Archive | June 2013

PHERIPHERAL DEVICES

Math coprocessor

Alternatively referred to as a numeric coprocessor or a floating-point coprocessor, the math coprocessor is an optional processor add-on for the Intel 8086, 80386 and 80486 processors that allowed a computer to perform mathematical calculations more efficiently and faster, increasing the overall speed of a computer in many places. Today, all computer processors are released with a math coprocessor incorporated onto the processor. Below is a listing of earlier computer processors and their coprocessors.

Processor

Coprocessor

8086

8087

8088

8087

80286

80287

80386SX

80387SX

80386SL

80387SX

80386SLC

80387SX

80486SLC

80387SX

80486SLC2

80387SX

80386DX

80387DX

80486SX

80487SX, DX2/Overdrive

80487SX

Included FPU

80486SX2

DX2/Overdrive

Zip drive

A high-capacity floppy disk drive developed by Iomega Corporation. Zip disks are slightly larger than conventional floppy disks, and about twice as thick. They can hold 100 or 250 MB of data. Because they’re relatively inexpensive and durable, they have become a popular media for backing up hard disksand for transporting large files.

A Zip drive is a small, portable disk drive used primarily for backing up and archiving personal computer files. The trademarked Zip drive was developed and is sold by Iomega Corporation. Zip drives and disks come in two sizes. The 100 megabyte size actually holds 100,431,872 bytes of data or the equivalent of 70 floppy diskettes. There is also a 250 megabyte drive and disk. The Iomega Zip drive comes with a software utility that lets you copy the entire contents of your hard drive to one or more Zip disks.

In addition to data backup, Iomega suggests these additional uses:

  • Archiving old e-mail or other files you don’t use any more but may want to access someday
  • Storing unusually large files, such as graphic images that you need infrequently
  • Exchanging large files with someone
  • Putting your system on another computer, perhaps a portable computer
  • Keeping certain files separate from files on your hard disk (for example, personal finance files)

The Zip drive can be purchased in either a parallel or a Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) version. In the parallel version, a printer can be chained off the Zip drive so that both can be plugged into your computer’s parallel port.

Question No: (1) Define computers? Why computer is known as data processing system? 

What are the basic operations of Computer?                  

Answer: Computer: A  computer  is  a  programmable  machine  or  device  that  performs  pre-defined 

or programmed computations or controls operations that are expressible in numerical or logical

terms at high speed and with great accuracy.

Computer  is  a  fast  operating  electronic  device,  which  automatically  accepts  and  store input data,

processes them and produces results under the direction of step by step program.

Any Process  that  uses  a computer  program  will enter  data  and  summarize,  analyze  or otherwise

convert data into usable information. The process may be automated and run on a computer. 

It involves recording, analyzing, sorting, summarizing, calculating, disseminating and storing data. Thus

Computer is known as data processing system. 

Its various operations are:

1) It accepts data or instructions by way of input.

2) It stores data.

3) It can process data as required by the user.

4) It gives results in the form of output.

 What Are the Functions of a Coprocessor Chip?

Coprocessor chips, also known as floating-point units or FPUs, numeric processors and math processors, are found in many computers. They are located inside of a microprocessor and are composed of a series of special circuits; However, during the primitive era of computers, they were separate from the microprocessor.

Types of Technical Writing

1)      Identify different forms of technical writing?

Types of Technical Writing

Technical writing is a broad term that encompasses different types of technical documents used for specific purposes in various fields such as business, science, engineering, industries, construction, etc. Technical document is written keeping focus on the type of audience being targeted. The main aspects of this form of writing are:

  • Content: Some of the characteristics of a good content are factual information, credible source, appropriate for readership, useful and understandable information, clear purpose, no plagiarism, etc.
  • Presentation Techniques: A presentation should be concise, logical, without any bias, containing useful visual aids, specific, interesting, and should have suitable and appropriate font.
  • Language Skills: Language skills includes no grammatical or punctuation errors, no misspelling, no jargon or acronyms, hierarchical headings, active voice sentences, etc.
    Types

    Reports
    Reports are made at all levels from students to business people, for various purposes. Perfect format and layout are very important factors in a report, as it contains the complete information of any project. Wide knowledge pertaining to the subject of the report is absolutely necessary for any author. It requires intense research and data analysis. Some types of reports are:

