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Post-Rotational Talks

At the end of the rotation the student will present a seminar. The purpose of the seminar is to provide intense training in the craft and art of public presentation, an essential aspect of future career success. Each seminar should be 15 minutes in length. The student must rehearse the seminar with his or her rotation mentor prior to the public presentation. The seminar is an essential component of the research rotation. Students are expected to present a well-organized, clear, and thoughtful seminar. Students should consider the following elements when designing their presentation (although the order need not be strictly followed):

a short statement of the question or problem addressed by the rotation, and the hypothesis to be tested.
describe the significance of the question in broad terms for a diverse audience. Describe previous work and its relationship to the project.
Specific experimental aims:
what were the particular experimental goals proposed to test the hypothesis?
Methods and Design:
explain briefly any unusual strategies or techniques employed.
negative and positive results should be reported
Conclusions and future directions:
what can you conclude from your results, and what would you pursue if you remained on the project.

Suggestions for Effective Seminars

  1. Avoid reading or memorizing your presentation word-for-word. Wooden, canned deliveries are dull and very hard for audiences to follow.
  2. Prepare and use simple, effective visual aids. Remember that effective communication of data and ideas is your goal! Do not spend undue effort and expense on fancy multicolored slides (especially for text), if color is not required to simplify complex data or concepts. Colored visuals tend to require a darkened room and are often much harder to read than black on white line drawings or letters. Keep text very brief and do not read directly from the screen (audiences are much faster at reading silently!).
  3. Use the marker board when appropriate. Diagramming or outlining while you are talking is a highly effective means of explaining concepts difficult to describe with the spoken word. Use of the marker board can also help answer spontaneous questions from the audience.
  4. Consider audience questions carefully! Both faculty and students are encouraged to ask questions during and after rotation seminars. A few of these questions may be intended to probe your understanding of your research rather than illuminate an area of confusion. Part of your evaluation will concern your effectiveness in responding to questions. Thus, make sure that you understand the question before answering. Repeat the question or ask for a rephrasing if you need to. Second, relax and take a moment of silence if you must before answering to formulate a coherent answer. Third, if after contemplation you dont know the answer, dont be afraid to say so. We all get stumped from time to time!

Additional information can be found in the CSD Student Handbook.