Speaking in the seminar

The student seminar deviates somewhat from a regular seminar. The focus is on developing communication and presentation skills by feedback from your peers. The structure of the seminar is the following. Each presentation begins with the speaker introducing their goal for the talk followed by the actual presentation. After the talk there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Lastly there is a feedback session, where we discuss how well the goal of the talk was attained, and give some general feedback.

Preparing your talk

Choose the goal, topic, key message and a target time for your talk. The audience will consist mainly of doctoral students with a mathematics and/or statistics background. However, most will not be familiar with your specific field of research, which is something to keep in mind when preparing your talk. Also, while it is true that often “the devil is in the details”, here especially given the length of the talk it is advisable in most cases to focus on the broader picture.

Prepare a maximum 45 minute talk, which you start by presenting your goal for the talk. The preferred language is English, but if you have a specific reason you may give the talk in some another language, preferably Finnish or Swedish.

Setting a goal for what you wish to achieve with your presentation will give a clear objective and help you structure your talk. Your goal may be related to a science communication skill you want to develop, a specific presentation you want to feedback on, or to what you want to communicate to the audience.

Examples of goals

  • You want to make a presentation popularising science.
  • You want to practice a presentation you will give somewhere else.
  • You want to give insight into your field (i.e. “working knowledge” for the non-specialist)
  • You want to practice presenting your own research to a broader audience.
  • You want to practice and / or experiment with a specific medium of presentation (i.e. using the blackboard, using embedded animations / videos in slides, etc)

Topic suggestions

  • A conference presentation (typically shorter than a seminar talk) with an introductory part where you present the background.
  • An overview of your field of research / study.
  • A classic problem or result.
  • New research within your field.
  • A skill you feel would be useful for other students, for example best practices in scientific computing.


After the presentation, we will have a discussion on the topic, that is, field questions from the audience. Note that this (typically very lively) discussion is not counted towards the 45 minute limit of the talk itself.

Feedback session

After the traditional seminar discussion we will have a friendly feedback session. Here you will get constructive feedback on your presentation. The aim is not to evaluate you, but help you develop your presentation skills! Additionally, attending and participating in the feedback session is a potential learning experience also for those in audience.

The organisers will provide a summary of the feedback session to the speaker after the seminar.

Questions to help get the discussion going:

  1. Was the topic familiar to you? How does it relate to your research?
  2. How was the goal of the talk achieved? Was the talk well adjusted to the audience?
  3. Presentation skills like slides etc.
  4. Was there something (big or small) that you would like to incorporate into your future talks?

Attending the seminar

Attendants of the seminar are expected to take part in the discussion and feedback sessions.

Course learning outcomes

Presenting and attending the seminar:

After completing the course, the doctoral candidates have learned scientific communication skills and are able to

  • prepare and hold a seminar presentation about their dissertation topic area
  • adjust a seminar presentation for a specified audience (a general scientific audience or an audience representing the same field)
  • answer questions from the audience clearly and appropriately
  • receive constructive feedback on clarity, structure, content and visual layout
  • further develop their presentation based on the received feedback
  • make questions about scientific presentations and give constructive feedback for the presenter.

Organising the seminar:

After completing the course, the doctoral candidates have learned organisational skills and are able to

  • invite seminar speakers
  • schedule, advertise and host an event
  • coordinate their work with the other organiser
  • keep official records on attendance
  • organise feedback sessions for the seminar speaker.