Hello everyone!!! I am super happy and excited to write to you all again! I hope you are having a wonderful time and preparing for the summer!
Next week, I will be performing an oral presentation at a conference in Quebéc. While I was preparing my slides – and thinking about all the poutine I am going to eat – the idea for this blog post came to me. On several occasions, I’ve seen how the ability to communicate your research cannot be considered as important as your results, and putting extra effort into it can be seen as “a waste of time”. I have always been really concerned with the communication aspect of graduate studies (and of life), which not only includes the ability to make people genuinely understand what you are doing but the ability to communicate with people around you.
You probably came across some situations where a person who is not in your field asked you the 1-million-dollar question: “What is your research about?” In my case, I could simply say that I am studying biochar as a catalyst for the synthesis of cyclic carbonates using carbon dioxide and epoxides. The person would probably look at me with wide eyes, and hopefully say: “Good for you!” Well, yeah! Good for me, and for the people in my field, since they will be the only ones understanding what in the world I am doing, if I continue communicating like that. However, if I say that I am using trees that are burned with little or no air available to produce important chemicals using a greenhouse gas; people can connect way more. This ability to explain your work to anyone can bring new opportunities! In our research, we are so used to those definitions and using complicated words that finding other ways of describing the same thing can be something nontrivial, but it is important to keep trying and working on this. During oral presentations, the way your slides are designed can totally help to deliver the desired in message in a simple, clear and effective manner.
(PowerPoint QuickStarter tool lets you choose a topic and then creates basic slides for your presentation. Especially helpful in those days where we have been looking at the title slide for more than 15 minutes)
Whenever I am working on my presentations or documents of any kind, I always try to keep in mind that the difference is in the details. Choosing the right template, the proper font, the correct margins, schemes, graphics, and colors might sound boring, but showing care with your research presentation often shows care with your research execution. Besides the normal templates of PowerPoint, in the Office website there are a bunch of different ones to make your presentation stand out: https://templates.office.com/en-US/Search/results?query=powerpoint. Furthermore, the new version of PowerPoint also contains a “QuickStarter” feature, which gives you prepared slides and schemes regarding a topic of your choice. I recommend you give it a try, since this feature is really helpful, fun to play with, and can save a lot of time. In the picture above, for example, I searched for “climate change”, and the software prepared slides containing some schemes and icons related to this subject that be can be further used. The “3D Models” feature is also super interesting and could be used instead of “normal figures” to improve the presentation.
I often avoid the use of massive tables, and try to include the necessary information in the form of schemes. The last and important thing to remember is always to check the compatibility between the versions of your software and the software being used during your talk, to make sure everything is showing up as it is supposed to.
Well, my dearest readers, I hope I could successfully highlight the importance of having (or making an effort to have) good communications skills in graduate studies. I know sometimes we are so busy with other things that putting in animations, choosing templates, being kind, talking to people about your research without using words such as “heterogeneity”, might be seen unimportant or tedious, but the more you do it, the easier and faster it will become. The information contained in this post is far away from being the unquestionable truth, and it is my personal opinion regarding this subject, combined with (some few) experiences I had throughout my graduate life. For those of you who do or do not prioritize the ability to communicate well, I hope I could help to make you all more likely to “waste a little bit of your time” with the communication aspect of our lives.
Again, thank you all very much for your attention!
Vejo vocês em breve!