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How to Communicate Your Ideas Better Visually & Verbally with Steven Rubio from Show it Better

In Episode 7 of Think Big, I speak to Steven Rubio, architect, visualiser and teacher creator of Show It Better. He loves architectural representation and he loves teaching architects and built design professionals the importance of architectural drawing for projects. From theory to practice, he describes himself as being obsessed with teaching and educating the things he has learned in a life of architectural representation.

In today's interview, I wanted to know a little more about his story and the importance of visual pictures being able to tell the story especially when it comes to helping my clients and students to verbally express the concepts to clients or to present projects in architecture critiques. I very much enjoyed our conversation because I could see just how much he loves teaching and sharing his passion for which I am the many people that follow his YouTube channel appreciate

I also wanted to know more about his tips for architects and students but also if English is your second language how you can learn more.

This interview kicks off the beginning of three episodes talking about presentations, including visual and verbal communication as well as presentation skills. At the end of today's episode, I give some practical examples of expressions and language to explain visuals in a presentation. Show it Better

Website / Courses -

YouTube - Show it Better

We discuss:

✨Starting Show it Better - Why and how architects can better communicate their spatial ideas ✨There is more to who you are than just being an architect

✨Why it’s important to know how to communicate your visuals and learn from other disciplines

✨How to be more succinct and synthesise your ideas

✨Steven’s journey learning English and communicating ideas and so much more ✨Language of presenting visuals

Books & Resources

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull

✨ Extended Show Notes and Full Transcript:

Ready to take action to speak up and share your voice?

Ready to start making a BIG impact on your English & building the architecture career you want?

You know it's time to make a change and you've got to start somewhere. In the evaluation and action plan, you will get my best tips so you stop the self-doubt and start taking action now. Take me to the action plan


Table of Contents Books and Resources


Transcript Images of Expressions


cohesive - fit and work well together and look like they belong together

complementary - combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other or another (often confused with complimentary - flattering).

synthesise - you put together the ideas and findings of multiple sources in order to make an overall point.

concise - giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words


bridging the gap - to connect two things or to make the difference between them smaller put yourself out there - to try something despite possible challenges

the gist - the main idea

the spiel - the story or the main speech

waffle on - talk too much

people lose us - people are confused

opens up your world - provided with many opportunities

there's an elephant in the room - a controversial issue that is obvious to everyone who knows about the situation but no one talks about it

to take something with a grain of salt - regard something as exaggerated; believe only part of something.

throwing yourself in the deep end - take a risk



Quick Find Snippets - Take me straight to these sections


Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:00

You're listening to think big episode seven.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:11

Hello big thinkers. And welcome to another episode of Think Big English for architects. I'm your host, Tara Cull, someone very passionate about helping people in the built design profession who speak English as a second, or third or fourth language, to build outstanding communication skills, and feel more confident to speak about what they're passionate about. You can learn more about my coaching programmes and upcoming courses at So if this is your first time listening to the podcast, a big welcome to you. So the purpose of this podcast really is to share stories from architects and about architecture and its various disciplines. So architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, planning, but it's also about talking about things that will help you with your English learning as an architect, or somebody who works in the architecture profession. I would say that I'm someone who, ever since I became a teacher, I was driven to make my teaching relevant. After working as a landscape architect for many years, I felt like my work experience had helped me to see teaching in a totally different way. So when I went back to study teaching, I started to see the ways that I could bring them together. So I see my job really is bridging that gap between education and practical learning. I want you to feel like you're learning. But more importantly, I want you to feel empowered to know what you're truly capable of doing. And that's why today on today's episode, I'm excited to welcome this week's guest, Steven Rubio, architect visualiser, and teacher creator of Show it Better. He loves architectural representation. And he loves teaching architects and built design professionals the importance of architectural drawing for projects from theory to practice. He described himself as being obsessed with teaching and educating the things that he has learned in a life of architectural representation. In today's interview, I wanted to know more about his story and the importance of visual pictures, being able to tell the story, especially when it comes to helping my clients and my students about how to verbally express the concepts to clients or to present projects in architecture critiques. I really enjoyed the conversation that we had, because I admire his tenacity, and his passion for teaching and sharing his ideas with the world. So since starting ArchiEnglish, I've been following Stephen and his work. And I just wish that his architecture YouTube channel was around when I first graduated as a landscape architect, I think it would have helped me a lot. And if you know more about my methodology, you'll know that I strongly advocate for the idea of the best way to learn and to build authority around something. And to be known as the expert to grow your opportunities is to just put yourself out there and be willing to step outside your comfort zone, to grow and to teach and share with others everything you know. For me, Stephen is the perfect example of this. And it's exactly why I was so excited to get him on the podcast. I also wanted to know more about his tips for architects and students but also if English is your second language, how you can learn more. Stephen is Colombian and he speaks English on his YouTube channel Show it Better. Steven was so generous with his time and I can see how much he loves teaching and sharing his passion. I'm certain that all the followers that follow him on YouTube and Instagram and Pinterest. Absolutely appreciate all the value that he brings, and all the passion that he brings to his teaching. If you want to know more about Stephen and his YouTube channel, you'll find him at Show it Better. And I'll put all the links to social media pages and courses in the episode show notes. This interview kicks off the very beginning of three episodes talking about presentation skills, including visual today. And in the next episode, I'm going to be talking with Saneia Norton about verbal communication and presenting your projects and your stories. And then also in the last of the series. In Episode Three of the series. I'm going to talk about some of the things that I've learned about presentation skills after working with students and after working with a lot of my clients as well. And then at the end of today's episode I give some practical examples of expressions and language to explain visuals in a presentation. In my work with university students, I find that the merging of the verbal and the visual is often quite difficult to master. So I wanted to address this briefly at the end to give you some ways that you might talk through your visuals to engage your audience. And as with every episode, you'll find all the notes, the resources, and of course, the transcript in the link for the show notes at and you'll find the episode for today, there.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 05:40

Well, Stephen, thank you very much for joining me today. I'm super excited to have this conversation with you. We've been trying to meet up now for a couple of months. But we've got here. So very big welcome to you. Thank you very much for joining me.

