Countdown to Berkeley 2010!

Photo Courtesy of University of California-Berkeley

As the summer winds down and MSRE comes to a close tomorrow with Scholars presenting at the UNL Research Colloquium, it’s time to prepare for the UNL McNair Scholars trip to the 18th annual California McNair Scholars Symposium, held at UC Berkeley. Two former McNair Scholars, Morgan Conley and Brian Shreck, who made the trip and presented at last year’s conference offered to share some words of advice and encouragement on preparing for the trip to Berkeley. Check out their advice below:

What helped you the most when preparing for your individual presentation? Practicing with friends? With McNair staff? By yourself? Memorizing your presentation?

Morgan: In the beginning, rather than memorizing my presentation, I remembered the order and what was listed on my slides. That way, I could come up with my own transitions each time I presented and would not stumble if I forgot my script. Then, I worked hard on introducing my topic. I felt the introduction was most important because that is where I would get the audience interested. (I used a question to do this) Once I accomplished this, I practiced in front of my roommate , another McNair Scholar, and in front of a few friends.  I wanted a variety in listeners so that I would get experience with different questions at the end. After practicing only a few times, I found my rhythm in presenting and also my own style.

Brian: The amount of time and effort that the McNair staff put into helping us prepare was probably the most useful for me.  From the session Dr. Lombardo led on delivering effective research presentations to the individual PowerPoint sessions, the practice presentations, and the UNL colloquium, I had a lot of opportunities to familiarize myself with and refine my presentation.  Then I practiced a lot on my own.  I recommend practicing at least once each evening right up through the night before you present at Berkeley.  In addition to helping reduce your reliance on notes, this will also help calm your nerves when you actually present.

Did you have experience presenting your research prior to MSRE?

Morgan: No. I had presented in classes, but I had never had the experience of presenting my own research.  Fortunately, I had numerous opportunities presenting after MSRE and I was much better prepared for  those occasions.

Brian: I didn’t have any experience giving formal presentations.  But by the end of MSRE I had a good understanding of how to organize and present information and ideas in a way that was accessible. It also came in very handy this spring when I took my first graduate seminar and I was expected to be able to talk about my semester research project with colleagues and the professor and communicate my thoughts and ideas on course readings during class discussions.

What was Berkeley like? Fun? Scary?

Morgan: Berkeley was absolutely fun! By the time Scholars reach Berkeley, all of the “hard stuff” should be taken care of. Nerves certainly kick-in when its time to present, but I found presenting to be fun because it was Scholars of all types of backgrounds.

Brian: Both, of course, but mostly it was exciting.  In addition to having a great time and getting to spend some time getting to know the other Scholars in my cohort better, I came away from the conference with a greater confidence in myself as a scholar and a motivation to jump into the graduate application process.

Any advice for this years’ presenters?

Morgan: Just remember that you are the expert. It was you who put all of your energy to what you are presenting, so showcase that. Also remember to have fun! Then you will be able to look back and see that the experience was about much more than just a conference.

Brian: Make sure you’re well prepared, including taking full advantage of all the preparation McNair offers. Then, relax and be yourself.  I’ve had the privilege of watching this cohort progress through MSRE.  I’ve read the papers and seen the presentations and I can see that everyone has worked very hard and done great work.  I know they’ll all do themselves, UNL McNair, and their faculty mentors proud at Berkeley.

You said it well, Morgan and Brian. To this years’ McNair Scholars: we’re proud of you and can’t wait to see your presentations at the UNL Research Colloquium and at Berkeley!

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