CB 399: Mastering Scientific Presentation Spring 2013

Mastering Scientific Presentation
Nanocourse Director: Davie Van Vactor

Curriculum Fellow: Leah Brault, lbrault@genetics.med.harvard.edu and Narveen Jandu, narveen_jandu@hms.harvard.edu

Effective communication of scientific knowledge is an essential component of any career in the sciences. The “Mastering Scientific Presentation” nanocourse is designed to meet a critical and unfulfilled need for oral science communication training. This is a three-day nanocourse designed to help students build their presentation skills.

The first day of the course is a 2.5-hour introductory workshop that is open to the Harvard community. The first talk will focus on the “art” of presentation, and show you some exercises to help you become a better speaker! Dr. Brault will cover techniques that can be easily and effectively implemented to improve the quality and effectiveness of science presentations, ranging from body language, gesture, and movement, to vocal clarity, operative words, and the use of metaphor, analogy, and storytelling.  The second talk will focus on communicating your science effectively.  Dr. Jandu will go over how to outline your science presentations, mechanisms to retain audience attention and effective ways to display your data. For the third talk, Dr. Van Vactor will contribute his scientific and teaching expertise to further inform the discussion of effective science presentation with a focus on scientific content. He will give a short presentation on a research question, which will be evaluated by the audience. Dr. Van Vactor will give his presentation a second time, incorporating the techniques that had been presented and the feedback he received.

The second day of this nanocourse is a 2-hour session where groups of five or six students each will be given the opportunity to give brief scientific presentations and receive specific, critical feedback from their peers and the group facilitator to improve their presentation skills. In addition, all students will act as audience in the second session, learning from the techniques presentenced on the first day.

The third day of this nanocourse gives students the opportunity to present a revised version of their presentation from the second day.  This will give students a chance to incorporate the feedback they received from their peers. In addition, they will benefit by giving a new and improved presentation.

Overall, students will learn how to improve their own specific speaking skills and how to promote and develop speaking skills amongst their colleagues so that they can apply their learning to train other classmates, colleagues, and members of student organizations outside of the scope of the nanocourse.


First Session: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 12:30 - 3 PM
Location: Armenise Bldg, (D) Amphitheater

Schedule of Speakers:
Part 1- Mastering your nerves and developing your speaking skills (40-min)
By: Leah Brault
Part 2 - Practical tips for presenting your science effectively (40-min)
By: Narveen Jandu
Part 3 - Scientific Presentation Demonstration (20-min)
By: Davie Van Vactor

Second Session (students must register for ONE session by clicking on the date below):
Date 1: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 10 AM – 12 PM
Location:TMEC Building, Room 448
Facilitator: Zofia & Jason
Date 2: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 1 – 3 PM
Location: TMEC Building, Room 448
Facilitator: Leah & Catherine
Date 3: Friday, May 17, 2013 1 – 3 PM
Location: TMEC Building, Room 448
Facilitator: Narveen & Davie

Third Session (students must attend the corresponding session that they registered for on Day 2):
Date 1: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10 AM – 12 PM 

Location: TMEC Building, Room 448
Facilitator: Zofia & Jason
Date 2: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 1 – 3 PM
Location: TMEC Building, Room 448
Facilitator: Leah & Catherine
Date 3: Friday, May 24, 2013 1 – 3 PM
Location: TMEC Building, Room 448
Facilitator: Narveen & Davie
Guidelines for Day 2 and Day 3:

Each second session of this nanocourse can accommodate up to 6 students. For the second session, please be prepared to give a five-minute scientific presentation in PowerPoint. As you prepare your presentation, we encourage you to consider the spectrum of audiences to whom and contexts within which you could be speaking. Examples include: departmental seminar to expert/peer scientists; job seminar to scientists not in your field; lay audiences who are interested in science; interested students who are not very knowledgeable about science. In giving your presentation, please be sure to mention which audience you chose. Faculty leaders and other audience members will provide feedback on both content and delivery to enhance your presentation skills, and then you will have a second five-minute period to incorporate some of the suggestions into a repeat performance. An audio recording of each speaker’s presentation will be provided to that presenter.

Following the second session in which you will present, you will have 1-week to re-design your presentation.  In order to receive credit for this nanocourse, you must attend the second session, perform both presentations, AND resubmit your PowerPoint presentation.

DROP DEADLINE: Wednesday, May 1, 2013