By Elizabeth Labiner
The participants in Grad Slam never fail to impress the judges and audiences with the exciting, innovative, and world-changing work on which they’re presenting. But the competition isn’t only about graduate students’ work -- all of which is valuable and a credit to UArizona; it also hones students’ ability to present on their work in a clear, concise, and engaging manner.
Conveying the vitality and impact of one’s work is crucial to success in any field, whether in academia or beyond. Grad Slam challenges students to discuss their work in a tight format, focusing on creating and delivering a well-crafted presentation with poise and style. Through partnerships with the UArizona Toastmasters groups and professors across campus, the Graduate Center and Graduate & Professional Student Council offer workshops on a wide range of topics and skills that will help students prepare for Grad Slam and enhance their public speaking skills.
The workshop series offers sessions on each of the following:
- Intro to Message Box & Focusing on Defining One's Audience & Issue
- Communicating the Problem & Answering the “So What?” Question
- Communicating Benefits and Solutions to Your Audience
- Crafting a Memorable Message
- Visual Considerations
- Presenting with Confidence & Effective Use of Body Language & Vocal Variety
- Presentation Run-Through and Feedback
In addition to these workshops, there are five Toastmasters International clubs on campus. Of these, students are welcome to join Biosciences Toastmasters Club (open to UArizona faculty, staff, and students who are scientists or interested in the sciences); Cosmopolitan Toastmasters Club (mostly comprised of international speakers for whom English is not their native language; international faculty, staff, students, working professionals, retirees or home-makers are welcome); or UA Toastmasters Club (open to all).
Campus resources can be augmented by online classes and tutorials that include highly structured classes such as the University of Washington’s “Introduction to Public Speaking” course on Coursera, the University of Houston’s “Fundamental of Public Speaking” course, and the in-depth Public Speaking course through Saylor Academy; more casual resources include The Public Speaking Project’s website and materials, Ginger Public Speaking’s website and courses, or the Six Minutes website.
Many of the online resources are connected to print materials as well, so consider looking into our libraries’ holdings, whether you’re preparing for Grad Slam or want to hone your public speaking skills overall.
For more information about Grad Slam, including registration for the competition and the preparatory workshops, please visit the Grad Slam page of the Graduate Center website.