Communication – why is it so important?

We communicate with one another in many ways, including verbally, using gestures, writing, drawing, diagrams and models. Communicating clearly is important so that you are able to explain, develop and present your ideas.

Good communication skills are vital in graduate-level jobs and especially in architecture practice. It is important for you to be adaptable to present your ideas clealy to different audiences. It is useful to remember that listening is also a communication skill.

So why is communication such an important part of your learning?


1. To help develop confidence in your work

Explaining your ideas clearly and concisely helps you to prioritise what is important to you in your work. It helps you to reflect on what you have achieved and where you need help.

intugbub“I was encouraged to do a lot of working models to explain my ideas, rather than just relying on verbal explanations. I’ve found it’s a brilliant way of improving my confidence, as I’m able to make my ideas clearer to others.” – International Undergraduate student

y23bub“As students grow more confident in their designs, you can see how their speaking skills improve!” – 3rd Year student


2. To convey your ideas to different audiences

Explaining your ideas clearly and concisely is a vital skill for architecture and for other disciplines. Explaining to different audiences often reveals new dimensions in your work.

y23bub“When you’re developing your own design you have to consider how to present and describe it. It’s important that your audience understands your ideas.” – 2nd Year student

SSoAbub“Communicate not more, but smarter.” – Tutor


3. To demonstrate depth of understanding

Clarity and accuracy in presentation will help others have confidence in your designs, and will help discussion of your work to be aimed at the most important aspects.

marchbub“Reports force you to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing with your design. They really help you understand and explain the structure of your projects.” – MArch student

matbub“No one had told me how to stand up in front of people and communicate with them before I came here. It really helps me get to grips with what I’m working on.” – Mature student


4. To help develop work to professional standards

Whether drawn, written, a report or a verbal presentation, all communication skills are applicable to graduate-level employment. Our students are known for being confident and professional.

y23bub“Whatever job you do after university you’re going to have to present information…. if it’s well written and laid out, its going to be easier to understand and read. Those skills are always useful.” – 2nd Year student

matbubThese days you are up against such competition in the industry – you need to make those five minutes count!” – Mature student


5. Learning architectural terminology

In any profession there are conventions and specialist terminology to learn. This terminology is part of the grounding for the discipline to help you communicate clearly with peers.

marchbub“Understanding of terminology is a really useful thing to get out of your placement – it’ll help you build dialogues during Part II.” – MArch student

intugbub“The terminology is new, and it’s a little like learning a new language. It’s explained well though, and because we are all learning together I haven’t found it hard to pick up new words.” – International Undergraduate student


6. Terminology and language differences

The nuance of words can get lost in translation. Be aware that words can have alternative meanings and different spellings in different places or communities.

intpgbub“Technical and philosophical words are hard to translate – we understand them in our language but it’s hard to find the identical words….” – MAAD student


7. Communicating with different audiences

Not everyone is familiar with reading drawings or has knowledge of specialist terminology. Understand who you are communicating with and adapt appropriately.

marchbub“Live Projects are a great chance to learn to communicate with clients and participants – the projects depends on building those dialogues successfully. Being out of the studio makes you aware of how you have to adapt your ways of communicating with different people.” – MArch student


8. Using discourse to help develop your work

Be open to discussion when you present your work. It is good to support your ideas, but listen to the comments of others that might expose you to new ways of seeing or working

y23bub“[Students of] other degrees don’t see each others’ work, whereas we always have constant discussion and review among the studio. It’s so valuable!” – 3rd Year student

y1bub“Sometimes its easier to see things in other people’s work than your own – you’re not so close to it.” – 1st Year student


9. Public presentations and ‘pin-ups’

Learning to prepare and deliver public presentations (often called ‘pin- ups’) can be a big transition for some students, but its a really valuable skill to have!

y23bub“If you’re better at speaking it might be easier at the beginning, but you see people grow as they gain confidence in the group – it’s great… ” – 3rd Year student

intpgbub“When you present, remember that, at Sheffield, there is no wrong or right – there is just better. It is a process of growth; you have to go through it, and you will gain information and knowledge.” – International Postgraduate student


10. Dealing with presentation nerves

It is normal to feel nervous about reviews at first. Try to remember that you are in a supportive environment. Be positive and also be clear about where you think you need advice.

y23bub“My confidence has grown significantly in terms of public speaking. The fact is that you’ll get critiqued afterwards – I was always shy of showing my work and getting opinions, but that’s how you learn. You learn to be proud of it.” – 2nd Year student

y23bub“Have self-belief: the work that you’re producing is worth other people’s time.” – 3rd Year student