What do speakers get out of it (apart from free beer)? We asked them!
From previous PubhD Leicester speakers
What would you say to someone else thinking about speaking at PubhD?
- “It is definitely worth doing as it is enjoyable and you get a free drink!”
- “Do it! Everyone’s really friendly, not to mention interested in the work others are doing, and with emphasis on the Q&A session, it feels much more like having a chat down the pub, rather than a presentation. It’s an easy way of getting more comfortable talking to people, before giving a talk at a conference or a big event. It’s also a great way of giving yourself a boost in those slightly lower moments of your PhD; it’s amazing how good it can make you feel when other people are fascinated by what you do.”
- “Do it! Research is in and of itself quite a selfish activity. We study what interests us most to the exclusion of everything else. Its redeeming feature is that we create knowledge that we can share with with the rest of humanity; so why not start sharing it in the convivial atmosphere of a public house to an appreciative audience?”
- “It’s fun and relaxed and a good place to practice with a friendly audience if you’re nervous about speaking in front of others.”
- “Definitely give it a go! It allows you to make your research accessible to anyone and you get a room of people who want to hear about what your doing… a researchers dream!”
- “Go for it. the process of preparing helps you really think what’s important about your PhD, and also how to communicate it to a different sort of audience. This could be useful for funding bids later on ..”
- “I’d say go for it. It reminds you the importance of your project as you have to explain it to a general audience of mixed academic backgrounds. It’s also useful to be able to summarise your work into 10 minutes, learning how to be concise.”
From previous PubhD Nottingham speakers
- Samantha Harrison, MedicineB (PubhD Nottingham #53): [To potential speakers:] Definitely go for it! Everyone is really friendly and it is a super laid back environment. It’s a great low-stress way to practice public speaking and communicating with a lay/mixed audience. It does wonders for your confidence too; it’s amazing how good you feel when people are genuinely interested in your work.
- Ruth Brittle, Law (PubhD Nottingham #41): I enjoyed the experience and it is always good to present to a non-law audience. It’s such a good idea, with such a diverse cross section of subjects. I hope everyone got something out of it.
- Sam Rosen, Applied Linguistics (PubhD Nottingham #38): I thoroughly enjoyed the evening last week and it was great to receive questions from a non-academic point of view as it helped me to think about my work in different ways. And it was really interesting to listen to the other two presenters as well.
- James Wright, Archaeology (PubhD Nottingham #37): Really enjoyed the whole night. Organisers, speakers and punters all made me feel really at home.
- Basile Boulay, Economics (PubhD Nottingham #35): I had a great time and I found it to be a very good exercise actually. Always good to step outside the uni bubble.
- Katie Dexter, Physics (PubhD Leicester #1 and PubhD Nottingham #26): I may be biased (I run PubhD Leicester, and have spoken at both Leicester and Nottingham), but I thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere of PubhD. I love to talk about my work (what researcher doesn’t?), enjoy outreach, and love the relaxed atmosphere these events bring. AND you have few free drinks. How could you refuse! You get more confidence in speaking to an intelligent (but not physics-specific) audience. I had wonderful feedback on my talk with one audience member remarking that my talk was “the most accessible science talk” he’d ever attended. Result!
- Lucy Judd, History (PubhD Nottingham #17): It’s great fun, with a lovely audience and a really positive atmosphere. Don’t expect any serious comments from Regan though… It was brilliant to give some proper time and thought to getting across the key aspects of my research succinctly to people who aren’t experts in my field. It also gave me a chance to conquer my fears of ‘boring’ people with details of my thesis, and to find out that people actually find it quite interesting. Who knew? I absolutely enjoyed it. History chat, a free beer or two, and interesting talks about other disciplines. What’s not to enjoy?!
- Gareth Mott, Security Studies (PubhD Nottingham #19): What would you say to someone else thinking about speaking at PubhD? Do it! Seize the chance. The proliferation of PubhDs around the UK and abroad is testament to how productive and engaging – yet simple – an idea this is. I presented at PubhD a couple of weeks before I was due to present a paper at an academic conference. In my field (Social Science), there’s a fairly widespread grumbling whenever we are presented with a 10-15 minute paper that is waffling, uses heavy language and (often) goes over the allotted time. PubhD presents a great opportunity to practice delivering often complex information in a concise, accessible format. The aversion to A/V is also beneficial in this regard, because one loses the ‘crutch’ or ‘safety blanket’ of a PowerPoint (urgh) presentation. I enjoyed it. In the deep dark depths of writing the thesis one sometimes wonders “Does anyone care about this stuff?”. The very positive, receptive response and excellent questions from the packed audience was definitely a confidence-affirming boost!
