Last week I was very excited to give a talk at Design+Banter, an event series bringing designers together every month in London to trade stories and share ideas. I didn’t exactly fit the brief but. having spent my career working closely with designers, I was permitted honorary entry.
I chose to talk about why (and how) designers should talk about their work. In meetings, in pitches and online, the ability to articulate the thinking and approach to creative work cannot be underestimated. Doing so adds value in many ways, but for the purposes of the talk I identified four.
1/ Make friends
Talking about your work isn’t about “going viral” (although that‘s always fun). It’s about connecting with your colleagues, your peers and your potential employers. Quality not quantity. Sharing your work alongside your point of view allows you to become known for your thinking and approach as well as the finished article. Networks (both on and offline) are fuelled by ideas, so it’s important to get used to sharing yours.
Pro tip: Writing is muscle: make a little time each day to write about your work and your ideas. Ask someone you trust to read and give feedback.
Ones to watch: @howells @almonk
2/ Get promoted
We’ve all been there — an intense team meeting tackling a meaty brief. You’ve the got ‘big idea’ in your pocket, but someone louder has got the attention of the room. Taking a moment beforehand to jot down some key points will give you confidence to speak up, get heard and get noticed. Furthermore, contributing to the company blog or press opportunities is a great way to demonstrate your commitment and become known for your point of view.
Pro tip: Tell your boss you’re committing to this. They’ll be very happy to hear it! Set yourself a goal and work towards it. Eg. A post on the company blog within a month.
Ones to watch: @movingbrands @wolffolins
3/ Win work
Although more designers are taking on c-suite roles, your client is unlikely to speak the same, highly visual, language as you. Similarly, they may not be thinking about their needs in the same (or, more often than not, right) way. It’s your responsibility to challenge the brief, re-frame it, and play back your work in the context of their business and the wider world. Your innovative, creative approach may be the answer, but you have to help everyone make the cognitive leap if it’s to be successful.
Pro tip: Study the people around you and whom you admire. Analyse why clients and teams listen to them, and care what they think. Learn and borrow from them, but in your own, special way.
Ones to watch: @manchipp @ustwo
4/ Influence people
As I touched on, the role and value of creativity, design and innovation is expanding exponentially. As is that of talented people with those skillsets. Increasingly creativity is what gives companies their competitive edge, and the world incredible solutions to major challenges. Take ownership of your part in this. By communicating what you do and why you do it, it’s possible to shape the future thinking in your field.
Pro tip: Look around you. Respond to current events, or thinking from other experts in the industry. If you do, don’t just replay the issues, but focus on your personal response. Why did you think it’s interesting?
Ones to watch: @muratmutlu @andysandoz @johnmaeda
Working with designers is the best thing about my job — I love the way you think and I love the way you write (when you do). It’s kind of weird, and that’s ok. Embrace that weirdness and give it a go. You might like it.