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Chapter 7 Technical Communications

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Joseph Buffington

on 22 September 2013

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Transcript of Chapter 7 Technical Communications

Chapter 7 Technical Communication
Detail 3
Convenient, relatively informal way to communicate the existence of a problem, propose some course of action, describe a procedure, or report the result of a test
Must be carefully prepared, thoughtfully written, and thoroughly proofread for errors


Other Types of Communication


Technical Communication
by: Gomez

1st paragraph
Thank the interviewers for their time and reiterate your interest in working for their company

2nd paragraph
Briefly restate your qualifications
Address any positive qualities failed to mentioned during interview

Thank-You Letter Contents

Thank the individuals who interviewed you for the position applied for

Do not wait more than 48 hours to send

Businesslike and concise

May put you ahead of the competition

Thank-You Letters

Language is simple, direct, and precise
Noun phrases are consistently used to describe experience, skills, and activities
Parallel structure is used effectively
Have no errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling (no typos whatsoever)

Resume Checklist

Name and key headings stand out
Information within each heading is ordered from most to least important
Experience segment is arranged to highlight your strengths and career objective

Resume Checklist

Objective clearly stated
Objective supported by education, experience, activities, and honors
Experience, education, and/ or skills segment are effective
Al activities, honors, and other data are appropriate for the employment and the reader

Resume Checklist

Many formats for resume, must include essential information
Phone Number
Educational Background
Previous Employment
Extracurricular Activities
Highlight key elements in BOLD
Have many people critique your resume and evaluate all comments, tailoring to fit you


C: Conclusion
Emphasize a main benefit or feature of your proposal
Restate your interest in doing the work
Indicate what should happen next

Proposal ABC Format

A: Abstract
Reader’s main need
Main features you offer and related benefits
Overview of proposal sections to follow

Proposal ABC Format

Address a specific need and describe the problem at issue, define a solution, and request funding or other resources to solve a problem
Request For Proposal (RFP) guidelines
What the proposal should cover
What sections it should have
When it should be submitted
To whom it should be sent
How evaluated with regard to other proposals


Assumes managerial perspective instead of technical one
Presents simple facts and describes key elements in non-technical language
Contains enough info for clear decisions
Background of situation/problem
Cost Factors

Executive Summaries

Be an enthusiastic speaker
“There are no boring topics, only boring presentations.”

Master your subject
Read the audience, not your note cards

Use pauses to your advantage

Maximize Auditory Impact

Try to be as brief as you possibly can in creation of these PowerPoint slides because you do
not want to overload the audience with unuseful information
Cluttered slides are hard to read and cause the audience to focus their attention somewhere else (Kind of like what most of you are doing right now)
Two clear understandable slides are better than one cluttered slide

Maximize Visual Impact

The more a
Pointer needs
The worse
the slide

Keep it Simple

Maximize Visual Impact

One central idea per slide

Font size important

Speaker may add details when needed
Orally identify/locate colors to help listeners
Use high contrast colors
Graphs & Charts more effective than Tables

Maximizing Visual Impact

Information should pertain to 3 - 5 main points

Use graphics, pictures and photos
Communicate a lot of info concisely

Do not include too much or too little info
Approx 1 slide for every minute of speech
Do not exceed 30 seconds on 1 slide

Gather Information Needed to Present

Who you are and why you did this
Why your engineering design needed
You have the design that addresses the need, and here it is. Include major design features
Bottom Line
Benefits and cost

Organization of the Information

Know your audience
How many people?
How well do you know audience members?
Small audiences who are known, use names
What is the background of listeners
What are the expectations
Information, tone, level of formality
What does audience know about the topic
How long is your allotted time to speak

Identify Purpose and Audience

Breathing to avoid adrenaline overdrive
Practice Square Breathing
7 seconds in, hold 7, 7 out, hold 7
Visualize successful presentation
Tailor the talk to your strengths
Use humor
Use props
Use your nervous habit
Use trivia
Have presentation ready at least 1 day before

