Monday, November 9, 2009

An unforgettable introduction for a professor

On October 15th the Chronicle of Higher Education had an article about introductions (Speaking of Speaking) written by someone who blogs as a Female Science Professor. As an invited speaker she has encountered seven distinct types. They cover a range from the terse to the epic. Her last type was the most unforgettable:

“The most interesting introduction I ever had was years ago when an introducer informed the audience that I had killed one of my advisers. The introducer explained that my research had disproved part of my adviser's lifework, and the shock had killed him. It was a memorable introduction, but, given the choice, I prefer not to be accused of murder when being introduced for a talk, even if it does get the audience's attention. Perhaps I should just be happy that I wasn't introduced as the best female adviser-killer.”

An epic introduction just recites the CV in chronological order and includes much “information that is unlikely to be of interest to anyone other than the speaker's department chair and mother.” The worst introduction type was the condescending “best female X” - a brief version of saying that she’s really pretty good for just a girl.

In a post on September 25th I pointed out that an introduction should cover:

Who is she?
What will she talk about?
When will she take questions?
How long will she talk?
Where is she from?
Why should you listen?

The quote shown above is a stunning answer for both who she is and why you should listen to her!

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