ELTAS Workshop: “DIY Design: Crafting Your Personal Image” with Sherri Williams, Business English Trainer and Chair of ELTABB (Berlin)
March 3, 2018 Review by Michelle Vallez
Does design matter in the field of English training? The participants in the “DIY Design” workshop agreed that, given the current nature of the market, we have no choice but to optimize the way we present ourselves. Nevertheless, visual branding is something we often overlook. Sherri Williams’ aim in her workshop was to change that.
Branding was just one aspect of design that Sherri covered. She also passed on a wealth of resources and advice for creating visually attractive, effective and motivational teaching materials for our learners. We heard a carefully choosing the right images, layouts and fonts. She allowed us time to explore some of those resources and try them out on our own laptops during the session.
Sherri practiced what we all preach – she used a variety of methods to inform and engage us, effectively balanced short lectures with interactive and small-group activities. The handouts she gave us showed us how to apply design ideas, but more than that, we put them to use. We had fun “Guessing the Logo” and critiquing specimens from Sherri’s collection of “Bad Design” examples. (Note to self: Not only were these great tools for the workshop itself, they’d make great teaching activities, especially in classes dealing with marketing and advertising.)
Just a few of my personal takeaways:
- Using the “Rule of Thirds” in photography. I’ve prided myself on having an eye for a good photo, but now I have a better sense of why they’re good. I’m finding ways to use that knowledge in taking my own photos, and in choosing images to use in preparing teaching and publicity materials.
- The importance of white space in design and layout. I’ve been guilty of trying to cram too much information into one flyer or brochure page. You too?
- The need to choose fonts carefully – as Sherri pointed out, it’s a bit like choosing what to wear and depends on the occasion, our mood and the impression we want to make. I’ve long been a fan of fonts (and alliteration) and appreciated the input.
- Did you know that the TED website also provides transcripts and downloadable videos?
Sherri covered a lot of territory in a short time! The only hitch was the rather slow internet connection at the ISM, but that just meant that we’d need to continue our explorations at home. Since the workshop, I’ve been doing just that – trying out Ipiccy (a free photo editor), exploring Pixabay, and checking out new fonts on FontSquirrel.
Returning to the subject of branding toward the end of her talk, Sherri showed us the evolution of her own business card and posed the DIY questions – when can you rely on your own skills? when should you take the time to develop your design skills, maybe learn a new program? when should you think about consulting a professional? There’s no simple answer, but we were given food for thought and shared useful suggestions on how to make the decision.
In her follow-up email to workshop participants, Sherri has offered to serve as a formal or informal “brand image consultant.” You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like her to “take a look at any existing designs you have and give feedback…” or act as a “go-between between you and a professional designer.” Pricing for her services is negotiable.
Thanks to Sherri for her offer of support and for an eye-opening and informative workshop session!
Look in the MEMBERS ONLY section of this website to download Sherri’s Handouts and slide presentation.