Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wedding Break

Good morning! Today's my last day before wedding chaos arrives (in the form of relatives), so there will be lots of cleaning and vacuuming, and then some more vacuuming so that no one chokes to death on cat hair. Consequently, I will not be blogging for roughly the next week. I promise to post appropriately altered pictures after the wedding.

Gerty-Z, over at Balanced Instability had an interesting post yesterday about the lack of confidence demonstrated by most young female speakers. As I mentioned in the comments, Alan Alda was involved in a very interesting project a few years ago about using improv training as a tool to improve their communication skills. The video can be seen here.

Students of all stripes generally need more experience presenting. While rehearsing a specific talk can help, many, many science students are simply uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience. There's also a  line I love at about 8:25: "It's much easier when you just make it up than when you write it out the night before." So many students over rehearse a particular talk, and if they get interrupted or distracted mid-sentence, completely lose their talk.

However, there simply aren't that many opportunities to practice, unless you are somehow lecturing, or have external routes (like theatre or other performing arts). It's hard to sound confident about your science when you wouldn't be comfortable presenting The Cat in the Hat in front of a group. Perhaps instead of a journal club, a Science Open Mic? I'd love suggestions, as this is something I'm really interested in starting here at GiantU.

1 comment:

  1. Even lecturing in front of a class doesn't help. I had to TA through grad school, and I teach now, and I still realize that my presentation style is crap.

    Something that I _have_ seen work in my partner's department is a graduate student seminar. At his dept. it was organized around thesis research, and all ABD students had to enroll and give 1-2 (short) presentations a semester, talking about various developments and advances they have made to their thesis in the intervening time. There was a good deal of faculty involvement (not just your committee) so they really got the feel for what it is like to have people not directly in their subfield handle at a talk. Getting faculty involved required the attending faculty to get teaching credit for this duty.

    If you can't get faculty commitment, I've also seen graduate student seminars that have a mix of in house grad student speakers and speakers brought in from outside (perhaps piggy backed off of other seminars they've been invited to speak at, if money is an issue), where people present research. The occasional outside speakers entice faculty to come to the seminar, and thus grad student presenters get to talk in front of both their peers, and someone who knows a bit of what they are doing.

    This is a long comment. If you want more info on either of these or other ideas I've seen, contact me.