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Oral and Written Technical Presentations

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  1. Oral and Written Technical Presentations Susan T. Brown, Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa

  2. What we will go over today…. • Oral presentations • Basic elements • Do’s and Don’ts • Speaking tips • Written Technical reports • Style • Basic elements • Do’s and Don’ts • Summary – What you will need this summer

  3. Oral Technical Presentations • In this internship, you will give two required presentations • In your professional lifetime, you will probably give dozens • Remember a few simple rules! • Use slides • Not too busy, not too sparse • Use graphics if your problem calls for them • Give the necessary details, no more, no less

  4. Why use slides? • This is not a dinner talk; the audience has nothing else to distract them or to look at….so, unless you will be VERY animated, give them something on which to focus • In the technical arena, there are many non-native-English-speakers. Giving the material in writing as well as speaking enables them to read it also. • If you happen to “draw a blank,” you can read the next slide to re-focus. Always put enough on to jog your memory in case you get distracted yourself.

  5. Not too Busy! Vanhemert, Kyle, “The U.S. Military’s War On PowerPoint,” in GIZMODO, accessed June 1, 2012, http://gizmodo.com/5525843/the-us-militarys-war-on-powerpoint.

  6. Not Too Scarce.. • Why?

  7. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What tells you more: The jet spreads rapidly downstream. The cross-section of the mean velocity has a Gaussian distribution with the maximum along the centerline of the jet. http://www.eng.fsu.edu/~shih/succeed/jet/ What’s missing? What’s buried?

  8. Basic Organization of an Oral Presentation • Title Slide • Outline of the talk • Introduction of the subject • Your methods (numerical, experimental, etc.) • Your results • Discussion of results • Conclusions • Summary Some sections may be skipped or seem different, based on the purpose of your talk

  9. Title Slide – Main Title in BIG LETTERS • Include sub-title if necessary to be descriptive • Include YOUR NAME, AND WHERE YOU ARE FROM – YOUR INSTITUTION • Include CONTACT INFORMATION. You want interested persons to contact you to talk about your work. That is what research is all about! Making contacts, getting funding, getting jobs, etc. • Include co-authors, mentors, advisors, team members, ON THE TITLE SLIDE. • Include name of FUNDING AGENCY, and PLACE WORK WAS DONE. Include logos if at all possible. • Don’t forget the DATE. If someone finds this on the web years from now, it would be nice for them to know how relevant the work is in time.

  10. Outline of the talk • The rule in Public Speaking is: • Tell them what you are going to say (Outline) • Tell them. (Body) • Tell them what you said. (Summary) • If you follow this principle, you will not likely have anyone wondering what the point of your talk was. You gave them three chances to get it! • This outline should be brief, don’t go into detail on any point, just preview what is coming.

  11. Introduction of the Subject • Usually, the audience would like a context. • Not everyone in your audience will know why you are here, why your problem is of great importance, etc. • Examples: • If you are giving a report on modeling debris movement in ocean waves, start with why this is important to know, and how your results may be used to prepare for a tsunami. • If you are giving a progress report on your work to date, start with a summary of your starting point or a summary of where you were at the last report period.

  12. Your methods • What did you do? • When presenting a technical paper, you always have to explain how you got your results. • If you are presenting a plan, here’s where you present “What are you going to do?” • Don’t give too much detail. Just an overview. • Use flowcharts if you can.

  13. Your results • Choose what results to show! • You don’t have to show everything. • Pick results that illustrate your main conclusions well. • Make sure they can be seen from the whole room. • Don’t get repetitive. • What did you find?

  14. Discussion of Results • This is where you discuss the implications of your findings • On other studies • On the big picture • On other things • On the real world • Etc. • May not be much, or may be a lot

  15. Conclusions • The conclusions of your study • This is what you want your audience to remember above all

  16. Summary • This is where you “tell them what you told them.” • Briefly summarize all the main points of your talk. • Background • Methods • Results • Discussion • Conclusion

  17. Oral Presentation Do’s and Don’ts • DO speak clearly, loudly and slowly. You want everyone to understand you. • DO NOT use slang, eubonics, pidgeon, or swear words. • DO use proper grammar and “radio” English. • DO connect (eye contact) with people in the room frequently • DO NOT put too many words on one slide. • DO NOT read your slides. Assume your audience can read. Paraphrase, in the event they don’t understand, or give additional information.

