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Preparing Visual Materials

Objectives

This article covers the following objectives:

  • Construct entity relationship diagrams that demonstrate industry conventions
  • Prepare tables and visuals that support their database documentation
  • Demonstrate and provide examples of table formatting for database documentation
  • Demonstrate and refine oral presentation skills during rehearsal and refinement

Purpose

  • Visual materials complete the presentation.
  • They complement the written documentation and the oral presentation.
  • For nontechnical readers, graphs, tables, and visual presentation of data are key to understanding and clarifying the written documentation.
  • Sports teams hold regular practice sessions, theater companies have rehearsals before a show, and musicians practice regularly on their instruments.
  • The stellar performances you see at the game, the show, or the concert would not be possible without practice.
  • Think about the first time you solved a math problem, played a video game, or learned to swim.
    • Were you very good at it?
    • What did you do to get better?
  • Practice!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

  • People take in a lot of information through their eyes, much more than through their ears.
  • Well-drawn and clearly labeled visual materials add impact to the presentation as it is being delivered and support it afterward.

Guidelines for Preparing and Using Visual Elements

  • All diagrams, drawings, tables, or graphs should have a title that identifies what it depicts.
  • All diagrams, drawings, tables, or graphs should have a label that identifies it for reference from the written documentation.
  • For example, label a diagram “Figure 1 – ERD ” and refer to it as “Figure 1 – ERD” in the written documentation.
  • If different colors or different styles of lines are used in a drawing, be sure to make a key to explain their meaning.
  • Keep all diagrams, drawings, tables, and graphs simple and easy to understand.
  • The reader doesn’t need 85 rows of data output to understand your point.
  • Size diagrams, drawings, tables, and graphs to fit in the flow of the documentation and within the page margins.
  • Use tables for numerical data and to show database output.
  • Label each table with a centered bold row heading and a column heading.
  • If several tables are part of a group, label them Table 1-1, Table 1-2, etc.
  • Use the same font size and style of all similar elements in each table.
  • Line up decimal points in columns.
  • Don’t abbreviate without providing a key.
  • If you use “mname,” make sure you reference it.
  • Your audience may not know if this is maiden name, middle name, or manager name.
  • For charts and graphs, choose the style (pie chart, bar graph, line graph) that best fits the data being illustrated.
  • For visuals to be shown during a presentation, make sure the print size is large enough for someone to read from the last row of seats.
  • Keep visual content simple.
  • Your audience may not understand technical jargon or have time to read many lines of text.
  • Rehearse the presentation to make sure you understand how to explain all visual elements.

Practice Makes Perfect

  • Very few people get everything right the first time.
  • The key is to practice and be willing to listen to constructive criticism.
  • You have an important role both as a presenter and as an audience member.
  • When you offer feedback to your class members about their presentations, be constructive, helpful, and positive.

Classroom Activity: Presentation Rehearsal

  • Review your presentation with your group.
  • Present a “mini” version of your presentation to the class (make a brief introduction, show the ERD, make one statement about it and then conclude).
  • Refine your presentation, incorporating feedback from your classmates.

Summary

In this article, you should have learned how to:

  • Construct entity relationship diagrams that demonstrate industry conventions
  • Prepare tables and visuals that support their database documentation
  • Demonstrate and provide examples of table formatting for database documentation
  • Demonstrate and refine oral presentation skills during rehearsal and refinement

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