Indeed, had I known being a physicist involves speaking in front of people that frequently, I probably would have become a landscape designer or something. But I didn't know. Anyway, one gets used to it. On Wednesday, Stefan took some photos during my talk in Duisburg. Unfortunately the photos are all rather blurred and he's decided he needs a new digital camera. I found the photos aren't soo bad, and maybe some of you are interested how that talk-giving looks from the speaker's side.
So here's me during the introduction (Sabine made her PhD in soandso, spent a year here and a year there and currently works in X on Y. We're very happy to have her here today, and she'll speak on, ooohm...). What this photo demonstrates very nicely is the first-row-gap. The unwritten first law of scientific talks that says nobody ever sits in the first row, unless the density exceeds one person per seat.
The next photo was taken shortly before the talk began, while the audience was entering the room. What you see here demonstrated is the second law of scientific talks, saying people cluster towards the back and/or close to the exits so they can leave without causing much attention. The speaker always notices if somebody leaves, believe me. There's nothing as depressing as people leaving during a talk, even if you tell yourself they probably have an appointment or have to change into superman clothes and save the world or so.
I didn't notice anybody leaving on Wednesday. They were all very nice and polite, and also didn't interrupt me to ask questions that would have been answered the next slide. (A very annoying habit that is fairly widespread).
I don't particularly like if the room is much too large for the audience, like in this case. Because of the second law people tend to sit in the back meaning I have to shout, and that can be quite exhausting. Besides this, one has to talk to many empty seats which makes you feel as if the tickets didn't sell or so. The talk in Duisburg was actually well visited, esp. if you consider it was a beautiful late spring afternoon. I count 47 people on the photo above. The last two rows filled somewhat more than on this photo, and some where sitting to the right. In total there were maybe 60 people or somewhat more, 3 of which were women. Yeah, sorry, I always count the women share, and that's another thing that is always depressing. Now here's a more funny aspect
Stefan tells me the guy who is waving with his hands didn't chase mosquitoes but was asking a question (forgot about what). Two other people are scratching their heads while the guy in the front is... hummm... cooling his forehead on the table? I've seen people sleeping in this position during flights. I've tried but instead of sleep I only got a backache. Anyway, it's sometimes very funny to watch the audience and how people linger around in their seats, picking their noses, or make funny faces.
If you're interested, here are the slides of the talk (watch out, it's ~12 MB)