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189. Crafting an Unforgettable Job Talk w/ Dr. Andres De Los Reyes

Think about your favorite action movie that kept you on the edge your seat. Did it look certain that the hero would fall, only to emerge at the very last moment to save the day? Now picture a great movie trilogy or TV series. Did each episode introduce a dangerous cliffhanger at the end, enticing you to watch the next installment to see how the tension would resolve?

Those filmmakers know something about storytelling – crafting a narrative arc that brings the audience along for an exciting ride. Within just a few hours, they have to introduce you to the characters, invest you in their stories, and then take you along on a journey of conflict and resolution.

This week, we talk about how your scientific presentation or job talk can use those same storytelling tools to engage an academic audience, and maybe even land you a new job.

Every graduate trainee has experienced the highs (and lows) of scientific seminars. Typically, your department will host an invited speaker from another University. She’ll take an hour to present her research and then field questions from the audience.

The speakers at these seminars obviously want to make a good impression, as an engaging talk might lead to new collaborations. But there’s one type of seminar where the speaker’s entire future career hangs in the balance…

Of course, we’re talking about the dreaded ‘job talk!’ When a department hires a new faculty member, the search committee might review hundreds of applications, and invite just the four or five best candidates to host a seminar describing their work.

This week, we caught back up with Dr. Andres De Los Reyes, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland. We spoke with him way back in Episodes 135 and 137 about his book The Early Career Researcher’s Toolbox: Insights Into Mentors, Peer Review, and Landing a Faculty Job.

He joins us this time with advice on how to make that fateful transition from postdoc to faculty hire by using the tools of great storytellers to craft your presentation.

He’ll describe his ‘Trilogy Tool’ and tell you how to curate just three pieces of research that you’ll describe in your job talk. Choosing the three elements, and how you link them together, is critical to the narrative structure. In the end, you’ll take your audience on a journey of academic discovery, and help them see all the potential that your future research holds.

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