Twc Chapter 16 Preparing And Giving Presentations


The sixteenth chapter of Technical Writing for CCNY discusses preparing and giving over presentations in the technical setting. The chapter begins by focusing on planning your research. To properly plan, you must: plan and research your topic, organize your ideas, choose a proper presentation style, make graphics and slides, and practice and rehearse your presentation.

A good way to begin planning is to analyze the rhetorical situation of your presentation. To do this ask the following questions:

Who will be in my audience?
What kind of information do the audience need or want?
Why am I presenting this information to this audience?
Where will I be presenting?
When will I need to give my presentation?
How should I present this data?

Following this, you need to contemplate the subject of your presentation, the audience, the purpose and the context of use. For the subject, make sure you emphasize the most important points and skip over the insignificant ones. You must know exactly what you want to achieve in your presentation for your purpose. Make sure you know your audience and that you are catering to their values when presenting. Lastly notice your context. Make sure you know what your physical surroundings will be, and use them to your advantage if you can. Additionally, be sure to be economically, ethically, and politically correct in the demonstration.

Next, the chapter speaks about time management. You must be very aware of how much time you have to speak. Plan how long you will spend on each topic/section of your presentation before hand.

The chapter then moves on to discuss using the proper presentation technology. Understand the pros and cons of each of the following and then choose one method (or a combination) to present: digital projector with a computer, overhead projector with transparencies, whiteboard/chalkboard/or large notepad, flipcharts, posters, and handouts. For example, handouts can reinforce and add to what you are saying in the presentation, but can also be distracting when being handed out in large audiences.

After considering the above, it is time to organize the content of your presentation. Your presentation should have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Your intro is essential, as it may be your only chance to grab the audience’s attention. If you have a poor introduction, you risk losing your audience for the entire presentation. Firstly, you should define your subject. You can do this by using rhetorical questions, startling statistics, compelling statements, anecdotes, quotations, or a show of hands as powerful attention grabbers. It is then important to state the purpose of the presentation, state your main point, display the significance of the subject matter to the audience, present background info on the subject, and show the structure of your presentation.

Next, you start to go into detail when you get to the body of the presentation. The chapter then lists the following options for organizing your body:

1. Problem, need, solution
2. Chronological (for time periods)
3. Spatial (as in when you are presenting building plans, structures, or diagrams)
4. Narrative (in other words tell it like a story)
5. Methods, results, discussion
6. Causes and effects
7. Description by features or functions (meaning you have a product and are demonstrating its major features)
8. Comparison and contrast

Finally, it is time for the conclusion. This could be the most important part of the presentation as it leaves the crowd with something to hold on to, and is usually the part of the presentation that sticks in a person’s head the most afterwards. You should follow these steps for a successful conclusion: clearly signal that you are concluding, briefly restate your key points, reemphasize the significance of you topic to the audience, call the audience to action, look to the future, say thank you, and ask if there are any questions.

Now you have to be ready to answer the questions. Here are three types of questions you should be prepared for:

1. Elaboration/clarification: some people may ask you to expand on certain ideas or to better explain some concepts.
2. Hostile: a questioner could have a doubt about what you said. Proceed by rephrasing and validating the question, and then elaborating and moving forward.
3. Heckling: rarely, an audience member may try to heckle you. You should respond by saying something like: “ I’m sorry you feel that way. Maybe we can talk about it after the presentation”.

Next, the chapter talks about choosing your presentation style. You should develop a persona for the crowd to attach to, set a theme to make the audience feel the way you want them to, show enthusiasm about your topic, and keep it simple.

The chapter then addresses how you are to use visual aids such as PowerPoint and Keynote. You should use descriptive titles, large font, and colorful and useful graphics. Make sure that there is not too much text on a single slide.

Following this, the book describes your delivery. Body language is essential here. Make sure to: dress appropriately, stand up straight, drop your shoulders, use open hand and arm gestures, make eye contact, move around the stage, and position your hands appropriately. When it comes to your voice, rhythm, and tone, you should speak lower and slower than you think is necessary, and use pauses to highlight main points and eliminate verbal tics like “um” and “uh”. Also, be sure to not look at your notes so often. You must rehears your presentation many times before you actually do it.

