The feedback you give your trade show exhibit design team — and the way you give it — has a huge impact on the development of your exhibit design. But let's be honest; giving and receiving feedback can be tricky — especially in such a creative endeavor.
It's important to be specific with your comments while also ensuring you aren't limiting the design team's creativity.
Here are seven ways to give useful feedback on creative exhibit design work:
1. Establish an open dialogue.
From the get-go, communicating openly is essential to success. Ensure that the process is positive by delivering your feedback with candor and honesty—and, most importantly, with courtesy.
It's paramount that the entire team treat each other with respect. You want your team to feel open to taking chances rather than feeling like they're going to be judged for a "bad" idea.
2. Understand how your team prefers to receive feedback.
Remember, not everyone likes to receive feedback the same way. Getting to know how your exhibit design team likes to receive feedback will ensure that your comments fuel their creative processes—rather than limiting it.
For example, some designers might prefer a conversation in order to ask clarification questions. Others may prefer written notes to read, reflect, and review again as they digest your comments.
3. Identify what you like.
Acknowledging a design's strengths keeps the creative ideas flowing in the right direction. And of course, giving compliments and letting your design team know the areas where they've hit the mark will make them feel good and increase their motivation.
4. Be specific.
A comment like "this feels off" doesn't provide your exhibit design team with insight to make improvements. Get specific about what you like or dislike — and why. For example: Is the color scheme too bold? Does the brand identity need more prominence? Is the space assigned to accommodate traffic flow likely to become too congested?
Providing context behind the why helps your creative team gain a better understanding of the problem. This understanding will lead to a more creative solution.
5. Leave room for the team to come up with solutions.
Creative designers put a lot of time and heart into their work. Rather than dictating changes like "make the logo bigger," explain your concerns and leave room for the design team to come up with their own solution.
6. Take time to consolidate feedback.
Often large and important projects in exhibit design involve multiple stakeholders. Sorting through conflicting opinions can confuse the designers and waste their time. Therefore, the project lead should make a point to consolidate everyone's notes and make sure all of the feedback is consistent and actionable for the design team.
Sorting through conflicting directives and prioritizing comments from most important to least will make it easier for the exhibit design team to identify priorities and take the next steps.
7. Don't lose sight of overall goals and objectives.
Most feedback is a mixture of opinions and emotions, personal taste and style, and design aesthetics.
It's a challenge to eliminate inherent biases. However, framing your feedback around your overall show goals and exhibit design objectives will help keep those feelings in check. When providing feedback, always reiterate how a particular aspect of your solution does or doesn't meet your stated goals and objectives.
It takes time and effort to give constructive feedback. But it's worth your time to keep the process positive and achieve the desired exhibit design outcome.
What are your tips for giving effective feedback?