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On bridging the gap and communicating effectively
Translating who we are and what we do into words or visual language takes self-awareness and a desire to connect.
If you set your bar at 'amazing' it's awfully difficult to start. Your first paragraph, sketch, formula, sample or concept isn't going to be amazing. Your tenth one might not be either. Confronted with the gap between your vision of perfect and the reality of what you've created, the easiest path is no path. Shrug. Admit defeat. Hit delete. One more reason to follow someone else and wait for instructions. Of course, the only path to amazing runs directly through not-yet-amazing. But not-yet-amazing is a great place to start, because that's where you are.
These last few weeks, I’ve been working on the redesign of two websites. The first is the online home for AVM Consulting, the second is a new iteration of Out of the Clouds, where you will find my podcast by the same name and a platform where I explore writing with a mindfulness lens. Sat in the middle, between the two, I am also building a landing page, one with my name on it. It’s meant to be an in-between space for those curious folks who’ll find me, or my name, before they find the work I do.
It was about time I started on this. It’s surprising to me how quickly what was put down only two or three years ago is not quite relevant anymore. I reckon it’s in part because how we communicate changes so fast, online especially, but also because, just as we do, often, our work grows, changes, or develops. So what was right yesterday is no longer right today.
That work is being done in parallel to the (delayed) first presentation I am preparing for Le Trente, an in-person salon series I will be hosting, starting later this summer. I didn’t plan to make these coincide, but as luck would have, one certainly feeds into the other. Can you guess why?
I find that it’s hard to be eloquent or concise about what I do. I’ve mentioned it before, and will again, whether you like the concept of a personal brand, or you are interested in branding in general, it takes a lot of practice to become good, or even decent, at presenting ourselves and what we do to the world, especially when we are shy or when we do more than one thing. And when our culture or upbringing has encouraged us, women in particular, to be low-key or modest about what we do.
As one client pointed out to me the other day, at the heart of this work is understanding ourselves and what we do. We are not fixed entities, and the world changes too. Hence we need to do this work regularly and revisit our own sense of identity.
THE ART OF COMMUNICATING
I was reminded twice last week, over very different conversations (one aperitif, one alternative therapy session), about the fact that earlier in my career, I struggled to communicate effectively. Or at least, that’s the feedback I got during a particular stretch of my career when I was managing senior staff members across continents and time zones. Somehow, this had more or less disappeared from my memory, which was jolted by another woman sharing her own story of miscommunication and misperception.
So I’m not the only one; maybe this happened to you too. Personally, I still wonder why interpersonal communication is not taught at school from elementary onwards.
Perhaps it’s because of these earlier hurdles that I am so keen on clarity, mindful communication and learning to express what I stand for. It seems that my passion for the topic is met by many of my clients. It’s no longer only design and luxury brands who come to me for communication strategies but also individual clients seeking support in finding their own words, their own tone, to put themselves out there effectively.
In building new online homes for my work and for new visitors, new clients, podcast listeners and guests alike, I need to realign with my intention, and find clarity, conciseness, and authenticity. A tall order, wouldn’t you say?
I am trying to take this lightly; after all, it’s not my first rodeo. While most of the websites I have worked on belonged to other entities, not my own, I learned the useful lesson that it’s worth moving fast, or faster than when you build with bricks and mortar. When taking too much time to design, or develop, we risk coming up against the common problem that by the time the project goes live, it feels dated already, not quite right.
THE GAP BETWEEN COMMUNICATION AND PERCEPTION
Whether we build a store or an app, it’s worth knowing that there can be a significant gap between the design and the finished product. I think of it as the same gap that can happen in communication between one individual and another. There is what we want to say, there is the deep intention behind it, what we truly think and feel if you like, and there is how the other perceives what we are putting out, itself an amalgam of words, attitude and energy.
There are words that form the languages we use every day and there are design languages that we often forget about. Miscommunication or misalignment can happen in both spheres.
In a world overwhelmed with written stimuli, with ads on every screen and screens everywhere, we need to remind each other that visual language speaks to a part of our psyche that allows us to feel our values. So it’s not to be discounted.
So once the work of figuring out how to talk about who we are and what we do is done, there is that translation piece to take into account. And therein, again, lies the gap.
However great a designer, an architect, a website builder or developer, we need to be careful to build a communication bridge between creatives and contractors, hopefully creating a tight unit so as to make the result closest to the design files we sign off on.
Given my current solopreneur status, this process feels enjoyable. It helps that I like to build a team around me (I know better than to try to do it all on my own). I have talented and attuned copywriters by my side, designers, a great developer, and a couple of other UX and design freelancers available. In the coming weeks, my goal will be to help build some bonds, bridge the potential gap, and create connections so no one feels just contracted to work on a finite scope but rather that they are an inherent part of this journey of building something fresh and new.
LEARNING TO ACCEPT WHAT IS (EVEN WHEN…)
In building the last iterations of both websites, I came up against numerous obstacles but since then, I believe that I’ve learned to relax around the gap, to be happy with that in-between, and grateful for having a bespoke website to start with. It’s a big deal to have that kind of online presence, one built with consideration for the clients and the budding community that I hope to serve.
Now, I’m excited about the next steps. If I could, I’d make this all happen within days. That’s, of course, wishful thinking. All being well, it will be ready towards the end of the summer.
Until then, you can expect a handful of emails from me before I take off for a well-earned break. With that said, I’d love to hear from you as we approach the holidays. What will you get up to? What is on your reading list? What will you be listening to? Drop me a line, I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Until then, thanks as always for reading me, I never take it for granted.
Have a good one,
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