Effective Presentation Skills: Practice


Photo of four acrobats practicing a difficult balancing/ strength/ acrobatic circus maneuver.
Practice to achieve your life’s goals. “School for Acrobats” posted on flickr by Julien Harneis.

One of my amazing students just wrote me a lovely email about how her experience in my Acting for Scientists class helped her give better talks.  (BTW if your professors/advisors/chairs really helped you, please drop them an email. We so rarely get to find out what our effect on our students’ success has been.Your email will be enough to keep your favorite prof going for a year).

My student wrote that the most helpful thing about the class was the opportunity to practice standing in front of people and talking over and over again.

She shared that it seemed that everyone in grad school expected Ph.D. students to just magically know how to speak in public. But there had been no opportunity in her life before graduate school for her to learn effective presentation skills.

There are no quick fixes. The only way to get better at presenting, giving talks, and lecturing – is to  practice.

Photo of an orchestra rehearsal, with two cellists in the foreground.
The only way to get better at something is to practice.  Rehearsal “Wiener Nachmittag”, posted on flickr by Wolfgang Lonien.

To find the time and a way to stand up before others often, at least once a week, talk, and listen to their feedback, and to get better and better through doing. Sadly, graduate students and post docs have few opportunities to do this. Professors and researchers have even fewer opportunities for developing effective presentation skills.

That’s why I created Acting for Scientists – To give you a system for practicing your talks.  If you follow this system, you will see an improvement.  Better science communication means sharing your awesome research with the world with much better results.

-Jenifer

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