Science Communication Course: Present Your Research Results with Confidence PART II
This is the second part of a three blocks course for PhD students and postdocs. The first part was delivered by external communication expert and PhD students and postdocs had a chance to learn the essentials of effective scientific presentation. For more information about the first part click HERE.
The second part is all about practical application of the newly obtained presentation skills in a safe environment. The course participants will deliver 5 minutes long scientific presentations in the university cinema Scala and receive constructive feedback from their peers and from research group leader specialized in science communication. PhD students will have a unique chance to try out presenting their research in a venue for more than 300 people without facing the actual fear of large audience. Receiving peer feedback and video recording or their presentation will help them to further improve their presentation skills, giving peer feedback will help them to develop their leadership skills. Last but not least, you will learn about various research topics outside of your own research group.
When it comes to developing people, feedback is an obligation, not an option. We need positive reinforcement to keep us focused and motivated. And sometimes, we need someone to tell us where we are going wrong. We need constructive feedback and this is how it is done:
Focus on solutions
Constructive feedback gives people something they can work with. In sports, a good coach wouldn’t simply say “your shot is wrong”. Rather, they would likely point to something the other person could do to become more effective. If you don’t have any suggestions for improvement, zip your mouth.
Ask versus tell
Just because you know something doesn’t mean you have to share it right away. Ask the other person for their input first. “How do you think this could have gone better?” This will help them develop confidence in their own skills and insights. As an added bonus, appealing to their expertise helps them feel less threatened. Confrontation is rarely productive.
Be specific when sharing feedback. Blanket comments are more destructive than constructive. “You are always late for lab meeting” is likely to trigger defensiveness. Alternatively, specific feedback gives the receiver clarity around the impact of their actions. Example: “I believe you gave the PhD students room to question your commitment when we showed up late for meeting x and y. What do you think?”
Consider their pride
Offer suggestions in a non-judgmental way. And don’t fight them too much if they come back with denial and defensiveness. They might need some time to absorb and reflect on your feedback. In the meantime, focus on building trust and selectively present feedback in a professional way.
In general, you need a trusting relationship before you can give effective feedback. Otherwise, feedback is likely to leave the person feeling attacked. Build trust by recognizing and showing interest in their positive contributions. It also helps to begin feedback conversations with: “How did you think that went? Is there anything we could have done better?”
Leave them better
The best research group leaders strive to make other people feel better with every interaction. Sometimes, this means being supportive, encouraging and respectful. Other times, it means helping other people refine their skills or approach. In both cases, be sure to communicate in a respectful way.
Catch them doing it right
Every time you catch them doing it right, celebrate it. Recognize the desired behaviour and you will likely see more of this behaviour going forward. This also helps to boost your ratio of positive to constructive feedback in line with other high-performance teams.
Check yourself before giving feedback. Use the HALT acronym to remind yourself to avoid giving feedback when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Sure, we all know someone who has the adult equivalent of a temper tantrum when things don’t go their way, but we also know this isn’t very effective.
Commit to practising
The only way we get better at sharing feedback is by actually practising. Like any skill, we are not going to get better by delaying action. Your feedback conversations won’t always run smoothly, but you will get better over time.
Do unto others
As the golden rule says, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Are you receptive to feedback? Do you demonstrate a willingness to learn and develop? If your team feels you are closed off, they will be as well. Actively seek feedback and talk about the skills you are working on. Nothing invites people to step outside of their comfort zone more than shared vulnerability.
.....and now that you are ready to give and receive constructive feedback, please fill out the registration form! We are looking forward to hear about your research! Any other questions? Contact your training coordinator Ester Jarour.