Learning as a Mentor: Developing Research Project Presentations

Ellyse is planning to present for the Summer Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (URAF). I’m proud of her for getting past her nerves about crowds to give her first presentation. She is a gifted scientist who can clearly explain her ideas, so it’s only those pesky nerves that are standing in her way!

Although I still do get some nerves (a sign of caring, I’d say!), I’ve improved my presentation skills over the years. I’ve both practiced (a lot!) and read books on how to communicate clearly and cast nerves aside. Now on the mentoring side, I’m excited to see Ellyse pushing herself to borrow and really read those books herself. She is putting in the work to find out not only what her ‘story’ is to tell, but how best to tell it.

Crafting a story is hard, and even harder can be mentoring someone to craft and tell their own story. It has been quite interesting and entertaining to hear all of Ellyse’s ideas on possible relationships in our data; daydreaming about these “potential stories” helps not only to keep my curiosity alive on long lab days, but  to also give me a glimpse of what excites her as a scientist. The observations that have lead to questions have been important and frequent, and now we’re both figuring out the mentor-mentee roles in determining where her comfort level is on the data and the needed analyses.

As I grow as a mentor, my experiences with each and every one of my students highlight their personal and professional diversity. We all, mentors and mentees alike, should ever-improve the elements of our presentation and ‘storytelling’ skills, and this time, it’s Ellyse who is reminding me to sharpen the saw. Thus, here’s to today’s blog post, and of  “choosing” to tell a good story.


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