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GS21 1143 Oral Communication Skills for Scientists

  • Course Director(s): Bratton, Shawn; Wood, Rick
  • Semester: Spring
  • Frequency: Annually
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Grading System: Letter Grade
  • Prerequisites:


Bratton, Shawn; Wood, Rick. Three semester hours. Spring odd-numbered years. Grading System: Letter Grade. Prerequisite: Students must be in their second year or later year of graduate school.

The primary goal of this course is to train graduate students in the art of oral communication.  The ability to effectively communicate one’s ideas to an audience, large or small, is critical for the future success of our students, whether they wish to pursue careers in academic research, teaching, industry, or government.  Lectures will cover various aspects and types of oral communication including: 1) the basic principles of public speaking; 2) how to engage in non-scripted speaking; 3) how to prepare an excellent talk and provide constructive criticism; 4) how to lecture/give a talk outside one’s immediate area of expertise; 5) how to prepare a short talk for a national meeting; 6) how to deliver an “elevator speech”; 7) how to connect with and deliver a scientific talk to a lay audience; and 8) how to prepare a “chalk talk” for a job interview.  Students will be videotaped so that every aspect of their deliveries can be self-critiqued and discussed with the class at large in order to improve upon such things as eye contact with the audience, hand gestures, use of pointers, vocal variation and volume, diction/enunciation, speed of delivery, clarity of slides (where relevant), etc.  We anticipate that postdoctoral fellows within the program may also wish to audit the course in order to improve upon their communication skills and participate in discussions.