A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Anxiety and Public Speaking: What You Ought to Know

You think that you sound terrible but people who don’t know you don’t know that that’s not your normal voice. People who know you well may be able to perceive a slight difference. This is not to say that an audience doesn’t perceive anxiety at all – just that what they perceive is at a much lesser scale than you. The best way to convince yourself of this is to video yourself and then watch yourself.

Mitchell, Olivia. Speaking About Presenting (2010). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Are Automated Genres Still Genres?

Clay Spinuzzi's Genre 2012 presentation on genre development in partially-automated environments.

Spinuzzi, Clay. Slideshare (2012). Presentations>Rhetoric>Genre>Information Design


Assessing Visualizations in Public Science Presentations   (PDF)

Natural resource agencies and other technical and scientific organizations face an immense challenge of when communicating complex technical information to diverse publics. The laptop computer, presentation software, and projection unit have emerged as one of the primary presentation tools in many technical and scientific fields. Advances in software functions enable presenters to capitalize on a wide range of multimedia functions thought to make presentations more appealing, interesting, and effective. Our presentation reports on a specific research project and then provides guidance for enhancing their presentations.

Zimmerman, Donald E., Carol A. Akerelrea, Jane Kapler Smith and Garrett O'Keefe. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Presentations>Visual Rhetoric


Beetle Bailey and Presentation Skills

An audience, whether it is one person or many, wants speakers to provide maximum relevant information, delivered in minimum time and in the clearest possible terms, centered on the needs and concerns of the audience.

Tracy, Larry. Klariti (2005). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Bright Words, Dull Words, and Snags: A Theory of Technical Writing   (PDF)

While all words on the page should be necessary, not every word carries the same importance. Yet words compete for attention, and depending on what they mean to readers, one word may make a greater impression than another. As writers, we must express what’s important with bright words. We must tone down what’s not important and express them with dull words. We must avoid snags, words that distract, confuse, or interfere in any way with the smooth transfer of information.

Palkovic, Lawrence A. STC Proceedings (1995). Presentations>Writing>Rhetoric


Contextual Narrative: Rethinking Communication In Our Professions

The rich contextual narrative contained in a story makes it a far more effective way of learning than by reading any procedure, best practice, or most other knowledge transfer media. What makes stories so compelling? While we have been taught that people process information, they actually learn by processing patterns. The patterns held in stories hold far more contextual meaning than we intentionally convey, and stay longer with those being told the stories. Will we ever wean customers from calling the help desk? Should we start our manuals with "once upon a time ...?" Is the answer to usability to create a giant template for all Web applications? Which patterns work, and why don't my patterns ever seem to be ones that stick?

Bailie, Rahel Anne. SlideShare (2007). Presentations>Communication>Rhetoric


Creating Effective Poster Presentations: An Effective Poster

An effective poster is not just a standard research paper stuck to a board. A poster uses a different, visual grammar. It shows, not tells.

Hess, George, Kathryn Tosney and Leon Liegel. North Carolina State University (2006). Design>Presentations>Posters>Visual Rhetoric


Cultural Differences in the Appreciation of Introductions of Presentations   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

On the basis of both established theories of the differences between cultures and recommendations in advice literature from different cultures, we believe that it is likely that cultures will differ in what they consider to be an effective introduction to a presentation. In this article, we report on an exploratory experimental study with 300 respondents in the Netherlands, France, and Senegal regarding their appreciation of and response to three introductions to a presentation about a mobile phone. The results show that the cultures differ with respect to the introduction they prefer. The Dutch respondents appreciated the overview most, while the French respondents preferred the ethical appeal, and research participants from Senegal preferred the anecdote. It is likely that the introduction that gains greatest attention and that best increases the ability to listen in a culture will be most appreciated in that culture.

Gerritsen, Marinel and Evelyn Wannet. Technical Communication Online (2005). Articles>Presentations>Cultural Theory>Rhetoric


Developing Products and Their Rhetoric from a Single Hierarchical Model   (PDF)

Goal hierarchies are models that represent a set of problems or goals. Goal hierarchies can also represent the goals of a product, and the information that should be provided to explain the product. A single goal hierarchy can direct the design of both the product and all rhetoric about the product. Goal hierarchies can direct the design and ordering of the tasks required to build the product. They can also define the structure and order of its accompanying text, online help, hypertext, training, and customer support heuristic. Goal hierarchies were used to enhance development of a specific Department of Veterans Affairs information product and its accompanying rhetoric.

White, Basil J. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Rhetoric>TC


The Divorce of Probabalistic Mathematics from Forensic Rhetoric (and Why This Matters to Technical Communication)

This paper discusses some of the founding work in the field of probabalistic mathematics (that of Jakob Bernoulli, the seventeenth-century Swiss scientist). By discussing similarities between Bernoulli's formulation of the mathematics to evaluate the probability of any given event and the forensic (or courtroom) rhetorics which Bernoulli had studied in school, this paper suggests that the foundations of probabilistic mathematics might well be rooted in part in forensic rhetoric. This is important to technical communication because it historicizes the origin of positivism in mathematical technical discourses.

Palmer, Terri. EServer (2001). Presentations>Lectures>Rhetoric>History


Do You Sound Like a CEO Behind a Microphone?

