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Cornell University


Friday, June 29, 2018
Telling your compelling research story

Finding Your Research Voice is a hands-on workshop that involves learning how to use your body and your voice, along with a compelling beginning, to engage the audience and entice them to stay for your full talk.

Participants from many disciplines, including the physical sciences, social sciences, and life sciences worked individually and in groups to improve their presentations both orally and visually. To practice new gestures and analogies, experiment with the use of props, and reorder slides that now each incorporate just one message, participants were aided by video and peer feedback. Learning how to give a good beginning, how to tell a good story, using voice and gesture as well as movement during a presentation helped attendees improve their own presentations and give constructive feedback on others'. The most important knowledge or skill gained? From one perspective: "A lot of good information on speaking. Clarity, diction, speed, volume."-- Physics PhD student

"I've gone to other talks/workshops on how to make an effective presentation but none of them walked me through the implementation or gave me iterative feedback on whether I was using strategies effectively. Watching videos of myself speaking was painful but really helpful, especially paired with specific feedback from the instructors so I could focus on the things they pointed out rather than how weird I think I look/sound on camera. I think this critical approach to self-evaluation and being able to 'get over it' is one of the most important things I'm taking away from this workshop." --Biomedical Engineering PhD student "I didn't realize the small things I often do in presentation before this workshop. It is so nice to have someone else tell me my blind spot." --Biophysics PhD student

Participants indicated important knowledge gained in the workshop included the core message-how to make it to the point, how to use the structure of the talk to keep things simple, streamlined and straightforward. They enjoyed watching how everyone improved their core message and their talk, learning how to go about fixing something and achieving a new effect in public speaking. "The theatre exercise helped loosen me up and encourages creativity and motivation. Seeing other people's improvement is very encouraging."--Psychology (also Music) & Cognitive Science PhD student

I learned how to "have a more engaging beginning of presentation. [It was] good practice to work with people with different disciplines [to] make me really need to find a better, clear way of explanation." --Genetics, Genomics & Development PhD student Now participants are going to "Think about how to convert information effectively instead of just throwing out results." --Engineering PhD candidate

In a safe space to try new approaches and where everyone is there to improve themselves, it provides an atmosphere where one is not afraid to make mistakes and also provide constructive feedback to others. As they learned how to tell a good story, and vary the story elements to better engage their audience, participants tried on new ways to present the beginning of their talks. "I am more aware of the structure of my presentation slides"--Plant Breeding and Genetics postdoctoral scholar

The workshop is quite popular. Due to constraints of a high-touch environment, there is limited space. The seventh iteration of this workshop will be in a two-day intensive format, taking place on Friday October 19 and Saturday October 20. A subsequent one-day workshop will take place November 2. Please contact Susi Varvayanis at to enroll.