Graduate Student Colloquiums (GSCs) and Tips to Give an Excellent Colloquium Presentation

Each student must make three Colloquium presentations--normally one each in your second, third, and fourth semesters. All three presentations must pertain to the student's graduate research at LPL with two presentations being oral presentations and one being a poster. Oral presentations should be roughly 12 minutes long, with up to 5-minutes for Q&A. The audience completes feedback forms after your presentation which the student will review with their faculty mentor within one month of the presentation. Grad student colloquia shall be given either at the Lunar and Planetary Lab Conference (LPLC) in the Fall (typically the last Thursday & Friday before classes start) or at GSC Day in the Spring.

The purpose of the Grad Student Colloquia is to give you practice in public speaking on scientific topics so that you will be well-prepared to give conference presentations and be able to communicate effectively in your scientific career. The audience is generally friendly, and the forms offer constructive criticism about how you may improve your presentation skills. Some potentially useful tips:

  • PRACTICE!!!!! Learn the use of the audio-visual equipment in the lecture halls and make sure there's a pointer. Make your visual aides in advance and ask some students to sit in on your run-throughs. We're only too glad to take a few minutes to help you, and this is the best time to make sure you don't stand in front of the projector or tap absentmindedly on the lectern.
  • Dress is not formal, but try to look nice. You are the center of attention.
  • The Planetary Sciences community contains many disciplines; you will be speaking to a mixed audience in terms of interest in the subject and level of understanding. Assume your audience is intelligent but keep the intricate details to a minimum.
  • Use a large font on your visual aides, and be concise! The visual aides are there so your audience can see where you are if they fall asleep, not to display a verbatim transcript of your talk.
  • If you are giving a talk over zoom or have participants on zoom, make sure to practice in a virtual format. Make sure the room audio works and the correct screen shares for your slides. If it isn't your meeting, make sure the host is there early or request to be made co-host in advance so the meeting can start on time.