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NIEHS Scientists Get Tips on Giving Better Presentations

By Robin Mackar
February 2009

Heather Henry, Ph.D.
The first of the two-day training sessions included an overview on speech and presentation skills. The sessions are geared to engage people in the audience such as Heather Henry, Ph.D., center, and NTP Postdoctoral Fellow Chad Blystone, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

During the personalized coaching sessions on day two, Blystone was dressed for the occasion as he presented and then received feedback from the trainer and fellow attendees. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

During the sessions, Grandinetti, above, discussed ways to integrate effective audiovisual aids into presentations. The key, he said, is to use slides to support the presentation without repeating word for word what appears on the screen. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Developing and delivering a compelling PowerPoint presentation can be a challenge, but for the 24 scientists who participated in a two-day training class coordinated by the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL), that task may now be a little easier.

OCPL teamed with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to sponsor presentation skills training sessions for two groups of NIEHS scientists and administrators in January. The sessions were specifically designed to help NIEHS staff improve their presentation skills. After initial sessions on January 15 and 23, the participants assembled back in Rodbell Auditorium a week later to test their new skills. Each participant gave a ten minute presentation that was critiqued by the trainer and other attendees. The training was led by Rick Grandinetti of VisionPlanning, Inc. in Morrisville, N.C.

Scientists from the Divisions of Intramural Research, Extramural Research and Training, as well as the NTP, participated.

"The course provided many useful tips to improve both slide content and the delivery of the presentation," said training participant Matt Stout, Ph.D., of the NTP. "However, what truly set this course apart was the feedback on a live presentation from both colleagues and the instructor."

According to OCPL Director Christine Flowers, her office will continue to provide training for a variety of communications skills, including classes on doing media interviews, writing and public speaking.

(Robin Mackar is the news director in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)

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