Posted by: thediygeochemist | February 9, 2011

notes to seminar speakers

Not that I’ve ever been an invited speaker myself, but I’ve noticed a few issues over the years:

  1. If you are invited to give a seminar at another university and you notice in advance that your host has an unusual last name, for heaven’s sake listen carefully when he introduces himself…make sure you pronounce it right when you thank him in your seminar! Either that or just call him by his first name, if it’s pronounceable.
  2. If one of your host’s grad students has written a paper that ties in with your own work, make sure you find out her actual first name before speaking about her in your seminar. Don’t assume that “M. Smith” is Mary Smith, merely because Mary is the most common name starting with M.
  3. And most importantly, remember that the whole damn department is going to be in attendance, and that not everyone there knows everything about your subfield. So explain acronyms before the first time you use them, give a brief (a couple of sentences is usually fine) explanation of how an uncommon analytical technique works, and even go back to the basic principles of your subfield if you think you can squeeze it in.
  4. It is better for people to understand one facet of your work very well than for them to understand none of it. So don’t try to cram too much into the one hour you’ve been allotted.

Just a few notes from a student’s perspective.


  1. Enjoyed this.
    No one has ever complained about an explanation being too easy to understand!

  2. I hate when they go went 1.5 hours and caused many lab ta’s to be late to their labs

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Neil Withers, GradShare. GradShare said: "Notes to Seminar Speakers" from The Unlikely Grad Student: […]

  4. […] pertain to seminars, and I promised to get back to the subject in due course.  Earlier this week, a post by The Unlikely Grad Student (TUGS) titled “Notes to Seminar Speakers” reminded […]

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