Twice this week, I've given talks about my research. I've explained a little bit about what a PhD is, before going into my research specifically and why and how I do it. I used lots of pictures, a bit of humour and a video about basketball. This talk wasn't really to prospective university students though, or even undergraduates.
It was to teenagers.
I should add, that I only found out the day before my first presentation that I'd be giving this talk. I was up until 2am making up my presentation and figuring out what on earth to say that would interest 13-15 year olds.
Thankfully, doing a PhD about the Psychology of Magic did help a bit - I could talk about Derren Brown and Dynamo and just magic in general. Even then though, they were the definition of a tough audience. I'd been expecting it but still.... I was tempted to throw some tumbleweed into the crowd for dramatic effect.
Let's just say conferences - or even any presentation where the audience is there by choice - will be a breeze after that.
However, I have to say, I enjoyed it and want to give more of these talks in the future. It was always my aim that in academia, I also wanted to teach. I'm viewing this as practice. I'd maybe like to pitch at a bit of a higher level - colleges or existing students for example - but I do want to keep doing it. After all, it can't get worse. (Trust me).
Oh, and by the by, you really should check out that video.