This summer is the first time my students will be giving talks at conferences. Last year, they gave several poster presentations, and they give talks a few times a year in multi-professor group meetings for practice. As a student, I didn't have a lot of opportunities to attend conferences, so I feel strongly about giving the opportunity to my own students. I have discovered that the process is seriously stressful and not just on the students!
It is really hard to watch my students talk sometimes--I am sitting there thinking "don't say THAT!" and "remember to say this". I think I am more nervous for them sometimes than they are. It feels like watching my kids running off to do stuff independently! And just like kids, I have to let them go or they will never grow into independent scientists.
It is also hard to let my students (who of course, deserve this opportunity for their hard work) go and be the first to talk about the exciting new results from our lab. As a new PI coming from outside academia, the invited talks don't fall from the sky like rain, so we are all doing contributed talks. This year, we have some awesome results that are about to be submitted. I am just a little bummed that I won't get to talk about them this summer. Both because I find it exciting to be the first to present new results, and also because I feel (given that I have many, many more years of experience giving conference talks) that I would likely do a better job presenting the new data. This is just one more thing I am giving up in the transition from bench scientist to PI.
That's not to say that my students aren't doing a good job--they are! I was so proud to see the practice talks this week, since they have grown and matured so much since joining my group. The data is exciting, the slides look great and the presentation is clear. I just never appreciated before how hard it can be to watch.