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Paint a Picture of Your Studio


Connecting your studio vision and timeline into a succinct pitch will make your aspirations more tangible for you and your audience. Look back on your vision statement, studio goals, and timeline to tell the tale of your studio in a captivating manner!

Output: A 2-minute pitch about your studio that combines your vision, timeline, and goals for those face-to-face meetings and recruiting sessions.

Effective ways to paint a picture of your studio:

  1. Craft your pitch. Here are some tips to design a powerful pitch for your studio:
    • Review your studio vision & timeline.
    • Know your audience: The greatest story is one tailored for its audience. Use your vision and goals to make a pitch that fits their interests. Check below to see how studios draft different pitches for different departments.
    • Set the scene: Are you in an urban area where certain needs are not noticed because x, y, z? A college that is known for its excellence in product design but wants to expand into social innovation?
    • Connect on a personal level: Share how your school experience was changed by the support of your mentors, human-centered design process, or the DFA community.  Empathy, humor, and professionalism usually resonate well, but you also need to know your audience to do this right.
    • Create anticipation: Hint at what will change in your campus and community because of your studio. Sometimes, what you’ve done in the past is a sign of what you’re capable of in the future. Other times it is what hasn’t been done in the past that is driving your next 3 year goals.
    • Promote the people & the culture of DFA (#DFAmily): In the end, it all comes down to the people in your studio who made the awesome people who make all of the studio's projects and plans possible. Your stories should reflect that.
    • Inspire your audience: What do you want your audience to remember as they walk away from your pitch? This is a pitch to get people up and running, not a business meeting. If you have posed some serious problems that your studio wants to tackle, make sure that you instill hope that you can tackle them, and include possible next steps for how people might be able to help you.
  2. Prepare visuals that support your pitch.
    • If you have real prototypes from projects used in the pitch, use them.
    • If you use handouts or slides, have pictures. Avoid text-heavy slides or overly complicated diagrams.
    • Don’t be limited to slides! You can create a video as well!
  3. Practice your pitch.
    • Roommates and friends would make the ideal practice audience. Ask what is confusing and note the questions that could be quickly addressed.
    • Use the presentation as an opportunity to improve by answering these questions:
      • Are there any ideas or directions that you should/shouldn’t consider based on feedback?
      • What are your next steps as a studio to address the questions that emerged?
  4. Go out into the world and share your story!

Network Best Practices

 Create a recruitment video like DFA UC Davis and DFA Stanford

For their recruitment, UC Davis created a video showcasing DFA’s vision, their partners in the community, issues they tackle, and information for their info session. Check out their video here!

Stanford spends their fall quarter training team leads. At the end of the quarter, the studio created a video introducing the team leads and the topic each team will tackle the next 2 quarters. Check out their video here!

Make the DFA pitch

Once you’ve got people’s attention from your cool promo activities and materials, you can really sell the value of DFA through a pitch.

Design for America is a network of student-led studios creating social impact in our communities through interdisciplinary design. Design, to me, is _______ (what is design?)

** pause... get them curious**

For example, I worked on a project to ______ (objective). _______ (slap stat). We partnered with _____ (community partner) to observe and talk with _____ (user) and saw that _____ (insight). We discovered _____ (solution).

Right now, I am _____ (describe your DFA role).

- DFA Pitch Template, developed by former DFA Fellow Brandon and UC Davis

When customizing your pitch for students of different majors, think about what their interests are and how DFA can add value to that. For example, business students might be interested in applying management and strategy tools they learn in class to real-world challenges. Design students might like the opportunity to take their concepts beyond making prototypes into the hands of users.

DFA is a place where you can apply the management and strategy tools you learn in class to real-world challenges and turn solutions to those challenges into prototypes and startups that create social impact. We provide the resources and mentorship needed to find and research the most pressing social challenges Americans face today so you can innovate around solutions that will make the difference you want to see in the world. You will have the opportunity to work alongside students from other majors too on one of our number of interdisciplinary teams, so if you have friends that you think would be interested you should let them know!

- DFA Pitch to Business/Econ/Entrepreneurship Majors, written by Julian Bongiorno, former DFA Fellow.