NGCM students participated in a morning session on presentation skills. It was a mixture of collaborative discussion and individual student presentations.
The morning began with a discussion of the importance of communication in academia lead by Professor Hans Fangohr. Communication of research is vital to achieving impact and it was emphasised that good science is impossible without effective communication, whether that be between colleagues in different disciplines or between scientists and non-experts.
The two main aspects of communication that were discussed were conference talks and posters. Each represents a different way of delivering the results of research. There was an open discussion on what makes for a good conference talk and what is important for posters at conferences. Each setting is different and whilst a talk may kick-start a discussion, the only feedback initially is through a Q and A, which can be limited. Posters, by contrast, give an opportunity for a 1 to 1 discussion with a colleague about one's research. It was also mentioned how often at a poster session, the room can be incredibly busy, and that makes it a challenge to explain a poster in a tight and noisy environment.
Later in the morning, students were divided into groups and invited to positively critique draft research posters produced by some of the students. Then, each group selected a reporter to present the main points that were raised within each group. This lead to an amalgamation of advice on what makes a good research poster, as each group's reporter presented their points to the main group, before a coffee break. It was useful to work from and analyse actual posters instead of discussing more general ideas about what makes a good poster.
Finally, some of the students gave short practice talks on research they had undertaken and then the group offered advice on presentation style and content. We heard talks from:
The advice for improvement varied from person to person, and all talks were of a high quality. One issue that came up repeatedly was sticking to the time constraint. This is especially important at conferences where talks can be rigorously timetabled. This was a very useful activity, both for the speakers and the audience. The session served as a fruitful reminder of the importance of effective professional communication and served as excellent preparation for the upcoming Strategic Advisory Board meeting, where the talks and posters would be refined for presentation to the Strategic Advisory Board of the CDT.