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Posters, Presentations, and Data Visualizations

Scientific posters are a common type of genre1 created by researchers in science and engineering-related fields to communicate information about a study usually to other experts.

As a student, you may be assigned a scientific poster in a technical communication or science writing course or in a class that focuses on writing in your discipline. 

The Power Of PowerPoint

You’ve gathered your material, organized your outline, and now you are ready to put together a presentation that will pack a punch.  PowerPoint is a powerful tool in the hands of a wise designer. Once you understand a few basics, you, too, can put together a PowerPoint presentation that will be effective rhetorically.

At some point in your academic or professional life, you’ll have to stand in front of people and give a talk about a subject, and quite often, you’ll be asked to prepare visual materials to accompany your talk. You might prepare handouts, but odds are, you’ll be asked to prepare materials that you can project on a video screen.

The classic version of these projected materials is the overhead transparency, a thin sheet of clear plastic that you can run through a laser printer or write on with special markers; this medium is slowly disappearing, but it’s still around.

Regardless whether you are an engineer or a writer, a professional or a student, a business person or a scientist, you will be expected to communicate effectively with your supervisors, colleagues, clients, and the public. For most, that communication includes at least an occasional formal presentation.

Formal presentations in the workplace usually take one of three forms:

  1. Informational
  2. Persuasive
  3. Instructional

The use and spread of infographics has gained viral traction in the professional realm. The term “infographic” is a combination of the two words “information” and “graphic.” The infographic caters to fast-pace, “bottom-line” types of audiences by distilling complex information into a single image. Although infographics can be used in a variety of settings, they fare particularly well in the professional environment during business meetings, training sessions, and sales pitches. In fact, infographics have even become a popular means for job seekers to present their resumes. The beauty of an infographic, in contrast to a traditional alpha-numeric genre, is its ability to quickly make a lasting impression on audiences by appealing to their visual aesthetic.

Learning Objectives

  • Design documents, visuals, and data displays that are rhetorically effective, accessible, and usable for specific audiences
  • Recognize ethical, legal, and cultural issues in business and the professions

Think of the maps you see produced by the television station or website from which you get your weather information. While the meteorologist explains that northern Florida has highs in the 70s, central Florida has highs in the 80s, and southern Florida has highs in the 90s, that information is accompanied by a map.