Job talks

I recently found out that when I gave my job talk at Oregon State University last year, I was being recorded.  I was hesitant to post it, but I hope that, despite this far-from-perfect performance, it might be useful to those on the job market this year.  Note that Oregon State is not a theory school.  I was talking to an audience of grad students and faculty, none of whom (except one) work in algorithms.  If I was giving a talk at a theory powerhouse, I probably would have targeted differently.

I broke a lot of standard rules in giving this job talk.  First and foremost, I did not practice it.  *gasp*  Practice would have removed a lot of my “um”s and “uh”s.  In my defence, when I practice a talk too much, I find it gets stale.  However, practicing it once from start-to-finish would have been a good idea.  In watching this talk (as painful as it is), I think the best thing I could have done was to tape myself once.

Second, I climbed on a chair.  I was offered a laser pointer, but I hate laser pointers.  They are hard to keep steady and the point is very small and hard to see for the audience.  I find it about as useful as the speaker pointing to their laptop screen while they give a presentation.  So, at some point I wanted to point at something that too high for me, so I climbed on a chair.

Another minor thing that I wish I would get in the habit of doing is repeating an asked question. Taking two seconds to summarize the question both confirms that you are answering the intended question and allows the entire audience to hear both the question and the answer.

The slides for the talk are available for Keynote and Powerpoint here.

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4 thoughts on “Job talks

  1. Ville

    You talk was pretty good, it gave “the big picture” and how your work relates to it. I think general level is actually preferred in these kind of talks. At leas my experience,
    in finnish CS departments is that staff come from really diverse bacgrounds. Some are hard core algorithmus and some have never written a single equation in their papers.

    Anyway, your talk gave me the inspiration to make my own job talk. One really famous researcher in my area just asked me what are you doing in your post-doc. My answer, weell I just continue what I was doing before. No big picture, no proposed research program.

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