Steven Rubio 05:55

No, thank you. Thank you so much, Tara for for the invitation. It's such an honour to be here. And yeah, it was, it was pretty, pretty tough to get to this point, you know, because of the universe in its ways. But we're here now. And I'm excited to talk to you and whatever topics we touch on, so it's cool.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 06:14

All right, well, let's get into the conversation then. So for those of the listeners who don't know who you are, and I don't know how they don't know who you are, because you have such a great YouTube channel. Could you explain more about who you are? And what you do?

Steven Rubio 06:28

Yeah, well, my name is Steven, I am an architect. I am from Colombia, from Bogota, Colombia. And I am the creator of Show it Better. Show it Better is an educational platform that dedicates teach on architecture representation to architects around the world, what it basically works on or platforms that it works on is on YouTube, Instagram, and you know, private courses, where we teach you everything from tutorials on how to add, like, recently, like how to add fog, how to create a digital parquet, how to identify, you know, main compositional techniques for your images. And we even have like more short bite size posts on Instagram, where it's more like on a personal level. And of course, they're like two or three hour courses on on teachable and on our platforms. And yeah, well, it's been existing since 2016. Show it Better, it started as a curiosity for creating a YouTube channel for creating something else and also for like, unemployment. So I was, I think I was unemployed towards that era. And I was like, you know, let's create a YouTube channel, I created like, three different versions of YouTube channels. One was for like, random topics. But eventually, like, I realised that I was passionate about presentation and also passionate about like, I was also good at it. And I was also passionate about teaching, which is something that I was always wanted to do. And that I want to do like, eventually, like, until I die or something. So yeah, so it kept on going. While I was working on side jobs as an architect, I graduated in 2015. And that just kept on surviving. Like very minimally sometimes with you know, two videos a year to three videos a year. But eventually, like, I think was last year or this year, I think it was last year, I decided to just go full in for now with with Show it Better. So I try to dedicate much more time to the platform, to the community. And well, here we are, I'm happy in the moment, like the thing that I tried to centre myself the most thing right now like towards showing it better is communicating ideas as an architect, which I think is super important, like how to how not to can communicate ideas. And since it's a prime, like its first form of communication, is the drawing, then we need to, like emphasise on how to make that drawing better. You know, that drawing can be anything like it can be like, diagrams, collages, plans, whatever. But still, it's about communicating your spatial idea much better.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 09:11

So you have a YouTube channel and an Instagram page and also your courses. Would you say that you are an architect, content creator, or an architect first and then a content creator? or a teacher? or How would you define it?

Steven Rubio 09:24

Oh, I don't know. It's such a difficult question. It's like the, the way of identifying myself like right now and like maybe in this moment in my life is so hard because I want to be so much so many things. I don't like what I do have to right now is that I don't want to be just an architect. Because I don't think I don't know. I don't think that that categorization of people should be made like anyone. Like I studied architecture. You have an architecture degree. Yep. But I still love many, many things. I love graphic design. I don't know movies. I love videos. I love a lot of things. So I, of course, I am an architect, but I'm also a digital creator, but I don't want to be only that. So I think it's great. Now in this moment in my life, maybe I don't want to find myself in a specific category.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 10:14

Yeah, I think it's really important that you mentioned that because as you say, you don't have to define yourself as one or the other. And what I find is that architects generally are people that have a lot of interests, and they want to pursue their different passions. So speaking of pursuing different passions and interests, can you share with us one interesting or fun fact about you that's outside of architecture?

Steven Rubio 10:38

One fact, there's so many displaying now think, um, well, some people may know that at first, when I wanted to, when I was a graduating high school, I wanted to study graphic design, like I was in between, like any, any of the creative arts, so I wasn't going to be like, I was never going to be like an engineer or anything or an accountant. But I did want to study either graphic design architecture or music, I was more inclined towards music, as I don't know, like my whole life until that point, at spent being like in orchestras and music groups. I don't know I I played the bass, I played the like the congas, the guitar, like everything, because I don't know, I like to have like a very musical context that I was immersed in a very Latin music context. I was, like, maybe I was like, I don't know, like, 11or 12 years old. And I was in at a, at a party of because we needed to play or we do like a gig or something. So it was always in that context, which which I loved. But I don't know. Yeah, you know, parents and everything. And like, the whole society kind of says that music maybe isn't that as valued economically as other professions. And if you if I was, you know, I was I was comparing that era. No other graphic design music or architecture. Architecture, at first was the one that was the most stable, like, perfect for me and for everyone. But you know, eventually, you realise that it has nothing to do with that. And it just depends much more on you. But it's still kind of still kind of, I still, I still see kind of like, in a static way, like I should eventually maybe right now, or maybe when I'm 50 or something, study music because I need something that I need to do. Because Yeah,