  • Business and sales reports
  • Academic project reports
  • Case study report


Let’s take an example of a complete and well-written academic report. The format of such a report should have:

  • Title Page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Summary or Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Findings or Observations
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography

Presentation
The presentation model depends upon the intended audience, whether they are internal audience or external audience. A presentation can be made using equipment and graphical aids such as flip charts, tables, transparencies, bar graphs, slides, multimedia objects, pie charts, dry erase boards, line drawings, handouts, physical objects, etc. the basic requirements in a good presentation document is:

  • The information in the slides should be crisp and uncluttered.
  • The font type and font size should be readable.
  • Each slide should have a heading or title, if necessary.
  • If images or clip arts are used in the presentation, it should be placed in the right
  • Corner, preferably in the lower right corner.
  • Advancing the slides should be done manually to avoid time elapsing problems.

User Manual
The user manuals are the set of instructions or explanations written to help the reader, understand some software application or any system. The important criteria of a properly written user manual are simple language, because it is mostly targeted for non-technical people. Mainly, to understand the troubleshooting techniques, people refer to the user manual. So, the writer should cover all the minute details of the product and the troubleshooting tricks. The difficult terms should be well explained and made easy. The one important chapter in the user manual is frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Executive Summaries
Executive summary is an important communication tool used by academicians and business people. Executive summaries are basically documents that contains the summary of reports, so that the reader is acquainted with the required knowledge, without reading the large body of the report. Executive summary documents are widely used in management sectors like sales & marketing, accounts & finance, etc. Executive summary documents mostly contains the summary of the problems of the service or the product. The typical structure of an executive summary should be 10% of the report from which it is derived. Concise analysis of the report is made and final conclusions are drawn from it. Executive summary is different from abstracts, in a way that, abstracts are short and it just provides the overview of a large document, whereas, reports can be replaced with executive summaries, as it contains the condensed version of the report. A good executive summary should be presented in the order given below:

  • Subject Information
  • Method of analysis
  • Inference or findings
  • Conclusion or problem solution
  • Recommendations and justification
  • Limitations of the report

Abstracts
Abstracts are basically, a concise and brief guide of a report that summarizes the whole report, which is mainly addressed to technical readers. There are two important types of abstracts. They are:

  • Descriptive Abstract: Descriptive abstract is also called topical, table-of-contents abstract and indicative abstract. This type of abstract lists the topics or chapters that are covered in the reports.
  • Informative Abstract: This type of abstract summarizes the important information in the report, which includes results, recommendation and conclusions.

Spec Sheets
Spec sheet is an information sheet that, illustrates the construction and manufacturing process. Spec sheet documents are widely used especially in mechanical, instrumentation, architecture, production and manufacturing industries. The spec sheets are mainly targeting to the contractors, who will analyze the information and the package which includes all the required schematics and they would estimate the scope and expertise required for the completion of the project. After studying the spec sheet data, bid sheet will be prepared. 

Proposals
The proposals are persuasive documents that are made to provide solutions, recommendations and needs regarding to the problems concerning a product or service. It is a narrative work that is made to bring out successful sales experience. The good proposal should be made in such a way that, it should be “as easy as possible to digest”. Many business people say that, writing a proposal is an art and it should be persuasive and rational as well. The proposals can be formal or informal.

Employment Documents

Employment document is mainly referred to as resumes, follow-up letter, resignation letter. The employment documents are prepared from the employer’s perspective. Follow-up letter is written by a candidate, to thank the employer for the conducted interview and to express his continuing interests in the job. Resignation letter is a professional courtesy letter to inform the current employer that you are resigning from your job and the reasons for your resignation. Resume is another employment document produced by a candidate, who is seeking for a new job. The essential requirements of a well prepared resume are:

  • Basic Information : It is mainly divided into three parts identification, educational qualifications and work experience.
  • Optional Headings: It may include accomplishments or achievements, extracurricular activities, awards, career objective, etc.

