A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Re-Examine Your Skills And Incorporate New Ideas To Keep Fresh

Anyone who has ever sat in an audience knows it's all too easy to watch a presentation and come away with – not much. The problem might be the content, or perhaps the technology used, but most likely the fault lies with the presenter. Although all speakers strive for brilliance, it's all too easy to be seen as dull or arrogant. So how does one avoid these labels when presenting? By continually looking for ways to change your presentation style. This is not always easy, since frequent presenters eventually develop a style that works for them in just about any setting. But it never hurts to re-analyze your skills and incorporate new ideas to keep fresh and in touch with your audience. Here are a few suggestions to consider when your style needs some dusting off.

Bingham, Chris. Presentations (2002). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Reading Your Audience   (PDF)

Discusses ways that public speakers can adjust to the body language and visual cues of their audiences.

Walinskas, Karl. Intercom (2001). Articles>Rhetoric>Presentations


The 'Real World' Experience: Academe and Industry Collaboration   (PDF)

Three technical communicators -- an entrepreneur, a university professor, and a newly hired employee and recent graduate -- discuss the collaborative environment they’ve created among industry practitioners and academia.

Blakeslee, Ann M., John Moreau and Catherine M. Titta. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Collaboration>Academic


A “Real World” Look at Windows Help Authoring Tools   (PDF)

Aha, you say, you’ve finally gotten permission to go online. And your boss has even allocated enough precious-budget dollars to buy the right hardware and software to do the job. How hard can if be to find a good authoring tool, you think. And then you start to receive the product literature from n developers of Windows help authoring tools . . .

Zubak, Cheryl Lockett. STC Proceedings (1995). Presentations>Documentation>Help>Online


Reality TV Meets Presentation Fears: A Shrinkrapp

It is important to focus on one’s thoughts when approaching presentations. Often these thoughts can be based on myths: widely held beliefs that just are not true.

Lee, Scott. Presenters University (2003). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Recognizing Diversity: Teaching Professional Writing Courses from a Social Perspective   (PDF)

Teaching professional writing courses from a social perspective enables instructors to recognize students’ own diversity and encourage students to consider cultural and gender diversity in designing effective communications Several teaching strategies will and instructors in their curriculum integration projects Revising courses to focus on diversity presents challenges which the instructor can meet by monitoring students’ response to the material and adapting teaching strategies as needed.

Scheffler, Judith A. STC Proceedings (1995). Presentations>Education>Instructional Design


Record Better Narration

Though most presentations are delivered live, sometimes you need a prerecorded segment to use as narration for a video or a PowerPoint slideshow. If sound quality is your primary concern, it's best to use a professional sound studio. But if time and budget concerns are also part of the equation, it's possible to create high-quality narration yourself by adding some inexpensive recording equipment and software to your computer and following some basic recording guidelines. Assuming you already have a computer with a sound card (which acts as a digital recorder), what other gear do you need?

Fisher, Jeffrey P. Presentations (2003). Articles>Presentations>Software>Microsoft PowerPoint


Recordable DVD: Worth the Wait or Worth Waiting For?

It may be a bit hasty to declare the end of the CD-ROM era, but the signposts are pointing in that direction. Although the CD provides a convenient way for presenters to store multimedia, distribute data and back up hard drives, the medium's space limits in the coming era of 100GB and larger hard drives and ever more ambitious multimedia projects will become increasingly evident. Indeed, many see the recordable DVD as the next killer app in computing – the one that makes the most compelling use of all that digital horsepower sitting idle on desktops everywhere, at home and at the office. More than a million recordable-DVD drives were sold in 2001, and the market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) predicts that number will grow to more than 30 million by 2005. Apple, Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony and other major computer manufacturers already ship recordable-DVD drives with their top-of-the-line models. Drives supporting the highly anticipated DVD+RW format (a format presenters should like because of its greater flexibility and superior write speed) have finally hit the market. And, as with almost all digital technology, recordable-DVD drives and media, not to mention video camcorders and software, are getting cheaper and more widely available by the day.

