Inviting community partners and members to attend reviews and presentations can be a great way to get their feedback and introduce them to your students’ work. Maximize their time and your efforts with these tips.
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SET YOUR INTENTIONS
Why are you inviting someone to join your review or presentation? Set your intentions and design the session to support this goal.
Seeking design or aesthetic critique: You want feedback on the form and concept of the work. Consider inviting other faculty or practitioners. If you invite non-design stakeholders, prepare them to contribute.
Seeking specific feedback: You are looking for detailed feedback to help move forward. Show work that is helps prompt response to your questions, and ask specifically for this feedback.
Seeking general feedback: You are looking for general conceptual feedback about the work so far. Open the floor up and provide references for everyone to understand the project.
Sharing your status: You want to update the partner on the progress so far. Visualize the expected milestones and provide an update that helps build relationships.
Separate Your Sessions
It can be helpful to separate community guests from design or art critics, particularly if you’re seeking different types of feedback. Smaller groups of critics can also generate more fruitful discussion and critique.
MAKE IT COMFORTABLE
Designing your session to be welcoming and understandable to community guests is essential to their engagement and participation.
- Limit the time commitment, particularly from small organizations. Plan breaks that make it acceptable for a partner to leave, and schedule them to attend the most important parts of the session.
- Consider accessibility and transportation. An off-campus venue may allow access for all. If guests are coming to campus, provide navigation maps and parking validations.
- Provide an introduction to the project, both spoken and written, in case visitors miss the beginning of a session.
- Introduce each of your guests, or have them introduce themselves. Consider having students introduce themselves before presentations.
- Nametags can be helpful in building relationships between guests.
- At a minimum, provide water for guests. Consider also providing light snacks.
- Point out the location of the restrooms at the beginning of the session. If there are locked doors, send someone with the guest to ensure they can return.
PREPARE YOUR GUESTS
Many partners will be new to the critique process. Prepare them by sharing expectations in advance.
In advance, identify the sessions you hope your partner or their representatives will attend, including dates, times, participants, and locations. Confirm these with reminders along the way.
Before a Session
Confirm your guest’s attendance and answer or reaffirm the following questions.
- What is the time commitment? Can they come and go during the session? When will the session wrap-up?
- What is their role? What questions should they ask? Should they prepare anything in advance?
- Who else will be attending? What is their role in the critique and the project?
- Where will the session be held? Is there parking available? How much time is needed to arrive at the venue?
- What follow-up will be needed after this session?
- How can they get in touch with you on the day of if they have problems?
After a session ends, check in with your community guests.
How was the session?
It can be worth the time to ask how the session was, to address anything that wasn’t understood or wasn’t comfortable. Use this feedback to improve future sessions.
Where are the materials?
Guests frequently want access to materials to share with their colleagues and neighbors. The Office for Socially Engaged Practice can help you share materials through the library, or you can provide them directly. Check out the guide about copyright for helpful tips about legal protection for student work. You may consider producing a takeaway for easy sharing day of.
What happens next?
Be clear about next steps for this initiative. If you’re at the end, you may want to schedule a one-on-one follow-up conversation with partners. If you’re continuing on, be sure to send reminders about agreed upon timelines.
Say thank you!
Always thank community guests for their time and participation in any review or presentation.