Congratulations on having the smarts, fortitude, and/or lack of foresight to join the growing ranks of Nerd Nite speakers! You too shall soon know the sweet taste of free booze and the adoration of a nerdy crowd. But before that happens, there is a bunch of stuff you should know. Therefore, we present to you, this: the Nerd Nite Pittsburgh Speaker FAQ.

 

What is Nerd Nite?
Nerd Nite is a monthly lecture event that strives for an inebriated, salacious, yet deeply academic vibe. It’s often about science or technology, but by no means is it limited to such topics. And it’s definitely entertaining. Our unofficial tag line is “It’s like the Discovery Channel – with beer!” There are Nerd Nites around the world, Pittsburgh is just one of them. Take a gander at http://nerdnite.com for more info.

 

What isn’t Nerd Nite?

There are lots of nerdy lecture events in the Pittsburgh area. They are fantastic, and we are big fans. But these other events tend to be family-friendly, sober, and very accessible to a general audience. Nothing wrong with that, but we’re different. A good Nerd Nite presentation should violate at least one of those, preferably more.

 

What is the Nerd Nite format?
Nerd Nite begins with one of the co-bosses warming up the crowd. Then we have three presentations, each separated by a 10-20 minute interlude with music, and with a very brief intro given by a Nerd Nite co-boss. Other cities have the first presenter be borderline comedic, the second presenter be more technical, and the third presenter from leftfield but Pittsburgh is less structured.

 

What do I get to do as a presenter?

Pretty much anything. From PowerPoint to rap, we’ve seen it. We give you a stage, an audience, some booze, and any audio/visual support you need. You provide the nerdy awesome. The parameters are:

* up to ~20 minutes of presentation time

* ~5-10 minutes of Q&A

 

Ok, I’m interested.  What are the first steps?

For us in Pittsburgh the first step is to reach out to the two co-bosses listed below.  Let us know you are interested in being a speaker along with a talk subject and a brief summary of who you are.  If it sounds like a good fit we will ask for a one minute video preview.  This video can be the first minute of your talk or just a one minute ramble about your subject.  We’ll be looking for passion and humor primarily.  If everything looks good at that point we’ll let you know and figure out when we can have you on!

 

 

Who are these Nerd Nite co-bosses? 

In Pittsburgh, the co-bosses are Rorry Brenner and Meghan Simek. Our contact info is: Rorry – 413.441.0641 / rorrybrenner@nerdnite.com and Meghan 703.774.6659 / meghansimek@nerdnite.com

 

Where and when is Nerd Nite?

Nerd Nite is held at SpiritPgh, 242 51st street in Lawrenceville.  Shows on Thursdays, Doors open at 7:00, show starts at 7:30. Typically done by 11pm.

 

What advice do you have for presenters?

Have fun. Seriously. Get tipsy. It’s on us.

 

Be funny and entertaining. While this is an educational event, it’s also about entertainment. Steer clear of show-and-tell. Be creative. Don’t take your subject or yourself too seriously.

 

We are huge fans of Radiolab for making complex topics accessible without dumbing them down – see Radiolab.org for inspiration. Drunk History would make a fine Nerd Nite, though we’d prefer not to have any vomiting. And not least, please watch videos of those who have gone before you! Feel stumped? Talk to the co-bosses, we’re here for you.

 

If you’re a grad student (at any university, not just CMU) and like communicating your nerdy interests to the public, and want to improve your skills, consider attending the CMU graduate student group Public Communications for Researchers. Meeting regularly during the academic year, this group teaches and practices real-time communication and discuss strategies and pitfalls. Visit their site or contact jwhitman at cmu.edu for more information.

 

What do I, the presenter, need to do besides present?

Send us a brief and funny:

* Topic title

* Teaser Summary

* Bio

 

The topic title, teaser summary, and bio will go into our PR materials and appear on event websites, Facebook, newspapers, etc. We ideally need these by the previous Nerd Nite event.

 

At some point, please send us a copy of your presentation as a back-up (yes, we learned this the hard way – a file had been corrupted just before the presentation, and this is why we now have back-ups).

 

You should also give us a guest list of up to 10 people.  They all get in free and get a free drink!  Also, your cellphone number. Also, also, let us know if you have any issues with us using photos or video of your presentation in our promotions. If you are talking about your work, make sure you aren’t violating your NDA!

 

Lastly, promote, promote, promote! We’ll do our part, but any evangelism you can do is appreciated.

 

Oh, @#&$%, I’m going on stage TODAY, what should I know?

Tech check-in is at 5:30pm. If you’ve already sent us your presentation and you are using our laptop, and don’t have special a/v or prop needs, then you can safely arrive at 6:30pm, a half-hour before we open. If not, you should get there at 5:30pm so we have time to go get a new adapter cable, recover a corrupted file, buy some software you forgot to tell us you needed, or any number of other things that can and have gone wrong…

 

Upon your arrival, seek out one of the co-bosses and we’ll hook you up with water and drink tickets, walk the stage, show you how to use the laptop remote, laser pointer, etc.

 

During your presentation, one of the co-bosses will hang out at the foot of the stage and will signal you if you are running over your allotted time. It really, really helps if you remember to actually look down at the co-boss so you receive the message, and we aren’t just standing there, flailing about stupidly.

 

You can call one of the co-bosses If, heaven forbid, there is an emergency and you can’t make it, let us know ASAP and we’ll scramble to get a replacement speaker.

 

Anything else?

We are here to help! Proofreading, joke testing, image hunting, whatever. The co-bosses are here to help you deliver an awesome show so don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Additional resources!

Here is another sheet with info on sharing science with the public!

American Association for the Advancement of Science has a great communication toolkit
It looks like this page covers the fundamentals, and would be a good place to start:
https://www.aaas.org/resources/communication-toolkit/communication-fundamentals 
Then for presentations this page has a section:
https://www.aaas.org/resources/communication-toolkit/person-engagement
Here is an article (which was linked to by the AAAS site above) on how to give a great presentation:
https://hbr.org/2013/06/how-to-give-a-killer-presentation 
Stanford has a science communication resources site too.
https://leopoldleadership.stanford.edu/resources/how-guide 
and
https://leopoldleadership.stanford.edu/resources/5-steps-kick-ass-presentation 
For the Q+A session, gracefully handling the nearly nonsensical questions that come up is an acquired skill. This blog has some advice:
http://eloquentwoman.blogspot.com/2009/07/graceful-ways-with-q.html 
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution also has a collection of additional links and resources:
https://web.whoi.edu/big/resources/science-communication/  
A lot of the above are listed from the CMU graduate student group Public Communications for Researchers group’s site:
https://www.cmu.edu/student-org/pcr/about/resources/index.html 
Their main site is https://www.cmu.edu/student-org/pcr
They hold weekly events during the Fall and Spring semesters on CMU campus, and grad students and university researchers from any school are welcome!