Working with STEM Students to Deliver Professional Oral and Visual Presentations Warren R. Hull and David F. (Boz) Bowles CxC Summer Faculty Institute June 2, 2011
Overview Student, Faculty & Alumni Perceptions Features of Conventional Technical Presentations Resources Available Through Communication Studios
Often Heard Student Perspectives Public speaking is for sales people and politicians, isn’t it? I communicate well with my fellow engineers, isn’t that good enough? I’m a good engineer, isn’t that enough to get promoted in my new job?
Poor communication skill is the Achilles’ heel of many engineers, both young and experienced — and it can even be a career showstopper. In fact, poor communication skills have probably claimed more casualties than corporate downsizing. IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer Online http://www.todaysengineer.org/2002/Nov/leader.asp
Student Responses to Survey “Of the following ‘flavors’, with which ones do you need more help? Fill all that apply.”
Student Responses, cont’d “How much did the communication assignments in this course help you to improve your communication skills?” Little Much Very Little Very Much Somewhat
Student Responses, cont’d “How likely are you to use what you learned about communication in this course as you work on future communication projects?” Little Much Very Little Very Much Somewhat
Engineering C-I Faculty Responsesto 2009 Survey “The preparation time involved in teaching a C-I course is comparable to similar courses without the C-I designation.“
Faculty Responses, cont’d “Course content was not sacrificed in order to meet the communication requirements for C-I designation.”
Faculty Responses, cont’d “The student workload involved in taking a C-I course is comparable to similar courses without the C-I designation.”
Faculty Responses, cont’d “Student communication skills improved noticeably by the end of my C-I course.“ Note: Several faculty members did not feel qualified to judge communication skills improvement.
Faculty Responses, cont’d “Students learned the course content in more depth because of the communication requirements.”
2010 LSU Engineering Alumni Survey on Globalization
2010 LSU Engineering Alumni Survey on Globalization
Quote from Respondent to 2010 LSU Engineering Alumni Survey on Globalization: “As an engineer, I have found that the most important skills you need are visualization and, essentially, the ability to teach. You have to be able to visualize the problem at hand so that you can properly analyze the situation and come to an end result. You also need to have the ability to teach. With every project you encounter, you, the engineer, should know the system 100%. It is your job to inform or teach those you present your solution to so that they understand the problem(s) at hand and can evaluate the solution properly. It is also very useful if this can be done in a logical way, not just bouncing back and forth.” Emphasis added.
The standard PowerPoint presentation elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch. Edward Tufte, PowerPoint is Evil
Rhetorical Triangle Speaker/Persona Persona Purpose Audience
How you deliver your speech may depend on the forum or the message content Memorizing the Speech + allows eye contact - difficult for long speeches - room for precision errors - no room for improvising Reading From a Text + ensures precision - does not sound natural - no room for improvising - hinders eye contact Speaking From slides + insures organization + allows eye contact + allows improvising - some room for error Winging It + sounds natural - has much room for error
DSPH RECEIVER TSU TSH FLASH TANK FT T S S G TURBINE DEAR- ATOR HOT WELL HP HTR Does this clarify the description? Engineers and Scientists often use illustrations that are too complex for the text The thermal storage system stores heat in a huge, steel-walled tank. Steam from the solar receiver passes through heat exchangers to heat the thermal oil, which is pumped into the tank. The tank then provides energy to run a steam generator to produce electricity.
Does this better illustrate the text? Solar Receiver Steam Heat Exchangers Electricity Turbine Thermal Oil Steam Thermal Oil Steam Generator Steel-walled Storage Tank
Extracting and magnifying a portion of a complex diagram will help you explain the point you are trying to have the audience focus upon. Source: http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/petroleum/projects/environmental/reg_streamlining/15446.htm
Adding Equations Use equations/formulae sparingly, i.e., only when it adds to the audience understanding Consider using editing functions to emphasize points in the equation: Variable that we consider most critical to our project
Animation Animation should increase audience understanding of the topic. Otherwise, it is a distraction and should be removed from your presentation!
Animation is useful when trying to keep the audience attention to the point you’re trying to make
Animation allows you to insert objects when you want
It keeps audience focused on that one point and not…
Summary While it may be a little more work for everyone at first, strong communication skills are vital in STEM disciplines. Remember to make good choices based on the needs of your audience, your desired effect on that audience, and the expectations that audience places upon you. Get help from the Studios!