Re: Information Presentation Question

Subject: Re: Information Presentation Question
From: Randy Grandle <Randy -dot- Grandle -at- CORP -dot- SUN -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 12:40:08 -0700

David Dubin wrote:

>My fellow writers,
>Here is a question that I hope will interest you, spur some debate and will
>lead to either dissonance or concurrence. If you had to pick the top two (2)
>methods of presenting a block of information quickly and completely, what would
>they be and why? The information to be presented is informational, not
>procedural, and it may be lineal or linked via topics. I do not want to provide
>examples, as they may influence your decisions. I am working on standardization
>(again) and the topic of information presentation was open. TIA for all your
>eventual comments, suggestions, and time.

David asks us what our "top two (2) methods of presenting a block of
information quickly and completely" are. As noted by previous responders,
David's query is quite vague and general.

For example, David tells us nothing about the audience for the information.
Nor does David tell us anything about the media or distribution methods
currently available to reach the audience.

If the target audience all have email, can reasonably be expected to read
their email, and if the information is not too long, I might send the block
of information as an email message. Email may very well be my choice for
a "quick and complete solution."

I often send email to communicate appropriate types of information. However,
as we all know, email has serious limitations for presenting information.
The available formatting options are quite limited and, typically, only
relatively short messages are appropriate for email.

If the audience is my project team, I might present the block of information
"quickly and completely" by showing an overhead transparency at a project
status meeting. Again, this medium and method is only appropriate for
certain audiences and for certain types of information.

I might even post some information on the Intranet or on the Internet.
This raises even more questions about what the information is needed for
and how the audience can best access and use the information.

Sometimes, I just present the information "the old fashioned way" by
preparing a hard copy memo and sending it to the appropriate people.

Each medium and distribution method for presenting (communicating)
information may be appropriate for certain information and for certain
audiences. Moreover, each medium and distribution method has unique
considerations and typically raise many other issues, such as
development time, resources required, cost, and so on.

I am wary of attempts to provide boilerplate solutions (standardization)
for how to present information. Yes, boilerplate and templates can
help us "quickly and completely" present some information. For example,
I can present tables of data in a consistent, standard format. If this
effectively communicates the information, fine. If not, maybe a
graphic illustration will work better. Often, since some learn best
with tables and others learn best with graphics, presenting technical
data in both a table and a graphic illustration is the best solution.

Generally, the method that I chose to present information depends on
many factors, including the type of information and the target audience.

Provide me with more specifics and I can tell you what my top two
methods would be.

Randy Grandle

Project Lead Writer
Sun IT Operations Services

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