visuals for technical presentations steven b zwickel l.
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7 Visuals for Technical Presentations Steven B. Zwickel Visuals for Technical Presentations Use visuals to . . . Display data Compare options Show how process works Show steps in problem-solving Graphics help display data visually Main types of data graphics

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visuals for technical presentations
Visuals for Technical Presentations

Use visuals to. . .

Display data

Compare options

Show how process works

Show steps in problem-solving

graphics help display data visually
Graphics help display data visually

Main types of data graphics

• Tables present data accurately and concisely

• Any graphic that is not a table is a figure

data graphics using tables






Data Graphics: Using Tables

Keep Tables simple

• Avoid having too many decimal places .009892256357865658

• Use scientific notation

• Leave out 000s

• Make significant information obvious

• Line up decimal columns

• Total columns (if appropriate)

data graphics using figures
Data Graphics: Using Figures

• Identify each graphic so reader knows what it is

Number, Label parts (use callouts), and always give Sources

• Title each graphic

• Include notes to explain graphics right under title or at bottom








Resale value


Babe/Hunk magnet

Overall Score


Part-by-part or whole-by-whole

Use grid to show comparison of alternatives

• Determine criteria

• Weight criteria

• Compare apples to apples

flowcharts help show how process works
Flowcharts help show how process works



flow chart

top down flow chart


• Gather data

• Interview experts

• Read reports


• Enter data

• Review article

• Design logo


• Edit for accuracy

• Add index

• Insert photos

Top-down Flow Chart
  • Show whole process at once
  • Then each step can become a visual
  • Or, each sub-step can become a visual
model for showing problem solving process
Model for Showing Problem-solving Process

1. What’s the problem?

Description of symptoms; show why problem is significant

2. What’s causing the problem?

Problem statement; Show cause and effect

3. What solutions are available?

Discuss what research shows; what’s been tried

4. How do you select best solution?

Set criteria and compare options

using pictures and props

Models/ mockups/ props/ samples

Maps: are a special case


Tables; Graphs & Charts

Photographs: 35mm slides, Overheads

Schematics; Exploded view


Computer Animations

3D and Virtual Reality

Interactive multi-media

Using Pictures and Props
  • BEST OF ALL: Show your audience the “real thing”
adding pictures to visuals
Adding Pictures to Visuals
  • Clip art
  • Scanned-in photos
  • Download from Internet
  • Digital camera
  • 3D images
  • Maps
clipart only in an emergency
Clipart: Only in an emergency
  • Just because your computer can do something doesn't mean you should do it!
scanned photographs
Scanned Photographs
  • Work very well in many media
  • Require more preparation and good photography
taking pictures from the internet
Taking Pictures from the Internet
  • Can look fuzzy
    • Poor resolution
      • Too pixelated
      • Gets worse when enlarged
  • Colors look different on different systems
digital camera photos
Digital Camera Photos
  • Can help bring images to audience
  • Same problems as downloading from web
3d images
3D images

CAD and other 3D programs can show audience what something will look like

Artist’s conception of new office

use maps carefully
Use maps carefully

Usually have too much detail

  • White out unnecessary details
  • Keep them very very simple
  • Always indicate...
    • North
    • Scale
how to solve problems of scale
How to Solve Problems of Scale
  • Use models, videotape, photos
    • Enlarge small objects
    • Reduce large objects to manageable size
  • Hold props up high
  • Pass small samples around
  • Find ways to show motion
models mockups props samples
Models/ mockups/ props/ samples

1. Take time to prepare in advance

2. Less-than-professional job looks amateurish

3. Most effective way of enlarging very small objects or reducing large ones to understandable size

4. Most effective way of providing concrete evidence to audience—can combine vision, touch, taste, smell, sound

5. Can be passed around while presentation in progress or viewed during any point

interact with your audience
Interact with your Audience!

Talk to your audience, not to your visuals

Keep your head up when you talk

Don't read visuals to your audience, unless they can't read

Put complex ideas and extensive data on handouts

interact with your visuals
Interact with your Visuals!
  • Use a pointer, check things off, underline
    • If you use a pointer, find your place on the visual, put the pointer on it, then turn to face audience
    • Don't bang on the screen with pointer
  • Leave visuals up long enough for audience to read them
  • Project visuals high enough so they can be seen in back row without obstruction
revealing information part by part




a. apples

a. apples

a. apples

b. bananas

b. bananas

c. cherries

Revealing information part-by-part
  • Progressive disclosure: Covering part of a visual arouses curiosity, but distracts
  • Overlaying is better than progressive disclosure
the end
The End

Preparation & Practice

will pay off