Quality guidance for engineers concerning presentations

Engineering Speaking by DesignAnthony Haynes writes: Though there are many resources available on how to give a presentation, few provide guidance specifically aimed at engineers. Engineering speaking by design (CRC Press) by Edward J. Rothwell & Michael J. Cloud — the authors too of Engineering writing by design — is one of those that does.

And it does it very well.

What I like about it most is that it is one of those resources — like, for example, Alison Huff’s Designing research for publication — that presents communication as itself a form of design.

The attractive notion in such books is that one not only communicates about engineering or design: one also communicates by engineering or designing.

In Engineering speaking by design this notion is made most evident in the second chapter, ‘Engineering a presentation’, which begins with a review of some pertinent design concepts and then outlines some approaches to design in general.

There are many other aspects of the book that I welcome. Engineers tend to value prose that is clear and concise, with an absence of waffle, and the text of this book meets those criteria. It is firmly written throughout.

It’s also evidently rooted in experience. The authors have a keen sense of those things that presenters do that they should not do — and their guidance is designed to anticipate such pitfalls. This is perhaps especially true of the nitty-gritty advice in Chapter 4, ‘Building your presentation’.

I also commend the way that the book give explicit attention to aspects of presenting that are often either overlooked or treated skimpily. Examples include passages in Chapter 2 on how to think about one’s audience and the context of the presentation.

It’s also true of the chapter entitled ‘Success! (What now?)’, which is devoted to the oft-neglected topic of what presenters should do following the presentation. This chapter provides the book with a particularly strong ending.

There aren’t many resources on presentations that I feel enthusiastic about, but Engineering speaking by design is certainly one of them.


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