Techniques Dealing with Nervousness

Give valuable info not have had otherwise

Be in a form to be put into immediate use

Motivate and inspire the audience to want to put the info to immediate use

Best Presentation Qualities

Language using suited to audience?
Do you know how to communicate effectively
Do you need to expand your communication skills
What being said clear to readers?
Readers draw same conclusions you did
Words, phrases, ideas that lead to multiple interpretations
Do you know your audience?
Unique preferences, hidden expectations
Feelings about things being communicated
Know how your audience perceives things?
Do all engineers see things the same way
Audience of non-engineers interpretations

Minimal Time Decsion-Makers for Communication

Must possess technical skills
Strong communication and teaming skills lacking in entry-level candidates
Golden Rules of Communication for Engineers:
Brevity is best
Using a shorter, simpler word is typically preferable to a longer, more difficult word.

Communication and Engineering

Transfers vital info
Provides a basis for judging your knowledge
Conveys your interest and competence
Increases the knowledge of others
Identifies to you the gaps in your information
Allows you to carry out desired changes

Effective Communication

3rd paragraph
Close with a final thank-you
Express interest in hearing back from the interviewer
May give specific timeframe to when you will follow up with a phone call
Provide interviewer with phone numbers where you can be reached and e-mail address
Additional Advice
Personalize each Thank-You Letter
May open other doors or future opportunities

Thank-You Letter Contents

Sells you and your qualifications
Two main types
Skills Resume
No significant work experience
Highlights skills and talents to benefit the potential employer
Experience Resume
Highlights prior work experience relevant to job being applied for


3rd paragraph
“Current” information which may not yet be appropriately included in your resume
Courses taking, research involved in, activities about to engage in
4th paragraph
Summary paragraph thanking reader “in advance” for consideration

Specifics in a Cover Letter

Date, your address and phone number, and the name and address of the person to whom you are writing
1st paragraph
Introduction of yourself, reason you are writing the letter, source of your information about the employer, and position for which you would like to apply
2nd paragraph
Brief resume description, hitting highlights

Specifics in a Cover Letter

Sent along with resumes and transcripts to potential employers
Introduces you to the company in a conversational manner
Opportunity to communicate what you have to offer to them
May open doors if written properly or slam them shut if written poorly

Cover Letters

Explicitly states problem to be investigated and outlines course of action to be taken
Correctly defining problem is vital
Work with data you have already collected
Consult contacts who have knowledge of the problem
Investigate the problem first-hand

Problem Statements

Attractive and easy to understand
Scope of work being done, purpose of the work, and any major changes that have been required
Project Description
Completed phases, time taken to complete, and phases to be completed
Summarize main points of action and reiterate where you are along the road to completion

Progress Reports

Never use when face-to-face dialog is needed
Do not use when formal documentation is required
Does not carry status of formal report
Not as private as you think

Email Cautions

Use proper grammar
Appropriate sentence structure, subject/verb agreement, spelling, flow
Carefully proofread, edit, and spellcheck
Think about response before sending
Wait as long as possible before sending a response, even if you only have an hour


To: name, job title
From: name, job title
Subject: (or “Re:”) issue addressed in memo
Date: date
Dist: (Distribution) list of others receiving memo (if applicable)
Encl: (Enclosure) list of other items included (if applicable)
Ref: (Reference) list of related documents (if applicable)

Title Format for Memo

Summarizes memos purpose

Restates the main points and contains recommendations


B: Body
What do you want to solve and why?
What are the technical details of your approach?
Who will do the work, and with what?
When will it be done, and how long will it take?
How much will it cost?

