Friday, May 24, 2013

Ten Commandments for Presenters

Going through some of my old files I had discovered this little gem. I was unable to fine a digital copy of it online and barely a reference to it so I figured I would repost it here for the benefit of any presenters. This is presented verbatim.


Geotimes May 1999

Geologic Column
Ten Commandments for Presenters

By Hugh Hay-Roe

Anyone who has attended even a few earth science society conferences has noticed the range in quality of the presentations. Some papers are a joy to sit through; others can leave you confused, frustrated, or fast asleep. Presentations may fail because the speakers prepare the script as if they were writing a paper for publications. They forget that a paper given orally differs from a published paper in three crucial ways:

A live audience is like a group taking a guided tour - unless they have reviewed the subject in advance, they are totally dependent on the speaker to orient them before they set off. If the speaker fails to do so properly at the outset, the group will soon be lost.

Unlike readers, listeners cannot pause to re-read what they didn't understand. They cannot jump past the dull stuff to get to what interests them, nor go back to find an important point they missed.

Most people take in information better by eye than by ear, so visual aids are crucial. The more complex the subject, the more important it is to have clear visuals.

With those distinctions in mind, here are 10 guidelines for better oral presentations.

1. Define clearly what you wish to accomplish with your presentation. In most instances, your purpose is to inform, but sometimes your primary goal is to persuade. Or you may wish to entertain. Some talks are a combination of these purposes.

2. Write down in concrete specific terms what you offer to your readers (if it's information) or what you want from them (if you are trying to persuade). For example, don't write, "I want to tell them about the Yippahoopy Quadrangle." Write, "I want to tell them that the Yippahoopy Quadrangle is almost certainly the site of a significant meteorite impact during the Early Miocene."

3. Having defined your key ideas, present them at the beginning and - unless the presentation is very short - again at the end.

4. Organize your supporting information in a sequence in which listeners will most likely want it. To do that effectively, you have to know your audience - their technical backgrounds, main interests, and limitations. In the example above, you might present your evidence for the meteorite, offer questions and doubts, describe your field and lab methods, and finally discuss the implications of your findings.

5. Use visual aids that are attractive and highly readable. Never use a visual aid that you have to apologize for. A digital image projector (fed from a laptop or notebook computer and controlled by a "remote mouse") is the most effective projection device.

6. Hold onto your reading material until your talk is finished. The only good handout at the beginning of a presentation is a simple outline, with space between the headings for listeners to take notes.

7. Unless you are speaking in a very large auditorium, eye contact with the audience is important. But even in a vast hall, don't read from a detailed script. If you do, your voice will tend to drop to a monotone, losing its "vocal variety." Use cue cards (or cue yourself from your visuals). And practice! Get feedback from a "guinea pig" audience during dry runs beforehand.

8. Anticipate questions and decide how you'll handle them. Are you going to present anything that is controversial or extremely complex? Some listeners might ask about aspects you did not cover in your talk.

9. If possible, check out the logistics ahead of time - room arrangement, lights and dimmer switches, sound system, visual equipment, and other aids. Find out what assistance will be available, if any. If there is a speakers' breakfast, don't play hooky.

10. If you are the only speaker or if there is no printed program, make sure the emcee knows how you want to be introduced, and has just the information needed to do a good job (including the title of your presentation, if it's a formal talk). A good introduction will establish your credibility with the audience.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Geological Quote of the Week - What is that?

In this Geological Quote I was reading through a book on chaos theory and geology and I just found this line funny.
"With the help of a technical device called a return map which we shall not attempt to describe..."
i.e., yea, we don't know what it is either.

Goodings, D., 1991, Chaos in a time series, in Middleton, G.V., Ed., Nonlinear dynamics, choas and fractals with applications to geological systems,Short Course Notes, V. 9: Toronto, Ontario, Geological Association of Canada, p. 35-46.

You can find all of my other Geological Quotes by clicking here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

CBS Sunday Morning - Sinkholes

An interesting report on the ever increasing problem of sinkholes, both geologically and man-made.

And here is the link for those who can't see the video:

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Geology of the National Parks in Pictures - Wupatki

The next up on my tour of the National Parks in pictures:

My standard picture of the front sign.