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 12:40

yeah, I love it. So you have a lot of varied interests, which is good. Do you play the bass now still,

Steven Rubio 12:46

I'm more of a guitar guitar person, I played the bass because when I was, when I was in the orchestra, there was no one else to play the bass and there wasn't like a spot or a guitar because it was a very, like Latin orchestra kind of thing. But so the bass was like the only chord instrument that I that I could play. And with all the minor percussions I had already, like advanced through that. But right now I played much more guitar like it's more like more like a hobby, you have like a to like, I haven't looked in, like three guitars at home. But, but it's still as Yeah, I play this guitar, but not much bass.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 13:26

I know you've touched on your journey already about studying architecture, and then to where you are now. But could you talk us through a little more how you went from finishing architecture, and then to starting your YouTube channel and what really drove you

Steven Rubio 13:40

When I was studying architecture I had always worked. So I like from second year or something I, I wanted to work. And I had to pay off University. So I had to work. And I started working. It was so curious. I started working as an English teacher here in Colombia.

So that's so good.

Not obviously on your level, but just like an English teacher, for other people. But that was the like, the only job that I could have at that moment. Because like, No, I was a very, like very, I had no architectural knowledge to go into an actual practice. And I had always, you know, seen being an English teacher like here in Colombia as kind of like a fast way out if I didn't have any other options, but I loved being a teacher, but I didn't love being an English teacher because I had no idea of English. So, but I was I was here for about, like, one year while I was studying architecture. Then I started working in many different offices. I don't know why but like eventually I realised that that the position that I was filling in in these offices was was towards more like the graphical like communication of the projects. It may be out like many different circumstances. I was in offices that We're doing a lot of competition. So I found myself doing a lot of renders learning many different programmes, doing many, many sort of tasks, but never like the, the technical kind of tasks like I didn't have to do a budget or didn't have to create a detail of the bathroom or anything like that, like, unfortunately, because that would have been like a very good learning experience. But it wasn't my like, I didn't have the chance, I was just linked in the very graphical kind of context. And eventually, I developed a lot of skills while I was in University. And then eventually, I started like a mini business, or, like inside of university, by doing like a lot of renders for my, my partner's for other people that were graduating, I just came up in, like, Hey, can you help me? I don't know, do the whole presentation boards, can you help me great renders or whatever. So I started seeing it more as a business. And eventually I graduated, I started working in other architecture offices with more or less the same role and maybe different scales, like urbanistic offices or casual offices, like public public offices, but still it was kind of like that role of graphic representation. And, you know, the more I work in it, the more I, like, understood, like, in a very intentional way, maybe, like, what my, like what I was doing here, like, Why was I so interested Also in, like, in the graphic part of architecture, because I don't like the whole visual part, just always distracting me a lot. And I think if you, if if like, if you communicate very good visually, then like, the idea, like the whole con, the actual content is much easier to understand than if you don't like, for example, when I was in university, I, there were a tonne of people that maybe we're great architects had great architectural ideas, but they didn't communicate them well. So nobody understood them. And eventually, you know, this is like translating, and when you translate into real life still happens like nobody knows, like, maybe, you know, this perspective would work best of any other perspective, or presenting a project like this or that excetera. So I started working in many different offices, I realised that I was very prone to visualisation to graphic skills. I'm not not not in the stores, not in the sense of like, like an archivist sort of way, like a render artist sort of way, because that it's a very technically demanding, demanding field, I was just more like a general graphical presentation sort of way. And when I was when I was about 2016, when 2017, I started doing my masters in architecture. And that masters notes picture was focused on investigation, and I saw like, like, specific courses on drawing, and like the drawing versus the actual architecture. So we started, we had to study like the whole all the, like, the treaties, treatises, and I'm not I'm not sure how it's been said. But like, all the texts that you have, since I don't know, since vitruvius, since Alberti. And we had to study all of them in comparison to the drawings that were made in that era. And all that investigation, I also, I was fascinated by all that. And eventually, parallel to that, while I was studying my Masters architecture, I decided to start a YouTube YouTube channel, because

Steven Rubio 18:27

I don't know, I think the traditional jobs just weren't for me, I, when I was in a job, it was it was fun, while I discovered how to do it, but still, I didn't like being told what to do, maybe I didn't know, being under a payroll, like, Hey, this is what you're worth, or you have to work two hours extra today. And that's kind of like stressed me out a lot I wanted to do, like, whatever I wanted to do in the day, like if I want if I didn't want to go to work, and I don't want to go to work, but eventually, like all that in the office environment, and more like in the architectural world, kind of like burned me out young, because I was also in like a very competition sort of context. So you know, when your competition sort of architectural offices, it's, it's not like the nine to five, but it's like a more like a nine to nine. So it gets tiring, very quick, and I got tired. And I was like, you know, what other ways could I be an architect, but not within the traditional architectural realm because you know, starting in my own office isn't or suddenly started like your own business isn't as easy. Maybe here in my Colombian context. So that was an option that I didn't want to explore back then. And I started YouTube channel, it was super slow, super slow, maybe. I don't know I sound like my first $100 after a year of work of making like 10, 20,30 videos, but eventually I saw like the business side of it. I started making tutorials. I started making courses. And yeah, that's how like the, how we just came up. But it was, like things going around.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 20:10

Yeah, what a story I think I really appreciate you explaining, you know, where you came from and where you are now. And I think, you know, listening to talking about your love of graphic design and, and also art and painting, it seems like you've really been able to marry your love of those things together. And I learned a lot about how you can maximise the presentation. Now there's a quote on one of your courses, which I love, because it really resonates with me. And it's,

I think that if you can create a stunning presentation board, then you have 40% of the job done, which is captivating everyone's attention. And now your design can speak for itself.

