Vol 44, Issue 6

July/August 2005


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Upcoming Seminars

Event: Upgrading Your PowerPoint Presentations: Basics of Organization and Illustration

Date and time: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

12:00 pm Central Daylight Time (GMT-04:00, New York)

Panelist(s) Info: Ann Jennings

Event Fee - Members (USD$): 99

Event Fee - Non-Members (USD$): 149

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Description: Seminar level: Beginner

Seminar Type: Web-Telephone

PowerPoint presentations add several dimensions of communication uncommon to documentation and other static forms of writing: color, figures, and motion; a speaker who must interpret the slides; an audience that will respond to the speaker and slides; and a venue with physical properties that can't always be assured. The subject matter may involve sales or other forms of persuasion.

The verbal and visual content of a slide presentation require special attention, whether you are the speaker or whether you are creating the slides for someone else to present. This seminar will introduce you to the following essential elements of PowerPoint displays:

• Presentation sequences and organizational patterns
• Essentials of public speaking that can be built into slide content
• Visual design principles and techniques that can support the words on your slides

Ann Jennings, Ph.D., is the director of the Professional Writing Program at the University of Houston-Downtown, where she also serves as an associate professor of English. She has taught writing for presentation, technical editing, business and technical report writing, desktop publishing, and writing for the Web. Ann's master's degree in speech and her background in selling financial products add a practical twist to her numerous PowerPoint presentations to professional societies and corporate clients. She consults in the areas of forensic psychiatric editing, forensic sentence diagramming, and corporate training, including the upgrading of PowerPoint presentations.

Event: Visual Fluency

Date and time: Wednesday, August 10, 2005

12:00 pm Central Daylight Time (GMT-04:00, New York)

Panelist(s) Info: William Horton

Event Fee - Members (USD$): 99

Event Fee - Non-Members (USD$): 149

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Description: Seminar Level: All levels

Seminar Type: Web-Telephone

Words are great, but you also need clear, simple, expressive graphics to communicate to today's overloaded, global audiences. Sophisticated graphics programs and vast libraries of reusable artwork mean that any technical communicator can create graphics--provided that he or she is visually fluent. This seminar will boost your visual creativity so you can imagine the right picture to communicate your message. It will also hone your critical skills so you can make your first attempts truly professional. You'll learn answers to the following questions:

• Where do I need graphics?
• What kinds of graphics do I need for each type of message?
• How do I avoid the most common graphical blunders?

William Horton is a recognized international authority on appropriate uses of new electronic media. He is author of nine books on technical communication, including Designing and Writing Online Documentation (John Wiley & Sons, 1994), The Web Page Design Cookbook (John Wiley & Sons, 1996), and Designing Web-based Training (John Wiley & Sons, 2000). Horton is an STC fellow, recipient of the ACM SIGDOC's Rigo Award for advances to software documentation, and winner of the IEEE Professional Communications Society's Goldsmith Award. He has delivered presentations in China, Sweden, Germany, France, Denmark, Brazil, Canada, and the Philippines.

Event: Know Your Audience Like Never Before Through User Profiles and Personas

Date and time: Wednesday, August 24, 2005

12:00 pm Central Daylight Time (GMT-04:00, New York)

Panelist(s) Info: Robert Barlow-Busch

Event Fee - Members (USD$): 99

Event Fee - Non-Members (USD$): 149

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Description: Audience Level: All levels

Seminar Type: Web-Telephone

It's practically the guiding mantra of technical communication: “Know your audience!” Although it's easy to agree with this statement, it can be surprisingly difficult to carry out the directive. Exactly what do we need to know? Where do we get the information? How do we capture and share what we've learned? And most important, what can we do with this knowledge?

For inspiration, this seminar looks to the persona, a type of fictional user profile that has emerged as a best practice in Web and software design. The persona isn't just for interface designers, though: It's an equally powerful tool for technical communicators as you plan, design, write, and deploy documentation and help systems.

In this seminar, you'll learn how personas can help technical communicators to “know your audience” like never before. We'll discuss contextual research methods, a framework for analyzing data, tips for writing engaging personas, and ideas for putting them to use in your own projects. Along the way, we'll share examples from Quarry's work with various clients.

Robert Barlow-Busch is a senior consultant at Quarry Integrated Communications, where he helps clients build their businesses through user experience design. His career began fifteen years ago as a technical communicator, but he's since acted as an interaction designer and usability specialist for industries such as logistics and life sciences, and with brands such as Sony and FedEx. In an effort to “know your audience” at a more sophisticated level, Robert introduced personas to Quarry in 2001. His work caught the attention of Forrester Research, which identified Quarry in its 2005 report Where to Get Help With Persona Projects. And look for an invited chapter by Robert in the upcoming book from Morgan Kaufman Publishers titled The Persona Lifecycle.

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