Kawamoto, Wayne. Presentations (2003). Articles>Presentations>Multimedia>DVD


Redesigning an STC Chapter Web Site: Creating a Navigation Structure   (PDF)

The Chicago Chapter of STC undertook to redesign its web site in 1999. The existing web site structure did not allow growth. It was difficult to add new categories of information without creating long, scrolling pages containing embedded hyperlinks. Users expressed frustration when they were unable to find specific information within the site. A solution was required that would make information more accessible to casual users and enable the site to grow without major reconfiguration. A committee was formed to study the problem and come up with a flexible navigation structure that could grow along with the web site.

Gannon, Joseph P. and Suzanne D. Williams. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Web Design>Information Design


Rediscovering the Technology of English   (PDF)

Although an expertise in language is our most fundamental, critical asset as technical communicators, it is the skill-set most often taken for granted, undervalued, or inadequately applied. Nevertheless, the huge increase in information competing daily for our readers’ time and attention makes the need for clear, concise, and accessible information products more essential than ever.

Collins, William L. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Writing


Reflections on NoteCards: Seven Issues for the Next Generation of Hypermedia Systems   (peer-reviewed)

NoteCards, developed by a team at Xerox PARC, was designed to support the task of transforming a chaotic collection of unrelated thoughts into an integrated, orderly interpretation of ideas and their interconnections. This article presents NoteCards as a foil against which to explore some of the major limitations of the current generation of hypermedia systems, and characterizes the issues that must be addressed in designing the next generation systems.

Halasz, Frank G. ACM SIGDOC (1988). Presentations>Information Design>Hypertext


Reinventing the Standard Model of Science Presentations

You wouldn't normally find scenes from a Charlie Chaplin classic in a biology Ph.D. thesis defense. But Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, who studied at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, isn't afraid to defy convention. "We tend to think about storytelling as confined to fiction or entertainment," Britos Cavagnaro says. "But storytelling is a primal human activity, and there is no reason why it can't be leveraged as an effective way to communicate science."

Reed, Sarah. Science (2011). Articles>Presentations>Scientific Communication


Report of the Technical Writer, 2014: A Possible Future   (peer-reviewed)

My task here is to ponder the next twenty years of technical communication as a way of stimulating discussion about our current values. Since I'm an historical scholar and not a futurologist, I'm going to prevail upon you to join me in a thought experiment. Instead of looking forward in the usual manner of labor department reports and trend-searching popular prophets, let's follow the practice of science fiction writers-I apologize in advance to William Gibson and other masters-and place ourselves ahead in the year 2014, then look back, beginning with our own time in 1994, writing, as it were, the history of the present.

Killingsworth, M. Jimmie. CPTSC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>TC>History


Requirements for Embedding Macromedia Flash Movies in Microsoft Powerpoint Presentations

Embedding is based on the Shockwave Flash Microsoft ActiveX component, an ActiveX component created by Macromedia that allows its content to run in Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Flashgeek.com (2005). Articles>Presentations>Multimedia>Flash


Rescuing an Ailing Documentation Project   (PDF)

Some of the challenges associated with documentation projects are identified, and possible solutions are proposed. Methods for analyzing the elements of a project to reveal the best solution to the problem are provided. Areas to concentrate on include project requirements, the project team, scheduling, the project plan, and technical input. Solutions include taking action with regard to assessing timing, verifying inputs, project re-organization, and monitoring progress.

Nihmey, John and Anton Holland. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Management


Research and the Internet   (PowerPoint)

This presentation introduces your students to methods for effectively searching the World Wide Web and evaluating the content of web pages. The twenty-four slides presented here are designed to aid the facilitator in an interactive presentation of search and evaluation strategies. This presentation (our most requested workshop!) is perfect for the beginning of a research unit in a composition course or for any research assignment that requires the use of Internet sources.

Liethen, Jennifer Kunka. Purdue University. Presentations>Slideshows>Writing


Research Points the Finger at PowerPoint

If you have ever wondered why your eyes start glazing over as you read those dot points on the screen, as the same words are being spoken, take heart in knowing there is a scientific explanation. It is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you in the written and spoken form at the same time.

