6 ways to enhance your scientific career with networking and informational interviews

Do you want to know how networking and informational interviews can enhance your scientific career? Are you unsure of whether to stay in academia or not? Find out how to use your contacts and professional networking sites to find and obtain the right job for you.

  1. Use your personal contacts

Use existing contacts to get first hand, tailored information from people who’ve made the transition into different types of careers. You might also be a member of different networks such as an alumni association or a scientific society where you can find people to talk to about their careers, or perhaps you are attending a conference where you can speak to people directly about their experiences.

  1. Don’t be afraid of professional networking sites

Make the most of what’s on offer, be it LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Xing or other local sites. Search for people who have similar skills or backgrounds as you, contact them and ask if they’d be willing to talk to you about their career. Join groups on these sites to talk to people in similar fields as you are in or want to get into.

  1. Set up some “informational interviews”

An informational interview is an informal discussion about careers where you can get advice and information – it is not something that will lead to a job but should rather be a source of inspiration and advice. Get in touch with the people who might be able to offer you some sound advice, and ask if they can spare 20 minutes for you to pick their brains.

  1. Prepare for your informal interview

One way to structure these informational interviews is to use REVEAL*:

  • Recap – Who are you and why would you like to talk to this person
  • Explore – Prepare questions to help you explore the career area, role and sector
  • Vision – Follow up with more detailed questions about the trends for the field, and where your career could head in the longer term
  • Entry Routes – How did the person you’re talking to get into the role? Are there different routes to getting in?
  • Action Points – What do you need to do to get these kinds of roles? Can also ask for feedback on your CV
  • Links – Can the person recommend any other resources to you?
  1. Realistically assess your skills, values and interests

Scientists often struggle with working out what kinds of jobs they are best suited to. Look in depth at your skills, values and interests. Use this information to filter your career research. You can, for example, look for people with a similar skill set on LinkedIn and see what kinds of roles they have and gain some inspiration for what you might be interested in.

  1. Research the available career possibilities

There are a large variety of options out there for scientists who don’t want to stay on the academic career path. In addition to research in pharma, biotechs and startups there are also a variety of roles where you can use your scientific knowledge, understanding of the research process or data analysis skills. These roles often support scientific research, communicate research findings more broadly, or help translate research into real life applications.

Resources

Original video with Rachel Graf, EIPOD Career Advisor, EMBL Heidelberg

Please follow and like us:

5 tips to drive more traffic to your exhibition booth

 

Sponsoring and exhibiting at events is still one of the major ways for companies to showcase their products and technology to relevant audiences. Companies spend a lot of time choosing the events they go to every year, but once they decide comes the big question – “How do we stand out from the crowd?”

There are various articles and ideas out there on how to effectively drive traffic to your booth, but from what we have seen, the methods you choose largely depend on the size of the audience, the competition onsite and the creativity of your booth personnel.

Here are 5 tips that have proven effective for life science conferences of 100-450 participants.

  1. Forget the flyers!

People have not flown thousands of kilometers to take your flyer back home. Companies love to produce promotional flyers that don’t say much and are destined to land in the bin. Rather, bring free samples and loads of free goodies. If you are marketing an instrument, bring it onsite and offer free demos.

  1. Bring in some colour!

In a previous post, we put together the logos of all of our supporters from last year, and one thing we noticed was that the predominant colour of choice for most of the companies was blue. Although you may not be able to change the corporate colours of your company, you could try to bring some bright colours to your booth – e.g. goodies in rainbow colours. You would be surprised what the effect of such a small thing would be.

  1. Spark joy!

When at a conference, people are usually suffering from jet lag, sleep deprivation and dehydration. And while you cannot make all of this go away, offering a good cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or ice cream can make you the hero of the day.

  1. Unleash your creativity!

When choosing your goodies, try to think outside of the box. People don’t need another pen or notepad. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think what you would like to keep as a giveaway. If you have to go with a standard giveaway, then at least try to integrate more than one function in it, e.g. I still carry around a pen/screwdriver I got at a conference 10 years ago and have since used it on many occasions. You may also want to consider offering some giveaways for children, such as colouring books, stuffed toys (e.g. shaped as bacteria or cells) or games.