There are three main types of resumes, depending on the context. They are:

  • Chronological resume
  • Functional resume
  • Electronic resume

Questionnaires
Questionnaire is a document that contains a list of questions that are targeted to the readers, in order to gather information from the respondents. It may be for the purpose of survey or to get statistical data. The modes of questionnaire administration are paper-and-pencil mode, computerized mode and face-to-face administration mode. The questions in a questionnaire are basically targeted to get information on preferences, behavior, facts and guidelines.

Tools Used in this Form of Writing

  • Publishing tools, e.g. Microsoft Word, Frame Maker
  • Help Authoring tools, e.g. Robo Help, Epic Editor, Authority
  • Template Designer tools, e.g. In design, PageMaker, Quark Express
  • Image Editors, e.g. Photoshop, Snag It, CorelDraw, Illustrator
  • Web Design tools, e.g. Dreamweaver, FrontPage
  • Screen Recording tools, e.g. Camtasia, Captivate
  • Multimedia tools, e.g. Flash, Max 3D
    The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) tools, e.g. Epic Editor

2)      Write readable correspondence?

Correspondence is the primary means to communicate both within and outside the Coast Guard.  It refers to letters, memoranda, messages, electronic mail (E-mail), and directives.  Since most of our communications are conducted through the written word, it is important to compose correspondence that is cordial, responsive, correctly written, and concise.  All correspondence prepared by the Coast Guard should reflect a positive image of the Service.

Margins
Business letter margins should be about 1″ all around. This gives your professional letter an uncluttered look. You should align your text to the left; this is how most documents are aligned, so it will make your letter readable.

Letter Spacing
Leaving space in your letter creates a clear, uncluttered and easy to read look that the reader will appreciate. Your letter should be in block format: the entire letter should be aligned to the left and single-spaced except for a double space between paragraphs.

Font Size
The traditional font size for a professional letter is 12. The font should be Times New Roman or Arial. However, if you are using a letterhead, the letterhead may be in a different font size and style.

Font Style
There is no need to use different styles within a professional letter. Use a uniform font (a book print font such as Times New Roman or Arial) and avoid underlining, italicizing, or bolding. However, if you are using a letterhead, the letterhead may be in a different font style.

Letter Text
Business letter text should be clean and readable. Avoid writing your letter in one large block of text. Break your text into several concise paragraphs. These paragraphs should be aligned to the left; this allows for easier reading. When you have completed your letter, ask someone else to read it for you. Have them glance briefly at the letter. Is there too much text on the page? Is it easy to see the distinct paragraphs?

Contact Information
The first section of your letter should include your contact information and the contact information of the person you are writing, too. Also include the date you are writing at the top of your letter.

Letter Salutation
unless you know the reader well and typically address them by their first name, you should include the person’s personal title and full name in the salutation (i.e. “Dear Mr. James Franklin”). If you are unsure of the reader’s name, include his or her title (i.e. “Dear Executive of Marketing”). If you are unsure of the reader’s gender, simply state their full name and avoid the personal title (i.e. “Dear Jamie Smith”). If you are unsure of the reader’s gender, name, and title, simply write, “To Whom It May Concern.” Leave one line blank after the salutation.

3)      Write readable proposals?

All these four factors have wide influence on writing style, but they do not act alone. Other points are important. Some examples, based very much on what people say they want in what they read, are now dealt with in the following bullets. Make your writing:

  • Brief: the gut reaction of readers is to want a document to be brief. But it is not an end in itself-a better word would be.
  • Succinct: this makes clear that length is inextricably linked to message. If there is a rule, then it is to make something long enough to carry the message-then stop.
  • Relevant: this goes with the first two. Not too long, covering what is required, and without irrelevant content or digression (note: comprehensiveness is never an objective. If your reports touched on absolutely everything then they would certainly be too long. In fact, you always have to be selective; if you do not say everything, then everything you do say is a choice-you need to make good content choices).
  • Precise: say exactly what you mean and get all necessary details correct. Be careful not to use words like: ‘about’, ‘I think’, ‘maybe’ etc when you should be using a phrase that is clearly definitive.
  • In ‘our’ language: this applies in every sense. It should be pitched at the right level (of technicality or complexity). It should take account of the readers’ past experience and frame of reference (which means you have to know something about what these are). It should ‘ring bells with them’; indeed it commands more attention and appreciation if it gives the impression of being purposely tailored to their situation.  


