In an effort to cultivate community and idea sharing at TTI, researchers at the TTI Austin urban office have started a monthly presentation series called “Fast & Furious.” In keeping with the event title, each lunchtime session is a dynamic, half-hour event where two researchers give 7-minute presentations on work they have done at TTI, followed by a Q&A session for the presenters. The mission of Fast & Furious is to encourage researchers to focus on clear messaging, storytelling, and presentation skills in an informal setting while introducing their research to peers.
“The idea for Fast & Furious came from a desire for researchers to share what they do with each other and network within TTI,” explains Sarah Overmyer, assistant transportation researcher. “People wanted to interact with colleagues informally about the research they were doing, but there was no regular venue where they could do so.”
Prior to each event, the steering committee (Sarah Overmyer, Ben Ettelman, Maarit Moran, and Gretchen Stoeltje) works with presenters to prepare. Presenters are encouraged to tell a story about the importance and relevance of a topic, without jargon or overly-technical language. Areas of expertise within TTI are broad, so presenters provide enough background so that someone with limited knowledge of the subject area can understand. Presenters are encouraged to have fun and share an aspect of their work that is most interesting to them. The steering committee believes this communication style is necessary for TTI to explain research to broad audiences, and stand out as effective communicators.
“Feedback on Fast & Furious has been very positive,” Overmyer says.
Following the first six events, the steering committee sent out a survey to every attendee. According to survey results, attendees enjoyed the events and found the format a useful way to describe research. Impressively, the survey response rate over six months was 52 percent, reflecting a high level of audience engagement. One attendee described the event as a “great way to let others know what you’re working on… it was perfect for those of us with no experience in the subject.”
Presenters have also expressed that participation was a positive experience. One presenter stated, “People might think this is only useful for ‘presenting’ skills, but I think it’s useful for all communication. Working with the steering committee helped me see that I was assuming that they knew something that they didn’t.”
Fast & Furious takes place on the first Thursday of each month at the Austin office. Starting in March, a WebEx link will be available for anyone interested in attending remotely. The event recently hosted its first “remote” presenter via WebEx video. If you are interested in learning more about this event or attending in person or remotely, please contact Sarah Overmyer. | Guidelines for Fast and Furious Presentations
Topics and SMEs for presentations made to date are listed below:
- “Mexico Builds Awesome New Highway, Texas Tries to Figure Out if It Matters” – Sarah Overmyer
- “Increasing Participation in Rural Transportation Planning” – Ben Ettelman
- “Texas Transit Needs Assessment” – Michael Walk
- “Student Locator Systems: The Use of RFID Technology on School Buses”– James Cardenas
- “The Problem with VMT Data” – Byron Chigoy
- “Kids Should Not Be Walking to School Through There” – Greg Griffin
- “The Road Fairy” – Gretchen Stoeltje
- “Texas Transportation Quiz” – Chris Simek
- “Diverging Diamond Interchange – Accommodating Pedestrians and Bicyclists” – Joan Hudson
- “How to Follow Transportation Legislation” – Steven Polunsky
- “Where Are the Data Clusters and How to Find Them?” – Boya Dai
- “Transportation Network Companies: A Cheat Sheet for the Holidays” – Maarit Moran