Patty, Anna. Sydney Morning Herald (2007). Articles>Presentations>Instructional Design>Microsoft PowerPoint


Research-Based Guidelines For Visual Interface Design   (PDF)

Whether it is for a help system, a multimedia training product, or a software application, there are two key elements needed for good screen design: knowledge of the applicable research, and the ability to balance aesthetic appeal with functionality. This paper focuses on research into the specific human factors that affect how users interact with the visual display of information, and provides guidelines for how to apply the research results. The author adds information from his own interface design and usability testing experiences at Microsoft.

Prekeges, James G. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>User Interface>Multimedia>Visual Rhetoric


Researching and Planning an SGML Implementation   (PDF)

The potential benefits of re-usable, portable information have many organizations contemplating a move to a Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) environment. A successful SGML implementation requires thorough research to identify project goals and requirements as well as a formal implementation plan.

Stertzbach, Lori A. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Information Design>SGML


Rethinking the Design of Overheads: Moving from Verbal to Visual

PowerPoint's default designs tend to produce minimal text, which has limited communicative value.

Kahn, Russell L. SUNY Institute of Technology (2008). Presentations>Information Design>Presentations>Rhetoric


Rethinking the Design of PowerPoint Slides: Claim-Evidence Structure

One of the criticisms leveled against technical PPT slides is the overuse (perhaps abuse is a better descriptor) of the topic/subtopic organization structure. One of the simple ways PPT presentations can be improved is to follow the BLUF principle. Bottom Line Up Front.

Cuppan, Gregory P. Brainery.net (2009). Articles>Presentations>Business Communication>Microsoft PowerPoint


Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides

Summary, models, and templates of a new design of slides for technical presentations. This design is fully documented in Chapter 4 of The Craft of Scientific Presentations (Springer, 2003).

Alley, Michael. Pennsylvania State University (2004). Articles>Presentations>Information Design>Visual Rhetoric


Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides

Recently, much criticism has arisen about the design of slides created with Microsoft PowerPoint. This web page challenges PowerPoint's default design of a single word or short phrase headline supported by a bullet list. Rather than subscribing to Microsoft's topic-subtopic design for slides, this web page advocates an assertion-evidence design, which serves presentations that have the purpose of informing and persuading audiences about technical content.

Alley, Michael. Virginia Tech (2004). Articles>Presentations>Information Design>Microsoft PowerPoint


Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides: A Case for Sentence Headlines and Visual Evidence   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The traditional design of presentation slides calls for a phrase headline supported by a bulleted list. Recently, many critics have challenged the effectiveness of this design. This article argues for a significantly different design that offers numerous advantages in most communication contexts but that is particularly well suited to technical presentations. Originating at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and refined in more than 400 critique sessions at Virginia Tech, this alternative design is characterized by a succinct sentence headline supported by visual evidence. What distinguishes this design from other visual -evidence designs are its specific layout and typography guidelines, which were chosen to make the communication efficient, memorable, and persuasive. Although more difficult to construct than the traditional design, the alternative design shows much promise as a more effective means of conveying technical information to various audiences. This article outlines the key advantages and challenges of using this design, and concludes by assessing attempts to disseminate this design through lectures, workshops, and the Web.

Alley, Michael and Kathryn A. Neeley. Technical Communication Online (2005). Articles>Presentations>Information Design>Persuasive Design


Retrofitting Paper-Based Documentation for Hypermedia Delivery   (PDF)

The trend to online delivery of information means new challenges for developers. New skills must be learned. Large-scale conversion projects must be completed while new materials are developed. Though conversion can be a monumental task, research and planning are the keys to a smooth transition. Five steps are critical to the conversion process: (1) Analyze the needs for developers ard end-users. (2) Develop a design document to outline how the hypermedia system should work. (3) Develop a transition plan. (4) Implement the Plan. (5) Update and maintain the system.

Hatley, Stacey D. and Travis Williams. STC Proceedings (1997). Presentations>Web Design>Information Design



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