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Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative

Making science accessible

Since 2016, the generous gift of the late E. Edward, BSc(Agr)'55, MSc'57 and his wife, Teresa, has supported over 50 workshops and events offering dynamic science communication training. To date, the program has taught more than 240 Macdonald Campus students and researchers to make their science accessible by honing their content, physical presence, visuals and voice to effectively engage a variety of audiences. Thanks to this continued generous contribution, the program will deepen its impact by collaborating with McGill's SKILLSETS team to bring graduate student peer instruction and coaching to an innovative suite of learning experiences improving the science presentation skills of Macdonald Campus students.

For more information about workshops or other events, please contact lister.macdonald [at] mcgill.ca (I)ingrid.chiraz [at] mcgill.ca (ngrid Chiraz).


A variety of workshops are offered throughout the academic year.


Quick Tips Series

Looking for quick tips to improve your presentation skills? Register for one of the following workshops aimed to help address some common presentation pain points and boost your confidence in front of an audience. There is an additional 15-minute open Q&A at the end of each workshop.

Online vs In-Person

This 45-minute workshop is designed to help people optimize their presentation strategies for in-person and online events. Get tips on how to present to a room vs a screen and how to develop visuals for in-person and online events. Whether you are prepping for an 8-minute research presentation or an hour long class lecture, you are sure to come away with some helpful tips that can increase your impact! Not currently offered

Poster Presentations

This 45-minute workshop is designed to help you rethink the content of your poster and effectively engage your audience through a strategic layout and compelling visuals. Whether you are prepping for a classroom presentation or a conference, you are sure to gain new insights about your poster design! Not currently offered

Managing Public Speaking

Anxious about presenting? Feeling out of place when in front of an audience? This 45-minute workshop is designed to help people work through their anxieties about presenting. Get tips on managing anxiety, what to do with your hands, and how to feel more comfortable about presenting. Register now

PowerPoint 404: Taking your presentation to the next level

Feeling like your PowerPoints are not helping you communicate your research? Do you have visuals in mind that you are struggling to create? This 45-minute workshop is designed to help you get more acquainted with the multiple tools present in PowerPoint and to help you bring your vision to life. Register now

Effective Presenting 101 Series

The Effective Presenting 101 Series takes you through each of the basic steps needed to present effectively: honing content and creating trajectory, designing effective visuals, and developing a dynamic presence. Together these skills combine to increase the comprehension, credibility and connection needed to maximize your impact when presenting. Not currently offered


The first workshop, Content Development, helps you understand how a framework to interrogate audience and purpose can help refine content so that is accessible, interesting, and strategic. Additionally, you will learn detailed hook strategies and sequencing strategies for everything from a 3-minute to a 1-hour long presentation.

The second workshop, Effective Visuals, explores how to use PowerPoint and other technology to effectively supplement your talk, without interfering with people’s experience of listening to you. Sample slides for everything from methodology overviews, to results, to effective hooks will be shared to give you ideas about how to effectively develop visuals for your next presentation.

The third workshop, Delivery Strategies, focuses on understanding how to develop a dynamic presence using body language and voice. You will learn to appear confident and credible to your audience, while increasing engagement and clarity.

These 45-minute workshops can be taken independently or as a series, depending on your needs and presentation goals. There is an additional 15-minute open Q&A at the end.


McGill University co-curricular record seal

This workshop is automatically recognized on your McGill co-curricular record (CCR).

3-Minute Thesis Workshop Series

Macdonald campus graduate student competitors present their research in 3 minutes to a non-specialist audience with one non-animated slide (Competition Rules). 

A series of 3 workshops and coaching sessions are offered to competitors throughout October and November. The purpose of these workshops is to help competitors develop their talks working alongside each other with professional coaching.  

Additional individual and group practice sessions are scheduled in the three weeks prior to the event. Registration will reopen in Fall 2024.

Customized or In-Class Workshops

Host a science communication workshop in your classroom! We offer workshops specially designed for your course and the needs of your students. Whether it is to prepare your students for a specific assignment or help them become better science communicators, we can help! For more information about in-class workshops, please email us at ingrid.chiraz [at] mcgill.ca.

"The students really appreciated the session and I noticed them using some of the techniques in their final presentations. I would be happy to have it in my course again next year.” - Dr. Maureen Rose, Department of Human Nutrition

Pitch Training

Pitch Training begins with a focus on developing the effective content needed in emerging competitive arenas such as the 3-Minute Thesis Competition, grant funding, entrepreneurship, and business development competitions. Typically, a three or four session sequence is ideal.

For more information on how to schedule a pitch training session, please email us at ingrid.chiraz [at] mcgill.ca.


Coaching is done in groups of four or fewer and focuses on the final stages of presentation preparation and involves targeted specific feedback for each individual.

For more information on how to schedule a coaching session, please email us at ingrid.chiraz [at] mcgill.ca.

Event Preparation

Event preparation is customized to the needs of the event organizer(s) with a focus on helping speakers understand the audience and purpose of the event and then translating that information to participants in a manner that helps them succeed in achieving these goals.

Conference Preparation

Presenting at a conference sometime next spring? It’s not too early to start preparing! The Lister Engaged Science Initiative will be sponsoring a series of group workshops and coaching sessions with our trained team to help you prepare. For more information on how to schedule a session, please email us at ingrid.chiraz [at] mcgill.ca.

For more information on event or conference preparation, please email us at ingrid.chiraz [at] mcgill.ca.

Annual Events

Annual Events

USRA Poster Presentations

students presenting at the 2022 USRA poster presentation eventThe original LFESI event, the USRA Poster Presentations has been running since 2017. The event features 25 summer research interns displaying the results of their three-month long work with a Mac campus professor. During the summer before this capstone event, there is a series of workshops designed to help the interns understand how to effectively develop and present a scientific research poster.

3MT Competition

Lister Family Engaged Science 3-Minute Thesis Competition - Fall 2023

student winners and judges of the 2022 3-minute thesis competitionSince 2017, the LFESI and SKILLSETS have combined efforts to support the Lister Family Engaged Science 3-Minute Thesis Competition. This event, along with its pre-training program, is focused on helping graduate students learn how to communicate their science in a compelling, accessible manner to a general audience.

Macdonald campus graduate student competitors will present their research in 3 minutes to a non-specialist audience with one non-animated slide (Competition Rules). Thanks to the generous support of the Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative, the following prizes will be offered at our 2023 competition: First place - $750; Second place - $500; Third place - $250; People’s Choice Award - $250. 

John Abbott Sustainability Through Science Symposium

three student presenters with Sean Hughes moderating the panel discussion of the 2022 symposiumHeld in partnership with the John Abbott College Science Department, The Sustainability Through Science Symposium features Macdonald Campus graduate students giving an engaging 12-15 minute talk about how their research contributes to our understanding of how to create a more sustainable future.

The talks will be followed by a panel discussion with the presenters and end with a Q&A period.

Lister Science Chats

Lucos Roldos presenting his talk on phytochemicals at the 2023 Lister Science ChatsIn collaboration with Let's Talk Science at McGill University and the Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative, the Lister Science Chats connect members of the community through live science talks with researchers from the McGill Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. These chats feature Macdonald Campus graduate students giving an engaging 10-minute talk on their research and conclude with a Q&A period.

An article on the April 2020 series has been published in the Focus on Macdonald May 2020 Issue: "Macdonald Campus Graduate Students Transcend the Boundaries of Social Distancing Through the Lister Science Chats!"

What kinds of events does the Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative make possible?

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