And I really love this quote, because I talk to a lot of my students about presenting their visual representations better. And so if you really want to make it easier for yourself when you have a great presentation board, because you're trying to use the visuals to incorporate storytelling and make it more captivating and engaging. So can you talk us through this quote, and why this quote? Well,

Steven Rubio 21:23

Well, I don't know well, being is as like, for example, and a person that a writer communicates or is always trying to find this specific word spine, spine, a specific language, to communicate their ideas better to communicate an idea, a story to tell a story that's like what a writer is supposed to do. But as architects, we don't actually build, right we, we do we create some drawings, we pass those drawings on to people who can build or we can materialise on those spaces, and, you know, eventually do that. So to communicate our ideas, our intentions are, I don't know, like our curiosity curiosities is only first, through drawing, of course, text is very important how an architect speaks is very important, like all that is very important. But it all goes through knowing how to draw how to communicate an idea. And it can apply to presentation boards. But it can also apply to a single image, if you can, you can apply to the section or to the technical section that you're creating, to any type of architectural drawing. Like there's certainly like, such a big world of drawings, that paying attention to the like to the minimum details, like to the intensity of the lines to how you are going to make the annotation to what colours you're going to use to how you know which image Are you going to prioritise, but bigger port smaller. So it's so many things that if you learn how to compose that, well, that is mostly like in the field of graphic design, like outside of our fields, but it has a lot to do with communicating, then eventually, you're going to be able to, to translate those ideas into maybe words or into graphics, that normal people that are not architects, or architects that are not inside of your head, obviously, that don't know everything that you know, we're going to be able to understand and that can be applied, like in many certain aspects, but, but it's more geared towards like, if, like me, I think it's best if an architect studies, a little bit of graphic design, photography, film, painting, because all the principles are there, like all the the elements of composition, or the elements of telling a story are still there. So it's, it's not enough, I think, for an architect to learn how to design a bathroom well, or for an architect to learn how to know what Facade Facade system is best for their, their building. But if you haven't learned how to communicate that or if not, you know, your client, your teacher is not going to understand any of it. So it's kind of like a kind of like a 5050 proportion, if you if you have if you spent 80% of your time creating, like the best building in the world, but you can't communicate it, it's worthless. I mean, no one is going to be able to understand like all the effort that you put into each specific detail, but if you dedicate yourself, like a lot of your time to designing, but also designing how you communicate that idea, then eventually it's going to be it's going to be become like part of the character of how you communicate. Like a lot of architects eventually like when you might have done a lot of buildings when they don't they have a lot of experience. You see a drawing, you see their building and you see them like a picture of them and you can see like, hey, yeah, it makes sense. Like they're all in like the same same person like that the person that is drawing and that did that building and the one that I'm seeing the photograph, it makes sense that is the same person because it has like all the personalities, all the traits, all the characteristics of, of that person into the drawing and enters into the building and each into each detail. That's like what maybe our task is to try to identify. Because there's like, no generic way of communicating, I can't tell you like, Hey, you need to always put your plans in white and white lines and create ultra realistic renders, I mean, everyone communicates their ideas in different way. And also, each building expresses Excel itself in a in a different way. So if you try to, it's obviously it's a long process, but we try to identify like how your characteristics of design express themselves better your your intent, your maybe your philosophy or, or your, your ideologies and express themselves through, you know, different visual strategies, then eventually, it's all going to be very cohesive. So everyone's going to be able to understand, hey, you know, it makes sense that Steven is making this drawing because it just goes with him or just goes with his style, or with his way or with his way of thinking, in the in a spatial sense. So I think I, I could speak on this for hours, but like, the gist of it is trying to understand how to communicate your ideas, as an architect and making it in a very cohesive way so that it just becomes part of you, and you like, kind of like a certain colour palette becomes a part of you. So

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 26:33

now that really summarises that well. And I think I like what you were saying, you were talking about how there's no one way to do it, you can't just tell somebody exactly how to do it, you can sort of show them some examples, or show them, you know, from history or learning about photography, or art or the principles. Because that that's really important. When it comes to representation. We all communicate differently as well. And you can't just do it in one way. So I like what you were saying about that. And so given that, you know, you were thinking, or maybe you could talk about this for hours, what are just three, maybe just give us three of the most important things when it comes to visually representing something on say, a presentation board or on a visual representation of a building or a design,

