is that you’re running out of time. In your presentations, you obviously know everything that you’re talking about, and you know your project. Well. And this is the case with most students. They know their projects really well, but they fail to communicate their design decisions, because they are running out of time during their presentations. And I think this is such a great question that you’ve asked, and that’s why I’m so fired up about this is because I’ve been there. I used to be terrible at presenting in my architecture presentations. And I feel like a lot of students have this problem as well. It’s not just you, it’s not just me, this is something that’s widespread across, especially first year, second year architecture students. In fact, it even goes through to fourth and fifth year architecture students as well. Even architects in the profession struggle to present. So yeah, the problems may sounds like you’re running out of time during your presentations to communicate everything you need to communicate. And you know, quite often, we know our designs extremely well. Down to the very last details, but we fail to communicate them in time because we aren’t completely prepared for the presentations.
I don’t really think the problem here is running out of time. I think it’s more the fact that you’re trying to justify everything that you’ve done. So I think it’s really really important to not try and just get out as much information as you can. But really just think about the important and relevant things that you need to talk about in your presentation. And I’ll talk about how you can find out what is relevant in your presentations.
You can talk the whole five minutes about how people use your building and how they use the spaces but if your teachers wanted to see how the building sits within the site, and context, what you’ve been talking about is irrelevant. It’s not useful information. And I see this so often when I’m watching other students present, they would overload on information that’s that they’ve obviously thought through. And that seems important to them. But when you read through the actual criteria of the assessment, and the teachers don’t want to know any of that, they might want to know something completely different. And they’ll get penalized for doing that.
In the real world of architecture, it’s like a client coming to you, and asking how the building is sustainable and passively designed. And you end up talking about the shape of the facade and how the walls curved, it’s just completely irrelevant. It’s not what they came to you about. And so my point here is that understand the criteria. This is what I drive so much. I’m actually writing an E book about this at the moment, which I haven’t talked anything about before. But that’s the little spoiler there. But this is the idea of understanding the brief and the project requirements completely so that you can deliver the right information that’s relevant.
What I’ve started doing to help make what I’m talking about in my presentations more relevant is that I started to use the criteria or the project assessment requirements or the brief. I’ve started using those documents as a shopping list or checklist to make sure that I’m taking all the right boxes and I’ve got the right information in my presentations. And if you don’t completely understand the criteria of the assessment, just ask your teachers. Literally ask them, “What are you expecting to see through our presentations”.
You know, it’s not meant to be a secret. They obviously want to share that information with you so that you have a successful presentation and you’re communicating the right information that they want to hear.
With this issue of trying to over communicate all the information that you’ve been studying and learning, it’s important to know that your layout and your drawings should do most of the talking anyway. And that’s why your layout and your presentation they go hand in hand. You know, a picture tells 1000 words, you shouldn’t have to explain every single detail about your drawings or about your project. And so your layout and your drawings, your sections plans and perspectives should showcase how the building works and how it looks and how people use the building. And then your presentation is more kind of a journey through that explaining it. And explaining your journey through how you got to the design that you’re at and what inspired your design decisions along the way.
For my last assessment, I got a high distinction, not because my work was amazing or great, it’s because I knew what I was talking about. And I was communicating the right information. I spent three days practicing in front of the bathroom mirror, I’m actually going to share with you that process I took to communicate what I really wanted to share with my teachers. And so the process that I did to do this was that I finished all my work two or three days earlier, I had all my drawings done, I had everything done. I just had to organize my layout and so that I could print it out. And so I had my drawings kind of laid out in a draft view because I think it’s important before you start drawing before you start putting anything on your posters that you should organize them and prepare them and know what you’re going to have on there. Because again, you don’t want to be trying to use external perspectives when you need to show inside the building because that’s what the critic criteria is asking of you. So since you’ve got a shopping list of the drawings you need, you can start to organize them onto your layout. And the way I do it is I’ll organize my drawings onto my sheets, simultaneous simultaneously as I write my script for my presentations, because that way, when you’re organizing your sheets, you have your drawings laid out so that they’re in a systematic order.
The way I do it is I’ll talk through my presentation from the top left drawings to the bottom right of the sheet. That way you’re not jumbling around getting lost with your poster when you’re talking. But more importantly, that way the audience doesn’t get lost. Instead, you’re going from left to right, left or right, left to right, top to bottom. Because you know, so many times I watch students just talk all around their posted is pointing at different drawings, and the audience gets lost, the jurors get lost, and everyone’s just like what the hell are they talking about?
Actually, that’s more like me. I used to do that.
But so yeah, simultaneously work on your layout. Start pulling out your drawings and writing a script. How do you want to communicate the information you’ve learned? And the information that’s relevant that you’ve gotten from the brief and the project requirements? How do you communicate them alongside your drawings? So when you’re talking, you want to talk systematically through your drawings from left to right, top to bottom. But then, while you’re laying out your drawings, you’re also writing a script so that you’re not leaving out important information. So you’re prepared to talk about everything that’s in the brief and the requirements when writing your script.
