Giving my first talk

I recently gave my first talk at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. So many people I look up to scientifically were there! I was initially so nervous but looked and saw familiar faces in the crowd so I could pretend to just relay my recent research goings on to them.

Some things that I want to improve for next time:

  1. Rehearse better. I tend to err on the side of improvisation instead of drilling down and memorizing some script. I think this is in general a good thing but I still haven’t found that sweet spot.
  2. Confidence. This is my work, I’m happy I did it and I’m happy to share it with people. I think many academics, myself included, have a tendency to self critique so much that they imagine they’ll receive harsh critique from others. Obviously don’t come off as a cocky jerk that acts like they’ve simultaneously invented and solved a domain of human inquiry!

Some things I think I did well:

  1. This was a 10 minute nanosymposium and my task design is a little complicated. I erred on the side of over-simplifying and trying to get the meat of the project across. I had some spent some time on cool figures and animations but they would be confusing without further explanation and with each element of complexity you add, you lose more of the audience.
  2. Citing previous work. So many people in that room had and have done work that inspires my own. I want to make sure that science feels like the collaborative project that it is.

All in all it was a good experience and I’d actually like to practice giving talks more, especially ones that let me dig a little further into the weeds with people that are excited. I remember reading about how Richard Hamming forced himself into a position where he had to give a talk every week, I don’t think I’ll go that far.