Another great way to engage your audience is to offer interactive activities at your booth, such as short fun games, puzzles, quizzes, fun facts about your products, or virtual reality glasses.

  1. Be an active participant!

Try to attend as many lectures as possible during the conference. The scientific lectures will not only bring you up-to-date to the latest research in the field, but will also help you put your company in the context of this research when talking to participants onsite.

Don’t forget the poster sessions. By understanding the research of your potential customers you can more readily identify their needs and bring suitable solutions to their attention.

Last but not least, social events are always a great platform to meet people in a more informal atmosphere and break the ice.

Please follow and like us:

10 tips to create a scientific poster people want to stop at

Are you attending a conference and presenting a poster, but not sure where to start? Here are 10 tips to help you transform a good poster into a great one!

  1. Make it gripping!
    The scientific poster needs to captivate your audience from the beginning. Make sure you focus on what your key message is and put that clearly in your title.
  1. Keep the title short
    The title is what will make people either read your abstract and visit your poster or not. Keep the title short and snappy to make sure it draws interest.
  1. Leave out unnecessary words
    Make sure you only use words that are really necessary. Try to minimise the text, however make sure you clearly and succinctly describe the main conclusions from your project and the take-home messages.
  1. Make good use of graphics
    Focus on the graphics – these are what will catch the eye and explain the data in a way that’s easy to comprehend. Make sure you use graphics that are easy to understand, and stick to a consistent, clean layout.
  1. Don’t try to cram everything on the poster
    The poster is not the place to publish your entire research results. It serves as a networking tool that should attract attention, and help you start up conversations with other scientists. Include only the important information on the poster – YOU are there to provide any other information!
  1. Outline your methods
    Use one graphic, for example, which outlines the design of the study and the methodology that you’ve utilised. Follow this with graphics that convey the scientific results.
  1. Have clear take-home messages
    The take-home messages need to be clearly visualised and clearly described for them to be understood by your listeners.
  1. Know what’s important
    Work out what is the most important information on your poster, and make sure it is visible / readable from a distance in order to draw people who are walking past.
  1. Tailor your poster presentation to your audience
    When you’re presenting your poster to a listener, make sure that you assess their expertise level so that you can tailor your delivery to the person that’s standing in front of you. You don’t want to give the same level of details to somebody who already knows a bit about the subject as somebody who is completely unaware of the research area you’re in.
  1. Don’t forget credits!
    Be sure to include all acknowledgements and collaborators, as well as your name and affiliation on the poster.

Original video with Prof. Lars Steinmetz, EMBL Senior Scientist and Director of the Life Science Alliance

Please follow and like us:

Ten simple rules for delivering live distance training using webinars

See original article “Ten simple rules for delivering live distance training in bioinformatics across the globe using webinars, published November 15, 2018.

Learning opportunities are now easily available online. Although students appreciate having the trainer (and classmates) available and close by, many parts of the globe tend to get neglected when it comes to live training. Due to the low cost, short duration, and flexible, potentially global access, webinars (web-based seminars) can be used to train and/or promote a variety of themes – the only requirement is access to a computer, smart phone or tablet, and an internet connection.

Over the past five years our colleagues at EMBL-EBI have developed 10 simple rules for  organising and delivering webinars.

Rule 1: Choose your webinar software wisely

There is no shortage of “best webinar software products” out there. Free products have the disadvantage of limiting your audience size. If you want to reach out to as many people as possible, free software is therefore unlikely to be an option.

See below for our top five software programmes, with the minimum requirement of must-have features, other key specifications, and the URLs to learn more.

