Woot! Woot! On Friday I presented “Assessing the role of coupled ecological and sedimentological dune dynamics in coastal resiliency” during the VIMS Interdisciplinary Marine Science Seminar series. This was the first time I had the opportunity (outside of Skype-a-Scientist!) to share my research with a larger, interdisciplinary audience. And let me tell you, I was sweating it in the beginning of the week!
I’m out of practice giving presentations to interdisciplinary audiences. During my masters at UD, we were all geologists, so we were all keen on the lingo and abbreviations (hello, GPR & LiDAR). This is far from the case at VIMS, though! We geologists are few & far between (and mostly all in the same lab anyways). I knew I would have to pay special care to avoid jargon – or anything that could be construed as such – during my presentation.
Whenever I am starting a presentation, I fall back on a literary trick my 8th grade English teacher taught us: SOAPStone. Rudimentary, maybe. But it gets the job done. SOAPStone is a mnemonic device that reminds the presenter/writer to consider the speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, and tone of their intended product. I still write out each piece of this formula before I start drafting my presentation. It helps me set clear guidelines for my presentation that I can refer back to if I get lost. If you have any special rituals, tricks, or methods before you begin drafting a presentation I would love to hear them. I’m certainly open to evolving past SOAPStone.
Overall, my presentation went well and I received supportive feedback. I’m so glad I was able to share some preliminary results and answer questions from folks outside of my discipline. Experience presenting to an interdisciplinary audience will only strengthen my ability to communicate my science – a critical skill I’m working to hone. If you would like to watch my presentation, I can share a recording with you – just contact me 🙂