Effectively communicating your research: From elevator talks to job interview presentations


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Slides from the webinar presented on Feb 21, 2013 by Tim Bralower, Liz Ritchie and Heather Macdonald

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  • Tie in to goals Learn more about communicating your research in informal "elevator talks“ Consider how your “elevator talk” might be different for different audiencesLearn about aspects of designing a presentation about your research for an academic interviewLeave with some practical strategies of how to prepare and deliver a great job talk
  • Make a good first impression
  • Compelling contentNature article, Nancy Bacon COMPASS. 1. the problem; 2) why it matters; 3) potential solutions; 4) benefits of fixing it. Might add to the list of two, what techniques, approaches etc. (your skills set)
  • Appropriate to audience, Different audiences interview with colleague in same specialty, with another geoscientist, with a dean who studies Victorian literature, with undergraduate students
  • It’s a conversationEngaging delivery
  • What do you need to do to revise your elevator talk? Refer back to opening slide – how often you do this
  • MW
  • If the audience is a mix, include "hooks" that ensure the undergrads will be able to understand the basics and the importance of the material but also include specifics to convince the faculty that your research is at the forefront of the field.  Try to span the difficulty level. Show that you can talk to a wide audience without losing anyone. Also be sure to "show your stuff," and don't be afraid to lose them! 
  • NOT mentioning projects in terms of Ph.D or postdoc research. "For my Ph.D dissertation
  • – to make them strongeri.e., show them they need your expertise Don’t spend too much time on acknowledgments ,
  • not to the screen
  • Some speakers launch into a second talk
  • RB Some of you asked “What qualities do interviewers look for?” or “What do employers want to know most?” This is a response to that question – keeping in mind that your interviewers are all individuals with different aspects they might be seeking. The interview is a time for youto express your excitement and enthusiasm for your work, for the work of members of the hiring department, and for the institution. You want to convey the feeling that you are already comfortable as a member of the academic profession. That’s the big-picture goal
  • Effectively communicating your research: From elevator talks to job interview presentations

