Getting the most out of the meetings with your supervisor

Meetings with your supervisor should be a regular thing. But even if this is not the case, then there's even one more reason of trying to get the most of these meetings. Below some practical advices that I've found quite helpful.

Go prepared

This is maybe the most important thing. Go there and know what you want to discuss. A common mistake that many PhD students do -especially at the beginning of their PhD- is that they go to the meetings unprepared, waiting for their supervisor to ask questions and make suggestions. Remember, it's YOUR PhD, not your supervisor's! Try from an early point in your PhD carreer to go there with ideas, make suggestions and ask for his feedback. This is an excellent opportunity to practise presenting your research and ideas and also get questions and criticism. It's like a mini-viva! You present your work, and your supervisor asks questions/makes comments. And then you have to defend your work. If you try this early on, then you'll be prepared for when in the future you start going to conferences, and all when you have to sit for your viva examination.

Use slides

Personally, I love powerpoint slides. It makes life so much easier when you want to present work/results/ideas. And it also makes the life of the other person (supervisor) easier. Before you meet with your supervisor, why not summarise what you've done since your last meeting in a powerpoint presentation? Summarise what you discussed in the previous meeting, what you've done in the meantime and provide him with the results. You also get to practise in this way to put your thoughts in order, an important skill you need to develop as a researcher. Plus when you later decide to write a paper, you already have it structured in slides, and it's going to be so much easier and faster to write this paper.

Write papers

Try to start documenting your results as early as possible. You can start by writing technical reports at first. Writing technical papers is also a skill you need to develop. So you need to start practising. Write the report and give it to your supervisor and ask for his feedback. Ask him what's wrong with your paper and for advice on how to improve it. By the way, don't be scared of the criticism. You needed so that you can learn and improve. You are not born a researcher, you become one. You need to practice and act on the feedback/advices of more experienced people.