Speaking Skills Requirement

The goal of the Speaking Skills requirement is to help our students improve their professional talk presentation abilities. We expect students to present a well-organized, coherent presentation with a logical flow to their arguments. Clarity of presentation is paramount.

About Speakers Club

The Speakers Club maintains high standards and has the expectation that a successful Skills talk will be on par with a good job talk. In particular, the speaker should strive for clarity of presentation without substantially compromising the technical material presented.

Speaker's Club Calendar

  • Students: schedule your talk by logging into the calendar, selecting an open date, and filling in required information.
  • Members: sign up to attend talks by logging into the calendar and toggling your attendance for a specific talk.
  • Speaking Skills reviewer attendance record (authentication required)

Scheduling your Speaking Skills talk

  1. At least 3 weeks before your presentation check the CSD PhD Talk Scheduling Calendar to avoid conflicts with Thesis Proposals and Thesis Defenses, when possible, then log into the Speakers Club Calendar to select an open day.
  2. Fill out and save the form -- this will notify the administrator(s) that a new talk has been added to the calendar. NOTE: If you are using an established seminar, please state that in "Other Info"  on the form (this block doesn't not get included in any auto-generated notifications).
  3. Note: selecting a room on the drop down on this form does not reserve the room. Preferred rooms are: GHC 4303, 4405, 6501, 8102; NSH 3002, 3305, 4305. Other rooms may be suitable if none of these are available. In that case, please indicate which room you will be using in the "Other Info" block at the bottom of the Speaking Skills calendar reservation form.
  4. We encourage use of the established seminars to improve your likelyhood of getting a quorum.
  5. You need to confirm a room is already reserved for an established seminar (usually one of the rooms listed above) or work with your advisor's administrator or, if necessary, email csd-phd-support@cs.cmu.edu for assistance booking a room.
    • When asking your advisor's admin to book a room you should let them know that the standard practice is to book a total of 2 hours for the talk
    • 30 minutes set-up so you can test your laptop with A/V, practice prior, if you want to. 
    • 1 hour for the talk (this is what goes onto the public calendar, attendees should expect a 45 minute talk with approx. 15 minutes for questions).
    • 30 clean up in case the talk goes over, questions run long, etc. so you have some extra time at end of an hour talk and won't immediately be kicked out of the room for a follow-on reservation. 
  6. Students should contact Speakers Club Members to obtain a quorum of two faculty and one PhD student from the membership list to attend their talk.
  7. You will be notified by the system periodically about the status of your talk.

Giving Your Talk at Established Seminars

  1. You must schedule your talk via the Speakers Club interface but this does not reserve times with any of the established seminar series. 
  2. Talks can be given at the Student Seminar Series (SSS) or other established seminar series. SSS availability can be viewed at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sss
  3. Other seminar series such as Theory Lunch Seminar, PLunch, etc. are also suitable venues for Speaking Skills talks. You must contact the seminar organizer to confirm available times.
  4. Additional seminar series are listed on the SCS Seminar Series page.
  5. Most established seminar series rooms are available to choose in the Speakers Club Calendar drop list. If you find this isn't the case you can add the room information in "Other Info" on the form so we are able to properly advertise your talk.

After Room and Time are Confirmed

  • You should practice your talk before presenting.
  • The talk should be approximately 40-45 minutes and be accessible to a general CS audience (the specialized seminars' audiences should accommodate speakers accordingly.)
  • Notices will be posted to the SCS & CSD Calendars and emailed to csd-phd-students, cs-friends, and csd-phd-advisors to announce your talk.
  • When your quorum is reached, print a copy of the Speaking Review Form for each attending reviewer. Be sure to fill in your name, date, title, and name of reviewer on each form to give to your reviewers.

Your Speaking Skills Talk

  1. Make sure forms have been provided to each reviewer at your talk.
  2. Set up Zoom to record your talk for your reference and to apply the feedback from the reviewers to improve your speaking skills.
  3. Each attending Speakers Club member fills out an evaluation form.
  4. When your talk is done, and any questions have been answered, stop recording and you will leave the room for the reviewers to meet privately to come to consensus on the outcome (pass or try again).
  5. If at least two faculty members and one PhD student member of the Speakers Club grade your talk to be "Good" or better it is a pass.
  6. If you need to try again, one of the faculty Speakers Club members volunteers to be the Point Person to see you through to the next step.
  7. Signed review forms, indicating you passed, should be given to the Doctoral Program Manger to be filed for completion of the curriculum requirement.
  8. If a reviewer chooses to use the PDF form electronically, and you passed, they should email a digitally signed form to csd-phd-support@cs.cmu.edu.
  9. Review your recording privately to critique your own talk in reference to the reviewers input.

If you have any questions about the process or suggestions for this page they should be addressed to csd-phd-support@cs.cmu.edu

As with writing, speaking well takes practice. Satisfying this requirement might take a few tries on the student's part.

For students who are naturally good speakers, or are already experienced speakers, one try may suffice. No stigma is attached to those who have to present a talk more than once.

Additional information about the Speaking Skills Requirement is detailed in the PhD Handbook.