I would start by writing a list of what your teachers actually want to see in the presentation. You know, go through the criteria and start writing out the information they want to hear from you. That way. You’re organizing yourself to not talk about the irrelevant information and getting put on the spot because you know exactly what you’re talking about. And you’re able to communicate that fluently by talking through your designs and talking through your drawings and those two are really going to go hand in hand. Then once you’ve somewhat happy with the script you have, and the layout you’ve got, I would print out the layout and hanging out on the wall, literally hanging out on the wall, stand in front of your bathroom mirror, or get the camera out and record yourself practicing the script. And you can do it looking at your script for the stop, but really focused on trying to memorize it and, and looking up at the audience and pretending and simulating the real deal where you’re actually in in front of your jurors. And you’re getting judged on what you’re doing.
Because you might get nervous when doing that but by simulating it and practicing it, you’re going to get comfortable in that situation. So then when you’re actually in the real deal, and you’re standing in front of your jurors, really, it’s just like you’re in front of your bathroom mirror, you’re not getting nervous, you’ve lost that anxiety that you usually have when presenting.
When you’re going through your practice with your script, actually point to your designs and use it as a guide so that you don’t get lost of where you’re talking going through your drawings in a systematic order to quite often the issue is not knowing information, like Valentine, you obviously know the information you’re talking about, and you know your design better than anyone else. But the issue is communicating it.
You know, there are so many technical workers out there, scientists and architects and engineers, everywhere everyone in the technical fields, they know what they’re talking about, and I know the technical information. But if you can’t communicate that to the people that that it matters to them, that information is useless. It’s irrelevant. And that’s why it’s so important to actually practice your presentation skills, and practice practicing in front of the mirror. And it doesn’t matter if you stop up in your presentations and you get lost where you get jumbled up. Because you’re learning as you put yourself in those uncomfortable situations. So the next time you present, you’re going to be even better. And, you know, while you’re at uni, you’re meant to be made making stuff up. So you meant to be failing, not failing your grades, but you’re meant to be stuffing up and making mistakes. And so if that’s expected of you, then push yourself outside your boundaries. yourself outside your comfort zone, actually try new things. Try really memorizing your script and then walking into your presentation without it. And if you get lost for words, maybe write down some key words on cue cards or something. But the idea is that know what you’re actually talking about until you are confident and comfortable talking about what you’re talking about.
I go bright red when I’m put on the spot in front of a group of people. My face goes all red and my I get nervous and sweaty, and it’s gross. The difference is that when I have the script, I could talk in front of 1000 people. And if I know what I’m talking about, and I’ve practiced it, that anxiety and that that nervousness is gone. The idea really is to know what you’re talking about, know what you want to communicate, and make sure it’s relevant. And it’s what the audience wants to hear.
Presenting and talking is definitely a skill that needs to be practiced. Because if you can’t communicate your ideas, and your audience won’t understand you might be on the same level as you as to where your designs that and how you want to move forward. And so you won’t get a good grade them in architecture school, but in real life, you’ll lose clients because of your lack of communication skills.
It’s okay if you’re not great at presenting now, it’s definitely a skill that can be learned over time. And that’s the only way to get good at it is to practice and practice and practice and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And if you aren’t that great at it, I’m still I’m still not great at it either. I’m actually pretty bad at it, but I’m practicing and you know, I still get nervous as well. But when you practice in your bathroom over and over, until you memorize your script, flawlessly, then those nerves and that anxiety will go away.
And that’s kind of another thing I’ve just thought about as well. When you’re practicing your script and your layout and you’ve got them side by side and you’re practicing them. Make sure you’re timing yourself so that you know that you’re going to finish before the five minute mark and that you can finish your presentation, knowing that you’ve communicated everything that you need to communicate because you’ve got that list of criteria, and you’ve got the right drawings, and you’ve got the right information in your script.
So I really hope that has helped answer your question Valentine, I really appreciate you sending that one in. You know, I know it’s hard to save two or three days before your submission to practice, but it really, really will be beneficial. Because, yeah, you might know all the information you might have put in all this hard work on your design. But if you can’t communicate it, then it’s useless. And by finishing two or three days earlier, you’re going to have that time to make mistakes with your presentation and change it and fix up your drawings. And that’s an advantage you have over other students who leave it to the last minute and end up writing a script on presentation day by preparing yourself for mistakes, but scheduling to finish early. It really really does have a big advantage.
To the listeners now. Thank you so much for listening. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. Be sure to check out the community forums. There’s a lot going on in there at the moment. You can ask questions on there and answer other people’s calls. And showcase your work or just chat anything about architecture. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel so you don’t miss out on future content. There’s a lot to come and make sure to like this video because it really does help share this video to other architecture students. If you want to check out one of my other cool videos, you can check out the side videos here. And you can subscribe that button there as well. Thank you guys so much. I’ll see you in the next episode of the Successful Archi Student’s podcast.
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