This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Monday, October 26, 2009

One of the Keys to a Good Presentations is...

One thing (amon many) that bothers me during a presentation is a lack of consistency between graphs. Perhaps I’m just being a bit anal here, but it seems to me that talks should be designed so as to allow the listener to grasp what you are trying to say as quickly as possible. If the audience has to work too hard to understand a series of graphs, then the audience will stop paying attention.

Now I’m not talking about colors and fonts, although maintaining a consistent color scheme for data sets throughout a talk is a very good thing. (If you use red for sample #1 and blue for sample #2 on the first slide, keep it that way throughout the rest of the talk. I know that seems fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t pay attention to this. Far too many people who should know better just use whatever colors Powerpoint gives them.) No, I’m talking about inconsistencies in the way the data is plotted. For example, plotting some of your data using weight% and others using mole% (unless there is some special reason for doing so.)

This almost always happens because the presenter is too lazy to convert one (or more) of the plots. I’ve seen this at group meetings at work as well as at talks given at our local catalysis society meetings. In these cases, it’s obvious the presenter just tossed in a bunch of plots drawn by their students (or group members) and figured that was good enough.

I bring this up now since my current project involves lots of meetings with lots of presentations with lots of data and we’re running into the same problem. In this case, the problem stems from a lack of an agreed upon format. We work on fuel cells and it’s common to evaluate a cell by measuring its current output as a function of voltage. It’s called a polarization curve and is commonly plotted as amps versus voltage. That’s fine, but we have people from many different backgrounds - materials people, electrochemists, product engineers, graduates students from a local university, PhDs from one of the national labs – and everyone has their own preferences. Some like to plot watts (amps x volts) versus volts. Others plot current density (amps/cm2) versus volts while still others plot power density (watts/cm2) versus volts. If that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes the axes are flipped, so that voltage is now on the y-axis. And when they start mixing up these plots in their project updates – and they always do -- I spend half my time doing conversions in my head, just to figure out what the data really means.

So please keep your plots consistent. I may be in your audience one day and I’ll greatly appreciate it!

I would also like to apologize for the long delays between posts. I promise to start posting more often, like I used to do.

21 comments:

Jerry McGowan said...

Great post! Thanks! I am a college sophomore (2nd year) with a dual major in Chemistry and Psychology @ Duke. I think the most fundamental aspect of a great presentation is using less number of words and using more of images. By the way, i came across these excellent chemistry flashcards. Its also a great initiative by the FunnelBrain team. Amazing!!!

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BMW said...

Dear blog friends: Hello!
I am from Taiwan, plastic surgery clinic's website, I am pleased to come to your blog, but also absorb a lot of valuable information and articles.
Besides, do we have this honor and opportunity to ask you to join my site to your blog, so that everyone sharing? Thank you!
The following is my website name and URL, also hope to regularly visit and exchange ^^ I wish you peace and success!
Site Name:隆乳整形外科 果凍矽膠整形
URL:http://www.nuimage.com.tw
http://www.cpchen.com.tw
E-mail:service@pageone.cc

Anonymous said...

禮服酒店 酒店上班
打工兼差 台北酒店 酒店
酒店兼差 酒店打工 酒店經紀 酒店工作 酒店PT 酒店兼職
酒店喝酒 酒店消費

Jamespati said...

Good post!thanks for information for chemical.


Bathroom Renovations

parmer said...

You have a very good website with lots of information one of a good presentations, I think the most fundamental aspect of a great presentation is using less number of words and using more of images.

MBA Distance Learning

Aromatic Chemical said...

That's a good blog. very good presentation & information about chemicals. Thank you.

Cheap Cosmetics said...

Thanks for the useful information. I visit your site and my self very appreciate with this blog. In this blog which you have write about I bring this up now since my current project involves lots of meetings with lots of presentations with lots of data and we’re running into the same problem. That is very very important for us. Thanks a lot.

German1 said...

Thanks for this information, it was very helpful. Keep up the good work.
Interesting. This is something that I can modify to use during our brainstorming sessions for story development German Translator.

Dedicated Server said...

Though the article is a bit lengthy, but I really enjoyed reading it. Your post is very much informative and makes my friends to go through it. Keep posting .Thanks.
Dedicated Server.

Anonymous said...

Adrsha Engineering College.
The Best Engineering College in Orissa. Situated at Anugul.
www.adarshadegree.co.in

autobus said...

What a nice post. I enjoyed the article from the beginning to the end. I really want to thank you for your great deed. I hope to read more from you on this article.
הסעות

rental elf jakarta said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

cbeck said...

A bit of spam here eh? My old advisor would never get off my back about making things consistent in presentations. Somehow, those little details always elude me...

cocoon bobbins said...

Interesting read about a little discussed topic on chemistry blogs. It offers stimulating ideas for further study. Worth sharing among chemists.

error-1058 windows 7 said...

Hi,

thanks for sharing such an important information.. i got a lot of knowledge from this article..

deepsharma said...

Hello there, just was alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I’ll appreciate should you continue this in future. Numerous other people can be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

Spray Foam Insulation

sammy said...

hi , I'm from indonesia....I think you have a value in your writing, love it. Thanks

deepsharma said...

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really realize what you are talking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally seek advice from my website =). We could have a hyperlink trade arrangement between us!

Radiant Barrier

Johnson said...

Presentation are a good way to improve your confidence.It is a nice article.

Sherry Ellis said...

Good tips for using graphics at a presentation!