The Professor Is In
2. Have a Clear One-Paragraph Intro that lays out the topic and sketches the basic plan of the talk. “Thank you for having me. Today I’ll be speaking about X. In the talk, I’ll be exploring X from the perspective of Y and will be relating it to Z. I will show that X derives from/causes/represents/signifies Q, and ultimately argue that X can be understood as P.” Seriously, this is not that hard, yet nearly everyone forgets.
15. Be Prepared for the Q and A. In my years on search committees, it was the Q and A that most often destroyed candidates. Given enough time and help, most people could pull together a decent talk, but the Q and A separated the wheat from the chaff. Remember that by the time you give the job talk, you’ve already proven that your work, on paper, is good. What the job talk proves is that you’re intellectually vibrant and dynamic and that you can defend your work against challenges, while remaining open to intriguing new scholarly possibilities and conversations. Be friendly, good humored, and affable, and not cringing, obsequious, or pandering.
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