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Student Leadership Workshop

Leaders should not be like Voldemort

"A leader is like a coffee filter," according to a group of students at the all-day student leadership workshop on Saturday at Optics+Photonics in San Diego. "A good leader enables the flow of ideas to help others achieve their full potential."

More than 180 students gathered for Saturday's workshop, led by Jean-luc Doumont. Students began by gathering in small groups to define what a leader is, and what a leader is not. In addition to the coffee filter analogy, another group posited that "a leader should not be like Voldemort." There was general agreement on this point.

After defining a successful leader, Doumont proceeded to offer skills for successful communication, starting with confidence (don't fidget!), presence (make eye contact), and sincerity (your nonverbal cues must match your words).

He also emphasized the four zones of communication: halo-those who appeal to ideals; head-those who appeal to logic; hand-those who appeal to material things; and heart-those who appeal to emotion. Poor communicators stick with the zone they're comfortable with; a successful communicator can move between these four zones to appeal to everyone.

Finally, with sound communication principles in hand, the students were tasked to roleplay 3 difficult scenarios they might encounter in their student chapters and put their new communication skills into practice.

Reflecting on the lessons of the day, Arfa Karani, from the Univ. of Cambridge, said, "I learned the power of being assertive. I'm someone who starts doubting myself as soon as someone doubts me. And next time I won't do that."

Student Roundtable at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2018