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1996 How To Create Interest In Technical Presentations

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.1.1 - 1.1.5



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Paper Authors

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Paul J. Antaki

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

1 .—+. Session 0030

How To Create Interest In Technical Presentations

Paul J. Antaki Antaki & Associates, Inc.

1. Importance of Creating Interest Technical presentations play an important role in our careers as engineers and scientists, and in educating students for these careers. For example, delivering successful conference presentations gains recognition for our work. Further, “selling” the work to managers or customers often involves its presentation. Here, I summarize an approach to help motivate an audience to attend, then listen to, a presentation.

Developing this motivation is a key ingredient for a successful presentation, since the audience is likely to be less interested in its topic than the speaker. From a speaker’s perspective, for instance, his or her presentation is the most important one at a conference. To the audience, however, it’s just one of many. Also, audiences usually expect presentations to be boring descriptions of technical facts understood only by the “experts.”

In the next several sections I show how to motivate audiences encountered in three common scenarios: (i) project review given “in house” at a company, (ii) project report delivered to a customer, (iii) conference paper. First, I discuss these scenarios using a case study. Then, I provide other examples including one for a student presentation.

2. Overall Approach For Creating Interest a. Role of case study Case studies help teach application of theory in engineering and science by examining real-life 1 problems and their solutions. I use case studies for teaching technical presentation skills.

In the study used here, the ABC Corporation (a fictitious company) designs and manufactures copper cable for electric utilities. Unfortunately, a new type of cable has an excessive thickness of rubber insulation. As a result, the heat generated in the copper from the flow of electric current causes melting of the copper and failure of the cable. This failure leaves thousands of utility customers without power for several days. The power loss is a catastrophe for the utility, since its purpose is to provide uninterrupted power. In turn, it’s a catastrophe for the ABC Corporation.

After the failure, the ABC Corporation requests proposals from several engineering firms. The request calls for investigating the failure and recommending an insulation thickness that permits sufficient heat loss from the copper to prevent melting, while satisfying the thickness criterion for electrical insulation.

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Antaki, P. J. (1996, June), 1996 How To Create Interest In Technical Presentations Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6089

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