How to prepare a TAC meeting

(by Ulrike Luxburg)

The purpose

The primary purpose of the TAC meeting is that you get feedback. On the contents of your scientific work, but also about where you are currently in your PhD.

The purpose of the meeting is NOT to impress the TAC committee. The members of your TAC committee are not familiar with the details of your work, and unlikely to understand many details during a short meeting. Don't even try to make them understand everything. Pick one topic you want to discuss, not several ones.

The TAC meeting is not just about the contents of your scientific work, but also about how it goes, how long you have been in your phd, what are the plans for the next year, etc. Think about questions that you might ask your committee. And plan time for it.

Time plan for the meeting

The meeting will finish after 1 hour, and nearly everybody needs to leave on time. The worst outcome is if you talk for one hour and there is no time left to discuss. So: plan for a presentation of about 20 min. People will ask questions during the presentation, and then it takes 30-40 min. And then, crucially, there is still 20 min time for discussion. Say, about 10 slides. Not 20 slides, this is too much!

Do practice your presentation! It is a waste of time for all of us if the presentation is unclear. Start with the high-level question before you dive deeper.

Organization of the meeting

Find a room in time and let people know. Remember, many people work in different buildings. If in doubt, plan for a hybrid setting, people might not join in person, also on last minute notice. Try the setup a couple of days before so you know the technical stuff (projector, microphone, etc) are working. On the day of the TAC meeting, set up the room early enough so we can start in time.