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Finding Your Research Voice Workshop

February 18, 2020 @ 12:00 am - February 19, 2020 @ 11:59 pm

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Learning to tell a compelling research story can have a significant impact on your career. It can make you stand out at professional conferences, on the job market, or during an ideal networking opportunity. It is easy to tell a research story badly. We provide specific presentation ideas and field tested exercises that will help you improve your talk. Once you’ve learned how to create a dynamic live performance of your research story, you may come to enjoy presenting in public.

This workshop will intensively work your own research presentation and hone your engaging story through a core message. We incorporate theatrical/improv techniques and video feedback to improve your use of body, voice, gesture and to capture wording that resonates with your audience.

“There are faculty who give terrible talks, and some who make captivating, engaging talks. I want to be in the latter category. That’s why I signed up for this workshop.”–Benjamin Rosche, PhD student, Sociology

This opportunity is open to PhD students and postdocs in all disciplines, with priority given to those who are ready to present their research. Time: 9 am to 4 pm Tuesday Feb. 18 and Wednesday Feb. 19, with an hour lunch break on your own. You must attend both sessions. Due to the intensive, personalized, mentored interactions during the workshop, participation numbers are limited.

This two-day workshop is designed for any grad student or postdoc in the social sciences, STEM, humanities and arts disciplines interested in an immersion to improve their research communication skills.

“We were an image-oriented species way before development of the written word. The way we include pictures in our presentations can determine if a story will bring us together.”–Itai Cohen, Professor, Physics

Learning outcomes for Finding Your Research Voice: 

Creating a Core Message
Applying the Dramatic Arc
Connecting with Your Audience
Expressing Passion for Your Research
Finding a Great Beginning
Chaptering Your Story
Signaling the End
Improving Your Voice
Controlling Your Body Language
Incorporating Gesture Effectively
Homework for the Finding Your Research Voice Workshop:

In advance of the workshop:

Record your 10 minute research talk and upload it to a Cornell Box folder we will create for participants (it can be a link to Vimeo or YouTube if you have a previously recorded talk) and alert Itai Cohen (itai.cohen@cornell.edu), Melanie Dreyer-Lude (Melanie@melaniedreyer.com) and Susi Varvayanis (sv27@cornell.edu) once you do. We will review your talk, speak about what we see during the workshop, and offer concrete tips for improvement.
Your 10 minute talk should cover something you would present at a conference, perhaps in a longer format. An hour long talk is often comprised of three separate but linked 10 minute talks. Choose the research idea that you are most passionate about as the subject for your talk. It’s OK to submit a previously recorded clip, and it doesn’t need to be professionally done (e.g., use your phone or computer). 
Create a 1 minute (approximate) Elevator Pitch of your core research message. It should include who you are, what you do, what you’ve found, and why it is important.
This is a short persuasive speech about you and your work. It should last no longer than an elevator ride (30 seconds to 2 minutes) and should be carefully crafted to maximize both information and interest during short encounters with important contacts.
An elevator pitch is a 3-4 sentence summary of the main point of your talk. Briefly:

  • Identify the problem and why it is so important
  • Explain why this has not yet been solved
  • Explain how you will solve and why you are the person to do it

We will use your Elevator Pitch to hone your core message and to work on your performance skills. You may write it down and email it to us ahead of time if you would like feedback prior to the workshop.

Facilitated by:

Itai CohenItai Cohen, Professor of Physics
Cornell University
itai.cohen@cornell.edu 617-304-2131

Melanie Dreyer-LudeMelanie Dreyer-Lude, Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Drama
University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada
see her video
melanie@melaniedreyer.com 412-512-4446

Susi VarvayanisSusi Varvayanis, Executive Director
Careers Beyond Academia
Cornell University Graduate School


To register:

Questions can be directed via email to: sv27@cornell.edu. To register, please notify Careers Beyond Academia (gradcareers@cornell.edu) by using your Cornell NetID. We will be in 701 on 2/18 from 9am-2pm, and then move over to 700 from 2-4pm. We will be in Clark 700 all day on 2/19. 

Accessibility Requests:

We strive to make our events accessible to all community members. Individuals who would like to request accessibility accommodations should contact gradcareers@cornell.edu. We ask that requests be made at least one week in advance to help ensure they can be met. 


February 18, 2020 @ 12:00 am
February 19, 2020 @ 11:59 pm
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