"You have two options when you walk into a room," says public speaking expert Richard Levick about the art of giving speeches. Most entrepreneurs find speech making to be either terrifying or a waste of time. Too many CEOs see dealing with the media or making presentations as an interruption, but it's as essential to doing business as customers. If you can't deliver energetic and commanding speeches, or polished and articulate interviews, then you're short-circuiting your company's future. It's time to do something about it.

Krotz, Joanna L. Communication World Bulletin (2003). Articles>Presentations>Management>Rhetoric


Effective Presentations

An essential aspect of any research project is dissemination of the findings arising from the study. The most common ways to make others aware of your work is by publishing the results in a journal article, or by giving an oral or poster presentation (often at a regional or national meeting). While efforts are made to teach the elements of writing a journal article in many graduate school curricula, much less attention is paid to teaching those skills necessary to develop a good oral or poster presentation - even though these arguably are the most common and most rapid ways to disseminate new findings. In addition, the skills needed to prepare an oral presentation can be used in a variety of other settings - such as preparing a seminar in graduate school, organizing a dissertaton defense, conducting a job interview seminar, or even addressing potential philanthropic sources!

Radel, Jeff. University of Kansas. Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Scientific Communication


Eight Key Points for Perfect Presentation Practice

Knowing a subject doesn’t guarantee success. The ability to articulate the message and connect with audience members is what counts – and perfect practice can make this happen.

Brody, Marjorie. Six Minutes (2010). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Eleven Ways to Use Images Poorly in Slides

As digital cameras have become ubiquitous, and cheap (or free) photo websites plentiful, more people than ever are using images in presentations. Images are not appropriate for every kind of talk, but even when images are appropriate (such as keynote/ballroom style presentations), people are still making the same common mistakes. So here are some things to keep in mind if you use images in your next talk.

Reynolds, Garr. Presentation Zen (2009). Articles>Presentations>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric


Ethos, Pathos, Logos: 3 Pillars of Public Speaking

In this article, you’ll learn what ethos, pathos, and logos are (the secret!), and what every speaker needs to understand about these three pillars of public speaking.

Dlugan, Andrew. Six Minutes (2010). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Exploiting Verbal-Visual Synergy in Presentation Slides   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Describes the most challenging aspect of creating slides for an oral presentation. Presents two principles for creating informative and persuasive graphics. Explains how to use drawing tools to communicate the schema of the slide and to emphasize important portions of the images.

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication Online (2009). Articles>Presentations>Writing>Rhetoric


Five Tips for First-Time or Nervous Presenters

When you’re giving a presentation, the last thing you want is to convey a sense of anxiousness or nervousness. It’s no secret that speakers who don’t appear calm, cool, and collected don’t gain the complete confidence of their audience. As a result, they lose much-needed credibility and authority with their attendees. But, keeping it together isn’t always so easy – particularly for first-time presenters, or people who are just nervous by nature. What are some of the best ways to keep your anxiety in check – or at the very least, to hide it from your audience?

SlideRocket (2010). Articles>Presentations>Advice>Rhetoric


For A More Powerful Performance, Say It Short And Well

Centuries ago great orators often spoke for several hours at a time. But today, when sound bites on television news are the status quo and complex sociological problems are solved in an hour on a television drama, audiences are most interested in speakers who get their points across in a short period of time. Today, great speakers are noted for their brevity.

Boyd, Stephen D. Presentations (2003). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Give Participants Something to Flip Over

Let me start off by saying that I do NOT like toys or other distractions in training. I’m NOT one to provide little widgets to keep participants’ hands occupied or provide cutesy pens or such trinkets. I’ve always viewed them as distractions that shouldn’t be necessary if your training is engaging and relevant.

Traut, Terence R. Presenters University. Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Microsoft PowerPoint


Good Design in PowerPoint

Effective PowerPoint design can be an invaluable tool for delivering your team’s message. When teams know their design options and adhere to a few simple guidelines, they can capitalize on the possibilities for communicating complex ideas in a clear, accessible, and memorable format.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Presentations>Usability>Visual Rhetoric


A Good Speech is Like a Good Relationship: 20 Tips for Presentation Success!

Contrary to what many people think, a speech is not a performance. Rather, it's a relationship -- ideally a meaningful one -- that you create with a group of people. Like any good relationship, a speech requires caring, trust, openness, accessibility, and two-way communication.

Burton Nelson, Mariah. Expert Magazine (2002). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


How PowerPoint is Killing Critical Thought

Bored students is the least of it – the bullet point-ization of information is making us stupid and irresponsible.

Smith, Andrew. Guardian, The (2015). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Microsoft PowerPoint


How to Break Your Public Speaking PowerPoint Addiction

Each time I sign up a CIO speaker, I hopefully suggest the option of going slide-free. From the reaction I get, you'd think I suggested walking on stage pants-free.

Johnson, Maryfran. CIO Magazine (2009). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


How to Make your Point with Sound Bites And Quotable Statements

Whether you are making a business presentation or communicating with the media, your most important objective should be to make your point clear and memorable. The following are three simple and effective techniques to make your point clear and create sound bites and quotable statements.

Whatley, Randall P. Cypress Media Group (2007). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


How to Recover from a Presentation Disaster

Getting no feedback from your audience is hard. There are two parts to recovering from an experience like this. The first is to examine your thinking around the ‘disaster’. The second is to take active steps to recover from it.

Mitchell, Olivia. Speaking About Presenting (2010). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric



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