My PhD is part of the AHRC/EPSRC-supported Science and Heritage Programme. A few weekd ago I received an e-mail from the Programme Coordinator that the Programme Director wanted to meet up with me and my supervisors from UCL and the TNA to see how the research is progressing and any problems etc.
The monitoring meeting was set for the 12th of June. For this meeting I had to prepare a presentation focussing on the research which has been carried out. I was a bit apprehensive about the presentation, because following my short presentation at the 1st research meeting, I knew my supervisor thought that my presentation skills were quite appalling. I think I however was more apprehensive about the mock presentation scheduled with my supervisor and another research assistant, than with the actual one (possibly because after the second one it would be all over ).
The day of the mock presentation arrived, and I was slightly nervous. Now normally I don’t mind presentations much (possibly cos I enjoy that the attention is on me? O:)), but this time round I really wanted to make some kind of decent impression! Everything set up and off I go! It went quite well, and happily my supervisor said that my presentation skills have improved…phewww! He suggested a number of changes to my presentation, which I was happy to oblige with seeing as they were very valid, and back to my offices I went to finalise the presentation.
Friday arrived…monitoring meeting day! I went up to the meeting room early to set up the desk-projector and make sure that everything was working well. After a while my supervisors arrived, and then the programme director.
First I gave my presentation, followed by a general discussion all together and a number of questions. Then, the programme director talked to my supervisors alone (wish to have been a fly on that wall ) and then me alone, as had been planned.
How do I think it went?
I think it went OK. I was asked some questions which I think I answered quite well, but then was asked about my ‘research hypothesis’, and just couldn’t think what that was! I kept on thinking about research questions, and then just gave up and gave my answer as research questions (after stupidly asking: emm…what’s the research hypothesis?) Oh well!
Other than that, my supervisors seemed happy, the programme director seemed happy…so I’m happy…won’t hit myself over the not-so-bright things I said, and hope to improve for the next time
All in all however I think that one important thing hopefully sunk into my brain now: not everyone in the heritage field is from chemistry! I always approach presenting my work as though the people have my background. But after the research meeting presentation, and more so after this one, I realise that my approach is completely wrong! I approached these meetings as me ‘showing off’ what I have been doing. Now that I realise that in front of me when I rpesent I will have people from a wide variety of disciplines, from architects, to conservators, to archaologists, and conservators, I realise that the most important thing is not the details what I have been doing (even if I have been told to speak about my research), but to give them the overall picture of the project, with limited if any specific details. Then, if they are interested in a specific part, they can ask me further questions after the general idea has been obtained.
Wish me luck for my next one, whenever that is