Steven Rubio 27:24

I don't know if it's going to be three, maybe it's going to be two or four. But maybe everyone should start. This is maybe counterintuitive with what I'm saying. But you should start by defining your building or your idea into one paragraph or one phrase, because that's going to limit everything. All the ideas that you have all the the like the spiel into 1 sentence. So when you try to define your building your proposal into one sentence, you let yourself to use a specific language, a specific a certain amount of words, that maybe it can be like, three lines, four lines, but it still has to be very concise. You have to, like, make yourself do a exercise of synthesis of everything that you're going to say. So all of your diagrams, all of your 10 renders all of your 10 plants have to be understood through that phrase. So if I read that sentence, and then look at your plan, I can understand that yeah, it makes sense. If I look at your section in read the sentence, or if you look at your render read that sentence, then it's gonna make sense. So first try to synthesise your whole design into one sentence. After that, try to maybe identify certain elements that are going to make it maybe easier to understand. For example, not every building is understood that there was section but many buildings are understood in its best way through a section and you should maybe only have like the the main section in a very, you know, zoomed in way so people can understand the whole building and your plans and your plans can be kind of like complimentary towards that section or your diagrams or whatever. Some buildings are understood best through a space specific diagram or a specific floor plan, whatever. So try to identify where like what kind of drawing your building says the most things in the most clear way. Not every building deserves 10 sections 10 floor plans, three details. No, it's not necessary. It's necessary for you to identify like where is the essence of your building, or your proposal, whatever. And try to identify that maybe in one or two drawings at maximum and try to do that is as my second 1/3. One is just to complement that with with very little little details like for example, not using 10 typographies but using Just two or one, not using more than four colours, maybe just using three key colour and two complimentary colours that are kind of like matte. So if you try to end maybe not using a composition that is a very, very, very dense in any way that can argument that can be about presentation boards, or it can even be about an image or floor plan, like if you're making creating a floor plan, but you need the person to understand the, like the spatial sense of your building and try to understand like, what would be the best way to colour your like the thickness of your walls? Is it great? Is it white? Is it off white, like all these questions that maybe would look kind of secondary can take a very protagonist role in how a person understands your building, maybe the difference between the colour of of your walls or the or the intensity of your, your black, or the intensity of your black of your white can like define the like the difference between how a person understands it, like understand the whole character of the building. And someone that doesn't like doesn't understand anything. So maybe those three are the most important.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 31:11

I really love the first one actually, I think I should definitely start doing that myself making succinct sentences or paragraphs. And just trying to define what you do in such a short concise space of time. And then even the second one where you're talking about trying to define the essence of your drawing or the essence of your proposal with just a few sections or drawings. I think that's such an important aspect of when you're giving a presentation as well. And then finally trying to simplify the design as well by using only a couple of different fonts, looking at typography, but then also looking at the composition and also the colour palette,

Steven Rubio 31:55

I've learned through like architects that are like super old architects that understand that, hey, that maybe some architects are much more textual than others. And some, instead of starting with a sketch, they start with with a story, right? I mean, this is not like, I'm not talking grab anything, but this is like, like some architects do this. Like they they start by, like creating a story or trying to define like, describe their building in words. And then after, do they do that, they try to make a certain drawing or people some someone start in the opposite way of creating just one drawing that defines it all. So it's kind of like an exercise, which I think is of synthesis, which is super important for architects. Because we like to do a tonne of stuff do a tonne of drawing do a tonne of things which you know, at the end has to be, like resumed in one like one way of communication in a very clear and concise way.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 32:50

Yeah, absolutely. I think we can tend to waffle on a little bit and people lose us. Now, if you're listening, and you're wondering how can you find out more information about visual representations. Or you want more advice, of course, you can go to Stephens YouTube channel, Show it Better. And there are also a number of courses. So he has courses to do with architectural collage, digital collage, also representing mastering your presentation boards, and also how to create a site plan. So go and check them out on And there's a lot of fantastic information on there, I've even had a chance to be able to do one of the courses. And it was especially relevant for me as well as a landscape architect looking at doing the site plan course. I guess my next question for you, Steven would be about what are some of the things that you enjoy about making content? What do you see as a result of making content?

Steven Rubio 33:54

One of the things that I most enjoy are maybe spaces like this where I get to meet a tonne of people from all over the world. Maybe it sounds a little bit cliche, but it I mean, I've enjoyed the most because I think the majority of my like right now I'm in my apartment. And the majority of work I do is like maybe investigating online or through books, and then through that investigation, creating videos that are relevant for the viewers and that I find obviously interesting as well. But the majority of them have maybe my work friends or something would be defined online. So like other YouTubers that are architects, other instagramers other other people that are trying to make, you know, the whole, like ways of digitally communicating architectural ideas much much better. And those are that's that's what I find the most the most interesting to find things online, find people online, that just that just make the whole architectural world that I can access like right now or hear from my office much, much bigger. And maybe that's like the main thing. The second thing is obviously, having sort of this is like this, this goes from maybe like a, like an egotistic sort of way, but also getting a teacher kind of maybe aspect where I can have like an impact on many people, I've always wanted to be like a teacher, like a University teacher, like on theory, history of drawing, or maybe even like, teaching a programme or whatever. But due to the conditions that are the requirements that many universities have, or, you know, you need to have a Master's or a doctor's degree to be like a certified teacher, that you know, earns the kind of like a good living, then I can't be like a teacher right now, or, you know, I wouldn't be accepted as a teacher in a traditional University. So I find it much more interesting to impact a lot a tonne of more people than I would impact in it, maybe in a classroom, and teach things that maybe in classrooms, because of the structure because of the syllabus, because you know, a lot of different topics. They can't teach teachers can teach and they get stuck in this, like traditional kind of way of teaching that it's like a step by step sort of process. Wherein as I can just step out, maybe have some different subjects go from this, you know, very specific areas to very general broad in, you know, interesting subjects. So that's what I like a lot, the most like being a teacher having an impact on many different kind of architects that are coming out right now. And, yeah, maybe that's what maybe interests me, the most

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 36:39

Amazing, it really opens up your world, doesn't it? And I think it's great, like, you know, us having this conversation is made possible because of the online world. So I think it's really good. And, obviously, being able to practice your teaching skills, as you say, sometimes teaching can be very, sort of confined to the institutions, and it gives you a platform to be a little bit different. So I think it's Yeah, the world.

