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Dear Mathforum,

I am giving a job talk in the next couple of weeks and I am still struggling to come up with a suitable talk.
I graduated in september of 2010 and so I have been a post doc for a year and a bit. I am giving the talk at a "private, nonsectarian research university" which has roughly 25-30 faculty. I have between 5 and 10 papers on roughly 3 topics.

I was told the talk will be a colloquim style talk and not a specialized analysis and pde talk which is my area. Also I will not be giving a seperate specialized talk.

I am really struggling with what is the correct format I should use for my talk. In any case I will be using Beamer.

My question is should I:

1) pick one of my topic areas and then go through some background and then list my results (maybe giving a word or two about why they are not totally trivial)


2) Should I pick one small result and try and give a somewhat detailed account

or ??? (I have seen both done in the colloquim portion of a job talk).

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks David

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closed as off topic by Benjamin Steinberg, Mariano Suárez-Alvarez, Martin Brandenburg, Igor Pak, Qiaochu Yuan Jan 20 '12 at 6:38

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Hard to say exactly, but I would (1) try to remember some good colloquium talks you've seen outside your discipline; and (2) run a practice version of your talk by a colleague who works in a very different area than you, and ask for criticism. – Frank Thorne Jan 20 '12 at 4:18
For a colloquium style talk, maybe your first idea would be more appropriate. – Micah Milinovich Jan 20 '12 at 4:31
This forum is not really the right place for this question. Ask your thesis and/or postdoc advisor and colleagues. If you want to get a clear idea of the consensus for 1 vs 2 make this question Community Wiki and answer the question yourself twice, once ith option 1 and once with option 2 and ask people to upvote the answer they like. – Benjamin Steinberg Jan 20 '12 at 4:54
With respect to option 1, I've witnessed a talk where the speaker managed to list results from a couple of dozen papers that he'd written. He was way too proud of his publications. The talk was not well received because of his attitude and also because most of the audience wasn't impressed with a bunch of results in a narrow field. Furthermore, most of the audience was in no position to understand the results- they weren't familiar with the terminology or notation used in his field. – Brian Borchers Jan 20 '12 at 5:23
I support Brian's comments. I also warn against planning to put in "a word or two" about anything in a talk. The only thing you can accomplish in a "word or two" is keep someone from getting hit by a bus. The best talks explain what a field is trying to accomplish, what has been accomplished in a certain direction and then an explanation of at least one of the speaker's contributions. By explanation, I don't mean proof. I mean explain enough of the statement to make it clear that it is a contribution. – Matt Brin Jan 20 '12 at 5:52