The following features should also be taken into account:

  • Can you track registration and attendance?
  • Can you share the screen during the webinar?
  • Can you launch polls in real time?
  • Can you collect feedback after the session?
  • Can you obtain detailed analytics?
  • Can you text chat with the audience?
  • Can you record the session?
  • Can you follow up with emails?
  • Can you share the webinar materials (slides, exercises)?
  • Can you change the control of the screen in real time to a presenter other than yourself?
  • Can you easily get hold of the support team in the event of a “webinar catastrophe?”
  • Can the participants dial in using a telephone line in the event of poor Wi-Fi connection?
  • Can the participants join webinars on the go with a mobile device?

Rule 2: Pilot it with experts and friends

Now that you have selected the software, you should run a pilot within the free trial period to get familiar with the infrastructure. Choose a topic that you know a lot about (and/or work with) and there is a need for training on. Select a group of people who you know and can give positive and constructive feedback for your test audience. Once the pilot is done, check the software performance against the list of perks from Rule 1. If it did not meet your standards, trial a different software until you find the one that best fits.

Rule 3: Get a host on board

If face-to-face workshops are already part of your training portfolio, get in touch with previous trainers and invite them to host a webinar – they will also help you to find the right audience. Having a host on board will take the pressure off so you can focus on crafting the syllabus, writing the training abstract and setting up the webinar registration.

If you have never delivered face-to-face training before, consider getting in touch with your network of work colleagues and inviting someone on board as a host.

Rule 4: Find your audience

Before advertising your webinar, save a few spaces for members of your team (possible supporters at the Q&A session), in case your webinar is a sell-out. Advertise your webinar on social media, mailing lists, newsletters, and relevant journals. Once registration is open, watch out for likely bots by looking through their registration. If names and/or usernames contain random characters only, it is likely to be a fake registrant. Unfortunately there is not much you can do against bots, but it’s good to keep an eye on it to get a more realistic expected number for genuine attendees.

Rule 5: Prepare your content: Less is more

You love what you do, so it is natural that you will try to cram in a lot of information you think is relevant. Don’t!

  • Start small: give an overview and some topic highlights
  • Do not overcrowd your slides with detail
  • Make your slides visually compelling – consider adding live demos or a recording showing some functionalities of your resource
  • Build polls into your webinar to hold your audience’s attention

Include one slide on the logistics of the live webinar, such as:

  • Webinar attendees will be muted
  • Materials (slides, exercises) will be available for download
  • Attendees are encouraged to ask questions
  • Questions will be answered at the end (via chat box or otherwise).
  • The session will be recorded and shared.

Rule 6: Lights, camera, action

The big day has finally arrived. Whether you have a full house or just a handful of registrants, you will be recording your session, so the video will be available for anyone to watch it. It is very unusual to get a full turnout—more typical is that 40% to 60% of registrants turn up.

If you are suffering from frequent low attendance, consider the following:

  • Was the timing wrong?
  • Did your webinar overlap with other events on the same topic?
  • If you are webcasting to a single host, did it clash with a regular seminar or meeting taking place at the host organization?

You should now get your laptop ready for the live session.

  • Make sure you close down email clients, Skype chats, and so on. You do not want notifications popping up at the corner of your computer screen or beep sounds during your training session.
  • Do not deliver your webinar from your regular desk. Book a room instead to ensure you are in a quiet place and will not be interrupted.
  • Have your laptop plugged in and use a wired internet connection.
  • Get the screen at eye level so that your head and neck are at a comfortable position and attendees will look into your eyes rather than eyelids or forehead.
  • Some software has a beep sound to notify you when people join or leave the training session. Disable it.

Rule 7: Be engaging

  • Make use of polls—the webinar software you purchase should offer this functionality. Share the results with the audience and make sure you and your presentation are flexible enough so you adjust the content to your audience on the fly.
  • Throw in direct questions and ask the audience to respond via chat
  • Encourage your audience to ask questions, during or after the webinar. Our choice is to take all questions at the end. If you have a colleague (or facilitator), you can say that they will be happy to answer the question via the chat box while you talk.
  • Ask the audience to address the question to “everyone,” preventing another attendee asking the same question. Written Q&As also allow to keep record of the pain points and/or feedback.
  • If you choose to do the Q&A verbally, do so at the end of your webinar (for the same reasons outlined above) and unmute all the participants. Be aware of likely echoing once the microphones are no longer muted, especially if the participants happen to be in the same room.

