We think the first event on Wednesday 22 January 2014 went very well, but would welcome your feedback to improve it.
A few things we know about:
The room was essentially full (it holds about 60 people). Some people have suggested we need to move to a bigger place. The thing is…we love the “small back room in a pub” feel to it. We’re also unsure about moving to a huge room as we’d be concerned about putting a student new to public speaking in front of a 200 capacity room…
Perhaps the first one was so well attended as it’s new and exciting? And as we had been plugging it for 2-3 months?
We understand that it was uncomfortable sitting by the door, as people were moving in and out of the room throughout the evening. We may have inadvertently created that problem! We’ve been pushing furniture forward to create that space. What we actually need to do is reduce that space to a minimum so that it is not a seating area, and instead “move” that space to the front of the room. That should help a lot. The advantage of not having a projector is that it doesn’t matter how close you are to the speaker at the front of the room.
We’ll see what happens in February, and then re-evaluate the situation. If it still looks too small, we’ll investigate moving to a different venue.
Yes, we know we weren’t very strict with our timings. Hence, we finished at about 10:05 pm. This was too late for some people who had to catch last buses.
We will attempt to be a bit more organised.
For February we will try:
- 3 x 30 minutes (strict!) for the talks and Q&A.
- 2 x 10 minute breaks.
- 10 minutes contingency (applause, introductions, etc.).
This should ensure we finish by 9.30 pm.
People can then leave at 9.30 pm if they have to, or stay and socialise. At the last event, our speakers stayed until closing so there was plenty of time for asking more questions.
None of our speakers knew how long they had been speaking for! Sera suggested that simply pointing out the clock at the back of the room is all that was needed (“OK, you’re starting at 7.35 pm, we will be starting the Q&A at 7.45”).
Perhaps we’ll be more snazzy and provide a countdown clock on a Tablet. Gadgets are good! 🙂
Q&A (and Q&A Control)
On the Facebook group we had a question about the length of the Q&A – why was it twice as long as the talk?
We purposely made the Q&A longer than the talk – this wasn’t an arbitrary decision, it was intended. Q&As are often fun! We also thought a longer Q&A would provide the opportunity for the audience to ask questions important to them – questions that a PhD student may not have realised was important to the public.
And note that the Q&A is up to 20 minutes. If the questions dry up, we’ll obviously start the break early.
We’ll continue with this policy unless, of course, it seems to be not working. We thought all three Q&As on Wednesday were fascinating with excellent questions – and the speakers certainly thought so. (Hear an interview with all three speakers on this week’s episode of The Pod Delusion – we specifically asked them about how they thought their Q&As went).
One thing we will try next time is to control the Q&A a little better. For example, we can select audience members instead of the speaker doing it – let the speaker relax a little after their 10 minute talk and not have to deal with that aspect of the Q&A. This will allow us to emphasise that questions should be succinct, and we can also keep an eye out for questions turning into conversations! 20 minutes isn’t a long time and we want to get as many questions as possible into that 20 minutes.
We’d love to hear anything else you can think of – we want PubhD to be as inclusive and enjoyable for as many people as possible.