CS 380 Lab 5:  Project Communication (Part I:  Elevator Talks)

Communicating your idea in a concise and clear manner is essental for every project (in-class, research, professional, etc.) you will ever do.  It is often recommended that you prepare several descriptions of your project of differing durations, including a 30 second elevator talk, 2 minute, and 5 minute descriptions.  This way, you are prepared to describe the project for however long your audience is available.  Often times, you will only have the chance to present the brief 30 second elevator talk.  If the person is interested, you may have the opportunity to go into a more detailed description, but usually you must capture your audience's interest within a very short amount of time.  Having a good elevator talk of your project can be the difference between getting funding/approval and having your work dismissed.  For this reason, it is essential to communicate the key aspects of your project in a concise and clear manner that captures the audiences interest.

In this lab, you will create two items: a 1.5-2 minute overview and a 30 second elevator talk.  Start out by writing a 1.5-2 minute overview of your project.  Time yourself reading it aloud.  You should include the following:
  1. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  2. What is the motivation for the problem / how is it done today?
  3. What is your approach to solving the problem?
  4. What are the expected outcomes of your approach / why do you think it will work?
This is a lot to communicate in that amount of time, but it is completely doable.  Be careful not to assume too much knowledge on the part of your audience (it should be accessible to a general audience) and be careful to write text that is easy to read aloud.  If it sounds wrong when you read it aloud, then revise the text.  One of the best ways to ensure good writing is to ensure that the text sounds good when read aloud.

Now trim that overview down to a 30 second elevator talk by hitting only the key points without sacrificing clarity.  Read your talk (out loud and at a comfortable pace!!) to ensure that it is 30 seconds.  Again, be certain that the talk sounds good when read aloud, ensure that it clearly and concisely communicates the four points above, and make absolutely sure that it captures the audience's interest.

Include your two talks with your journal.  I strongly recommend typing these so that you can edit them easily.