MidWest UX 2018 Chicago Image Credit: Nick Dauchot

3 Lessons from Speaking at MidWest UX

This year I have been working crafting a message through a series of talks. Over these experiences, I have found that there were key elements of the delivery that were missing in each of the earlier talks. At an event in Chicago, I finally pieced these elements together to deliver an impactful presentation to the right audience. Here are the three lessons from speaking at Midwest UX.

1. Craft a story and weave it into the message

Over the past year, I wrote, practiced, and shifted my talk throughout two previous conferences (NERD Summit and THAT conference). For Midwest UX, I worked on my presentation and talking points up to the day before my talk. Working off of feedback from the previous conferences, I continuously adjusted my points.

Teaching heuristics

Talking about teaching heuristics

At the last minute, I discovered that I overlooked adding a personal story to tie me, the audience, and the topic together. During the final days before the talk, I surfaced one from my teaching days in Japan and how I leveraged that position to guide students through their own experience in the country. The point was that design researchers are like teachers. We cannot tell people how to understand something. We can guide them through the data, and help them process it.

2. Study the MidWest UX audience

While I was crafting the talk and testing it out over the year, I finally understood that the message was best suited for designers who need research. The specific problem the content addressed was organizations that knew they needed to do research to understand their market and users, but they did not know how to do it in a coordinated way.

Sharing templates

Sharing the concept of creating templates for researchers to teach designers how to do simple usability studies.

Most of my follow up conversations covered tips on how designers can start doing design research and enlist the help from product managers as well.

3. Continue the conversation

Beyond the regular question and answer session, I found people wanted to talk immediately after the I finished the talk. Midwest UX provided office hours for me to be in a spot where people can easily find me. I also provided how they could reach me on Twitter and LinkedIn. These outlets pushed the conversation beyond the participants in the room, and it let a large network of people participate.

Story is key. Tradition has hardwired us to tell and listen to stories. Once I found one compelling enough for the audience, I discovered a path to grab their attention.

I would like to thank the conference committee and volunteers for this year’s Midwest UX 2018 conference. Without your dedication and hospitality, none of this would have been possible.

Matt Eng

UX Research Team Lead at IBM Design. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.

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