IMPRS Master Seminar Talk

Had my talk in the IMPRS Master Seminar yesterday, with the topic: Semantics of Imperative Objects (abstract, slides, notes). And while everybody told me the talk was great, I didn’t feed very comfortable giving it. Since I got lots of feedback from my colleagues, here are some things I should improve:

  • Less is more: put less information so that people don’t feel overwhelmed. While I tried my very best to explain everything, it was just too much for most of the people there.
  • A little less information would also have allowed me to fit in the allocated 30 minutes – went over them by only around 2 minutes. However, many hungry IMPRS students complained about this.
  • Also some of my slides were a little too crowded, this can surely be improved. Also the example I skipped could just not be there, or I should have waited at least for a couple of seconds before moving on.
  • Be more relaxed, more natural, less stressed. In this talk (and others as well) I was quite nervous and it showed off: didn’t breath well enough and my speech was not always so fluent, moved my hands too much, I moved back and front a little (well, considering that I’m hyperactive in general this is not that bad), repeated “so”, “OK and “well” maybe too often, and I even bit my finger/nails (really don’t remember doing this). What’s really interesting is that my nervosity showed off more in the beginning of my talk than in the end, while for me the it felt much more stressing at the end, after I had the small battery problem since I was also rushing a little (the timer was reset so I had no clue how much time I have left). I was also less confident about that part since it’s a lot harder but apparently this didn’t show off.
  • What people did notice was that I sped up a little in the end, don’t think it was too bad though. But, once again, less information would have helped me maintain a the perfect cruising speed throughout all of my talk.
  • The intro, my first two sentences were way too fast, showing that I was really nervous, even though it was hard for me to notice this.
  • My eye contact is still not perfect. I didn’t look all over the room, sometimes I found myself pointing at text phrases without any reason, and finally I was looking at Jan for approval when giving one or two of the answers to questions instead of looking at the person who asked.
  • Although nobody complained about this (Jan was probably the only person who could notice anyway), I could have given better answers to some of the questions. For example my answer for the FOL vs HOL specifications question was quite vague, I should have mentioned abstract data structures which are possible only with HOL (using abstract predicates). Instead I had the detour about mechanization, which was not so bad, but surely not supporting my claim that HOL specifications are more expressive. I was just not able to find any argument so fast. Maybe I should think a little more before answering. One other question I could have answered better was Marjan’s question about subtyping and polymorphism in a step-indexed semantics. While my answer for the subtyping part was very good, there was also an answer for the polymorphism part that was as simple: in this setting universal types are just intersections over types, while existential types are just unions. However, I read these papers about step-indexed semantics only once and that was a while ago, so I just couldn’t remember this in just 3 seconds. I should definitely focus more on my research, and less on doing abstracts, slides, tutoring, lectures, etc.

An open research question: Is it OK to have detours and should I have wrap-ups in a 30 minutes talk?

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