- Benjamin Swift, Microbiology (PubhD Nottingham #14): If you are passionate about science and talking about it in a friendly environment speak at PubhD. I got some interesting feedback from different sources especially about their perception of my work from; general public, other scientists and informed audiences. I definitely enjoyed it, especially the beer!
- Bart Pander, Biology (PubhD Nottingham #10): Speaking at a PubhD allows you to make your science into a nice story and tell it. Do not worry to much, the crowd is friendly and the most fun is the Q&A and you can not prepare for that anyway. I enjoyed myself and it made me think about how my talk about my science can be perceived by the general public. I enjoyed it a lot.
- Suzy Harrison, History (PubhD Nottingham #27): Speaking at a PubhD is a great opportunity to step back and really think about your topic of interest in a way that will be accessible to all. It’s a fun challenge to condense your research into 10 minutes, and to be able to talk about it without any gimmicks or distractions. It was nice to be able to talk about my research in an incredibly relaxed environment, with academics from many different fields, and non academics, which is very different from speaking at a conference. I really enjoyed it, especially the free wine!
- Andrew Chick, Forensic Entomology (PubhD Nottingham #23): I’d tell anyone who is thinking about doing PubhD to go for it! It helped me through the finish post on my PhD. It was great to get to talk to people about my research in a more informal environment. I also got the chance to step out of my comfort zone, we get so used to doing presentations on power point and it was great to get back to basics and talk rather than hiding behind graphs and photos! Getting paid in beer is a huge plus! I had so much fun answering the questions, people had a genuine interest and there were a few light hearted jokes.
- Hollie Harvey, Medical (PubhD Nottingham #3): What would you say to someone else thinking about speaking at PubhD? I would tell that person to definitely give speaking at PubhD a go! Such a friendly crowd and a great way to gain experience of public speaking. It is also a good way to get used to explaining your work to all different levels so you can truly analyse and make sure you know what you are doing and why.
- Rebecca Dewey, Medical Physics (PubhD Nottingham #12): To any potential speaker: I’d just say “go for it, what have you got to lose?”. The audience is all aware that public engagement skills (or even just people engagement skills) take time to develop and you need to use these skills to learn, develop, improve and maintain them! It’s a really enlightening but non-scary way to dip your toe into public engagement. I got a very interesting insight into the fact that you can never predict what the audience will be interested in. I thought I was coming to talk about brain imaging, but the audience really wanted to know about cochlear implants and deafness, so we talked about that! I love talking about my research (which is why I do it!) and you very rarely get such a fun opportunity to do it with a pint in your hand!
- Mattia Colombo, Mathematical Physics (PubhD Nottingham #20): As Albert Einstein once said, “you don’t truly understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother”. Speaking at a PubhD event was fun, it was interesting, and it was quite useful. Having to explain my research project at a pub level made me realise things I never thought about, and at the same time it was really great to be able to answer to truly interested questions posed by the audience. So in all, I surely recommend anyone to try it, you won’t regret it!
- Stephen Walker, History/Archaeology (PubhD Nottingham #12): I’d tell a potential speaker that it is good fun and is less daunting than you might think. The audience were extremely supportive, and asked questions which suggested that they were interested! It helps with your thought processes when you have to explain your ideas to a non-technical, educated audience, especially speaking from notes without the “prop” of a presentation. I enjoyed it. A good night out!
- Sera Baker, Archaeology (PubhD Nottingham #1): I really did get a lot out of the PubhD event last week. It was not only fantastic practice with my own material as I’m working on tweaking this at the moment, but also I wanted to do it for confidence reasons (as I’m preparing for my viva exam later this year). The audience was really great with their interest and questions, but I appreciated the level of the presentation because academics get too caught up in their own world. The idea of having the talk alongside a pint sounded best to me and I’m sad that tomorrow evening I’m not likely to be repeating this although my presentation will be held around the corner from a pub. Drats!
