Presentation skills for applicants for FWO fellowships


The UHasselt Directorate Research, Library and Internationalisation and doctoral schools offer a presentation skills workshop to applicants for FWO PhD fellowships for both fundamental research (FR) and strategic basic research (SB), in order to prepare them for their oral jury defense. It offers a hands-on methodology to prepare, practise and give powerful elevator pitches such as required for the FWO defense. The workshop given by Wim Coessens (The Works!) consists of a one-day plenary session (on campus) and a half-day practice session (online).

The plenary session covers the following topics:

  • Characteristics of powerful research pitches: what they are for, what they should contain and what they shouldn't, and how they link to the written application;
  • Considering your audience: what they want from you and how they will judge you;
  • Preparing the pitch: defining your purpose and your key messages; researching and selecting the material; bringing logic and order to your thinking;
  • Structuring the pitch: finding an appealing structure that puts maximum focus on the merits of your project, and applying powerful communication principles to grab (and keep) the attention of your audience;
  • Making it visual: making slides and graphical abstracts that make your message stronger rather than distract from it;
  • Delivering the pitch: speaking with impact and conviction, overcoming speaker stress and preparing for the Q&A. Since the 2021 call is set up in an online format, special focus will go to pitching in a remote setting.

The (online) practice session gives participants the opportunity to try out their pitch in front of a small group of peers (max 6 participants), who will provide personalized feedback and suggestions for further development.


An important part of preparing for any further professional step is becoming (more) aware of the competences you have developed and/or want to develop. In the current workshop, the following competences from the UHasselt competency overview are actively dealt with:

  • interpersonal competences:
    • presentation skills
    • oral communication
    • stakeholder awareness
  • personal effectiveness:
    • self-confidence
    • self-development
    • stress management


For whom?

  • master students and PhD students who are preparing an application for an FWO PhD fellowship for fundamental research (FR) or strategic basic research (SB)

When & where?

  • For PhD fellowships – Fundamental research:
    Plenary session (on campus): August 24 (09:00 – 17:00)
    Practice session (online): August 26 (09:00 – 12:30) or August 27 (13:30 – 17:00) or August 30 (13:30 – 17:00)
  • For FWO PhD fellowships – Strategic basic research:
    Plenary session (on campus): August 25 (09:00 – 17:00)
    Practice session (online): August 26 (13:30 – 17:00) or August 27 (09:00 – 12:30)
  • The plenary session starts at 09:00 (sharp!) and ends at 17:00. It includes two coffee breaks and a one-hour lunch break.
  • Practice sessions (max. 6 participants) run either from 09:00-12:30 or from 13:30-17:00.
  • When registering, you will only be shown the moments that apply to your type of research, for which you will be asked to indicate your availability. You will be notified of the actual date at which you need to be present as soon as possible.


Acknowledged as?

  • DS BSH: category 'research management & communication skills' - workshop on communication skills
  • DS HLS: category 'transferable skills' - one compulsory elective course
  • DS ST: category 'scientific & generic communication' -  one course about scientific and generic communication