    1. 1. Effectively communicating your research: Fromelevator talks to job interview presentationsHeather MacdonaldCollege of William & MaryElizabeth RitchieUniversity of ArizonaTim BralowerPennsylvania State UniversityMolly KentScience Education Resource Center(SERC)
    2. 2. Webinar overviewCommunicating your researchElevator talksKey elements and how to modify fordifferent audiencesQuestionsAcademic job talks (research)Suggestions and strategiesExamplesQuestionsEvaluation of webinar2
    3. 3. Questions for you1. How often do you explain your research toothers outside your research group?A. Every weekB. Once or twice a monthC. Frequently when I’m at a professionalmeeting but not much the rest of the time2. How many job talks (about research) haveyou heard or given in the last year?A. NoneB. 1-3C. 4 or more3
    4. 4. You’ve meeting someone for the first time and theyask you about your research. What do you feel?4
    5. 5. Elevator talksYou are on an elevator (or escalator)Someone asks “What do you do?”You have 30-60 seconds to tell them.Are you ready?Michael Tobis http://init4au.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/escalator.jpg5
    6. 6. Elevator talks:ContentWhat excites you most about yourresearch? What you do, what questionyou are addressing, what methods youuse.Why it is important?Strategy: 20-30 seconds talk1-2 sentences on your research1 on its significance6
    7. 7. Elevator talks:Content, clarityWho is the audienceColleague, undergraduate, neighbor, deanConsider both vocabulary and scopeWatch out for jargonShort sentencesI rather than we (when possible)Strategy:Modify for different audiences7
    8. 8. Elevator talks:Content, clarity, deliveryEstablish eye contactShow enthusiasm for your work (beingtrue to your personality and style)Vary tone of your voiceWatch for eyes glazing overIt’s the beginning of a conversationStrategy:Practice and get feedback8
    9. 9. Preparing your elevator talkJot down main pointsWork into 2-3 sentences; mayneed to omit some pointsPractice different versionsShort, longerFor specialist, for non-specialistGet feedback and reviseStart now:9
    10. 10. What questions do you haveabout elevator talks?Please type your questions into thechat box.Feel free to respond to questions orcomments posed by others10
    11. 11. Lose the beginners or bore the experts?Research presentations – job talks11
    12. 12. The job talkThe audienceThe presentationImportant considerationsHandling questionsIf your work is interdisciplinaryThe preparationThanks to Early Career Geoscience Faculty workshopalumni, Mike Williams, Rachel Beane, College ofWilliam & Mary science faculty, & webinar participants12
    13. 13. The audiencePost-docs?Graduate students?Undergraduates?Faculty in the departmentFaculty in your specialty?Faculty in other departments?13
    14. 14. What are they looking for?Quality of research and its potentialTeaching abilityWhat you would bring to thedepartmentAt a liberal arts college/PUI, use the talk to show that youare able to communicate complex science toundergraduates. Showing that you do research is good,and making it accessible for undergrads is good, andshowing that you can make undergrad sized projects forthem is good. Don’t go through your entire defense.14
    15. 15. The presentationGive them your best workPick one research projectMake it a storyIntroduction to engage the audienceHeart of the talk – take to the MAXscientificallyConclusions and future plansWhat are the learning goals (take-aways) for your audience15
    16. 16. Introduction is criticalHighlight broad context and significance,then telescope to problem at handHook the audience, make them interestedClear statement of research questionsAvoid “this talk is about”, “my area is”Provide some context for the work youre going to present.Why is it important? Why should a igneous petrologist careabout soil moisture? When possible, try to put your workwithin the context of the "grand challenges" being faced byyour field. It’s often the case that I wont be able to assessthe originality and value of your research… so you need toarticulate that for me.16
    17. 17. Introduction is critical First 5 slides are key Consider problem-oriented introductionStatement of fact(s)Statement of problem (related to the facts)Purpose of talk (aimed at solving the problem) Outline on slides or verbal roadmap?My top suggestion is to choose 3 or 4 key points -your "message" (basically strong conclusions) -introduce them at the beginning, then provide thesupporting data and analysis to convince theaudience, then come back to them at the end.These are the 3-4 ideas you want them to walk outthe door remembering. Dont give them too much!17
    18. 18. The rest of the story Give clear explanations Showcase your research & show how you meet theirselection criteria or enhance their areas of expertise Level of presentation re different audiences Acknowledgments A strong end A few concrete conclusions Relate to broader implications Future plans “Thank you”, not “that’s all I have”An engaging story has a beginning (broader context), amiddle ("character development"), and an end (climax &resolution). The audience will follow something linearbetter than something with a lot of detours. They will glazeover if you go into too many details.18
    19. 19. Include something unexpected. Somethingtasteful yet memorable that makes the audiencelaugh is good. Laughter causes the body toproduce endorphins, brain chemicals known fortheir feel-good effect.I had taken the time to research thedepartment via their web page prior tointerviewing, and had found and useda relevant quote from one of theirformer students in my job talk.Tailor your future research directions to… that institution, and think about how tomake the possibilities feel exciting to thataudience.19
    20. 20. Engaging visualsOne idea per slideUncluttered slidesHelp the audience through the visualdetailsI made a lot of my own schematics and illustrationsthat highlighted the key concepts in the intro.These seemed to be more effective than usinganother authors figures, which may have too muchdetail or not highlight exactly what you want.Be sure to walk through each graphand figure--describing the axes thenthe data and take home message20
    21. 21. Giving the talkEnd on time. A good way to ruin a goodtalk is to run overtime.Speak to everybody in audienceSpeak confidently, show your interestAs students walk in, say hello and introduceyourselves to them (during the awkward waittime), shows you’re interested in them andin connecting with them.Talk a deep breath now and then and let your mind catchup. What seems interminably long to the speaker is a short(and welcome) break to the audience.21
    22. 22. Handling questionsRepeat the question, rephrasing itKeep the answers short, and answer thequestionBe ready for off-the-wall questionsSteer your answer back to a point you wantto emphasizeAnticipate responding to questions towhich you don’t know the answer.I try to look at questions as a fun challenge, notsomething to dread. Try to think of answering aquestion. Not as YOU vs THEM, but rather asthe beginning of a short conversation.22
    23. 23. If your work is interdisciplinaryConnect what you do in research and inthe classroom to what professionals inthe field do…I have a joint appointment and had to give two talks - oneabout my research, the other about how I could bridgedepartments. I made a Venn Diagram and then had bubblesdiscussing case studies for how I incorporate multidisciplinaryapproaches to my teaching, mentoring, and research.I spent more time on background than you wouldtraditionally do in a talk. That said, the background wasimportant for everyone to understand my research so itwas ok and was appreciated. Highlight the main themesfrom each field and keep going back to the ways they areimportant in your research results.23
    24. 24. The preparationBefore the interviewAsk about length of presentationAsk about the audiencePractice with an audience, respond to questions,ask for feedbackBring water bottleShort break before the talkReview your talk / first slides - paper or electronicWarm ups (theatrical training)Do something to help you relaxYou may not get the 10 minute break24
    25. 25. “When you walk into an interview, your goal is toconvey an image of yourself as a colleague.After all, a colleague is what your interviewersare looking for.”Mary Dillon JohnsonThe Chronicle of Higher Educationhttp://chronicle.com/article/The-Academic-Job-Interview-/44607/Remind yourself that YOU are the expert on thetopic of your talk, and that THEY saw something inyou that made them want to bring you to campusand learn about you. Be confident.Words of wisdom25
    26. 26. What questions do you haveabout job talks?Please type your questions into thechat box.Feel free to respond to questions orcomments posed by others26
    27. 27. 27What is one important thing you’ve learned in this webinar?
    28. 28. Pursuing an Academic CareerWebinar Series Early career negotiations: Negotiating forwhat you need to be successfulMarch 28, 2013, (Wednesday)Chris Thorncroft, SUNY Albany; Kate Miller,Texas A&M University; Julie Bartley, GustavusAdolphus College Networking for Academic CareersMay 16, 2013 (Wednesday)Tracey Holloway, University of Wisconsin28
    29. 29. Thank you!We’re glad you were able to join ustoday.Please help us by completing anevaluation form.http://nagt.org