Tag Archives: technical communication

Headers, visuals, notes: Case Study #3

In rethinking your strategies for slides and how they can support your technical work better, be willing to consider using sentence headers for even the most mundane of tasks.  This set of Before-and-After slides are modeled after those from a colleague’s efforts to re-invent information sharing at his engineering firm. (Identifying information has been scrubbed due to proprietary considerations, but the structure of the template is intact.)

In this Before slide, we see a “traditional” approach to slide design.

Here, fragmented thoughts rule the day.  There is room for improvement!
Here, fragmented thoughts rule the day. There is room for improvement!

It is a fragmented affair.  In truth, the content probably made perfect sense to the speaker when he created it; this kind of slide is working more as a speech aid (a teleprompter) rather than a useful visual for the audience members. The header is a fragment, and so is everything else. As well, there is quite a bit of cross-referencing to do: each section + each indicator + form + sample. If engineering is about elegance and efficiency, let’s put those principles to work on the structure of information.

Upon considering the  methods that we recommend in the Slide Rules book, his approach changed and dramatically improved the delivery method. The sentence header now conveys the ONE main idea that he wanted his audience to hear, and it includes persuasive language, targeted for that audience. (See Chapter 5.)

A targeted sentence header and a clean visual will convey technical points strongly.
A targeted sentence header and a clean visual will convey technical points strongly.

 

As well, the improved visual cleanly outlines the parts number scheme for his colleagues.  (We cover strategies for visuals in chapters 6-9 in the Slide Rules book.)

 

 

 

An added bonus is how he deployed concrete, additional information in the notes pane of the slide.

The notes feature, provided in presentation software, allows experts to house information inside the slide file. The slides are kept clean and focused for the talk, but now the archive of the talk is richer.
The notes feature, provided in presentation software, allows experts to house information inside the slide file. The slides are kept clean and focused for the talk, but now the archive of the talk is richer.

Here, he archived all additional information needed for someone who missed the talk or who will access the archived information later.

Using notes is a strong strategic move in organizations that use slides as legacy pieces (see Chapter 10).

 

 

 

This, and much more is covered in Slide Rules, available in paperback and e-book formats. 

Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields

Slide Rules–now available in paperback and e-book!

Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical FieldsTo purchase, the book Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields is now available via the Wiley-IEEE Press website or Amazon.com .

ISBN-10: 1118002962 | ISBN-13: 978-1118002964

Planning a technical presentation can be tricky. Does the audience know your subject area? Will you need to translate concepts into terms they understand? What sort of visuals should you use? Will this set of bullets truly convey the information? What will your slides communicate to future users? Questions like these and countless others can overwhelm even the most savvy technical professionals.

This full-color, highly visual work addresses the unique needs of technical communicators looking to break free of the bulleted slide paradigm. For those seeking to improve their presentations, the authors provide guidance on how to plan, organize, develop, and archive technical presentations. Drawing upon the latest research in cognitive science as well as years of experience teaching seasoned technical professionals, the authors cover a myriad of issues involved in the design of presentations, clearly explaining how to create slide decks that communicate critical technical information. Key features include:

  • Innovative methods for archiving and documenting work through slides in the technical workplace
  • Guidance on how to tailor presentations to diverse audiences, technical and nontechnical alike
  • A plethora of color slides and visual examples illustrating various strategies and best practices
  • Links to additional resources as well as slide examples to inspire on-the-job changes in presentation practices

Slide Rules is a first-rate guide for practicing engineers, scientists, and technical specialists as well as anyone wishing to develop useful, engaging, and informative technical presentations in order to become an expert communicator.

Slide Rules is available early in e-book format!

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Our book, Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields, is soon to be on shelves.  At the moment, it can be purchased in e-book format.  In about three weeks, hard copies will be available; you can pre-order them now at the same site.