Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Conquering stage fright...

They do say to picture your audience naked. But your audience is not nearly as scary as nonhomologous end joining, and that is harder to picture naked.

At least for me, more fear came from the topic than the audience. Maybe that is because of my confidence that my labmates wouldn't judge me for overusing the phrase "um" or blinding myself with a laser pointer, but it is probably more because the material is much scarier than the presentation itself. DNA repair is a cool and complex subject, with strong implications in a wide range of diseases, as well as many unknown factors. Weird as it may sound, I wanted to do DNA repair justice, especially since most people in the room already had a strong background in the subject.

The mechanics of slide-making requires putting yourself in the audience's shoes-- what will they look at when they see this slide? It seems to me that the best presentations used simple figures with one easily digestible take-home message for each slide. The presentations worked best when this take-home message fit seamlessly with the overarching message of the paper.

At least for me, I noticed that even if I explicitly planned a sentence, I might not say it unless it was on the slide overhead. A few extra notes would have been extremely helpful for this reason. While it was easy to explain what was on the slideshow, it was much harder to convince myself to remember the take home message and transitions of how one experiment leads to another. I do feel like I learned a lot from going over this presentation, and extremely strongly recommend recording yourself presenting at least once and watching. With enough practice, any 109 student can make NHEJ proud :)

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