Career Skills

Knowing Your Audience

with Lee Andrese, Vice President of Learning and Development at AlliedUP Cooperative Inc.

Learn how to increase opportunities by understanding the types of audiences you can expect to encounter in this tutorial.


Knowing Your Audience

with Lee Andrese

In this Take 5 Tutorial, you’re going to learn how to increase your opportunities and potential by understanding the different audiences you’re likely to meet in the business world.

You need to know that every project you work on as a designer is part of a larger story. It’s important for you to understand and articulate your role in these stories and specifically how they connect to a larger business goal.

Being able to tell these stories is how you gain confidence in what you do and how you do it. No one else is going to tell your story for you, so it’s important that you learn to master the skill.

As a designer, your work can affect nearly any person in an organization, from the customer service representative to the CEO. With that being said, your story needs to address the needs of all those you’re talking with.

There are typically three categories, influencers, business and product owners, and decision makers. Influencers are people who will open doors for you. Business or product owners oversee a specific business or product line within an organization. And decision makers hold the purse strings. They have the final say.

Best Practice, Number 1: Share pieces of your story that are most relevant to your audience.

Imagine the following scenario:

Cecilia was a UX designer for a large financial services firm and was tasked to resolve usability issues on a mobile app that every morning filled their customer service inbox with complaints.

Cecilia led the research and redesign of the app, completely changing the architecture and functionality. This resulted in a 95% decrease in customer complaints and winning a Webby for Best Designed App.

Cecilia was ready for another challenge and asked her boss if she could work on a higher profile project that’s more complex, but it also sits on another team. Her boss, the influencer, introduced her to the Senior Product Manager, the business/product owner. Cecilia shared the detailed story of how they redesign the app and then provided a high level version of her story to the VP of Product Development who was the decision maker. The decision maker then approved her move.

With each person she met, Cecilia focused on the parts of her story that were most relevant to them.

Let’s take a closer look at how she did that:

Let’s start with the influencer, Cecilia’s manager Brian. It was no surprise to Brian that Cecilia was ready for a bigger challenge, and he was happy to make an introduction within the company on her behalf. His referral influenced her career and made him look great for finding and growing a superior talent.

A final word about influencers. They can be anyone who knows your work. They can hold any title, be your former boss, your neighbor, or even retired. Influencers are often your greatest promoters, and they feel good when they help you.

Let’s talk about the business owner, which was the Senior Product Manager, Andrea. Cecilia shared the details of how she went about redesigning the app’s architecture and functionality. She spoke about her role on the team, how she worked with her manager, visual designers, and developers, the type of research, testing, and tools used, the challenges faced, and how she overcame them. She also spent quite a bit of time sharing how she gained key stakeholder buy in.

Cecilia’s goal was to make Andrea feel comfortable and confident in her skills and ability to work on her team and within the organization, which she did.

One thing to know about business and product owners. They have the most to lose. Your goal is to instill confidence that you can follow and improve processes and generate new ideas to deliver consistently positive results.

Cecilia then needed to meet with the final decision maker, the VP of Product Development, Kelly. Cecilia had 20 minutes to impress the VP, so she emphasized the part of her story that proved she can detect and solve big problems and develop a solution that not only improved customer satisfaction but got great company PR, a Webby award.

Cecilia followed Kelly’s lead as to how deep she needed to go into the details of her story based on the questions Kelly asked. A 20 minute meeting turned into 45 minutes because Cecilia’s story was so captivating that Kelly gave Andrea the green light to hire her.

Note that decision makers aren’t limited by title. They could be the business or product owner. It’s okay to ask who has final decision making authority.

Whether you’re looking to get hired, pitching a new concept, or requesting more resources and tools, you’ll be better prepared to tell your story when you know your audience’s role, responsibility, and authority.

Thank you for joining me. If you like this Take 5 Tutorial, be sure to check out the rest in the series and all courses offered by Gymnasium.

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