Designing Science Presentations: A Visual Guide to Figures, Papers, Slides, Posters, and More
Matt Carter, Academic Press, ISBN: 978-0-12-38569-3. xxi + 360 pages, US$49.95.
This text consists of 27 chapters in six subsections and includes four appendixes. Each chapter begins with an introduction to the material and contains a succinctly done and well-illustrated main body, followed by a listing of dos and don’ts for the type of material covered. The text is recommended for the novice presenter as well as the seasoned instructor looking for ways to improve delivery and, perhaps, student (or cohort) evaluations.
Part 1 of this text consists of three chapters and is titled “Designing Exceptional Science Presentations.” The chapter covers the notion that the speaker must be an active designer to convey the messages intended, using different formats, he or she must be aware of the audience’s needs and expectations and will be judged not only on the material presented but also the manner in which it is delivered. Twenty-one characteristics of exceptional speakers are briefly discussed.
Part 2 covers “Visual Elements in Science Presentations” in seven chapters. The use of color, shading, and contrast is reviewed, as are the different types of fonts used in typography. The proper choice of words, tables, charts, diagrams, and photographs are each covered in single chapters.
Part 3, “Written Presentations” (four chapters), covers the essentials of improving scientific writing (precision, consistency, editing, goal setting, etc.) and the special cases of research articles, review articles, and research proposals.
Part 4, “Slide Presentations,” contains eight chapters. The idea that the presentation must be designed to be ideacentric and oriented to the audience at hand is emphasized. This section covers the basics of the structure of a slide presentation; the use of visual elements in the show; slide layouts, animations, and transitions; and delivery style for the speaker. The author stresses the importance of knowing how to adjust lighting and how to solve slide tray or computer problems. Various types of slide shows (seminars, symposiums, course lectures, etc.) are also reviewed.
Part 5 of the text (two chapters) covers “Oral Presentations Without Slides” (i.e., life before PowerPoint). The importance of body language (pointing, emphasizing, etc.) and the different situations possible (chalk talk, elevator speech, etc.) are nicely overviewed.
Part 6, “Poster Presentations” (three chapters), gives an overview of the necessary structures involved in the poster, the design and layout of the poster, and presentation styles required for the poster.
The text concludes with appendixes on suggested further reading, suggested assistive software, the basics of lecture design, and self-marketing.
The only fault? The title is too long—it would not fit on a poster! Otherwise, a highly recommended text!