3 Responses to Stuff I have learnt by talking about my thesis to non-specialist audiences, by Joanna Kremer

  1. APatientPatient says:

    I think your experiences here are important for a wider community to understand. In your case you are grappling with an issue that, actually, has implications in other ways. I’m grappling with my rare medical condition which, like you, I find hard to explain in situations like at the party when someone asks you what you do for a living..Or what’s wrong with you…In my case it’s s trying to encapsulate in a few brief words, why I am as I am. Most peoples eyes glaze over when I expand on this; it is simply too hard to summarise. But as you know, you have a need to summarise.

    So I’ve taken to using a different tack. First of all I ask them what they do (they like that) and then, thinking on my feet, or in my case with my poles, say ‘Well, that’s interesting! We’ve a connection! Ive got x and it’s a bit like what you say you do for a living…’etc etc. It can be the most abstruce connection, but it forces them to consider that connection and maybe ask more. The trick then is not to go Full On; just ‘Have they heard of p q and r? Well r is a bit like x…..’ And so on… It becomes a Quest for an Intellectual Tease- can you draw them round to becoming at least intrigued by you spending your life looking, exploring, finding out more about (not researching, note; I don’t have that pleasure of researching, just living with it) and talking with them, not to them about it. The biggest Killer I’ve found is Earnestness. Its not a perfume. The biggest Builder is Playfulness (and yes of course there’s research about this!) So a few squirts of Playfulness behind the ears and you’re good to go!
    Enjoy your research. Shout it from the rooftops! Take risks in sharing it.Spill a few drinks over people as you warm to your subject! They will remember that! (That’s generally what happens with me when I get started.)
    If it’s really real, and really valuable, they will always float to the top……..

    Thanks Nina. You know why.

  2. Joanna Kremer says:

    Yes, I know it’s quite hard to summarize your research to someone who does not work in your field(s) or even people who are not familiar with certain terms. I really do think the exercises I did over the last year really helped me understand my research better and also helped me focus on some of the key issues of my thesis. Getting your work out there is always hard and also intimidating at times (I do still find standing in front of people talking intimidating, but the more I do it, the more I improve, I think :)). Thanks for your advice and good luck with everything! Joanna

  3. ninaschmidt says:

    Dear both,

    The remarks in the top comment are great advice for life in general I think, no matter if it’s about how we tell personal stories, or how we speak to people about our work – which, over the years, becomes very much part of one’s personal story anyhow.
    When meeting new people or otherwise making new connections, isn’t it all about negotiating our identities, while living up to some kind of truth/ truthfulness we sense (and yes, totally, not forgetting an element of play in there too)?!

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