Steven Rubio 37:06

And like making a video specifically. for teachers, I think it's a very good exercise because it forces you again to synthesise, so maybe maybe we had teachers that go into a class and speak on for hours or speak on very dense subjects that no one understood. And it's very, sometimes very hard to get technical ideas across or complex ideas across. But if you are making a 10 minute video, five minute video, you make yourself synthesise all that information. That is maybe in one whole book into a five minute video, obviously, you're not going to get into the depth of each of each subject, but you are going to be able to take out the most important information and try to teach it in the best way and maybe leave reference, maybe to have a few or whatever. But it's a very good exercise for teachers. And, you know, eventually, I'm not saying like, I'm the best at creating videos right now, I think I have, like a lot, a lot of weight to go. But in comparison to my first videos where I just talked on for maybe too much, or maybe too little. Right now I'm trying, I'm trying to make videos that are very specific to the point and like, get the most out of each second or each minute. So people can, you know, be interested not accept the video. And also, you know, take a lot of value from it, which is I think the most important thing

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 38:34

Actually hadn't really considered that about thinking about how understanding more about engagement rates can make you a better teacher, because you can actually see how you know, engagement rate you want to try and get the most out of every second because people only have attention spans of about three minutes these days, don't they?

Steven Rubio 38:52

Yeah, exactly. Mine specifically, according to the recent analytics is about three minutes and 36 seconds. And my videos are in general like 10 to 15 sometimes 20 minutes. So I'm trying to constantly see like, Okay, so how can I make these first three minutes the most interesting as possible and then maybe go into more technical and deepth because people are just exit like they if they're not interested, then they have all the right obviously to just exit close the window. And that's it. So that's it's a very good exercise for for anyone that tries to communicate ideas and many different fields.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 39:29

Well, the other thing that I'm really interested to talk about today is and we've spoken about this before is that English is your second language. And I know that you make your YouTube channel in English, but I wanted to know a little bit more about what your journey with English has been like.

Steven Rubio 39:46

So it's been such a difficult relationship but was so rewarding because, um, but I know I was born in Colombia. When I was about nine years old, I went to the states with my family. I stayed there for about six years, and or five to six years. So the last actual, like, education that I was in, in the United States was like, fifth grade. So I came back to Colombia with like a fifth grade level of English, which is, you know, super basic. But eventually, you know, with, you know, when you're a maybe when you're at that age you want you consume everything, it's very easy for you to to learn many, many different things. And we came back and we still, you know, watch TV in English, we watch movies, we read books in English, which was, you know, obviously, sort of helpful. And when I started studying University, a lot of books weren't available in Spanish, so I had to, you know, buy them or get them from the library in English. And eventually, it was something that I, you know, I like if I read many difficult theoretical texts in English, I understand. But when it's the moment to communicate those same ideas in a conversational sort of way, it's very hard because I know I'm not constantly challenging myself to, to learn to actually like learn the technical aspect of English in all, like the words, maybe inside of architecture that it has. So when I started the channel, I knew that I wanted to make an English because it had a wider reach at that moment, but it's still been a lot of a big challenge. Because there are a tonne of words a tonne of maybe adjectives, nouns, verbs that I had, no, I have no idea how to express them, maybe have them in Spanish somewhere, but in the back of my head, I try to translate them and they come out like in a bit in a very weird sort of expression. And that happens. As well, when I speak Spanish, maybe with my family or not with my girlfriend, whatever. And she and I'm just right there speaking Spanish, and I'm trying to translate expressions that I only can understand in English, trying to translate them in Spanish. And they're like, they're like, What? What are you saying, Steven? I don't understand you. Because the most common one is, like, there's an elephant in the room that when you translate to Spanish, like, I find 'Hay un elefante en el cuarto.' Everyone's like, super, like super confused, like, how is there an elephant in the room, or like, there's, I'm taking with a grain of salt, I have to explain like retirement is okay. So, the grain of salt means that you have to excetera so and so in both ways. I it because, you know, I work in Shawbury, like, majority of the day, and then I have to speak Spanish with my family with when I'm buying in the grocery store, whatever. So in both ways, it's been difficult to learn more English into kind of trying to translate my my idea of my day to day into a normal Spanish language. So it's a constant challenge, but I love I, I I get excited about the idea of being able to speak with people that I couldn't have spoken to otherwise, if I had no idea of English. So that is maybe what what excites me the most. And it's difficult, but I think I'm learning everyday, I'm trying to force myself to read more books and try to read them out loud, maybe the books and talk to them with with, with my family or with someone that speak English as well or speak Spanish, just so that the ideas, the verbs the like, the actual sentences get stuck in my head for a little bit longer. And maybe I can use them in practical conversations after.

Steven Rubio 43:42

But it's a process, right?