4) Write feasibility report?

A feasibility report is a testimony that attempts to create some sort of action. Feasibility reports are created to persuade/help the decision makers to choose between available options. Remember that your option is not the only one; the decision makers will probably have many to choose from. A feasibility report also determines whether or not the investigated task can be done with the amount of resources available OR how many resources will be necessary in order to complete the task. Feasibility may be useful in a lot of different situations such as event planning, finances, or even remodeling your home.

Important Features of a Basic Feasibility Report

Below are the seven elements of a feasibility report:

  • Introduction – You need to persuade the decision maker to even consider any sort of alternative. You need to convince them to even read your report first. Tell them what they will gain personally or as an organization by considering your work.
  • Criteria/Constraints – You must specifically map out the criteria of what the ideal outcomes are. This will allow you to make practical and logical decisions. You can present the criteria in your feasibility report in one of two ways. First, you can separate the criteria into its own section. This is best when you have a extensive report and you need to go in-depth with the explanation. Second, you can incorporate the criteria throughout your report as the criteria become relevant. However, it is important to realize that whichever strategy you chose make sure that the criteria is introduced early in the report. It is also very important to map out the constraints of your suggested solutions. This will show the audience that you understand and acknowledge the fact that no solution is perfect. This will also make sure that the audience makes the decision in their best interest.
  • Method – It is very important to present facts that are accurate and relevant. You should state the reliable sources you used and what method they came from (internet, interview, book, etc.). Without a credible research method or credible sources your document itself will lack credibility.
  • Overview of Alternative Options – You must underline the key features of each possible option. Make sure they are easy to understand and presented in a friendly layout. Keep in mind that the goal is to allow your audience to make the best decision.
  • Evaluation – This should be the bulk of your report, you must evaluate the options using the criteria you created. Add graphs, charts, etc. to show that you have studied your options, and have come up with statistics that back up your reasons as to why your alternative beats the competition.
  • Conclusions – You need to state the conclusion you have came up with. How did you evaluate the alternatives? And then from there, which alternative best fit your organization.
  • Recommendations You need to use your experience and knowledge in order to state which option you think should be adopted.

 

Write readable instructions?

Readability is the ease in which text can be read and understood. Various factors to measure readability have been used, such as “speed of perception,” “perceptibility at a distance,” “perceptibility in peripheral vision,” “visibility,” “the reflex blink technique,” “rate of work” (e.g., speed of reading), “eye movements,” and “fatigue in reading.”[1]

Readability is distinguished from legibility which is a measure of how easily individual letters or characters can be distinguished from each other. Readability can determine the ease in which computer program code can be read by humans, such as through embedded documentation

 

OPERATING SYSTEM

Write the step of adding and maintaining new user in Unix/Linux system?

There are three types of accounts on a Unix system:

  1. Root account: This is also called super user and would have complete and unfettered control of the system. A super user can run any commands without any restriction. This user should be assumed as a system administrator.
  2. System accounts: System accounts are those needed for the operation of system-specific components for example mail accounts and the sshd accounts. These accounts are usually needed for some specific function on your system, and any modifications to them could adversely affect the system.

3.      User accounts: User accounts provide interactive access to the system for users and groups of users. General users are typically assigned to these accounts and usually have limited access to critical system files and directories.

UNIX supports a concept of Group Account which logically groups a number of accounts. Every account would be a part of any group account. UNIX group’s plays important role in handling file permissions and process management.

Managing Users and Groups:

There are three main user administration files:

  1. /etc/passwd: Keeps user account and password information. This file holds the majority of information about accounts on the Unix system.
  2. 2.      /etc/shadow: Holds the encrypted password of the corresponding account. Not all the system supports this file.
  3. /etc/group: This file contains the group information for each account.
  4. /etc/gshadow: This file contains secure group account information.

How many types of commands are there in Unix/Linux?

There are two kinds of commands used in Linux: Built-in Shell Commands and Linux Commands.

