Masterful master thesis presentation

“Six years ago I started swimming.” That’s how Kasper de Kruiff’s masters presentation at the University of Twente begins. “I went to the pool almost every day. I was trying to learn the breast crawl. And that’s when I discovered that swimming is pretty hard.” This is a great example of storytelling at the beginning of a presentation. It is a combination of the “Pixar Storyspine” and the “Flappie.” Two techniques we teach in our workshops.

De Kruiff continues by saying that he asked someone to help him with his technique. And that worked okay, but De Kruiff only got feedback at the end of each lane. De Kruiff wonders: “Wouldn’t it be nice if it was possible to actually feel when you’re doing something wrong? Get a vibration or something like that?” And then he says: “And that’s were my thesis topic comes in.”

We are just 1 minute into the presentation that will eventually last 20 minutes. 1 minute to tell a story. That’s a small step for the speaker and a great pleasure for the audience. Now I, as a listener, really want to know if de Kruiff succeeded. Did he create a device that gives swimmers feedback on the spot?

Spoiler: yes. Of course there are still some hiccups, but that should not ruin the fun.

The rest of the presentation is a fine example of a well-constructed scientific presentation. De Kruiff speaks calmly. He doesn’t look much at the screen behind him (thanks in part to a monitor standing at his feet). He provides background and examples. He explains the results. He has models at hand and shows how things work.

In short, a very nice presentation.

By the way, Kasper de Kruiff not only has swimming as a hobby. He also love to do improv theater (like me and Marloes). I can imagine that it was partly thanks to improv theatre that De Kruiff was inspired to start with an anecdote. And I can imagine that thanks to improv theater he presents so well.

Would you also like to learn how to use stories in scientific presentations? Then schedule a workshop with us!

Oh, and Kasper de Kruiff’s full master thesis presentation is on Youtube and embedded below.

Image soure: still from Youtube