Lastly, the chapter discusses working with translators in cross-cultural situations. Here you must keep in mind that since you are speaking to a group that has a different cultural background, you must take certain measures to convey your ideas appropriately. Make sure to keep your presentation simple, avoid jokes, speak slowly, minimize slang/jargon/sayings, avoid religious references, know your translator, provide your presentation to your translator in advance, and stand where your translator can see you so he can read your expression or lips if need be.


1. “People attend presentations because they want to see you perform the material” (491).

2. “After all, a presentation cannot succeed on content alone. You need to pay attention to issues of organization, style, design, and delivery” (467).

3. “Your speaking style is very important. In a presentation, you can use style to add flair to your information while gaining the audience’s trust. Poor style, on the other hand , can bore the audience, annoy them, and even turn them against you” (486).

4. “Questions are an opportunity to interact with the audience and clarify your ideas” (485).

5. “There is an adage about public presentations that has been used successfully for years : Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them” (474).

Response and Analysis

Unlike a few chapters in this book, this chapter did an excellent job in explaining the topic and telling the reader mostly everything he/she needs to know in order to have a successful presentation. In previous chapters, I (Zeyad) thought that most of the things written or explained were things my classmates and I already knew. A lot of it was common sense. However, in this chapter, the author provided the reader with a plethora of details on how to give a good presentation. I thought that he brought up all the main points and explained them in good detail.

The chapter was split up into different sections. One section focused on the technicality (technology, preparation, audience, etc..) of a good presentation and the other section focused on the physical (speech and presenting yourself) aspect of a good presentation. The author went into great detail in the technical section. He brings up many points in the technical section such as : technology you could use, the process in preparing a presentation, knowing the audience you are presenting to, having notes to base your presentation off of, organizing the presentation, time management, having a theme, visual aspects, and many more. He also brings up good points in the physical aspect, some of which include: being able to answer questions, interacting with the audience, body language, using the right tone of voice, and rehearsing. Even though he did a good job explaining the physical aspect of a presentation, he spent more time explaining the technical area of a presentation. He states in the beginning of the chapter that public speaking is very important. However, with the amount of detail in the technical area compared to the amount of detail in the physical aspect, I got the idea that the technical aspect of a presentation was more important. The author did explain how to speak and how to present yourself, but I felt that less time was spent on those sections than in a section, for example, the visual aspects of a presentation. By saying, “Public Speaking Is More Important Than Ever”, did he mean that the whole presentation as a whole is very important nowadays, or did he mean that the speech part of a presentation is very important now?

Although this chapter was organized in a very efficient way, I thought some sections should be placed in other places. For example, the section about using MP3s and iPods was placed right after the “Organizing the Content of Your Presentation”. Why would a section about how to use technology that we all have be right after a section about knowing what goes in an introduction body and conclusion. We thought that it should have been placed in the section “Choosing the Right Presentation Technology.” It makes sense to put a section on using MP3s and iPods in a place where picking the right technology for your presentation is explained.

The author also brought up the idea that translators might be translating the presentation to other people. Mike and I have never thought about this while giving a presentation. Even if all the presentations we have given didn’t have the presence of a translator, the fact that you have to keep in mind to use proper terms, avoid slang, and avoid cultural “taboos” because people from different areas of the world can be watching, never popped up in our minds. Therefore, this section was quite interesting and it will be helpful to know the next time we give a presentation.

The author also included a section where he explains where to go if more help on public speech is needed. As engineers or scientists, public speeches and presentations are a huge aspect in our careers. How one presents his ideas or inventions can determine or influence how successful the engineer would become. Being able to present your findings in the most efficient way is very important. Even if a product is amazing, if it was presented in a poor fashion, it will not be a success. Therefore, I would like to thank the author for bringing up this section and I think that it would be very helpful in the future. Overall, we (Zeyad and Mike), thought that this chapter was very successful in presenting good information, the right information, and also helpful knowledge that can be referred back to in the future.

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