Preparing for DAC poster and paper presentation started about 1 month and half before the time as our advisor, Professor Schirner wants us to learn how to present in public, how to manage time and how to get ready to answer the questions in a perfect way. Here, briefly I will share my experience making the presentation and poster, talking at DAC and finally the successful women whom I met there.
Slides/Poster Preparation and Presentation Practice
Being clear and brief for 10 minutes talk was a very different experience for me as usually I am a person who pays attention to the details and sometimes gets lost in the breath instead of continuing through the depth of material hierarchy. After 3 times presentation practice in the group meeting, I learnt how to shape the slides and improve my presentation skills.
Shaping the Slides:
- Mixture of text and figure in each slide
- Enriching each slide with the material which could be presented in about 1 minute, removing some of the material if the slide takes more than 1 minute
- No more talk other than what are pointed as bullets in the slide
- Animation to avoid bringing everything at the same time and distracting the audience
Preparing the Poster:
3 weeks preparing the poster which was supposed to supply more information than what I was going to talk in the short paper presentation session, definitely provided me with lots of experience to make the poster:
- Clear flow of the materials grouped in different sections and each section with its unique background color and more important being symmetric
- Defining the format for each level of hierarchy to first avoid manual work and then make the poster consistent
- Preparing the poster for an average size; big poster is difficult for the people to have everything in front of their eyes and short one looks crowded and will lose the audience
At the beginning, taking a breath and looking at the audience and imagining them as your players. Indeed, they are there to listen to you and they don't know your research/wrok as you know.
- Standing in a position which is both comforting and showing how confident you are
- Looking at the audience and smiling as you are talking
- Trying to avoid being monotone; differentiate what you are talking about with different tones and different body language
Although I tried to do my best, there were some points to mention about my talk and I hope I can improve them in the future talks:
- Being aware of the timer light; it gets yellow, red blinking and non-stop red to show how you are running out of time
- Trying to ignore the indoor; people are coming during your presentation and most of them are considerate enough to stay beside the door without distracting the session
- Pretending that you are not nervous. Just before the talk, I was talking to myself that I was well-prepared. My mind believed that! However I could not cheat on my heart, it was beating as fast as I felt it in my hand! Trying to ignore that feeling as I was sure that my heart was invisible to the audience, I started to talk...Unofrtunately, at the end I was sure that the quaver in my voice confirmed that I was stressed/nervous :-)
... During the poster session, I also realized that people only come to see the results and it is my duty to motivate them to listen to the problem that we have solved and the capabilities of our proposed work. For this, I have to be (or at least pretend to be) excited and honored of what I have done...
EDA women party
As lucky would it have, I got the invitation to attend the EDA women party in a very magnificent restaurant, hosting some great women in the field of EDA. The purpose of that party was socialization with the other women of EDA and especially talking with the famous EDA women. During the dinner, they talked about how perfectionist most of the female students are and how don't they feel comfortable to talk in public or present themselves in a very comfortable manner. They were trying to give some hints how to break the imaginary walls in our mind and be brave to be loud and present ourselves.
For me it was very surprising as our advisor, Professor Schirner, already during my two years working in his lab has been trying to make me believe myself and be loud, encouraging me to present myself and and even pretend more than myself. He sometimes puts me in very challenging situations to make me defend my knowledge and FEEL that I have to develop my professional growth... I'd always appreciate his kind support and feel very lucky being part of his research lab.
As I have already heard from Professor Schirner; the famous EDA women also said that we female students have to be more aggressive to participate in any academic discussions, expand our comfort zones, appreciate ourselves and be more negotiating about everything, not to settle down for less!