Steven Rubio 43:44

It's super hard. It's super hard. But it's something that it's, it's worth it. It's worth it like for anyone to speak a second language, it's certainly worth it.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 43:54

Yeah. So it seems and while to use another expression, it seems like you threw yourself into the deep end when you started making your YouTube channel. And you just decided, well, I'm going to take a leap, and I'm going to do this. And for me, I think that's really great. Because obviously, it's paid off for you. And the thing that I liked is what you're talking about with reading out loud. I think that's something that I often suggest to people sometimes in your head, you're thinking, ah, yeah, I'm really getting this and it's great. But then when you try to read it out loud, your mouth is not making the sound. And I actually have this book in French and it's about women in architecture, and I try to read it out loud, but in my head, I think I'm sounding so good. And then I try and do it out loud. And

Steven Rubio 44:44

it's completely different. And I try to do the same thing like in Spanish and in English. Because when you when you exactly when you read it out loud, you find yourself like hey, so where do I put like the intonation into into certain words how to pronounce it as well or maybe I should read it again. It's so much better to read out loud. I love reading out loud out loud right now because it's, it makes you understand the word maybe try to pronounce it sound like a like kind of like, when you put like a desert in your mouth and you understand it all. It's like that way when when you read out loud, many short texts or long text, you understand it much more than just skimming through it in your head.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 45:23

And also knowing where the stress goes in a word or where the stress goes in a sentence as well, because that can really change the meaning. So I think that's really good. That's a great suggestion. My last question for you. It's not a hard one. But what advice would you give somebody who is learning English, and they want to improve, say, their architectural English or the English that's more specific for what they're doing as a job?

Steven Rubio 45:50

Wow. I have no idea, I would love to have some advice from you. But my personal advice is to try to consume as much content as possible in English. Maybe, you know, like any like, obviously, the traditional ones that are like, you know, watch, you know, Netflix movies, obviously, all in English, but kind of like reading articles and trying to not like skim through them and try to more or less understand it. But if you didn't understand a word, then highlight it and search what it means and try to use it. And trying to like, trying to be like any kind of like immersed in that language, obviously, I would prefer if I was, if I was, if I could have the option to learn much more English. Or to learn maybe another language, I would prefer to go to a country that only makes me speak that in that language, or goes to maybe work at an architecture office where I have to learn how to speak the language that the office speaks. But since I can't do that, I would prefer to consume the majority of my content in English like in like, in all in all the aspects possible?

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 47:05

Well, I think you're doing all the right things like throwing yourself in the deep end, doing lots of content consuming in English, I think they're the sorts of things that I definitely tell people. The other thing that I would say, too, is a lot of non native English speakers have this, this stress or this worry is that they feel like their level of English is not good. And I think one thing I tried to tell people is to be like, Well, firstly, you're speaking a second language, you know, we were talking about how amazing it is to be able to do that. And that already, the fact that you're communicating to a high level is such a great thing. And you can only just improve little by little like the more you read, it's the same for me in English, even when I'm reading in architecture, I'm learning new things as well. And I think we're never going to reach a level of perfection. It's more about getting the message across and like the amazing thing that you know, you and I can have this conversation, whereas if you didn't speak English, we couldn't have this conversation. I think, yeah, I would I in terms of giving advice, I think it's more about how amazing is it that I can speak another language? And yeah, I might not be a native speaker, but I can speak two languages. And that's more than half the world. So yeah, I

Steven Rubio 48:22

think that's in like on that topic, I remember that when I started watching a lot of conferences through YouTube, I, you know, I spent my day maybe working in to decide I had Harvard conferences, conferences from Columbia. And there were a tonne of speakers that obviously weren't native speakers. And at first I had this idea that you had to speak very fluently English can vary, or either american way or British way. But like either of them, you had to kind of sound like that. And when I when I saw like all these interesting people, famous architects, and like very intelligent people having a lot to say, in these conferences, and they're very, like, a hard accent that it was difficult to understand. I found it, obviously very, very attractive and very interesting. And I kinda was much more interested in what they had to say because they tried to make such an effort in saying each word. Maybe they were a little bit slower in talking, maybe they try to think Okay, so this is how I can generally do this lecture in Spanish, how would I do in English, and they sound so much more interesting that I was like, from when I started seeing those conferences. It's kind of a also valuable for you to have that accent like that roots, that that kind of like are visualised through the way that you're speaking. You're kind of like, your character is able to to show much more than what you are like from a visual standpoint.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 49:59

Absolutely I mean, that makes so much sense. And I think, you know, as you were saying that I was thinking like for you, for example, you're so connected to what you talk about with architecture presentations and visualisations and so, therefore, that's really going to come through when you speak. And so that's what I try to say to people is, you should try to be connected to what you believe and what you say, because, or, and not worry what other people think. Because if you're connected and passionate about it, then people will listen to it. And for me, that's the most important thing. And I totally agree.

Well, we have had the best conversation, I'm so happy that we finally got to do it. And I'm so very appreciative of your time, and you just shared so many great gems of advice. So thank you very much, Steven.