Shell Command Library 
Linux Command Library

The Linux / UNIX operating systems come with many commands that the user can enter into the computer from the keyboard and use to interact with the computer. There are two kinds of commands that come with a Linux / UNIX operating system: Shell Commands and Linux/Unix Commands. Here is a comparison of the two:

Built-in Shell Commands:

  • What are they?
    They are part of a shell. In other words, each shell (e.g., C Shell, Bourne Shell and Korn Shell) has a set of commands built into its program.
  • Are the shell commands always the same on every computer? 
    Though shell commands may vary from one shell to another, the commands within each shell stay the same across Linux / UNIX distributions and variants.
  • Where do I enter shell commands? 
    The user types shell commands at the shell prompt, the default of which is % for the C Shell, and $ for the Bourne Shell and the Korn Shell.
  • Are these also part of the shells? 
    No. Each Linux / UNIX command is a separate executable program. They are written in C, or less likely, in other programming languages.
  • Where are they stored? 
    They are located in special directories for binary files, such as /user/bin. Directories that contain these Linux / UNIX commands are listed in the search path, which the shells use to find them.
  • Are Linux / UNIX commands the same on every computer? 
    Commands may vary from one Linux distribution to another and one UNIX flavor to another. You use these commands (original or added) the same way independent of the shell you are currently in.

Unix Commands

 

  • Are these also part of the shells? 
    No. Each Linux / UNIX command is a separate executable program. They are written in C, or less likely, in other programming languages.
  • Where are they stored
    They are located in special directories for binary files, such as /user/bin. Directories that contain these Linux / UNIX commands are listed in the search path, which the shells use to find them.
  • Are Linux / UNIX commands the same on every computer? 
    Commands may vary from one Linux distribution to another and one UNIX flavor to another. You use these commands (original or added) the same way independent of the shell you are currently in.

What is the function and responsibilities of system administrator?

Duties of a system administrator

The duties of a system administrator are wide-ranging, and vary widely from one organization to another. Sysadmins are usually charged with installing, supporting, and maintaining servers or other computer systems, and planning for and responding to service outages and other problems. Other duties may include scripting or light programming, project management for systems-related projects.

The system administrator is responsible for following things:

1.      User administration (setup and maintaining account)

2.      Maintaining system

3.      Verify that peripherals are working properly

4.      Quickly arrange repair for hardware in occasion of hardware failure

5.      Monitor system performance

6.      Create file systems

7.      Install software

8.      Create a backup and recovery policy

9.      Monitor network communication

10.  Update system as soon as new version of OS and application software comes out

11.  Implement the policies for the use of the computer system and network

12.  Setup security policies for users. A sysadmin must have a strong grasp of computer security (e.g. firewalls and intrusion detection systems).

 

Preparing an Oral Report

Preparing an Oral Report

Follow these steps to put together and deliver a first-rate presentation.

Step 1. Research the Facts

Gather information about the subject of your oral report. List the facts and interesting

information from your reading, taking notes accurately. Remember that relevant details and

vivid descriptions will make your oral report more interesting, as will visual aids such as maps,

charts, and pictures.

Step 2. Organize Your Information

Organize your oral report in three parts.

• Introduction

How will you introduce your report? What will be your first line? Write a short introduction

that briefly explains what your report will cover.

• Body

Organize the main points of your report. They should follow a logical order. Be sure that:

all your information is accurate;

you have included information from your research to support your main points;

you use details and descriptive sentences to make your report interesting.

• Conclusion

Write a short conclusion. You can use the conclusion to:

wrap up and restate your main points;

draw upon your main points to formulate a personal opinion concerning the topic of your

report.

Step 3. Practice Giving the Oral Report

Practice presenting your oral report with a friend or family member. If no one is available, try

practicing in front of a mirror. Keep the following points in mind when you give your report.

• Hold your body upright and face your audience.

• Speak clearly and deliberately—you want everyone to hear what you have learned.

• Refer to your notes only when necessary.

Step 4. Make A Final Copy of Your Report Notes

Use your notes to make a final outline of your report and put it on one index card or half-sheet

of paper. Try to use this card alone when giving your report. Refer to the rest of your notes only

if absolutely necessary.

Or

In many ways, planning an oral report is similar to planning a written report.

