So what have I been doing in the past few weeks?
Well, I spent a lot of my time helping to organise the Rebellion Conference. At the same time, I was putting in huge amounts of effort to produce quality results for my second chapter, which I was planning to present at the Rebellion. Then, I put a lot of time and energy into preparing the talk, and I've just finished preparing my poster for the SCCS Conference, also presenting the same results. They are good results =)
I remember going to one of my first weekly Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC) seminars, and listened to Luke Parry talk. He was in his final year at the time, now of course Dr Luke, researching the people of the Brazilian Amazon: where they live, how they sustain themselves, their rural-to-urban movement and the implications on forest conservation. Anyway, I remember being blown away by the quality of his talk. It was the best talk I'd ever seen/listened to! And nearly every other one of the talks by advanced PhD students at these seminars was (and still is) of the same awesome standard.
I feel I've come such a long way with presenting talks and posters since I was first exposed to them in my Undergrad years. And even my Masters year, during which we had to give a number of assessed talks. I used to consistently go over my allocated talk time, I used to talk too fast, my slides were average at best, with too many words, and disjointed themes. All my old posters had the same problems: too many words, trying to get accross too much information, and lacking clear theme and flow.
|The Tyndall Centre Climate Change Garden|
|at the Chelsea Flower Show|
Some time in my first year, we dedicated one of our weekly research group meetings to helping Johanna Forster (also now a Dr) practice her talk about the award-winning Climate Change Garden she helped design for the Royal Chelsea Flower Show. Her talk got some amazing constructive criticism by the research group. And I'm sure was an even better talk for it. This is where I learned about ungrouping graphs and clever use of animation. "Break it down" was the message.
Dr Jenny Gill made was to start every slide with a question. Get people thinking before you give them the answer. I've just recently seen her talk at the Rebellion, and I can verify from the audience side: it works. It engages the audience and it carves the path for the talk. Ingenious device.
At one point I was subjected to the brilliant force that is the research group's constructive citicism. I was preparing a talk to present to a mixed audience about my methodology (at the workshop mentionned in this post). This is quite a technical subject (as far as ecological fieldwork goes anyway!) and I had to somehow make it understandable and useful to non-specialists but not dumb it down and maintain interested in the specialists who were also going to be in the audience. I never thought that having my presentation ripped apart like that could be a pleasant experience. I loved it!
I had the exactly opposite reaction, however, when I was trying to prepare my first PhD poster. It turned out all for the better though! I talk about that here, I won't repeat myself. My next poster, for the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, I actually enjoyed preparing (mentionned here - check it out, I finally added a picture of it). I mentionned at the beginning of this post that I've just finished preparing another poster. And it is my best yet! I'm really proud of it, but no one gets to see it until its had its unveiling at the SCCS.
|Caught in action during my Rebellion talk|
Of course there's always room for improvement, and I can't wait to discover it!
So what's all this got to do with glimpses of my potential future? Well... event organising, science communication... We'll see I guess!