Steven Rubio 50:51

No, no, thank you, Tara. Because Well, not only for inviting me, but also to having the opportunity to speak a little bit more about, you know, our passions. And just because what I think you're doing is super interesting. I've seen like, there are a tonne of digital creators right now that are doing many different things. But it's very few. I think, right now we know you that are focusing on language in architecture, which I think is super interesting. And we need to see much more of in me as a, you know, as English being a second language. And, you know, trying to focus on language on communicating ideas. This is kind of like we're calling parallel to each other in the sense that I'm trying to communicate, I'm trying to emphasise on the ideas of the importance of visual communication. And you're trying to also kind of emphasise on that same idea, but trying to speak better trying to communicate yourself better as an architect or as an app as a professional. So I think it's super valuable, what you're doing, and I'm so happy, I'm so happy to to be able to have this conversation. So thank you for the opportunity.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 51:59

Thank you. No, that's very nice. Thank you very much. I think it's important that it's not just about as you say, it's not just about being like, okay, here's some expressions, here's what you say, it's like understanding why you do it, overcoming those barriers that you find and, you know, going deeper than just okay, this is what you should do. So I'm really glad that you appreciate it. So thank you very much. Great. No, thank you. Thank you for having me. Thanks so much to Stephen for such a fantastic conversation. I know a lot of you will take a lot of value from that conversation. I certainly took away so much more than I anticipated, and I've even committed myself during my next holidays coming up soon to take some art books away with me. And to read more about composition and colour theory. I put a link to one of my favourite videos that Steven made. He doesn't know this, but I've put this link which is looking at storytelling and architectural visualisations and it's 8 Tips to Improve your Architectural Visualizations by Show it Better Now let's talk about the language to help you talk about your visuals. One of the biggest challenges that I see my students and also my clients face is that it's quite difficult to talk about the visuals or to talk through the visuals, especially in presentations or if you need to describe to your boss or to your colleagues, certain details or certain aspects of a drawing. And this can also be difficult while in presentations in crits. And obviously the the structure of how you present and how you talk about visuals will be different if you're in a crit compared to a client presentation, or when you're presenting a drawing or a design to your boss. But we certainly use similar language when it comes to talking about the visuals. Firstly, I think it's really important to think about a number of things. We need to think about what does the audience really want to know or hear? What is the narrative and the story that you're trying to tell? And how can you adjust that narrative to the presentation board or the sheets, or even the detail that you're talking through with your boss or your colleagues. One thing I often say to people is if they're going to be presenting a drawing to their boss or to a colleague, even write those steps of what you need to say, so you have it next to you in a notebook or however you want to, to represent it, maybe sometimes people have it on post it notes. But just so you have thought about how you will tell that story about that visual. The other thing that is important to understand is what the brief of the project is. If you're getting up in a presentation that you're doing at university and you're not really talking about the things that are required of you in the brief, then it's not really going to be relevant to your audience. And the same goes for speaking to clients. What It's important as you need to know how that drawing will tell the audience, and how it will tell the story of your drawings or your project or your building or your landscape. You need to know what the drawings will tell the audience. And if you can try to help the visuals to tell that story, then that's half the job done, as Steven talked about in the interview, if you're presenting, say, a concept of an urban park or a building, and you're presenting it to a developer, and if you're talking too much about the details about the aesthetics and the things that they don't necessarily care as much about, then the language is going to really go over their head, which means they're not going to understand

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 55:44

when you're laying out the presentation boards, or your visuals, or the concept designs, I think it's best to simultaneously take notes about how you're going to explain that drawing. Because this will also possibly influence the way that you present that drawing. And it may change the way that you draw it as well. One thing that will often happen, particularly with students is the visual presentation comes together at the last minute. And it's also the same when you're working in an office, the clients about to come in and an hour, and you've got 10 minutes, and you're trying to put these drawings together. But what I tried to do is to encourage my clients, my students to put together the visuals, and also the verbal presentation simultaneously. Because you will have an understanding of how you're going to read those sheets as you're doing your presentation. So when you're talking about your visuals, what do each of them tell us every single visual tells us a story. Now you've got to talk us through the image but not ramble too much. And of course, if the image already tells the story, then half the job is already done. But here are some expressions that you can use to talk about your visuals. Okay, so I'm going to put these examples in the show notes too. So you'll see how to put them together as an example. So what you're trying to do is you're trying to explain to the person what's going to happen as a result. So how the people are going to move through the space, what they're going to feel what they're going to do, what's going to happen as a result of your project, or what's happening in this visual

The Language of Presenting Visuals

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 57:26

Explaining visuals

1. In this particular layout, (this thing) will happen.

2. In this particular layout, what you'll notice is ...

3. looking at this layout, we can see that... We can see that people will move through the space in this way.

4. Considering the layout or the programme, people will interact in this way...

5. This is where we see

Now what if you need to point out key points. You can use expressions like

Key points

1. Something important to remember is...

2. The benefit of this is...

3. What's important to note or remember here is...

So that's when you are pointing really key points out. And finally, I think it's also important to invite the audience to be within the space. For example, you might say:

Invite the audience

1. Imagine being able to...

2. This will allow you to...

3. As you can see here, this detail allows,

4. this is where we see...

5. The way it works is....

So what you're really trying to do is invite your audience and those sorts of things work really well. When you're trying to speak to a client, you're trying to sell them the idea or show them the ideas. This is how you invite them into the space and to help them understand your concept more.

So that brings me to the end of today's episode. If you enjoyed today's episode, please share it with somebody who you think might find it useful. And in the next episode, if communication during a presentation is something that interests you, then you will definitely find next week's episode interesting. As I speak to Saneia Norton from Dig Beneath Design, we're going to talk about lots of things to do with communication and one of my favourite topics or jargon. So I look forward to sharing that episode with you very soon.

A bientôt

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