How to Give a Better Physics Talk

Listed below, in no particular order, are the most important rules for giving a good talk at a professional physics meeting:
  1. Carefully check each viewgraph for spelly misteaks.
  2. DO NOT OVERUSE BOLD TO MAKE A POINT!
  3. Absolutely no alcohol during the talk (this applies to the speaker only).
  4. No singing or dancing... most of the time.
  5. Answer all questions, even if you have to make up the answer.
  6. Do not raise or lower your voice suddenly. This could disturb those resting in the audience.
  7. Make use of the accuracy/clarity duality. It is very easy to be both inaccurate and unclear at the same time.
  8. No salacious physics jokes about two physicists and a religious person.
  9. Make sure the viewgraphs are ordered correctly.
  10. Prior to the talk, practice the art of ducking any flying vegetables.
  11. Don't let boo's or hisses cause you to stray from your prepared talk.
  12. Hand gestures to emphasize particular points can be used extensively, provided they do not insult any particular ethnic group.
  13. Under no circumstances should you delete any overheads from your talk. Simply speak more rapidly and quickly flash all of the viewgraphs. [The world record for an APS meeting is 56 viewgraphs, 12 with substantial equations, given in only 10 minutes, at a spoken rate of 430 words per minute.]
  14. Be sure to include this phrase on each overhead: "This talk could not possibly be supported by the U.S. Government, Industry, or any Educational Institution."
  15. There is no need for a concluding overhead if you think you have said everything.
  16. In the end, there are no rules.
From "Learning from a Negative Example," talk by Brian Schwartz, Brooklyn College, at the APS March Meeting in Los Angeles.

©1995 - 2017, AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin

June 1998 (Volume 7, Number 6)

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Articles in this Issue
Quantum Computing, MEMs, Spintronics Mark 1998 L.A. March Meeting
APS Career and Professional Development Liaison Program Launched
Massey Adopts “Old Style” Approach to Morehouse Presidency
In Brief
Proposed Amendments to APS Constitution to Allow Electronic Balloting
A Century of Physics
Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics
Task Force for Prizes and Awards Report
Bylaw Revision for Thesis Awards
APS Executive Board Appoints Task Force on Academic Tenure
Some Simple Rules of Writing
Zero Gravity
APS Career and Professional Development Committee Receives Final Approval
FIAP Jobs Engine
Merzbacher Appointed as Consultant for APS Centennial
Four Corners Section Holds First Meeting
APS Northwest Section is Established
Quantum Computing Holds Promise of Parallel Calculations
DOE Priorities to Meet New National Goals
“Spintronics” Hold Potential for Future Electronic Devices
MEMS Could Pave the Way for Atomic-Scale Assembly
The Wealth of Nations
Letters
Keep Tenure: Fix the Problems