I’ve been attending a lot of talks lately. Some random thoughts on things that worked well, in my opinion.
1. Someone passed around a copy of their book before the jobtalk began, which I had never seen before, but was interesting.
2. I attended a one-day mini-conference where the format was a 20-minute talk, then 10 minutes for Q&A, then a break with nice snacks and drinks. This worked really well. The conference was linked by a very broad theme and pulled people who were somewhat familiar, but not all specialists. This format took longer than two panels of three papers each would have, and possibly cost more money for the food, but it was not tedious at all. Each talk was greeted with excitement, as people maintained their energy with the frequent breaks. Everyone received focused discussion of their work. People from across JPU were able to easily attend only the papers that interested them, adding to the energy as people meet different acquaintances at the break.
3. An anthropologist did something neat that I had not seen before. As ze told a story of something that had happened, hir presentation showed a picture of the place where it had happened, so that we could imagine the story with its proper background. It was maybe a bit History Channel, and I hate it when the news does the same thing, but in this presentation, it worked well, and avoided the risk of making anthropology abroad look like slides from your summer vacation “and then I met….”.
4. One person ended hir presentation with a slide that diagrammed hir scholarly interests, and how they fit within some fields, yet overlapped with others. Possibly you had to see it, but I found it very enlightening and it made me want to write my own diagram of my interests.
5. The same person covered a literature review by simply listing subfields and topics while ze discussed it more informally. Ze talked about where his research questions fit in the field while the slide showed four entries something like this:
1. Mathematical Forestry
Are trees too big? How much does the sun matter? Green vs. brown trees?
(Ianqui 2007, Dr. Virago 2008)
What have you seen that works?