Job Talk Example

As you prepare for your job talk, depending on what field you are in, the look of your presentation will be as important as your presentation. And regardless of what field you are in, people like to look at things besides you reading your paper (which you probably shouldn’t be doing anyways). Although there are plenty rules of thumb about giving a good presentation, the key is to NOT put every (or nearly every) word you plan on saying on the slide itself and certainly do NOT read directly from your slides. While you are teaching people what it is you do, you aren’t going to be quizzing them, so – really – how much text is essential? And would well-chosen graphics add interest? Above all, practice with a friend or colleague who can give you feedback about places they get lost in your talk, or thought was interesting, or where the pacing gets slow.

I have linked the SWF file of my job talk presentation here. (You need the free Flash Player to view it.) I built it using a slideshow template in Flash in part because I didn’t know how to use PowerPoint at the time. It’s pretty basic and is certainly more functional than pretty in some respects, but the thing you should keep in mind is that I did not actually SAY any of the information that was on my slides.

So, for instance, when I talked [on Research: Book Project slide] about the visual rhetoric CD I did, called ix, I did not actually name all 13 terms I have listed on that slide, but I did talk about that text’s rhetorical mission and how it jumpstarted the research for my dissertation project. And when I talked about how I viewed my editorial role with Kairos as scholarship [on Researching: Kairos editorship], I did not say that Kairos has a readership of 45,000 people a month. I didn’t need to because that information, while important to show the legitimacy of an online journal, isn’t important enough to say out loud in the context of a job talk. Same with the list of books in the grad class I was highlighting.

iow, use your visual presentation – if you have or need one – wisely by supplementing your speaking with text and images that are relevant to your talk. But DO NOT REPEAT what is already on the slides. That’s just BORING. A powerpoint shouldn’t replace the talk itself, as you can see from viewing mine — it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to a general audience without my providing the oral framework. So I’ve written up a brief description of what each slide (or section of slides) was attempting to accomplish.