Why to pitch? Postdocs in Stockholm share their thoughts

We went to Sweden to meet with young researchers. Postdocs in Stockholm think pitching is a skill worth having.

Skolar Award Stockholm

Curiosity. That was clearly the main reason for postdocs in Stockholm to reject the hot May afternoon and instead arrive to Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan’s library to hear about Research Pitching Competition 2018 by Slush and Skolar.

Research pitching intrigues young researches but also involves difficulties, as the participants addressed. The challenges that were brought up were quite concrete (and common): how to explain complex and long term research in a short time, recognise different audiences and make effective presentations?

Sanjiv Kumar, postdoc researcher in biotechnology, was eager to hear good advice. “I am interested in pitching training. I’m sure pitching could help me translate my ideas and work to people who are not from my field”, he said.

Kumar finds science communications valuable but awfully difficult. For him the hardest part is to evaluate how much information is enough for the "ordinary person" outside academia. Still Kumar wants to spread the joy of his own work.

“I want to share that thrill I get from my work! It is exciting to find something new, and in science new discoveries do happen quite often. I want to learn to share my enthusiasm with other people.”

Also Isabel Ellebrock, a postdoc researcher in neuroscience was fascinated about pitching as an alternative to writing.

“It’s much more personal to talk to people, even though it is a prepared speech. It is more directed to a person or a group of people. And the listener is also more invited to ask questions than for example in a blog post.”

Money is always on postdoc’s mind

One purpose of the Research Pitching Competition is to get young researchers to think big and go wild with their ideas and proposals. While research funding is so hard to get, the threat is that ambitious and groundbreaking ideas are left unheard.

Postdocs from Stockholm recognised the situation. The reality of the researcher’s everyday life is always on their minds.

“I guess everybody who wants to stay in academia and wants to be a researcher dreams of being able to stay there. Which sounds like a very reasonable wish, but it is a problem for many people because we all know that not everybody can stay at this kind of work”, Ellebrock explains.

Also Kumar found it bit hard to talk about big dreams, because money is always an issue.

“If you remove the money from the equation, there are a lot of things to reach and achieve in research. If I could get the money out of my mind I could think more freely.”