austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

You can check out any time you like

As the hour of my talk approached I had a familiar feeling, the growing belief that I have nothing nontrivial to say. I agreed to give the talk when I was starting research in a field I thought would be a novel variant on some old work; since then, I found this variant doesn't make much difference. My fear that I was being trivial was encouraged when I noticed in the (small -- perhaps ten-person) audience an honest-to-goodness ... well, not a superstar, but someone who published a really big, fundamental, much-cited result in my little field.

Several of the other audience were also people who'd published important or noteworthy stuff, but I knew them -- my advisor was friends with them, and I was acquainted with them through that link -- so they weren't so intimidating. And of course my advisor was there; while a grad student I built up a phobia of saying something stupid in front of him -- I certainly said my share of stupid things -- and I'm not over it yet.

I managed to live up to my own snotty list of Rules to Follow in Giving Presentations. While I stumbled over a few points my general policy of skipping every detail (I showed no equations, for example) and summarizing the interesting results and explanations, and showing nice colorful slides, was rather well-received. The superstar didn't ask any questions but did nod happily at several points; the session organizer complimented the cool results, and my advisor liked my very brief summary of why the results turned out like they did. So I got out safe and sound and very glad to be alive.

And the fellow from Colorado stopped by, I think just to see my talk. Based on his abstract we've got reasonably compatible research interests. Still don't have time to look at responses, though; I'm sorry and I will read every one this weekend. I promise.

Trivia: The bronze canopy behind the papal altar at Saint Peter's cathedral in Rome was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1598-1680. Source: The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art, Ellen Shultz.

Currently Reading: The Thurb Revolution, Alexei Panshin.

Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 2 comments