Rule 8: Record the session and share it

Webinars are “for life, not just for Christmas”! Record your session to make it available to those registrants who did not make it to the live webinar. Share the recording more widely (perhaps by posting to a service such as YouTube or Vimeo) and make it available to a much broader audience. Once the recording is done, you may need to edit it to remove long pauses, the start and the end of the recording, and the Q&A session.

Rule 9: Get feedback and act on it

Hooray! You have delivered your webinar, the recording is online, and you are ready to move on to deliver more webinars. Before moving to the next, you need to assess how the first one went. Seek feedback on the style, content and/or the technical aspects of your training session. Evaluation surveys are the first channel of feedback  – the sooner you send this after the webinar, the higher the chances that the attendees will fill it out. The Q&A at the end of the webinar is also a chance for the attendees to “voice” their final comments. Once your webinar is published, monitor future engagement with it, and adjust the content and level of detail if necessary in future webinars.

Rule 10: It is not the end

Once webinars become part of your routine, you may tend to believe that this is it. You have nailed it. It is the end. Far from it. It is actually the beginning. The webinar can be a flavour of what is to come.

Things you may want to consider for future webinar training sessions:

  • How often will repeats be required?
  • Will you be the speaker again, or will you invite others?
  • How can you expand the pool of speakers?
  • Where will you get your audience from?

Conclusion

Webinars are a powerful and engaging means of training and dissemination that can reach global audiences and therefore help us to address inequality and imbalance of teaching bioinformatics or other subjects. We hope that our experience can inspire you into this brave new world of live distance training.

Please follow and like us:

15 tips for giving a good scientific talk

Are you giving a presentation at an upcoming conference, but not sure where to begin? Read on to learn our top 15 tips to help get you on your way, and ensure your next scientific talk is smooth, interesting and a huge success!

Preparing your talk

  1. Remember that you know way more about your subject than anyone else. Be confident!
  1. Never assume knowledge of the audience – always pitch your talk at a level where you are sure that everyone will understand, whether they’re an expert or not.
  1. Practice! Prepare your talk well in advance, run through it multiple times and if possible present it to people who know nothing at all about what you work on because they’re the audience you’re trying to capture.
  1. Design is everything. Keep your slides as simple and as clean as possible. Only use animations if they are really needed to accentuate the point that you’re making.
  1. Stick to the allotted time – generally calculate 1 minute per slide. If you’re giving a 10 minute talk, more than 10 slides is almost certainly too long.
  1. Minimise stress before you give your talk – get your slides to the AV technicians well in advance of your session, make sure that they are projecting.
  1. Familiarise yourself with the equipment beforehand. Take time to go to the podium, check what button you need to press to change the slides, and what you need to do to use the laser pointer.

During your talk

  1. Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact! No one wants to look at the back of your head or watch you reading the slide.
  1. Use your laser pointer sparingly – just point out critical pieces of data to illustrate the point that you’re making.
  1. Stay calm. If something’s not working, first just try to calmly do it again and then if you need help, subtly indicate this to the AV technicians.
  1. Be aware of your audience – look around during your talk, and you’ll be able to tell whether people are with you or not. Don’t be afraid to adapt!
  1. Project excitement! Don’t be afraid to get wound up in the data. The more passion and the more information that you give, the more likely people are to remember your talk at the end of the day.
  1. Be memorable! Don’t worry if people remember you as the crazy person who waved their arms around! That’s fine as long as you’re communicating your science in a way that everyone can understand put every bit of passion and interest in it that you can.
  1. When answering questions after your talk, make sure you let the questioner finish their question before you answer. Think about what question they’re actually asking, and answer the question directly.
  1. Be aware of timing – when the sign comes that you need to start wrapping up, don’t go through all of the remaining slides at breakneck speed, but start wrapping up before you’re forced off the stage. Be prepared to skip a few slides to get to the end.

Original video with Julian Rayner from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, in collaboration with EMBL.

Please follow and like us: