Image credit: Teemu Paananen
This week’s lectures focused on the art of pitching a product. While I have contributed to pitch decks and product demos from behind the scenes, I have limited experience of delivering pitches. In this post, I’ll be discussing how planning for our pitch has developed my own practice.
Alejandro Cremades (2018) describes two styles of pitch deck:
“One version will be with a lot of text and information which will be shared with people via email. The other version will be the pitch deck that entrepreneurs present to investors in person with more visuals.”
With the added context of academic practice, I expect that our final pitch deck will likely straddle these two styles. The ‘visual communication skills’ subsection of the rubric for this assignment includes the following:
- Significant evidence of mastery of visual communication skills.
- All citations and quotations are correct and attributions are provided where necessary.
- No obvious spelling and / or grammar errors.
- All deliverables are crafted to a high standard and the tone is consistent and professional throughout.
- All components of the pitch are crafted to a high quality and could be used at a professional level to promote the product.
I infer from the second and third points that we are expected to produce a pitch deck that includes both presentable visuals and academic writing.
Also, The ‘planning’ subsection of the rubric includes the following:
- Planning documentation is present and extensive.
- Evidence that what is being pitched is grounded by research.
- Clear and defined roles for each member of the team when it comes to pitch design and delivery.
- Delivery notes are present with the slide deck.
With all of the above points in mind, I recoginise the poduction of our pitch deck as an opportunity to work towards three of my SMART goals for this module: developing my research skills, improving my UX deliverables, and refining my academic writing.
I began to address the first goal, research skills, this week. Luis and I have carried out preliminary user research to know our audience’s behaviour around creative content. We devised the following discussion guide to structure our user interviews:
following this framework, I carried out two interviews and Luis carried out three. We then transfered our notes to (digital) post-its and started the affinity mapping process. I found the act of synthesising our data to be both more challenging and more rewarding than any research I have done independently.
Working with notes that I didn’t have the context to slowed the activity down significantly, but it encouraged me to think both rationally and creatively about why interviewees gave the responses that they did. Luis was there to challenge my perspective when I proposed a grouping of data, and vice versa.
In my last affinity mapping session, I found myself looking for recurring language and grouping data semantically. This time around, I came away from the activity feeling that I had a much more nuanced understanding of the data— even though I was present in less than half of the interviews.
With regards to my venture into team leadership, I have found coordinating efforts towards pitchable material to be challenging. In the current state-of-play, Luis and I have completed our research and synthesis, but we are yet to relay this information back to the team.
Until we share our findings, the team members handling technical prototyping and concept art are somewhat blocked. It is only now that I am realising the complexity in directing a product team, and the scary reality is that navigating those blockers falls to me. Oleksii Masliiev (2020) shares a particularly daunting analogy:
“The team, similar to fish, starts rotten from its head. The point is about the importance of strong leadership and synergy between members of the product team. So fish could remain fresh.”
My heart wants me to dive into the wireframing, prototyping, and creation that is typical of a UX design. That is, afterall, the passion that brought me to this course.
My head tells me I should follow Luis’ direction on our UX work, freeing up my time for proactive team leadership.
My gut worries that I haven’t yet acquired the knowledge and experience to successfully lead a team, and our current working cadence is too disorganised to be sustainable.
My eyelids are complaining that this is all a lot to think about, and it’ll be easier to form a proper plan after a full night’s sleep. Good night.
List of figures:
Fig. 1: The discussion guide that Luis and I used to coordinate our interview sessions
CREMADES, A. 2018. ‘How To Create A Pitch Deck’. Forbes [online]. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrocremades/2018/03/02/how-to-create-a-pitch-deck/?sh=48cabff056c0 [accessed 23/08/2021].
FALMOUTH UNIVERSITY. ca. 2020. ‘GDD730 Assignment 1: Demonstration and Pitch’. Falmouth university [online]. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/913/assignments/2873 [accessed 23/08/2021].
MASLIIEV, O. 2020. ‘How magic is done — creating a healthy product team’. UX Collective [online]. Available at: https://uxdesign.cc/how-magic-is-done-creating-a-healthy-product-team-a1da6a1c57bf [accessed 23/08/2021].