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Professional Communication

Professional Communication

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies partners with the Communication and Digital Media Studies department in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities to develop graduate students’ confidence in professional and personal communications. Off-campus workshops are available to all graduate students through the Mitacs Step program.

In-class workshops

  • Conference Boot Camp

    Conferences celebrate cutting-edge research and help graduate students develop scholarly and intellectual support networks. During this hands-on, interactive workshop, you will learn conference hard skills (standards of poster and talk format, content) and soft skills (conference etiquette, networking, dealing with presentation anxiety).

    Learning outcomes:

    • Identify the various skills and techniques for effective conference presentations.
    • Review one of your posters and/or conference talks.
    • Practice your presentation and networking techniques with your peers.
  • Graduate Writing Boot Camp

    Over three consecutive days, Graduate Writing Boot Camp will give you a productive, distraction-free work environment and space to make significant progress on your thesis writing. We will also provide you with the opportunity for at least one individual session with a writing specialist.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Develop strategies to become a more skilful writer.
    • Receive input on your writing.
    • Hone your writing techniques to help motivate you to continue with your writing.
  • Making Presentations that Make Sense

    A clear and concise presenter, a visual presentation and engaging content are some of the keys to keeping your audience’s attention in a presentation. In this workshop, you will learn what makes a great presentation and what you can work on to develop your skills.

     Learning outcomes:

    • Learn techniques to engage audiences.
    • Develop active listening skills.
    • Use visual aids for stronger impact.
    • Develop an authentic presentation style.
    • Describe your research to a layperson audience.
  • Public Speaking 101

    It is difficult to avoid public speaking during your graduate studies and once you enter the work world. It is an asset to be able to effectively speak to groups in an informative, persuasive and engaging way. This workshop will cover some of the challenges, best practices and tips to building your confidence and conveying your messages more effectively.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Gain a basic understanding of public speaking fundamentals.
    • Acquire some public speaking techniques.
    • Manage public speaking anxiety.
    • Develop your public speaking confidence.
  • Simplifying and Summarizing Your Research

    It is a useful skill to be able to simplify your complex research, whether explaining it verbally to someone outside of your field, or summarizing it in writing for an application or news article. This workshop will help you identify the most important, interesting and relevant parts of your research and make complex content easy for others to understand.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Communicate your research in a variety of setting and contexts.
    • Practice translating academic language to industry language.
    • Write a talk in your discipline aimed at a general audience.
  • Successful Intercultural Communication for Graduate Students and TAs, Part A

    Students’ expectations about what is appropriate and inappropriate in a classroom vary greatly from culture to culture. These expectations are based on learned sets of beliefs, values and norms, which influence how students and instructors think, behave and communicate in class. For example, in some cultures it is disrespectful to disagree with the professor. In others, professors encourage and expect debate and disagreement as a part of active learning. A clear understanding of what the expectations are in Canadian classrooms is necessary for international students to be successful in Canada.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Explore differences in communication styles.
    • Discuss which elements of communication are crucial in Canadian academia.
    • Learn some strategies to discuss cultural differences effectively.
  • Successful Intercultural Communication for Graduate Students and TAs, Part B

    Patterns of delivering feedback and communicating during difficult conversations vary greatly from culture to culture. For example, in some cultures, negative feedback delivered directly can constitute an insult. In others, the expectation is that negative feedback will be delivered very clearly and directly. Being able to recognize different approaches to conflict and incorporate feedback as it was intended is an essential skill for successful interactions with students and instructors/supervisors.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Develop strategies for delivering feedback.
    • Learn about reframing moments of conflict.
    • Learn strategies to increase the likelihood of successful relationships between students and instructors/supervisors.
  • Thesis Writing: Focus on Structure

    This workshop provides an interactive opportunity for the development of graduate-level writing skills including general thesis components, introductions and conclusions, rhetorical modes, paragraphing, incorporating sources and paraphrasing.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Gain an understanding of some of the structural requirements of graduate-level writing in Canada.
    • Gain a working knowledge of how to put these skills into practice in your own writing.
  • Thesis Writing: Focus on Style

    This interactive workshop provides an opportunity for students to develop writing skills at the graduate level, incorporating citation style recommendations; sentence variety: types and length; active/passive voice; lexical choice; parallel structure; punctuation for meaning; and wordiness, repetition and redundancy.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Gain practical competence in effective written communication, including the ability to correctly use syntax and grammar.
    • Develop practical competence in effective verbal communication including the ability to communicate ideas and information clearly, concisely and coherently.
  • Three Minute Thesis

    The Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT®) challenges graduate students to present their research and explain its wider impact in three minutes or less to a panel of non-specialist judges. The challenge is to present complex research in an engaging, accessible and compelling way, using only one slide. If you are well along in your thesis research, you are eligible to take this workshop and to participate in the competition.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Present complex research in an engaging, accessible and compelling way.
    • Communicate complex research to a non-expert audience using only one slide.

Off-Campus Workshops

  • Practice Your Presentation Skills I

    Mitacs.ca

    In this one-day workshop, theory is introduced in short bursts and participants spend the majority of time practicing their presentation skills while receiving onsite feedback. The focus on extensive practice and feedback is what makes the learning stick.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Broaden your understanding of presentation logistics.
    • Gain a greater ability to persuade and motivate others.
    • Understand how to plan and structure presentations.
    • Understand how (and how not to) use visual aids.
    • Learn to engage others through genuine and authentic presentation.
    • Learn tools to overcome and manage fears of public speaking.
    • Gain onsite practice and receive expert and peer feedback.
    • Be perceived as an expert in their topic area.
  • Practice Your Presentation Skills II

    Mitacs.ca

    Practice Your Presentation Skills II is for individuals who have already participated in the Practice Your Presentation Skills: Level I workshop and wish to take this key skill to the next step. The advanced skills development is achieved through a greater emphasis on practice and critique of realistic presentations that are relevant to the job, as well as the ability to watch oneself on video. Each participant will prepare a 15-20 min presentation relevant to her/his work or interests.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Have the opportunity to apply learning from Presentation Skills: Level I.
    • Possess a greater ability to persuade and motivate others.
    • Be able to engage others through genuine authenticity.
    • Overcome fear through practice.
    • Receive valuable peer and expert feedback on their presentations and style.
    • Have been filmed for personal reference and feedback.
    • Be perceived as an expert in their topic area.
  • Skills of Communication

    Mitacs.ca

    Skills of Communication is a full-day session featuring the tools and tips of better verbal communication. It will test your assumptions and mental models and for many it may be the first time you learn about the Ladder of Inference, the Johari Window and more. The goal is to make you more aware of the tools available to help you become a better communicator in both your work and personal lives. The mastery of these skills is a long-term process, but by simply becoming more conscious of the various communication styles, including your own, you can approach conversations differently and change conversational direction to achieve better outcomes.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Understand how personal assumptions and mental models adversely influence communication.
    • Learn how to determine your own personal assumptions and how to avoid them.
    • Learn to navigate and approach difficult conversations.
    • Identify and implement communications tools and techniques for team success.