Proposal ABC Format

Checklists make sure you have included everything in the report that is needed
Customized Checklists can be made for each communication format

Formal Report
Title Page
Title of Paper
Date Due
Section Meeting Time
Initials for first name
All necessary info included
References numbered in text lines like this: [1]

Communication Checklists


Lengthy calculations and side issues not related to main theme placed here

Is the piece required as part of the investigation for the report?
No = Appendix

Formal Reports

Example References
Gomez, A.G., W.C. Oakes, and L.L. Leone. “Technical Communication,” Engineering Your Future. Edition 1, Okemos, MI. Great Lakes Press, Inc. pp. 151 - 180

Serge, E., ed., Experimental Nuclear PhysicsI, 1st ed., Vol. 1, New York: Wiley, 1953,pp. 6-10

Formal Reports

Author’s last name, then first and middle initial
List coauthors with initials first
Title of source quoted
Edition of source
Volume of source (if applicable)
City of publication (from source’s title page)
Date of Publication
Pages references

Formal Reports

Short, declarative statements of the results which summarize specific data presented in graphs or tables
Interpret results, what was expected, what was unexpected, and what is of technical interest
Concise statements that clearly communicate what results indicate

Formal Reports

State the motivation of experiment and background information
Begin with basic, general relationships and proceed to specific formulas used in interpretation of data
All relevant mathematical steps presented
Experimental Procedure
Schematic representation of experiment equipment or simulation program

Formal Reports

Brief, clear, and appropriate introduction
What was attempted, how accomplished, and what the implications are
Table of Contents
Each heading listed found in report with page number
List and define all symbols used in report

Formal Reports

Factual and objective
Methodical Construction
Present most essential info first, followed by supporting statements
Unemotional and unbiased
Importance in Workplace

Unique Aspects of Technical Writing

Ask yourself
“Who is going to read this, anyway?”
Consider needs and perspectives of audience
Technical material needs to be clear and concise

The Audience

Each paragraph should address a single topic
Avoid cliches
Its and It’s
Its = Denotes possession
It’s = It is
Affect and Effect
Affect - Verb
To Influence
Effect - Noun

Grammatical Issues

First 10 - 30 s critical
Introduce yourself and topic
Establish level of formality
Establish tone
Interaction with audience establishes rapport
Monitor audience during

Getting Started

Practice, Practice, Practice


Keep It Simple

Audience will remain with you
Accessible language
More than one way the information is provided

Maximal Audience Impact in Presentation

Have a one-page summary
Presentations longer than 5 minutes
Beginning of speech, let’s audience preview what is coming ahead
Use the power of repetition
“Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them”
Provide written supplement
Helps audience focus on what you are saying
Not bogged down with writing presentation down

Organization of Presentation

Identify purpose and audience
Organize information
Gather information needed to present
Create presentation material with maximal audience impact
Practice your presentation after it is prepared

Preparation for Presentation

Preparation time less
Business context
Technical meeting
Meeting involving a design team

Preset time and date
Preparation needed
May be made to:
Expert panels
Design Competitions
Conclusion projects
Presentation software
Handouts of slides
Business attire

Formal and Informal Presentations


Oral Communication Skills

Involves specialized vocabulary
Incorporates signs, symbols, formulas, graphs, and tables
Documents completed work

Identifies the main premise early on
Is clear, objective, and economical
Follows a specific format
Takes a problem-solving approach

Technical Writing


Brief notes to a superior peer
Hand-written reminders
Informal reports
Formal reports
Visual presentations

Formats of Written Communication

How does this work!?


Know how the equipment works beforehand
Ensure video projection system is compatible
May bring your own just in case

Presentation Hardware


How would you like this in front
of you at a ballgame?

Practicing presentations out loud allows for insight into technique
Will know how long presentation goes
More familiar you become with a topic
Showing the audience you are familiar with the topic
will make them and you more confident in the subject

Engages audience
Make sure everyone can see a demonstration
Point out major concepts and ideas
With direct engagement, assist audience through step-by-step process
“Has everyone finished this step.”

Kinematic Methods
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