Thursday, July 16, 2009

More on badly delivered talks

Vent

Just got out of a talk. The abstract of which promised some very exciting methods and results. They are also published in high-profile journals, so that added to the credibility. The talk was delivered in a horrible fashion. Small, publication size pictures that nobody at the back could read, even in the small conference room. The speakers style was very very car-salesman-y and less scientific. He was a Ph.D with several years experience  from the industry, and perhaps asked for some of the hostility from the audience because of his style of talking. It was SO off-putting. Just greasy, hand-waving, grandiose-exuding. I must say, I have seen a lot of academics talk with similar grandiose hand-waving too, but minus the car-salesman part. In which one tries to foist their product on you, by giving vague answers to your questions and pointing out to some other unrelated plus point of the product when you ask about a certain deficiency. If this had been pegged as as a sales promotion, I wouldn't have minded so much, I would have got in with a different mindset. But it was pegged as a scientific talk. All questions raised in the audience were answered in a tangential vague way. Several people just took their cookies and coffee and walked out. I wish I did too. GAH.

I have also gone to other speakers from the industry who gave very balanced, scientific and insightful talks. So I don't want to paint them all with the same wide brush here. I'm just annoyed and want my hour back. When someone asks if your method can pick up small differences, and you say.."Only god can explain those small differences" I want to throw up. I just walked out at that point myself.




6 comments:

greensatya said...

Oh ! in one stroke you have put down all the sales people :(

A sales talk is as scientific as PhD paper (or so I think) Haven't been to any of these talks.

I agree on the tangential answers, it is always better to accept that one does not know the answers.

Sakshi said...

When I say hot, I mean geiger screech. That is more pleasing than Hriiiiiithik :P

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

satya,
my apologies. Didn't mean to malign all the sales-folks. And that's so true- it really is not such a bad thing to say "I don't know"- its totally acceptable.

Sakshi,
pah.

Meenu said...

I can totally relate with what you wrote. I once attended a talk by a senior professor from the west coast who had a few Nature papers. Through out his talk he would go off on a tangent and talk about personal anecdotes that had nothing to do with his scientific work. It was all to pin point the fact that he had made the careers of his grad students and post docs. And I was embarrassed that he was an Indian.

Born a Libran said...

Am surprised you have not seen academically inclined scientists give car salesman kind of talks... There are a bunch of them - big names some of them...

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Meenu,
sigh.

Libran,
No I haven't really...