Creating 3D Presentations

In a typical architectural office, the method of modeling you choose often depends on the comfort level of those performing the work. You should, however, familiarize yourself with all three methods to have a variety of tools options.

There is no right or wrong way of creating 3D presentations and the last thing you want to do is to rely on only one method of modeling scenes. In the real world, you will use a combination of methods.

Think of it as buying a large set of mechanics tools. You get several cabinets (software packages), each with several drawers (menus and panels). Each drawer is filled with unusual tools (commands and modifiers). Until you familiarize yourself with as many tools as possible and have a feel for where they are and when best to use them, there is no way you can fix a car in a productive and cost-effective manner.

Even though you have the tools to model incredible detail, however, keep in mind that not all detail has to be modeled. Most 3D programs have the tools to create the illusion of 3D geometry when none exists and a productive office must know when it is appropriate to simulate complex geometry instead of modeling it.

Some 3D tools for simulating geometry are:

Bump Mapping

Opacity Mapping

Environmental Backgrounds

A couple of helpful books for anyone creating buildings and everyday household objects are the student or professional versions of Architectural Graphics Standards by Ramsey/Sleeper (John Wiley and Sons) and The Architect’s Portable Handbook by Pat Guthrie. For years the professional version of Architectural Graphics Standards has been the bible for architects and builders as a reference for the determining sizes of almost everything you can imagine from restaurant equipment, to sports field layout, to standard construction methods.

Cross Cultural Presentations

The international flavour of many people’s jobs naturally means that there is greater interaction between people from different cultures. Within the business environment, understanding and coping with intercultural differences between people is critical to ensuring that interpersonal communication is successful.

Intercultural awareness is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, it minimises the possibility of misunderstandings and/or the causing of offense through intercultural mishaps. Secondly, it is a means to maximising the potential of business relationships through the utilization of intercultural differences productively.

One area within the business environment in which intercultural awareness is a necessity is in the business presentation. Directors, managers, salespeople, consultants and business personnel are regularly required to deliver presentations. However, when one is asked to give a presentation to an audience from a different culture there are intercultural factors that can hinder the success of a presentation.

By way of illustrating some of the intercultural differences in presentations, these tips to effective cross cultural presentations are offered:

Language:

The language you use in a cross cultural presentation is important. Although the majority of the language that is used in a cross cultural presentation will be understood by an English speaking foreign audience, a speaker must be careful when it comes to slang, idioms or phrases.

If an Englishman were to talk of being “knocked for six” or “bowled over” he may very well be met with puzzled expressions. More subtly, when an American talks of a ‘billion’ he means a thousand million, whereas in the UK this would mean a million million. Try and keep language simple.

Body Language:

Pay attention to your body language in a cross cultural presentation. Some cultures are quite animated and will appreciate hand gestures and the expression of emotion through the body. Others expect speakers to remain calm and would find such behaviour over the top. Similarly pay attention to the use of gestures. The thumbs up may mean ‘good’ in the USA but it means something very different in Iran. Eye contact can also be a major intercultural difference. Some cultures consider strong eye contact a sign of sincerity, others find it overbearing and an invasion of privacy. Do your cross cultural homework before a presentation.

Time:

Be aware of different approaches to time across cultures. Some cultures prefer a structured, timetabled approach to conducting business affairs, others are more casual. In countries where a start time is considered a guide rather than a definite, allow time for networking or engage in some chit chat until others arrive. Oppositely, if you arrive late to a meeting in a punctual culture, expect some negative feedback. Always show the appropriate stiffness or flexibility depending on the culture.

Emotions:

Some cross cultural presentations may be in front of a small number of people and deal with sensitive issues in a pressured environment. In such intercultural situations one should always keep their emotions in check. In some cultures a certain amount of cross examination or scrutiny may occur. If this happens bear in mind the positive intentions behind such actions, i.e. the questions are only being posed to establish facts, not to undermine you. Never lose patience, show frustration or display anger. To do so will lead to a loss of credibility.

Style of Presentation:

Different cultures learn and take in information in varying ways. One should always try and tailor their presentation style to meet the needs of the target culture. Some cultures, such as Europeans, prefer information to be presented in detail and in a way that sets down foundations that act as the support to a final argument or point. In such a presentation the speaker should gradually lead the audience, using a logical succession of points, to a conclusion. On the other hand, some cultures, like the US, prefer a much faster paced presentation that is bottom-line orientated, meaning the presenter speaks from a point rather towards a point.

Use of Technology:

Power Point is not the default method of giving a presentation across the world. Some countries many not even have the technical capabilities to accommodate this so one would need to adapt to the resources at hand, whether it be an Over Head Projector or blackboard. Some cultures do not even like a visual element to presentations and find much more worth in words and personality.

Content:

In a cross cultural presentation, ensure you tailor the content of a presentation to the audience. Different cultures expect different things from a business presentation. Long term orientated cultures may be excited about future projections and figures, but others would rather learn more about the presenter’s credentials, accomplishments and experience. A presenter needs to ask whether the target culture will appreciate factual, statistical information presented visually, or a more personal oratory approach.

Audience Participation:

Audiences react in different ways across cultures. Some are very engaging and are willing to participate in exercises and Q&A sessions, others are the opposite. Audiences also show respect in many ways. A Japanese audience may close their eyes while listening; a US one may clap when a good point is made and a Saudi one may do nothing at all.

Although the number of areas where one could point to intercultural differences in presentations is vast, for the sake of brevity the above mentioned areas have been highlighted as a way of drawing attention to some of the major ones. It is hoped these can then act as a foundation to improving ones insight into the way intercultural differences manifest in the business environment.

Serious Common Mistakes in a Presentation

There is a serious common mistake made by salespeople during presentations that happens way too often. It involves starting right into the presentation without first establishing a few things. A presentation done properly consists of at least 4 parts.

First, establish rapport and a reasonably high level of trust.

Second, spend the time to clearly identify the problems and needs of your prospect.

Third, give your presentation.

The last part is the close itself.

These parts are not established in stone somewhere, you must be flexible. Every time you ask a question, your presentation and steps may change just a little, even though the goal is always the same.

Let me explain. Your presentation is really an entire closing process. Once you have established some kind of common ground and trust, you begin to ask questions trying to uncover their ‘hot’ buttons. You always remain alert to the answers given to find out what they are really concerned about. These answers may change your presentation’s emphasis on certain solutions that your product or service may solve.

At every step of the way, you want to restate the problem or goal as you understand it to gain their approval. In fact, the best way to begin the formal part of your presentation is the restate the problem or goal that you and your prospect have mutually identified. This is critical to your success. You are trying to present a solution to a problem they have, not one you think they have.

Then you move from the general to the particular. Again, it’s important that you ask questions along the way to gain agreement. “How does this sound to you?” “Does this make sense to you so far?” You see, this is really just a trial close.

If you remember, a trial close is a series of questions designed to get agreement along the way so that when you actually ask for the order or begin writing the order, it makes total sense. They have agreed with you all along, if they agreed with everything, there is no reason that they shouldn’t move ahead.

Today, I just want you to start thinking of your presentations as a closing process, not just telling your prospects about yourself and your company. The whole process may take several visits, but the end result of any presentation process should be walking away with an order in your hands.

If you haven’t established good rapport and a reasonably high level of trust and spent the time to clearly identify the problems and needs of your prospect before you launch into your presentation, you’ll be trying to close them on a solution that solves a problem they don’t have. You will have started your closing procedure way too soon.