Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The talk at MRU part 2

I forgot to mention last post that in the conversion between my prepping the talk on my PC and showing it on the hubby's Mac, that a few symbols got messed up, and they were discovered too late to fix. I made a joke about us being a "house divided" which garnered some chuckles.

After the talk, the students were left to have pizza, and I went to lunch with the Big Boss and Questioner #1. On the way there, I ran into Questioner #2 (the one I had been warned about) and this person said, "So what this really means is (bigger implication that I hadn't said). Very interesting." And then they said "Oh, and another thing you said that made me happy was about (specific way to look at second half of the talk). I just taught that concept in my graduate school blahdy-blahdy-science course. I hope my students were all there."

Now this person used a phrase I had never really heard in all of my talk giving, and not from a super-serious scientist: "That made me happy". Well, that felt great and and made ME happy for a nice long time. Moreover, they said "You've done a LOT with undergrads". That was the clincher.

At lunch I asked Questioner #1 directly "Did I answer all of your questions to your satisfaction?" "Oh, yes" they said, and explained their last question, saying that they were really concerned in general about people who don't present controls. I explained that his question wasn't really a control question in my case, but an avenue for further study. If it could happen in my data, it could very well happen to other situations (that they thought were controls for my stuff).

I felt like I had done a good job of communicating scientifically, and received validation that the volume and quality of my current undergrad-driven work is good. Moreover, I didn't embarrass my husband in front of his colleagues (not a driving fear, but nonetheless present). Before you give me a feminist-ic rough time, I would feel that way if I was in the same situation with ANYONE I cared about.

The students, however, were relatively quiet and didn't interact too much with their hosts, even though they reported that they loved it. I asked the students what they had thought of my talk. One student said that I had done it all wrong, that I read too much from my slides. Granted I did read from my slides a bit, but I was really asking about the science in the talk. I think that student had really missed the point. Oh, well...


  1. I've been lurking on your blog for a few weeks now, and just wanted to say I'm so glad your talk went well! And it sounds like it went really, really well.

    That was an odd comment from the student you mentioned. Number 1, reading from slides or not is a stylistic choice. I happen to like it when a presenter's spoken words match written words on the slide. The repetition really helps solidify the important concepts. But maybe the student had just been taught that reading from slides is a no-no. Or has been berated for it by an advisor.

    Number 2, who critiques minor stylistic preferences with a profs seminar talk? Weird. I say, have at it in a practice talk or if asked for constructive criticisms. Otherwise, "what did you think of my talk?" is an opening for scientific discussion.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Yes, the student is a little odd. I think students at PUIs are a little spoiled. Due to selection bias, they typically have professors that are entertaining to hear. They really don't know what other presentations /lectures are like...