By Muna Danish
Grad Slam is a campus-wide competition where you present your research to a large audience for the chance to win cash prizes. This year’s event takes place April 3, and the deadline to submit your pitch is February 18, 2019 (11:59 p.m. PST).
Are you wondering how to create a compelling pitch? GradPro is holding a series of workshops to help you develop and prepare your speech and your video submission. If you can’t make it to the workshops, read on for four steps you can take to develop your pitch.
Step 1: Watch videos from previous years
- Read the Grad Slam website thoroughly to make sure you understand the rules. Then, watch previous Grad Slam videos, both from the UC Berkeley campus competition and the UC systemwide competition (from disciplines as varied as physics, philosophy, and architecture). Analyze the content and structure of several talks; choose some that are from your own discipline, and some from unrelated fields.
- Attend the Workshops:
- “Brainstorming your ‘Three-Minute Thesis’: Humanities and Social Sciences”: Tuesday, January 22, 3–4:30 pm, Social Science Matrix, 820 Barrows Hall
- “Brainstorming your ‘Three-Minute Thesis’: All Fields”: Wednesday, January 23, 3–4:30 pm, 421 Stanley Hall
Step 2: Figure out what’s exciting about your research
- Within any research project, there are many compelling stories to tell. A successful Grad Slam talk tells a single, clear, engaging narrative from start to finish. This could mean telling the story of why your research is exciting to you or important to your field; it could mean connecting your research to ideas or experiences familiar to the general public; it could mean explaining why your research is urgent and impactful. Read the disciplinary resources at the Grad Slam website for more.
- Attend the Workshop:
- “How to Tell a Compelling Story About Your Research”: Wednesday, January 30, 3–4:30 pm, Townsend Center (220 Stephens Hall)
Step 3: Learn your talk and practice presentation skills
- As last year’s Grad Slam champion, Joe Charbonnet, put it, public speaking is “a psychomotor skill, not an innate talent.” Take some time to learn tips and techniques that can make you a better speaker. Then, practice and get lots of feedback! View the presentation resources at the Grad Slam website, attend a session of Toast of Berkeley (a Toastmasters public speaking club), or recruit a friend to be your sounding board.
- Attend the Workshop:
- “Public Speaking for Humanities & Social Sciences Graduate Students”: Friday, February 1 and Friday, February 8, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Townsend Center for the Humanities (apply by January 18 – mention that you’re participating in Grad Slam to receive priority registration)
- “Present with Confidence: Public Speaking Tips and Practice” (open to all disciplines): Tuesday, February 5, 3-4:30 p.m., 125 Morrison Hall
Step 4: Memorize and record your talk
- You can film your Grad Slam video submission using a phone camera or any other setup you’d prefer. Remember to keep it under three minutes – the best way to ensure that you stay under the time limit is to memorize your talk and practice, practice, practice! See our public speaking resources at the Grad Slam website.
- Attend Recording and Coaching Sessions: Nervous about recording your talk? Attend a GradPro recording session and we’ll take care of the filming — you can record as many times as you want during your 30-minute session. Coaches will also be on hand to provide live feedback if you want it.
- Monday, February 11 to Thursday, February 14. Sign up using this calendar (scroll to the week of February 11 to view “Grad Slam Recording Session” signups).
February 18, 2019, 11:59 pm (PST): Deadline for video submissions.
About the author: Muna Danish is a graduate student in Journalism at UC Berkeley and a Professional Development Liaison (PDL) with the Graduate Division.