  18. Speaking Tips • Pick someone in the audience who is listening actively and go back to that person frequently to make eye contact. • Always talk to the person in the back row – project your voice! • Don’t turn your back on the audience and speak – if you are writing or looking at the screen, do it then turn and speak. • Check for understanding frequently. If your audience is not with you, backup, or change tracks. • If I am very nervous about a particular presentation, I find it helpful to write out the first few lines and read them. Once I get started, the topic gets me going, and I forget my nerves!

  19. Oral Presentation Exercise • You can work alone or in pairs or in groups • You can change your mind • Come pick a topic • If you don’t like my topic, choose your own, BUT it should be • Technical • Illustrate the concepts • Challenging • Require some research/thinking • Each student must talk for 5 minutes (not more, not less), regardless if you are in a group or pair, or single • Then there will be 5 min for general feedback • 2.5 min for criticism per person • 2.5 minutes for positive feedback per person • You can trade topics • You have 30 minutes to prepare your power point slide and practice – GO!

  20. Written Technical Reports Style • Most technical writing is done in passive third person. Emphasizes the research, not the researcher. • Current results in simple past tense. Accepted facts and long-standing published results in presented tense. Don’t mess this one up, or you will be considered arrogant. • Eliminate unnecessary words: • in the case in which → when • in view of the fact that → because • in relation to → on, for • in spite of the fact that → although • Many more….. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK993/

  21. Elements of a Report • Heading block • Abstract (Write last) • Introduction • Background • Methods (Numerical or Experimental) • Results • Discussions of Results • Conclusions • Summary • Future work • Bibliography • Acknowledgements

  22. Heading Block • Always contain your name and affiliation • Include title of paper • Include date • Include co-authors and advisors • Also include where work was done, and especially on what supercomputer.

  23. Abstract • Written last • Stand-alone summary of the paper

  24. Introduction • Introduces the topic • Include motivation for the research.

  25. Background • Results of literature • What work has gone before • What is the starting point • Other important elements of the background

  26. Methods (Numerical or Experimental) • How you did what you did • Numerical parameters • Numerical scheme • Machine specs • Etc

  27. Results • Show the results that illustrate your point • Discuss any outliers

  28. Discussion of Results • Again, point out any broader implications of your work • Clear up any uncertainty in the validity of the day • Discuss accuracy, etc.

  29. Conclusions • Your main and sub-conclusions should go here • Be sure they are clear and justified by the data

  30. Future Work • Where does the research lead next? • What is the next logical step? • What will answer the hanging question?

  31. Bibliography • Be sure to include all resources you used. • Use reference listings as described in this AMs class on ethics.

  32. Acknowledgements • Be generous with your acknowledgements • Don’t forget the agency that donated time on their supercomputer • Don’t forget the help desk, etc. • Be sure to acknowledge somewhere the actual supercomputer center

  33. Elements of a Project Progress Report • Header Block • Abstract • Methods (Numerical or Experimental) • Results to Date • Intended Future work • Gantt Diagram • Expected Delays/Problems • Summary

  34. Gantt Diagram • Choose a style that is useful for you. • Include meaningful milestones. • What will you do if you do not meet a milestone?

  35. Expected Delays/Problems • Discuss Delays and Problems you have already experienced • List any delays or problems you may expect to encounter • Propose countermeasures should you actually encounter them

  36. Do’s and Don’ts • DON’T just “fill in the blanks.” This report is more for you, to help you see where you are and plan the rest of the summer, as it is for us. Please take it seriously. It will help you if taken seriously. • DO remember to work your gantt diagram backwards. • Start with the final presentation date • 2 days before that, there is a dry run • All work has to be finished a few days prior to that, so you can prepare your presentation. • Estimate the number of days for each run and to process each set of data.

  37. Elements of a Intern Final Report • Header Block • Abstract • Methods (Numerical or Experimental) • Results • Discussion of Results • Conclusion • Summary • Bi

  38. Elements of a Report • Heading block • Abstract (Write last) • Introduction • Background • Methods (Numerical or Experimental) • Results • Discussions of Results • Conclusions • Summary • Future work • Bibliography • Acknowledgements