This week we have a special issue of ‘Where Are They Now Wednesday’!
On the 9th of November, UA will be hosting UPresent as part of the 2016 UA Global Summit. At UPresent students present their papers to their peers in under 3 minutes! This can sound daunting but Fiona Malone, UA Winner 2014 in Engineering and Mechanical Studies, is here to help. Fiona was the overall winner at the 2015 National ‘Thesis in 3’ Final so is an expert in how to present research in a succinct and engaging way. Her tips below are a must-read for anyone planning on participating in UPresent or interesting in improving their presentation skills in general!
What has Fiona been up to since she was at the Summit?
“Prior to the UA 2014 Global Summit, I moved from Limerick to Galway to study for a PhD in Biomedical Engineering in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. My PhD concerns blood clots and their impact on stroke risks. I’m in my final year now and hope to have everything submitted in 2017 (any candles lit for me would be greatly appreciated!).
Over the course of my PhD, I’ve done a little travelling for conferences around Europe. I’ve also been busy showcasing my research to a wider audience. Being a female engineer in academia, you can sometimes suffer from that infamous “imposter syndrome”. I felt it a lot of it in the first year of my PhD, but UA gave me the reassurance and confidence that academia is the right area for me and has given me the drive to be better. I absolutely love what I do and I hope to be in a position to keep on doing it for as long as I can. I’d love to lecture someday.
I do still chat with a lot of the gang whom I met at the UA Global Summit. Although we come from numerous different walks of life, there is nothing but absolute appreciation and respect for everyone and their work. If anyone in the UA family finds themselves in or around the beautiful west of Ireland, let me know se we can meet for chats and pints!”
How did she find UPresent and what is her advice for this year’s students?
“One of my favourite parts of the Summit was UPresent. We had to learn how to communicate our research clearly and effectively in a short period of time, to people who knew nothing about our area of expertise. Not an easy task by any means!
As a result of this, I have developed skills that have been put to good use since that November afternoon in 2014. I have travelled to conferences in Ireland, Scotland and Prague discussing my PhD research and in November 2015, I won Thesis in 3. This is a national competition for Irish STEM research students to showcase their research in just 3 minutes using only 3 slides. A few months later, I presented another 3 minute presentation, this time without slides, at ResearchFest, a feature of the InspireFest Fringe festival.
Public speaking and presentations are never easy, but UPresent really did help me with my confidence and my overall presenting technique. I would encourage anyone attending the UA Global summit to get up on that stage and give it a go! Some of the best presentations came from the people who were so nervous that they initially had no intention of speaking, but then changed their minds after seeing how much fun everyone else was having during their presentations. Everyone supported each other and listened respectfully to each other. It was wonderful to listen to everyone speak so passionately about their work and it sparked some very interesting conversation afterwards, which after all, is the main goal of UA!
My advice? Don’t go into extensive detail about your methodologies or experimental set ups. I think it was Einstein who said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Give some background information on your topic overall and mention some of your major findings or results. You want to engage your audience and discuss what you are talking about and why it might concern them (or why it concerns you!). Stand up and be proud of your work, you’ve gotten this far! Enjoy every second”