October 24, 2017, by khyx2lyn
How we are trained to give presentations; a blog post from PhD student Sia Ming Yean
September was a very hectic month for me, for I took part in three competitions, all held in the same week. I must say that it worked out pretty well, as I managed to come in second in two of the competitions; the Three Minutes Thesis (3MT) and the UNMC Postgraduate LINK Conference. Both competitions were very similar in that the contestants had to give an oral presentation about their respective field of research on stage with a hand-held microphone.
Through these two competitions, I learned how to structure my talk to people who are not from my field. My research is on word learning in children and I face the possibility of trivialising my topic when talking to an interdisciplinary audience. On the one hand, when I explain my studies in a simple manner so that the audience follows my line of arguments, people tend to scoff my results off as “something that everyone knows”. On the other hand, if I present all the jargon and analyses that I have done, the audience would be lost from the start of my talk. Luckily, the Graduate School has training sessions that help us strike a balance between these two extremes. These training sessions were very helpful and I thought I would put to test what I have learned. I am glad that I have passed these “tests” with flying colours.
To most students, going on stage can be quite a frightening experience, but studying here in UNMC for five years has prepared me for that. As a small department, the school of psychology is like a huge family and the lecturers would help students learn transferable skills such as presenting in front of a crowd. During my undergraduate days, my course mates and I had to present our experiments and projects in class and feedback would be given in terms of how we can improve on our presentation skills. Whenever our school takes part in any psychological conference, the lecturers will have a practice session to help us prepare for these presentations. Even though my supervisor has now moved to Oslo, he would always look through my slides before I give my presentation and he would help me improve on my slides. I am thus quite well-prepared for oral presentations and I would say that what I have won is not through my effort alone but through the effort of the whole school of psychology.
Seeing how much I have gained from these competitions, I definitely encourage fellow students to take part in these competitions. I have learned to fight stage fright and how to enjoy myself during the few minutes I was in the limelight. It is certainly a good learning experience.