  • Choose a subject that is interesting to you. What do you care about? What would you like to learn more about? Follow your interests, and you’ll find your topic.
  • Be clear about your purpose. Do you want to persuade your audience? Inform them about a topic? Or just tell an entertaining story?

An oral report also has the same three basic parts as a written report.

  • The introduction should “hook” your audience. Catch their interest with a question, a dramatic tale or a personal experience that relates to your topic.
  • The body is the main part of your report, and will use most of your time. Make an outline of the body so that you can share information in an organized way.
  • The conclusion is the time to summarize and get across your most important point. What do you want the audience to remember?

Research!

It’s important to really know your subject and be well organized. If you know your material well, you will be confident and able to answer questions. If your report is well organized, the audience will find it informative and easy to follow.

Think about your audience. If you were listening to a report on your subject, what would you want to know? Too much information can seem overwhelming, and too little can be confusing. Organize your outline around your key points, and focus on getting them across.

Remember—enthusiasm is contagious! If you’re interested in your subject, the audience will be interested, too.

Rehearse!

Practicing your report is a key to success. At first, some people find it helpful to go through the report alone. You might practice in front of a mirror or in front of your stuffed animals. Then, try out your report in front of a practice audience-friends or family. Ask your practice audience:

  • Could you follow my presentation?
  • Did I seem knowledgeable about my subject?
  • Was I speaking clearly? Could you hear me? Did I speak too fast or too slow?

If you are using visual aids, such as posters or overhead transparencies, practice using them while you rehearse. Also, you might want to time yourself to see how long it actually takes. The time will probably go by faster than you expect.

Report!

  • Stand up straight. Hold your upper body straight, but not stiff, and keep your chin up. Try not to distract your audience by shifting around or fidgeting.
  • Make eye contact. You will seem more sure of yourself, and the audience will listen better, if you make eye contact during your report.
  • Use gestures. Your body language can help you make your points and keep the audience interested. Lean forward at key moments, and use your hands and arms for emphasis.
  • Use your voice effectively. Vary your tone and speak clearly. If you’re nervous, you might speak too fast. If you find yourself hurrying, take a breath and try to slow it down.

Nerves

Almost everyone is nervous when speaking before a group. Many people say public speaking is their Number 1 fear. Being well prepared is the best way to prevent nerves from getting the better of you. Also, try breathing deeply before you begin your report, and remember to breathe during the report. Being nervous isn’t all bad-it can help to keep you on your toes!

One last thing

Have you prepared and practiced your report? Then go get ’em! Remember: you know your stuff, and your report is interesting and important.

 

 

2nd topic

Manuscript

  • The manuscript method is a form of speech delivery that involves speaking from text. With this method, a speaker will write out her speech word for word and practice how she will deliver the speech. A disadvantage of this method is a person may sound too practiced or stiff. To avoid sounding rehearsed, use eye contact, facial expressions and vocal variety to engage the audience. Use frequent glances at highlighted key points instead of reading the speech word for word.

Memorization

  • The memorization method is a form of speech delivery that involves fully memorizing a speech before delivering it. This method of delivery allows a speaker to move around the stage or platform and maintain eye contact with the audience without relying on a script or notes. For speakers who deliver their speeches by memorization, add inflection to the voice and keep notes nearby to avoid forgetting an important key point.

Impromptu

  • The impromptu method is a form of speech delivery that involves speaking from notes. This method is ideal for a speaker needing to deliver a short speech with little preparation time. With the impromptu method, a speaker will organize his speech in outline form, create notes with the key points of the presentation and deliver the speech from the notes. This method allows a speaker to deliver a speech in a natural manner while maintaining eye contact and engaging an audience.

Extemporaneous

  • The extemporaneous method is a form of speech delivery that involves combining the manuscript, memorization and impromptu methods to create a carefully prepared and planned speech. For this method, a speaker will organize a speech with an outline, write down the speech word for word and practice the delivery. A speaker may highlight key points in the speech to quote verbatim and memorize other portions of the speech to speak in a more conversational tone. The extemporaneous method of delivery allows a speaker to engage an audience and adapt to any speaking situation.

Or

4 methods of delivering oral report?

