Everything starts with a good pitch: to stand a chance for the topic to be accepted, it needs to be interesting and well-pitched to the organizational committee. Just like a movie synopsis it needs: the set, the actors, the intrigue, the emotion, a bit of suspense… it must tempt the audience!
After I received the good news that my topic was accepted, I did what any good UX designer would do, and I thought first of my users. I realized the idea of designers working with the military, as unusual as it was, piqued a good amount of curiosity, just like it did with me when I was first told about the project. It’s a human experience. Talking about my own emotions, questions and personal experience is what the audience expected to hear about. And as someone who has attended previous conferences, I get it. I enjoy conferences so much because they teach me something, and it’s the story that helps me best understand the message and concept.
Analyzing one’s own work is not an easy task: looking back on when I was writing my speech, I realized I had adopted a user-centric approach.
I started by gathering a vast amount of information. I read everything I could on the subject, especially those on preparing design sprints, to make sure I could summarize the project and present it so that it would be easy to understand and enjoyable.
Then, I started to refine and filter this information. I asked the other participants in the project about their memories and emotions, and I mixed them with my own. As we had worked on the project over a year beforehand, it took a bit of digging but we were able to get there in the end.
Do, undo and redo the presentation.
Lighten the content.
Make it more attractive.
Look for more relevant visuals.
Custom make illustrations to show what I wanted to say (thanks Manon!).
Ask for permissions to use some visuals (what a mess!).
Go through a few dry runs in front of a “homemade” audience for their feedback. I tested my presentation not only on some sharp-eyed, detail-oriented colleagues, but also on my family. My husband, who doesn’t know a thing about design, gave me feedback that helped me understand how well my speech taught beginners about design sprints. My children were also invaluable, for after all what is more important to a 4 to 6-year old audience? I was only able to retain their attention at the beginning of the presentation, where there was a lot of entertaining content: photos, animations and jokes. My test audience was very tough and demanding, but, luckily for me, not the final target. Still, their feedback was a very good way to know when and how to keep the audience engaged.
Listen to your audience, start again, test and improve.
Retest, modify, and improve.
All in all, I spent about 70 hours preparing the presentation!
Show time: the conference
The Thursday before the day of conferences, the Flupa team had organized a dinner with all of the speakers, workshop animators, and the Flupa team. I found it very nice: to meet new people, learn about their career path, and ask about their experience in preparing their own speeches and what approaches they used. It’s a very different thing to be in an audience and to actually speak in front of one: now I know what difficulties speakers must overcome and the stress they endure. After all, we’re all in the same boat.
Talking about stress, once on stage, something really reassured me: sitting in the front row, I saw the doppelgänger of the illustrated designer in my presentation. Once my presentation was over, I thanked him for his involuntary help!
I found the audience’s questions very relevant, and like a good designer, it will help me dig deeper into some parts of my presentation for next time I give this speech, which will be at Paris Web in September.
Concerning the conferences day, I admit, I was relieved that I got to go first so that I was able to enjoy the rest of the day peacefully. I feel particularly empathic to my fellow speakers who had to wait all day and cumulate stress as time went on, so congratulations to them!
The rest of the day was a great opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with old acquaintances. But the downside to chatting is that you miss most of the conferences, so I’m impatiently waiting for the videos.
I really want to thank all the people who said they enjoyed the conference. It’s always nice to receive feedback (positives and negatives as well), to see where I need to go further or explain more clearly. Regarding the feedback, Flupa had set up for a scriber to do real time drawings of what he captured from each conference. I found it was a nice, smart approach and as a speaker, I really appreciated the gift. It’s a good way to see what the audience (or at least the scriber) got out of the presentation, the main message and the stories.
To conclude: preparing a conference is hard work. Sharing it with others while putting it together is essential. We will try to do better next year, armed with a new batch of subjects and stories to share!
And you can also find some tips to give a successful presentation, here.
If you want to know more about the conferences and the workshops, you can check out our blog articles, below: