For this assignment you will document a local event and present a textual and visual record of that event to a public audience. You will initially work in a group to identify a significant communication event occurring on campus or in the local area during a one-month period. As a group you will decide how best to preserve the event through various artifacts (video, audio, interviews, published accounts, news articles, etc.). Your group will submit a formal proposal outlining the project and your methods for collecting data that will accurately represent the event. Once your proposal is approved, your group will collect the data and archive it online so all group members have access to all of the artifacts.
The rest of the project will be composed individually. Using the artifacts collected by your group, you’ll use Photoshop to create and print a large-scale poster that summarizes key elements of the event. Then you’ll use this poster to present the event orally in a public setting. You will also serve as an audience for poster presentations from other classes.
The purpose of this assignment is to focus on the planning and design process of a poster presentation, a common academic and professional communication activity. This assignment offers an opportunity
- to practice basic visual communication principles (grid pattern, figure-ground, direction, chunking, and color unity)
- to practice oral communication principles (invention, arrangement, style, delivery)
- to integrate written, oral, visual (image and gesture), and electronic communicate modes for a specific purpose, audience, and situation
Creating the Poster and Presentation
The Raw Material
Organize the artifacts related to your local event, the ones that your group gathers during October. For storage, you can place text, photos, and some digitized video in our class files space; locate your appropriate group folder. As always, maintain backup copies. In our lab you can use iMovie to capture video and extract single frames from video. If you want to bypass the camera and digitize video directly from the mini-DV tape, there are mini-DV players in Ross 420 and 424 (424 can be reserved at http:// reserve.engl.iastate.edu). Your group is responsible for archiving these raw materials online so that all group members have ready access to the artifacts.
You’ll use Photoshop to create and print a large-scale poster (matte or glossy) that summarizes key elements of the event. You will be provided with 30" x 40" backing cardboard and Photoshop template files. Then you’ll use this poster to present the event orally to another 105H class on Nov. 14 and 16. You will also serve as an audience for that class’s poster presentations.
This assignment will require you to use the WOVE communication model more fully than you have up to this point. Your group work will demand attention to written, oral, and visual aspects of a particular event. Your poster should exhibit an appropriate balance and integration of written and visual elements. Your presentation will require an engaging oral summary of the event. You will use electronic technologies (digital cameras, audio recorders, photo-editing software) throughout the assignment. The bulk of your grade on this assignment will be determined by the effectiveness of your poster and your accompanying presentation, but your written proposal, your written report on the group work, and miscellaneous exercises are important, too. Your poster should convey to your audience the essence of the event you documented by successfully blending the various artifacts your group collected. Your poster should feature a visually engaging design, and your presentation should complement the visual display of the poster. The specific WOVE principles described in the Student Guide are critical to this assignment. Although it is not required, you may supplement your poster presentation with electronic material if you wish (audio, video, web), but must plan carefully how to make such material readily available to your audience (distributing a URL, bringing a laptop to the presentation, etc.).
- We will spend time in class using Photoshop, focusing specifically on such skills as layering, grouping, sharpening, and transforming. Photoshop is a complex program that challenges professionals because of its varied options. If Photoshop is new to you, this project will establish a base of knowledge that you can build on in future projects. Although Photoshop is not a powerful text-editing and layout program (inDesign is much better in that regard), its image-editing features make it a common choice for designing visuals, even if those that are moved to another program for final layout.
- We'll work at one-quarter of the final poster size to keep file sizes small for network transmission to the printer, where it will be scaled 400% for a final output of 30" x 40".
- Other than the size of the poster, the parameters for this assignment are wide open. Work within your skills and your artifacts. A text-intensive, informational poster presents different design challenges from one with a more artistic or aesthetic emphasis. Capture the character of the event within your own choice for emphasis. You are encouraged to seek out examples of good design and learn from them. This assignment provides you almost total creative control—you should take advantage of it.
- The oral presentation will be designed for a total of five minutes (2–3 minutes of formal presentation and 2–3 minutes for questions). The audience will be small groups, typically 1–3 individuals. The audience will be mobile and may enter your presentation at any point. Your poster will be display on an easel next to you in a large room with 18–20 other presentations occurring simultaneously and repeated throughout the 50-minute class period.
- The oral presentation will focus entirely on the event, not on the process of documenting it or of designing the poster.
Giving Your Oral Presentation
For this assignment you will introduce a public audience to the local event that your group chose to document. You will no doubt want to interest your audience in the event (or ones like it) for the future as well as document the specific character of the event you attended. Keep in mind that others in our group are presenting on the same event so you’ll want to personalize part of your presentation by focusing on aspects of the event of special interest to you. Plan on a two-minute general presentation, with some short presentation material on specific subtopics to use during question-answer time. You will be scheduled for a fifteen-minute presentation period during which time you may give your presentation two or three times to different audiences.
Your oral presentation will be evaluated on these main criteria:
context. Do you establish a clear purpose and focus related to the event?
sources. Do you provide both summary and insight into the event for an audience that had not attended it? Do you use the poster and other aids effectively to support your oral commentary?
organization. Do you limit the number of talking points and identify them? Do you transition from point to point clearly? Do you close meaningfully and confidently?
style. Do you seem professional, expressive, engaged in your subject, well-rehearsed but not mechanical?
delivery. Can you be heard distinctly within the noisy conference-style setting? Do facial expression, gestures, and body language seem natural and aimed at genuinely communicating with the audience?
- You may supplement your poster with audio or video; just be sure to work out the technical details in advance and to practice with the equipment.
- Arrive early to class on the day of presentations if possible. Be prepared to quickly set up and take down your poster and any equipment. Presentation easels will be provided.
- If you might want to use this assignment as an example of oral communication for your eportfolio later in the course, it’s fine to ask a friend to attend the event and videotape your presentation.
- Don’t forget your role as audience. Use the same interviewing techniques discussed earlier to elicit both details and interpretation from the poster and the oral presentation.
- Present at least twice and attend 4–6 presentations during each class period. Monitor the time and alert your audience as you close out one discussion period and prepare to begin a new presentation.
- Six or seven presentations will be scheduled for each of three fifteen-minute segments each class period. Audiences will vary but will typically consist of 4–5 people.
- October 28: Attend the event no later than this date.
- October 24–28: Workshop on your poster using Photoshop.
- November 2–3: Meet in individual conference. Have a mock-up of your poster ready to discuss.
- November 7: Submit your poster file, accompanied by a memo evaluating your group work, explaining your design choices for the poster, and describing your plan for the oral presentation.
- November 7–11: Schedule an appointment for printing your poster.
- November 14–16: Present your individual poster to your class and another 105H class.
submitted by by Quinn Warnick and Don Payne for the workshop "Creating and Assessing Posters," May 30, 2006