After thesis submission and the exams, my research students are required to make presentations to relevant agencies about their work. They have to shake off the post-exam inertia to communicate research findings in an enjoyable way to staff and volunteers who manage and support these areas.
During these talks, the audience get to discover the story behind the students’ frequent presence in the area for six months or more! “So that’s what you were up to” is a common refrain.
In preparation, students go through storyboard drafts and dry runs with me in order to communicate effectively. I take critical notes during the talk about their style, content, delivery etc., which we iron out during the debrief. By the 4th version of the talk, they are quite good – mind you, audiences are generally happy with version 1.
So the research students learn to grapple with their fear of public speaking, communicate and discover an appreciative and interested audience beyond the boundaries of their lab and allow their personalities and thoughts to bring unique perspectives and ideas to issues.
The second debt they have to pay is a public talk. This requires a different approach so there is work to do for this as well. If it is possible to coincide with an event on the biodiversity calendar, we will wait and thus the deadline for this can extend to over a year (ahem, Trina Chua!)
Last month, Weiting and Yiteng set the record for the earliest possible date – before their exams! This was quite stressful for all of us but a great experience nonetheless. Still, I will be sure to avoid this timing in future!
This Saturday, after the Working Group meeting at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, their fellow-honours students in the lab, Aisyah and Joanne, will share their research experience with staff and volunteers of the reserve. This session was a little sudden but the timing fit many of us and there never will be a perfect time.
I am looking forward to this very much and hoping I will not have to take too many notes!