This is a guest post by Kat Gray. Kat is a PhD student in the School of Mechanical, Civil & Aerospace Engineering.
PubhD is a public speaking event run by postgrads, for postgrads. I’m part of the team that organises this in Manchester, and it’s proven itself to be a great way to hear about research happening at the University, and to meet other doctoral-level students.
We aim to get a diverse range of speakers, and it can be very interesting to have three speakers on subjects that are seemingly unrelated – but sometimes it’s possible to see connections, especially in the Q&A, or after the talks when some people stay to discuss the event and talk about their own & other’s people’s projects.
The format is as follows: there are three speakers, who each have the chance to speak for ten minutes on their Ph.D topic. The challenge is to summarise three years of work into ten minutes, in a way that can be understood by someone outside of the speaker’s field, or to someone without any postgraduate-level education. It’s a chance to consolidate your knowledge and present it succinctly – to understand your research well enough to explain it simply.
The only tools the speaker has to complement their talk are a whiteboard and some coloured markers. The focus is on the speaker and what they are saying. That being so, we did bend the rules for somebody who illustrated their point using some music samples: it would have been unfair to ask them to explain their research on a particular composer with no context at all!
After the 10 minutes are up, a further 20 minutes are devoted to questions from the audience. This is great because the speaker has to think on their feet and be ready for a query on something they perhaps hadn’t considered… which can lead to new research ideas. So far we have always filled the 20 minutes with questions and have even had to call time on this – it is surprising how quickly this part of the presentation can go, and even though one will be talking for longer than in the planned talk, and spontaneously, it is sometimes easier and comes more naturally. Think of it as a conversation.
The environment is deliberately a relaxed one; it’s a friendly space where researchers can communicate their work to people who might not otherwise consider what goes on in a research department. It also gives the student some perspective on how people from other walks of life might perceive their work.
We meet on the third Monday of each month in a pub local to the Universities. Our next event is on 20th April, and we are looking for one more speaker for that date. If you’d like to propose a talk for inclusion in this month’s event, or to be added to the list for future months, please email us.
To find out more, check out our website at here.