06 June 2016

A guide to academic conversations

It can be a little daunting to approach a speaker after an academic talk.

We've all been there at one time or another. You've just heard an inspiring public lecture, faculty talk, or panel speaker at a conference, and you have so much to say, but you just don't quite know how to approach the speaker after the talk.

Luckily, Gretchen McCulloch of All Things Linguistic has written up "How to interact with someone who’s just given a talk - A guide to academic conversations" (2016). In this post she offers a number of tips and scripts for students starting up a conversation with other scholars. Although these are directed at linguistics students, they easily apply to students of all stripes, and go beyond just speaking to a public lecturer (e.g. ice-breaker and networking tips).

While this post was originally written with graduate students in mind, McColloch notes that a lot of this information might also be useful for undergraduates trying to figure out how to approach their instructor during their office hours, or raise a question in class. It might be useful for instructors to bring some of these tips into their classrooms as a link on a syllabus, or even as part of a short assignment to help cultivate critical thinking and engagement skills.