Thursday, October 29, 2009

The art of GP Posters!

Today was our last day of class...

First and foremost, we all get A's!

And a very important question was addressed: what do you do when your voice doesn't work for class?
Monica beautifully guided our class in silence, while Aaron Sobel led our class discussion on GP posters.

For the GP poster discussion we took a field-trip to the third floor where last year's posters are displayed.

Here are the questions we considered when looking at each one:
-Where does your eye fall first?
-Do we like the layout/ design?
-Do we like the colors?
-Do we like the font?
-Is it too busy/ cluttered?
-Is there enough white space?

-Do we understand what information the poster is trying to convey?
-Is there a better representation of how they could convey the information?
-Does the poster have flow?
-Do the maps have a legend? Are they clear?
-Do we have to spend more than a minute trying to analyze the data ourselves?

Important points:
1. For posters, the graphics will draw us in first, and the text is secondary.
2. Use font to your advantage.
3. Be short and sweet with the results, focus on the recommendations.
4. When possible, try to represent your point visually.
5. Is your poster sexy? And is it SIMPLE?


iWork Pages
iWork Keynote

~Lydia Leclair

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I wish that I knew what I know now. - By Shannon Murray

1) Less can be more

-How can you convey your thoughts in the least amount of words?

2) Make life easier for yourself

-Keep your own bibliography from the beginning- Don’t wait until the end

-Organize your papers in a folder

-Think of a smart way to save and organize your files

-List assumptions/limitations from the start

3) Don't do too much too soon

-Find your balance

-Remember that things change all the time at a moment’s notice

4) If you get stuck, ask for help.

-Use your group mates to your advantage

5) Avoid being too much of an expert

-Don’t assume your client will act in a certain way

-Don’t let your assumptions change your actions

6) Don’t send an email when you are mad

-Talk about conflicts face to face

-“Don’t get in a pissing contest with a skunk”

7) Ignore the Bad and Praise the Good

-Don’t be stingy with your compliments

-Keep things in perspective- The process is important

8) Be prepared for criticism

9) The Defense

-Goes by quickly

-Do try to jump in and answer something early- Challenge yourself

-Be prepared for any kind of comment

-Again, simpler is better

10) The (non) DoubleTree presentation

-Expect the unexpected

-Practice eye contact- Who are you going to look at

-Pauses are not as long/horrible as you think

-Be confident in your performance, before, during and after even if you have to pretend. 'Fake it till you make it.'

-Graciously accept congratulations

-Better to leave things out than try to rush.

11) Pick your battles

-Jamie Gibbon

Data Visualizations Part II: Compelling Presentations

Step 1: Develop One Big Idea

Don’t let your main message get lost in the clutter.

The TED Commandments

1) Rehearse but act spontaneous- Don’t be a robot: Engage, don't recite.

Focus on the message, not the individual words

Audiences will not notice most mistakes

2) Provide Revelations- Tell the audience something they didn’t know.

3) Show vulnerability- No one is perfect and not every presentation goes well

4) Don't be tedious- No one likes a boring speaker

5) Change the world- Make it the BEST PRESENTATION EVER!

Communicate your enthusiasm

Sell your message

6) Don’t use bullet points. Create a presentation, not a document.

Presentation Design

Ask yourself: What would I want to see if I was in the audience

Create a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

What is missing? What is unnecessary?

Props can be used if you are comfortable with them. (Brains in a jar, not dead fish in a bowl)

Slide Design

The Bullet Laws

Use sparingly

Write headlines- not sentences

Use parallel structure-(Length, verb/noun choice, font size)

Avoid sub-bullets

Alternatives to bullets

Flow chart

Single word or short phrase

Compelling images- Draw the audience’s attentions


Consistency is key (Color, Format, Font, Size)

Test out colors

Where does the eye go first? Contrasting colors, shapes

Monica’s Take Away Message:

Convince Me!

-Jamie Gibbon

Friday, October 23, 2009

Data Visualization

Example websites:
Think Visually

The new Visual Consultant in the communication center – Aaron Sobel
Examples of great visuals:
Shapes are important, if you’re going to use color make sure it has a purpose. Captions are crucial, need to be thought out.
May be too complex for the average reader but may be a valuable tool for experts.

Take aways from Duarte – Slide-ology
(pg 67) Multiple colors can be distracting. Get rid of the noise. Consider who your audience is and what your intent is for the data.
69- Anchors can help point out significance in a slide (color differentials, arrows, highlights)
70-Using imagery to convey take away message, a picture instead of a graph
135 – make sure pictures represent the topic, don’t use pies in a non-pie presentation

Bren Group projects:
Bar graphs are good at displaying relationships, pie charts for proportion
Color schemes are important
Images should be able to stand alone to be understood without entire poster. Understanding the significance of the figure depends on the explanation in the slide. Titles need to be informative.

What is the proper design around order? Top left flowing to bottom right. ( Monica says that an all encompassing image in the center can really help focus the reader's vision on what is critical in your poster)
Do not want the reader to have to interpret what our figures are trying to say…be clear.

Be careful using images that could have secondary meanings…(a funnel, leads to a beer bong). Also do not put too much information into the poster.
Use colors to help draw the readers eye to the crucial points in figures.

Monica’s take away “We want our data that we are reporting to be understood pretty much instantaneously.”

