TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (8 of 8) – Communication 101
Submitted by Jessica
Welcome to the 8th article in an eight part series that digs deeper into the 8 Simple Strategies so you can save time, money and energy on your journey to the best marketing materials around.
Sadly and excitingly this is my last article in this series! I hope you have found it informative and helpful. Last, but certainly not least, we will be discussing the importance of effective communication during a project.
Below are 5 simple tips to have your conversations lead to constructive feedback and positive results!
Remember your designer is a person too.
This is a biggy! Sometimes when we are just focused on getting something done we forget that we are dealing with a human being. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. We focus on the result so much that we forget what it takes to make that result come into reality. When we take the time to respect the people we are working with, there is a huge difference in receptivity of change, adjustments and urgent needs. Your designer is here to help and create for you, but not to be your slave.
Also, the creative process can be frustrating because it is SO subjective. Always trust that your designer is trying to meet your needs while applying the rules of graphic design. When they disagree with a change you have requested dig a little deeper, perhaps there is a tried and true compositional rule that is being broken. In the end your designer is trying to manage their own lives and your projects to the best of their ability, just as you are trying to manage your life and business to the best of yours.
Plan what you want to communicate.
Taking the time to know what you want to communicate to your designer before getting on a call or going to a meeting is essential. This negates making the call or meeting your processing time, which can add to your invoice if your designer charges for meetings. It also creates a level of frustration and disrespect because some of the “figuring it out” process becomes obsolete and can make your designer feel like you are walking them around in circles. When you are preparing to discuss a project compile all your main points and questions. And go through each one until you are satisfied. This will save you time, money and probably some frustration too.
Focus on the good first.
This is a standard communication rule…at least one good (preferably more) to every bad. Imagine if a client came to you and only focused on the negative portions of what you were doing with them, despite all the wonderful advancements you had made for their business. How would that make you feel? And how excited would you be to make adjustments? Or how happy did working with someone like that make you feel? Not very, I would imagine. So, take the time to point out what you do like about the project so your designer can get a hold on the things that they are working and so that he or she knows what to sharpen. Communicating your likes first sets the tone of the conversation to a positive note and makes constructive feedback much more palpable. So there is a difference between criticism and constructive communication. Focus on the good first…then…
Focus on the facts.
Say what you want to change and why. Don’t bring drama or emotion into it with such phrases as “this is horrible” or “this is totally NOT what I had in mind.” Those phrases don’t really communicate anything constructive that will move the design forward. Use more factual phrases such as: I love this shade of green but this looping accent is too feminine for the clean structured look I am going for…or…Because the logo is so strong I think it would be best to eliminate all the other detail around it…or…you’ve done a great job so far but can we refer back to the this specific example of colors I showed you, let’s stick to only those, etc, etc, etc. Your point will be made much more quickly and effectively, making the design and revision process practically painless.
In the whirl of discussing a project things may get confused, jumbled or down right understood in a different way than you intended. At the completion of your conversation with your designer it is best to do a re-cap of what was discussed. This helps to confirm that you and your designer are on the same page about all the elements that must be adjusted. Have your designer start from the top and review their notes on what needs to be altered. Interject when necessary to clarify or make modifications. Finally, confirm that all is understood. (*If your feel the need, have your designer send an email of what was discussed in the meeting so there is a record of it)
Happy Constructive Communication!