Distant view of the Wupatki pueblo

Closer view of the Wupatki Pueblo

Distant view of the Citadel Pueblo

Closer, a little more abstract view of the Citadel Pueblo

Veronica being fancy, unfortunately the background got washed out.

You can see the rest of the National Park Pictures at my website.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Geological State Symbols Across the US - #4 Arkansas

The next state up is Arkansas. Here are the stats:

                                                                                        Year Established
State Mineral: Quartz Crystal                                                  1967
State Rock: Bauxite                                                                  1967
State Gemstone: Diamond                                                       1967

State Mineral: Quartz Crystal 

Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals in the crust of the Earth and easily one of the simplest minerals. It's chemical composition is SiO2 (silicon dioxide) and is a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Not only is it stable on the Earth's surface, it's harness means that it hangs around for a long time. This is the reason that the vast majority of sand is composed of quartz.

Quartz can be found in many different colors from purple (amethyst), to grey (smokey quartz), to white (milky quartz) but Quartz Crystal is often referred to the clear variety that has a crystal habit (pictured right), although any color of quartz can occur in a crystal habit. Quartz does not have any cleavage, meaning that when it breaks it doesn't form along perfect surfaces. Instead the Quartz Crystals grow, often by hydrothermal waters that are rich in dissolved silicon dioxide. As the waters flow over the crystals the silicon dioxide is deposited on the surface of the crystal, kind of like a stalactite in a cave.

Arkansas is known for the town of Hot Springs which has these hydrothermally heated pools flowing to the surface. These hydrothermal waters have produced some of the finest varieties of Quartz Crystals on the planet. There are many "dig your own quartz crystal" mines located in the areas around Hot Springs in the Ouachita Mountains, which allow people to dig for these crystals themselves. The Ouachita Mountains was considered to be a mystical location by the Native Americans and the Quartz Crystals were believed to have a sacred and spiritual significance, which is a belief of many holistic practitioners today.

State Rock: Bauxite

Unlike quartz and diamond, bauxite is by far the least known of the three Arkansas state symbols. Bauxite well known for being the primary ore of aluminum, of which the majority of the aluminum in the world is from bauxite. The primary minerals of bauxite are gibbsite (Al(OH)3), boehmite (AlO(OH)), and diaspore (AlO(OH)). To extract the aluminum, the bauxite is crushed into a powder and the aluminum is leached out via several chemical procedures.

The obvious use of aluminum is as a metal, but it can also be used for abrasives (one of the byproducts of the leaching process has a hardness of 9), in cements, and as proppants (discussed below). Currently the United States is not even in the top ten for bauxite producers and it is only produced in a handful of localities in the United States (Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama). But that was not always the case. In Arkansas bauxite first saw production in 1899, and increased in production until 1923 when Arkansas produced half of the world's supply at 500,000 tons that year. The peak of production was in 1943 when 6,000,000 long tons were produced but it has had a steady decline ever since. Currently the Arkansas bauxite is mined for production of proppants, which are high density spherical grains used by the oil and gas industry in fracking.

State Gemstone: Diamond

One of the most famous gemstones, the diamond also is one of the hardest minerals on earth (it is actually the third hardest after two extremely rare minerals called Wurtzite Boron Nitride and Lonsdaleite ( Made up entirely of carbon, like its cousin graphite (also made up entirely of carbon), the arrangement of the carbon atoms and the strength of the bonds are what give the two minerals completely different properties. Diamonds are most often found in structures called kimberlites or lamproites. Kimberlites are magmatic rocks that are formed deep within the Earth's surface. The high pressure converts the carbon into diamonds and the structures make their way to the surface as buoyant globs of rock. Due to being formed at such high pressure, diamonds are inherently unstable on the Earth's surface, however they degrade at such a slow rate that it isn't much of an issue to jewelry.

Several kimberlites/lamproites are known in Arkansas, with the largest being located in Crater of Diamonds State Park, where visitors are allowed to mine for diamonds and keep what they find. The largest diamond found in Arkansas is called "The Uncle Sam" which was 40.42 carats before it was cut and was discovered in 1924 (figured right).


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