-Aaron Wdowin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Introductions & Conclusions

October 20, 2009 Blog
What do we expect to find?
- Background
- Context
- Significance -Why should we care?
- Thesis
- Rationale
- Expanded message statement
- Methods
- Objectives
- Scope
Need to explain where this work fits in with the larger world, i.e. what gap are we filling? This may be addressed in the context, significance and scope.
How do objectives and rationale differ? Objective is “what” and rationale is “why.”
Cuyama Group Project Intro – Discussion/analysis
As a group we found the Intro too short and didn’t address the problem statement sufficiently. There is plenty of background and context, but not a lot of rationale, methods or objectives.
Need to be aware of tense – any tense can be used, but it needs to be consistent.
“It is anticipated” – don’t use! It’s ok to use “we,” and it is commonly accepted to use “we”.
The Zurich Project
The report’s entire first chapter addresses all the parts of the introduction with subheadings, making the structure very clear.
Cuyama Brief
The intro was better, but there was still no clear problem statement.
Fisheries Brief
Very clear problem statement. But the spacing was distracting. The sentence structure consists of long lists. The language is too technical, too many buzz words. We are not sure who the audience is supposed to be - it seems like it should be a lay audience.
“distancing yourself from a claim” – tends to happen when you’re not certain of the claim you’re making, or if you have the authority to make that claim. It results in a lack of clarity.
Short sentences can be really powerful, and sentence variation is important.
Also, the intro doesn’t seem to address all the issues up front, more detailed reading is required.

GP Presentation
One way to structure our presentations for both audiences (the defense ande public presentation) is to ask a question.
How can we make fishery management better?
Why are fisheries failing?
(Cuyama) – How does human land use impact connectivity and conservation?

EDF’s Fisheries Brief
Intro paragraph – includes numbers and stats. This is not objective, it’s presenting an opinion, but once you have your data you can take a stance. It answers: who, what, when where how why more or less. No specific problem statement, but we know what the problem is.

Conclusions are really important because often it’s all people read.
What does the reader look for?
- The point
- Results
- Significance/implications – this often gets left out! (so what? And make it sexy!)
- Recommendations
- Call to action
- Future direction/further research
- Address the “promises you made” in the intro (e.g. how to fix a problem)

NB – don’t bring up new ideas that you haven’t addressed throughout the paper
Cuyama conclusion
We found the bold, bulleted points to be an ineffective way of communicating their results
The term “general statements” doesn’t demonstrate confidence
A brief intro to the conclusion would be appropriate.
The 4 general statements they found were an accomplishment, but their framing of the points could be stronger. Perhaps they could have bolded their recommendations that follow from the findings.
Demonstrate features and benefits when you’re writing (think of the “so what” when you’re selling).
We could have written: “Loss of riparian habitat will continue to occur if there is further development”
or, “Active restoration is needed to preserve XYZ.”

-Amelia Nuding

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Art of Possibility and Mission Statements

~ The Art of Possibility Reading ~

- Read it after graduation when you don’t know what to do with yourself.

- Why was it recommended?

o In business communications we often have a one-track mind with communication, that being efficient, direct. Based on your job title, money earned, etc

o Book changes that ideology: Being a contribution.

- Giving yourself an ‘A’

o Already envision yourself accomplishing whatever you want to accomplish

o Book example is about writing a letter to yourself at the beginning of class, envisioning you having an ‘A’ at the end.

- Being a contribution

o Think in terms of what have I accomplished or contributed instead of how much did I get done compared to someone else

o Can be valuable now in Group Projects. Rather than: did I do as much as so and so?, think what did I contribute to the project

o Helpful in getting people on board with a project and wanting to contribute

§ Monica’s example of working in a “no excuses” environment

§ Later wanting to be involved and contribute once explained that she was a part of the company’s mission – rather than just another worker

- No “leading chair”

o Flips management upside down, believing that everyone can make a contribution and giving the opportunity for others to do so

o Being open to outside ideas, regardless of station. Empowering others.

- Rule Number 6

o Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.

o Things come up, sometimes deadlines aren’t met (by you or a group member)

§ Keep in mind what you were able to accomplish

§ Possible to get non-contributors to get more involved by changing their mindset to being a part of the project rather than just a worker on a project

~ Mission Statements ~

- Lead off by framing the issue, giving background, etc…

- Then present the solution or what the point of your paper/argument/presentation is.

- Use precise, cogent language to get to the theme or mission of you paper early on (before your reader/audience loses interest)

- The more you explain your topic (ex. group project), the better you will be able to articulate your topic to varying audiences

- General breakdown of in-class mission statement example (need to be included in Abstract and discussed in the introduction):

o Topic/definition

o General background

o Targeted/relevant background

o Research gap/problem statement

o Method

o Scope

o Outcome

-- Josh Uecker

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Audience assessment for Group Project - 10/13

What is intriguing about the group projects we selected?

Similar topics or similar advisor
Clear methodology –Well developed framework with clearly defined results
Strong/clearly written Abstract / Executive Summary
Thorough analysis (CBA, Survey, Legal)
Convincing presentation (a topic we’re interested in, well dressed) Well written report
Good quantifiable results (backed up with data)
Applicability (methods and scope)
Example of using language that was too area of study specific (GRE appropriate vocabulary)

Audience Analysis:
Which audience members will have read your report before your presentation? Very few
-Therefore presentation is important to convey message clearly and simply
-It is critical to write a strong executive summary and abstract
-If your project or pieces of the project will be used/distributed to client’s company be sure to direct writing style towards that audience

The Desires of the Client vs. Advisor
Seem to be very different expectations – we will need to address these in tandem
Client – has specific wants and needs from the results of project. (should direct presentation to client’s needs)
Advisor – wants to ensure the project is well defined and has clearly structured goals for project
-The GP Process
-Quality Deliverable

Different sections of report might have different functions
Overall report – most technical
Abstract and Executive summary – start to be broader
Bren Defense, Project Brief, Public Presentation –most broad

-Aaron Wdowin