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Strengthening social skills

Good scien­tists must not only have excel­lent tech­nical skills, but also be able to pre­sent their data and, above all, them­selves well. To strengthen these social skills dur­ing their stud­ies, stu­dents of the Elite Grad­uate Pro­gram “Ad­vanced Syn­thesis and Ca­taly­sis” (Syn­Cat) were able to attend a two-day work­shop run by a pro­fes­sional rheto­ric and com­muni­cation ex­pert.

Present confidently

A firm stance, no­ticea­ble struc­ture, clear voice. Eve­ryone has to give a presenta­tion at some point in their life, and in theory eve­ryone knows how to give a per­fect presenta­tion. How­ever, scien­tists in par­ticu­lar know that theory and prac­tice can be very dif­fer­ent.
Where does a presenta­tion start? When does it end? How do I pre­sent my­self confi­dent­ly? How do I make my presenta­tion inter­esting? How does body lan­guage work and how can I con­sciously con­trol it? All these as­pects were de­veloped, tested and ana­lysed by 17 stu­dents of the Elite Grad­uate Pro­gram “Ad­vanced Syn­thesis and Ca­taly­sis” (Syn­Cat) and two lec­turers dur­ing a two-day social skills work­shop with rheto­ric and com­muni­cation expert Ka­rolina Höcker. Be­tween group dis­cussions on vari­ous as­pects such as body lan­guage, speaking style, self-control and struc­tu­ring, the fac­tors de­veloped in theory were ap­plied in short presenta­tions in small groups. This al­lowed for per­sonal and direct feed­back from the expert her­self on each topic.

Perfectionism sucks.

De­spite all the tips and tricks we have learnt over the past two days - how can I trick Lim­bi? What are es­presso and bis­cuits doing in my presenta­tion? - there was also a reas­suring mes­sage: Per­fec­tion­ism sucks! Per­fec­tion down to the last detail is not only im­possi­ble, it is also un­natu­ral and makes you look unap­peal­ing. Au­then­ticity, en­thusi­asm and likea­bility are key as­pects that are also essen­tial for a suc­cess­ful presenta­tion.

Text: Amelie Niefanger, Elite Graduate Program "Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis"