2021 National Postdoctoral Association

At the annual National Postdoctoral Association conference (April 15-16 online), we produced the session Training Postdocs About Chalk Talks to Improve Science Communication and Job Interviews.

Communicating your expertise clearly to a public and technical audience is a critical skill for PhD trainees to develop. Specifically for postdocs, "chalk talk" style presentations of your research accomplishments and future directions are an expectation of some faculty job interviews at research universities. Such oral presentations using only a whiteboard or paper flip chart can last from 5 minutes to an hour directed to either just the search committee or to a public seminar audience. However, there is limited training materials about this skill so attend this session to learn about the practice and to discuss developing workshops for your own institution. Mastering short pitch presentations will also serve in other situations such as networking at conferences (e.g., elevator pitches) or soliciting resources in the private sector (e.g., pitch competitions). Finally, we introduce the latest innovation in chalk talk expectations -- oral presentations about your accomplishments described in faculty job application diversity statements.

Note: Read about our session. Slides are pending.
Resource list found below.

Alberto Roca, PhD, Producer
Executive Director, DiverseScholar; @MinorityPostdoc

Edward Krug, PhD
Emeritus Professor; Medical University of South Carolina; @EdKrug2

Stacey Glasgow, PhD
Assistant Professor; University of California, San Diego

screenshot of NPA panelists from Chalk Talks session including Alberto Roca, Stacey Glasgow, and Edward Krug


Includes example chalk talk videos

"Good" Sample Experimental Design Chalk Talk (2017) YouTube (7 min)

Your Chalk Talk Questions Answered, NeurOnline (14 min)

Quali Chalk Talk Sessions - The Sandbox Lifecycle (2016) YouTube (5 min)

How to Give a Job Talk, and Why It’s Not the Same as a Research Talk (2014) YouTube (1 hour)

Preparing and Delivering an Effective Chalk Talk (2018) YouTube (30 min)

Gladstone Institutes: Preparing a Chalk Talk for a Faculty Position, YouTube (1.5 hours)

Demystifying the Academic Chalk Talk, NeurOnline (1 hour)

Articles & reports

Parks, et al. (2021) Make a Simple Tree: Chalk Talks for Postdocs. DiverseScholar 12:1

Brenner C (2013) Demystifying the chalk talk. ASBMB Today

Burroughs Wellcome Fund guide (2010) Communicating Science Giving Talks

EMBL (2015) How to give a good scientific talk. YouTube

Faulkes Z (2021) Kill the chalk talk? NeuroDojo

Helton R (2020) Q&A: How to Give a Chalk Talk. Edge For Scholars

Heustis, et al (2019) Embedding academic and professional skills training with experimental-design chalk talks. Nature Biotechnology

Hsu et al (2021) Myths and facts about getting an academic faculty position in neuroscience. Science Advances

JHMI: Giving a Chalk Talk. Professional Development & Career Office

Martin KC (2017) Tips for Young Scientists on the Junior Faculty/Independent Investigator Job Search. Neuron

Muthuirulan P (2016) Keep Your Audience Engaged for a Successful Scientific Talk. NIH NICHD Connection

Rowland A (2016) Preparing your academic chalk talk. ASCB Careers, Emerging Voices

Stivison E (2020) What exactly is a chalk talk? Three new professors share their experiences. ASBMB Today

Strassmann JE (2016) Chalk talks: how to avoid 10 pitfalls. Sociobiology

Vosshall LB (2015) Chalk Talk for a Tenure-Track Position: Biomedical Sciences. Rockefeller.edu

Organizations for science & general public speaking/communication

(not exhaustive)

Alan Alda Center

Toastmasters International

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