A few more “must read” for new gradute students
In the previous post, I was directing interested students to the free book Organizing Creativity. There are a few more excellent resources on the web that students should consult.
Seth Godin’s really bad powerpoint is a must read for any one using PowerPoint (or Apple’s Keynote) to prepare scientific presentations. While it is much more basic than Duarte’s Slide:ology, it capture the essence of what is wrong with many PowerPoint presentations you might have or will see during your lifetime, which try to put anything and everything on each slide. Not only does it make the slides unreadable in the very short amount of time it is displayed (true for most scientific presentations that are not plenary sessions), it also divert your attention from the speaker. If your are interested learning more about how to construct an efficient story for your presentation (yes, your presentation is all about story-telling) and make sure your overall message get across, I strongly suggest another of Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate. While the last two books are not free, they are both a great addition to your library as you will progress.
I also suggest that you take notes during or after an excellent presentation you had just witness. Not so much about what has been said but how it was said: layout, color, story telling, … Nothing like learning by example. This will allow you to integrate these elements into your next presentation. Use fully the opportunity of lab meetings to test 1 or 2 (not more, this is not the place) of these new techniques or approaches in your presentation. This is a risk free environment.
Another interesting free read is a short document by Paul N. Edwards from the University of Michigan on how to prepare and perform an oral presentation: How to talk.
Finally, for organization of projects and tasks, an excellent investments for any graduate students is certainly David Allen’s Getting Things DONE or GTD. In fact, I have often told students in the past that if they had to buy one none scientific book that will clearly help them quickly at the start of their graduate studies, they should start with this one.