Answer:

1. Speaking from memory
2. Speaking from notes
3. Speaking from text
4. Using a combination of methods

3rd topic

Using PowerPoint in Oral Presentations

Visual aids are an important element of a good oral presentation. Using visuals can add interest to your presentation and help you communicate your ideas.

You can use PowerPoint software to produce overheads or to make a computer-based presentation. If you use it well, PowerPoint allows you to present colourful, interesting visuals and manage and combine a range of multimedia information.

Visual aids can:

  • help you cover more ground in less time
  • link the sections of your presentation
  • illustrate something that is difficult to explain or time-consuming to describe
  • show reality in ways that words alone cannot (photographs, plans, maps)
  • help the audience visualise abstract concepts (charts/ diagrams/ conceptual visuals)
  • summarise information (keywords, graphs, tables)
  • add interest to a ‘dry’ topic

1. Prepare

1.1 Plan Your Presentation

Before you even think about making visuals for your presentation, you must know what you are going to say (see The Learning Centre’s Oral Presentations in Tutorials & Seminars brochure for more information).

  • Write your presentation script.
  • Organise the structure (your introduction, body and conclusion).
  • Identify the main points and concepts, then determine which of these will require a visual for clarity.
  • Write an outline to help plan your visuals.

After you’ve written your talk, then start planning your slideshow.

1.2 Plan Your Visuals

Once you know what you’re going to say, you can plan visuals to support your presentation. Planning helps you gather and organise your ideas before you start designing slides on computer. Planning will not only save time, but ensure that your visuals are effective.

Make a storyboard

Draw up a ‘storyboard’—a visual layout of the different ‘scenes’ in your presentation in rough sketch form. Storyboarding your slides before you create them helps you visualise how the content of your presentation will flow and how the slides relate to each other. Your storyboard should be a type of map, outlining the main points of your presentation.

Draw in pencil and have an eraser handy. You can rule up some frames on A3 paper or use a set of index cards or large post-it notes (cards/ post-its can be rearranged to try out different presentation sequences).

Getting started

  • Decide how many slides you need to use and draw up the appropriate number of frames. (The number of slides you use will depend on the length of your presentation; use no more than five or six slides per 10 minutes).
  • Follow the structure of your presentation outline and consider how your presentation will fit into consecutive frames.
  • Think beyond bullet points and consider how you could translate text or data into something visual.
  • Make rough sketches for each slide. Don’t worry about neatness at this point, just ensure the idea of the visual is clear. The sketching process will help to identify what you want each visual to convey.

Evaluate

Evaluating and redrafting your storyboard enables you to make adjustments early while revisions are easy to do. Read your written script while looking at the storyboard and ask yourself:

  • Do my slides clearly display the key ideas from my presentation?
  • Is the structure of my presentation apparent in my slides?
  • Does my slideshow ‘flow’ from one slide to the next? Are there visual or verbal links to connect each section?
  • Is each slide as visually effective as I can make it?
  • Is the information presented in the most suitable way? (eg. would a picture be more effective than a description?)
  • Will the audience be able to understand it quickly and easily?

Make sure you complete your storyboard before you move to the computer.

Important Elements

Keeping these elements in mind as you prepare and practice the presentation will reduce the amount of re-working you’ll have to do as it evolves, and will result in a streamlined, effective end product.

1. Rate: The optimal rate for a scientific talk is about 100 words per minute. Any faster and the audience can’t absorb the additional information. Use pauses and repeat critical information.

2. Opening: The opening should catch the interest and attention of the audience immediately, while avoiding trite filler phrases (Thank you for having me . . .) and technical jargon.

3. Transitions: The link between successive elements of the talk should be planned carefully. You should make the relation between successive elements clear to the audience.

4. Conclusion: Summarize the main concepts you’ve discussed, and how your work relates to issues you’ve raised. Signal that the summary is beginning (“In summary, …”), but don’t begin the summary too soon or else the audience will start to leave before you finish!

5. Length: Don’t run over! Ever! Shorten your talk by removing details, concepts, and information, not by eliminating words. If it becomes absolutely essential to supply details, supplement your presentation with a handout. Make about 10% more handouts than you think you’ll need. Always leave time for a few questions at the end of the talk.