Giving Scientists an Edge in Reaching Teens


Reading your audience is critical to knowing whether they are following the story.

Small Changes – Big Differences for Scientists

Scientists presentations are the highlight of a Teen Science Café. An outstanding presentation can keep the teens asking questions and exploring the topic, while a poorly pitched presentation can result in pandemonium as teens lose interest quickly. Adult leaders and organizers of teen cafés need skills in providing direct, constructive feedback that lead to the scientists presenters’ success. Yet, critiquing another person’s work is not easy. What makes a great presentation versus an OK presentation anyway? How do you politely tell someone to stop fidgeting or using too many four-syllable words? How do you help them understand their audience? These are challenges leaders deal with in ensuring a high quality experience at a teen café.  How the feedback is presented to the scientist can be awkward and painful or a real opportunity to build a collegial partnership in which everyone wins.


Dr. Joseph Martz challenges teens to think about a world without nuclear weapons.

Presentation Boot Camps are one method for helping professionals learn to identify and  better pitch their message to the intended audience. At the core of the program is a set of 11 skill sets that make or break the quality of a presentation.  Dr. Richard Tankersley has been offering boot camps for young scientists for nearly a decade. During his intensive two-day workshop, scientists receive training in planning and preparing presentations that communicate messages more clearly and effectively and have a lasting impact on the audience. Topics include: knowing and identifying the needs of the audience, highlighting big ideas and take-home messages, decoding complex concepts with diagrams, and displaying data in meaningful ways. Scientists also receive training in the use and application of a protocol for evaluating the effectiveness of scientific presentations. Download a Presentation Boot Camp Basic Training Sample Schedule to learn more.

But not every Café presenter can take a weekend to attend a Presentation Boot Camp. Instead, we are helping café leaders online by teaching them about the 11 skill sets that make for a dynamic presentation. A series of five webinars will be presented, one every other week, beginning July 9 and ending September 3, 2013. The webinars will help leaders recognize the characteristics of a great presentation, learn to evaluate a presentation using a rubric, and provide that evaluation to the presenter to help them improve.

Participants will be introduced to the protocol’s 11 skill sets, performance ratings, and evaluation rubric and will practice using them to construct Presentation Performance Profiles (P3) for speakers. Sample presentations intended for non-scientific audiences (pre-selected TED talks) will be used to help webinar participants (1) evaluate scientists with different presentation styles and skill levels, (2) identify evidence for specific performance ratings, and (3) prepare structured feedback that addresses specific presentation deficiencies. Pre-webinar assignments will be used to encourage participants to practice using the protocol offline and to prepare for discussion topics covered during each hour-long session. Webinars will be delivered using GoToMeeting. Contact us at cafe at scieds dot com for more information. We will also provide information to join the webinar on this blog by July 3.

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