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Cornell University


Friday, November 02, 2018 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Finding Your Research Voice Workshop

This workshop is to intensively work your research presentation and hone your engaging story.

Time: 9 am to 4 pm Friday Nov. 2 and Saturday Nov. 3, with an hour lunch break on your own. You must attend both sessions.

To register, please notify Azucena Ortega by October 31st and provide your Cornell NetID. This way you can tell us when you started your degree/training at Cornell, what field you are in, and if you need any accommodation.

This opportunity is open to all PhD students and postdocs, with preference given to those who are ready to present their research. Thus workshop is originally designed for trainees in the STEM disciplines-- but every discipline is welcome, including social sciences, humanities and arts.

Learning to tell a compelling research story can have a significant impact on your career. It can make you stand out at professional conferences, on the job market, or during an ideal networking opportunity. It is easy to tell a research story badly. We provide specific presentation ideas and field tested exercises that will help you improve your talk. Once you’ve learned how to create a dynamic live performance of your research story, you may come to enjoy presenting in public.

This two-day workshop is designed for grad students and postdocs in the social sciences, STEM, humanities and arts disciplines who are interested in an immersion to improve their research communication skills.

Learning outcomes:

  • Creating a Core Message
  • Applying the Dramatic Arc
  • Connecting with Your Audience
  • Expressing Passion for Your Research
  • Finding a Great Beginning
  • Chaptering Your Story
  • Signaling the End
  • Improving Your Voice
  • Controlling Your Body Language
  • Incorporating Gesture Effectively

Homework for the BEST Workshop

  1. Record your 10 minute research talk and upload it to a Cornell Box folder we will create for participants (it can be a link to Vimeo or YouTube if you have a previously recorded talk) and alert Itai Cohen ( and Melanie Dreyer-Lude ( once you do.  We will review your talk, speak about what we see during the workshop, and offer concrete tips for improvement.

Your 10 minute talk should cover something you would present at a conference, perhaps in a longer format. An hour long talk is often comprised of three separate but linked 10 minute talks.  Choose the research idea that you are most passionate about as the subject for your talk. It's OK to submit a previously recorded clip, and it doesn't need to be professionally done (e.g., use your phone).

  1. Create a 1 minute (approximate) Elevator Pitch of your core research message. It should include who you are, what you do, what you’ve found, and why it is important.

This is a short persuasive speech about you and your work.  It should last no longer than an elevator ride (30 seconds to 2 minutes) and should be carefully crafted to maximize both information and interest during short encounters with important contacts. 

An elevator pitch is a 3-4 sentence summary of the main point of your talk.

  1. Identify the problem and why it is so important.
  2. Explain why this has not yet been solved.
  3. Explain how you will solve and why you are the person to do it.

We will use your Elevator Pitch to hone your core message and to work on your performance skills.

You may write it down and email it to us ahead of time if you would like feedback prior to the workshop. 

Taught by:

Itai Cohen, Professor of Physics
Cornell University 617-304-2131

Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Drama
University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada
see her video 412-512-4446


Susi Varvayanis, Executive Director
Cornell BEST Program 607 253-4304


Questions can be directed to Azucena Ortega

225 Riley Robb Hall
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