Speak Like a Scholar

Whether you are giving a conference presentation, a job talk, or defending your dissertation, as a graduate student you need to be able to speak with authority and knowledge about your research area, respond to questions, and engage in scholarly debate.

Speak like a Scholar is designed to help Master's and PhD students develop their voices as independent scholars and give effective academic presentations with confidence. 

How it works

Speak Like a Scholar is self-directed and is most beneficial to those who engage with the material and their peers each week.

To make the most use out of the in-class session, you’ll be expected to read the material ahead of time and prepare your draft so that you can participate fully in the practice session.

Speak Like a Scholar has strict parameters for participation. Before applying, please think ahead and decide whether you can meet the following expectations between October 19 and November 9:

  • Be available for a 3-hour weekly meeting on the UW main campus (SCH 228F) on Thursdays between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • Be able to work on SLaS activities outside of the weekly class meetings, which includes independent reading (approximately 1-2 hours a week) and planning, drafting, or practicing (approximately 1-2 hours a week). 
  • Engage actively with your peers’ drafts and provide constructive, action-based feedback
  • Before SLaS, you should gather all the materials you will need to draft and design presentations (articles, data, previous drafts with comments, research notes, etc..). 

You are encouraged to plan any kind of presentation on any topic, but it’s best if it’s related to your scholarly work in some way: research you’re currently engaged in, research you’ve completed previously, practice for a conference presentation, thesis defence, seminar presentation, etc. 

Please note: If you cannot attend regular on campus meetings, or require more a more flexible schedule, we invite you to apply in the Fall semester, when the program will be entirely online and asynchrononus.  

Fall 2023

Over the course of 4 weeks, between October 19 and November 9 you will meet your peers on Thursday afternoons from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. To prepare for each weekly in-person, on-campus session you will complete readings ahead of time and bring in a rough draft for in-class practice and peer feedback.

During the weekly session, you will meet with the facilitator and other participants on campus to review material and discuss topics with your peers, then have between 1-2 hours of drafting, practicing, and feedback time.

Speak Like a Scholar will offer instructional readings, discussion topics, and feedback addressing many aspects of giving oral presentations in an academic context:

  • Drafting spoken versus written texts
  • Performance strategies and mental skills for public presentations
  • Cultural contexts and expectations for spoken communication
  • Principles of visual aid design
  • Responding to questions and formulating questions for fellow presenters

Speak Like a Scholar is structured to get you from the very beginnings of a plan all the way to a completed presentation: in week 1, you’ll identify your key messages; in week 2, you’ll plan out the structure of your presentation; in week 3, you’ll support your presentation with visuals and delivery; in week 4, you’ll practice answering questions after your presentation. Each week will involve short practice sessions where you’ll deliver drafts and short portions of your presentation.

If you are unable to join us this semester, SLaS will be back in the Winter.

How to apply

Applications open on September 6, 2023 and close on October 2, 2023.

If you don't think Speak Like a Scholar is right for you but you still want to learn about planning, designing, and delivering academic presentations, check out the WCC’s Design and Deliver workshops on LEARN.