I am having a one-week research visit in a far east country.

I was asked by the head of the hosting group to give a presentation. I have never done this before, hence I am quite confused about the content of this presentation.

To provide you some extra context: I am the first member of our group visiting this group, at the same time I am the most junior member in our group. As I am visiting this time, we expect in a reasonable amount of time to have a member of their group visiting us.

Some information that I could include in the presentation are:

  • information about our group (history, group members, research focus, ongoing projects, methodologies, tools...)
  • information about myself (personal info, academic experience, research focus, detailed explanation of most recent work, desire to learn from the visit...)
  • information about the city we are located at (to make the case that it is worth sending a student...)

I think the list is too extensive. What would be a goldilocks in terms of duration and content to include in the presentation?

I have to make the most out of this visit and presentation, to be able to build upon it later on. The hosting PI is top 5 in the world in his respective field.

  • Can you elaborate on what the purpose of the one week visit is? It seems a long time to send the most junior person out for a visit. Can you also elaborate what the most junior position is? This could be anywhere from a postdoc to an undergraduate RA, depending on the lab. – stjep Mar 5 '16 at 14:04
  • by most junior I meant, the latest that joined the group as a PhD... I am being sent to this visit because only my research interests are in line with the hosting group – Kristof Tak Mar 5 '16 at 14:49

Short answer: ask them to clarify; ask your PI.

To offer my own opinion, I would expect that for a research visit the appropriate contents of your presentation would be your latest research results. As you are visiting on behalf of your group, start with an overview of the group's main research areas and latest results (ask your colleagues to each make you a slide about their work). Then you could go into more detail about your own work later in the presentation. Perhaps pose some research questions that you think your two groups could work together on (take advice from your supervisor here).

If you get to set the time, a one hour slot with 45 mins + 15 for discussion will be plenty.

  • 1
    Given the added information "I am being sent to this visit because only my research interests are in line with the hosting group" it might be better to reduce the number of slides on the group's work in general, and increase the time for the OP's research. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 5 '16 at 15:50

The talk should focus on your research. If you run short on time (which may happen if you're very new to your PhD), you can mention what the work of the larger lab is. I don't think you should talk about the city you're coming from, or get into too much biographical information about yourself.

And, as pointed out by the other answer, you should talk to your PI. Presumably s/he has an interest in your visiting this other lab, you should find out what it is.


Of course ask your PI, maybe he has some specific things he would like you to mention, and if he would be very interested in getting some exchange students / further collaborations or not.

Most of the presentation should be focused on one or two research stories. You can then use these to elaborate a bit more about techniques and people, and the focus of the group should be clear from the project. Depending on how early in your PhD you actually are, these don't have to be your personal projects (ask your PI).

Don't talk too much about yourself, or at least not more than you would get when you would be introduced. You can leave that for the coffee breaks.

Usually the advertisements for the city / university are limited to the last slide, with some pictures and just shortly saying that it's awesome there and if anyone considers visiting they can ask you everything.


It should primarily be a research talk - and given you've said your research interests align closely with the visiting group's, and you're giving the talk (and as such will have to ask questions, socialize with people, etc.) I'd mostly talk about your work.

A decent structure might be to start out with the broad-strokes concept of what your lab works on, followed by illustrative examples of your own results that touch on those themes, and then some future directions you're going in to tie things back to the "Big Picture".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.