- Dave Farmer, Physics (PubhD Nottingham #1): It was good to chat to a slightly older audience than I normally do with my outreach activities, which are often family focused. This allowed me to relax a bit and present in a style closer to how I actually am. I don’t normally get to do that, it scares the kids.
- Christian Perrin, Psychology (PubhD Nottingham #1): The first PubhD event went down as smoothly as the free beer I was plied with. The set up was well suited to the concept – a back room in a pub crowded with interesting folk. All three talks seemed well received by the audience and it was great to see so many questions (of such sophisticated content) being asked. As a speaker, I particularly liked seeing how the other speakers chose to present their subject areas and this has given me some ideas in terms of how I might present in the future. Presenting such isolated and specialised research to ‘lay people’ is helpful in terms of building confidence and learning how to transfer knowledge in different ways to diverse audiences. It is my belief that a true specialist – an expert – should be able to successfully inform anybody of their subject area. Being able to do this represents a real closeness and an intricate understanding of the subject area. PubhD represents a forum for experts to truly test their knowledge, to gain experience presenting, and to be witty, sophisticated, and drunk all at the same time. No complaints from me!
From previous PubhD Brighton speakers
Jennifer Holland, PhD student, School of Sport and Service Management
I first heard about PubhD from another student, and it sounded like a great way to meet people and talk about everyone’s research. It seems like an easy thing to do, doesn’t it? Have a pint or glass of wine and chat about your PhD, but it’s actually rather tricky to put all those years of work into a normal pub conversation! I found it a great opportunity to practise talking about my research through giving an overview of the project and what I’ve found so far. I did find it really hard not to use theoretical models. How do you explain something that takes up a whole chapter of your thesis but in just a few sentences? But it was a really open and fun environment and I would easily do it again! I loved hearing about other PhDs, especially in areas that I have no knowledge of like microbiology. It was really interesting and made me feel part of a wider community of PhD students and proud to be at the University of Brighton.
My tip – Bring in pictures or materials to help you if you think it would be useful. I’m using image elicitation and wish I had brought in some images to help explain the process and my findings in a more interactive and visual way.
Lucie Fremlova, PhD student, School of Applied Social Science
As a 3rd year PhD student, I have been looking for opportunities to present my PhD to different audiences in different formats as it helps to think differently about my PhD. Yes, arguably, every PhD is complex. Yet I feel that when it comes to people’s identities from a social scientist’s perspective, explaining intersectionality and queer theoretical concepts at a ‘pub level’ can be quite challenging. So when I saw the announcement that the PubhD Brighton team were still missing one presenter, I was up for the challenge.
I had just under 48 hours to prepare my 10 minutes on the lived experiences of Romani LGBTIQ people. I rehearsed three times, with the most successful rehearsal taking place in the bathroom. It helped me to chunk the masses of information and theory down to two main points: imagining intersectional identities as crossroads where multiple ‘roads’ such as sexuality, ethnicity/race, sex, gender identity, class, religion meet (not always in the middle!); and ‘queer(y)(ing), or destabilising Romani identities, which have often been essentialised. Doing so helps show the fluidity of sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity/race etc. Ultimately, every person’s identities are flexible intersections always in the process of becoming.
Patricia Soares, PhD student, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
I first heard about PubhD through some friends. The idea caught my attention, and I attended a couple of PubhD events before volunteering.
I didn’t spend a long time preparing my presentation, as I probably should have. My main preparation was figuring out the ‘complicated’ parts of my research and how I could explain them more easily, especially the genetic part. I tried to find daily examples that could serve as a metaphor for the most complex parts, cartoons that I could use, things that would catch someone’s attention — although I may not have been as successful as I wished!
Nevertheless, the evening was great. I had more questions than in an actual conference, and it was rewarding to hear so many people questioning and offering ideas! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that a few months later I volunteered as a speaker for PubhD Lisbon.
I would recommend anyone to give it a try! Part of our job as a scientist is to communicate our research and this is a great way to train, improve and learn how to be more efficient!
Bruno de Oliveira, PhD student, School of Applied Social Science
My experience on presenting at PubhD impacted positively on my PhD overall. It allowed me to present my research in a concise manner to academics and non-academics.
For me in terms of reflective practice, presenting my research to a non-academic audience was probably the most rewarding aspect of it because it shows how academia needs to integrate more with the local community (and you also get a free drink).