You could win cash prizes and state-wide recognition while you further your professional development skills!

Attention all graduate students, from all disciplines! It’s that time again: time to begin preparing for Grad Slam. Grad Slam is a competition where graduate students doing original research distill their work into a 3-minute, TED Talk-like elevator pitch that can be understood by a broad audience. 

We invite you to take advantage of this tremendous professional development and networking opportunity so that you can master your presentation and communication skills and receive feedback and coaching — not to mention the cash prizes and state-wide recognition! Enter the 2024 Grad Slam competition today and start your journey towards making research accessible and building confidence in professional communication.

How do I start?

GradPro will offer two Information and Prep Session:

These workshops are open to all graduate students wishing to hone their research communication skills, and they will also prepare students to enter Grad Slam, if they choose. These workshops will include a run through of information about the Grad Slam competition, review of past Grad Slam talks, input on creating effective slides, and an introduction to techniques for presenting with confidence. Additional coaching and feedback sessions will be offered in January for those interested in submitting a presentation to the competition.

Grad Slam is for everyone – whether you’re already a practiced public speaker, or not. As Adelaide Bernard, the winner of UC Berkeley’s 2021 competition and 3rd place winner at the systemwide competition, put it, “I did not speak English that well at the time, but I thought to myself it would be such a cool challenge to participate in something like this when I felt ready. At the university, I first heard about the post-doc slam and then learned there was also a grad student version, so I decided to give it a try!”

Want to Enter? Submit Your Video by January 31!

Once your presentation is ready to go, enter the competition by submitting a three-minute video by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Record the video yourself, or enlist the assistance of a colleague. Your entry will not be judged on the quality of the recording (as long as the recording can be heard clearly and your slides are clear and legible). For submission instructions and guidelines, please visit the Grad Slam website.

Up to ten semi-finalists will be selected from the video submissions in early February to participate in a virtual campus competition on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. All semi-finalists will receive a prize of at least $300, with the first-place, second-place, and People’s Choice winners taking home $3,000, $1,000, and $750 respectively. 

The winner of the campus competition will represent Berkeley at the UC systemwide Grad Slam competition in early May. This ten-campus competition will showcase the research of one graduate student from each UC campus. Each student will give a three-minute presentation pitched to a general audience and will have a chance to win an even bigger cash prize.

Public Speaking: A Lifelong Skill

Aside from the prizes and glory, there’s another reason to take advantage of this opportunity: learning how to make research accessible and engage the public is a critical skill for all scholars. Berkeley’s 2018 campus-wide runner-up, Daniel Drew, said of the competition, “I learned that every sentence — word! — counts when you need to communicate motivation, inspiration, progress, and the grand vision, all in three minutes. This is a very valuable skill for the academic job hunt (and life afterwards).”

To learn more about how events like Grad Slam can help you hone communication skills that are valued in a variety of careers, see the Graduate Student Professional Development Guide.

For more detailed information, please visit the Grad Slam website.

Adapted from a previous GradNews article written by Ally Gleason, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a former Professional Development Liaison (PDL) with the Graduate Division.