I don’t always have all the answers

Mark Busse – No Comments

Sometimes, before I am to present or walk into a big meeting, I will ask my colleagues and clients for advice and input. When I prepare to speak to a large group and want to be sure I am hitting the mark, I will usually present more than just my idea or a lone “version” of answers to business issues that plague my industry.

Here are a few questions I asked our clients recently, along with a sampling of answers I received.

1. What are key issues or trends facing the industrial design sector these days? What worries you most?

  •  The threat of commoditization – that a discipline or specific service offering will be looked upon as a supply or widget and a true consulting firm that offers insight and strategic advice/approach (a trusted advisor) is only seen as an implementer.
  • The challenge to make traditional, professional associations relevant in the age of the Internet.
  • The convergence of software and products is progressing at such a rapid pace that firms are struggling to stay staffed with people who can both design products and write code.
  • The demand for services is changing. More interest in user experience, interaction and prototyping among other things.
  • The industry feels like it is shrinking. The number of significant opportunities and projects seems to diminish each year, and the competition is more intense.
  • Industrial Design education. The field in business has evolved so much, and the education system has a difficult time keeping up.

2. What factors or criteria do you use to accept or decline new clients/projects?

Top answers were: Is the project an overall fit, will we make a profit, are we viewed as a commodity or partner, are we qualified to give the best result, does it meet our goals and mission/vision, does it provide a challenge, will we have fun.

3. If you’ve not specialized, explain why.

We have to feed the machine.

Simply put, short-term needs outweigh long-term goals at times.

We want to, and we are working at getting there.

4. What do you think the most effective conference speakers/presentations do that others do not?

The most entertaining seem to be speakers who are very physical.  They bring energy to the presentation. Whatever form it takes, bring high energy. Some walk around, some have amazing images, some have hand-outs, stage props, etc.  People seem to enjoy being entertained through storytelling. It’s also good when people practice, and back up their points using real data. Be prepared to answer questions and defend your view.

5. What habit do conference presenters have that makes you cringe most?

  • Show a Powerpoint with bullet points and then recite them verbatim.
  • The endless “ums,” and overuse of the word “like,” reading text off of the slides, using low volume monotonous tones when speaking.
  • Giving a sales pitch versus telling a story. And having 200 boring and ugly slides.
  • Arrogant/know it all attitude, self-preoccupation and shamelessly self-promotional of themselves or their firm.
  • People who are uncomfortable or unprepared make me so uncomfortable that my stomach gets sick.

And we shall end it on that last comment. Did we miss anything?  Drop us a line if we did.

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