1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Colloquium Etiquette

  1. Feb 28, 2013 #1
    I'll be attending my first colloquium tomorrow (Dr. Robert Curl will be speaking). Afterwards, there will be a meet and greet. Any recommendations for how I can get the most out of the experience?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Listen a lot, take notes and ask few questions. In some sense the meet and greet may be like a job interview and you want to make a good impression or at least not a bad impression.
  4. Feb 28, 2013 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I would NOT recommend sitting in the back and falling asleep after the first ten minutes.

    Um... not that I've ever done that, of course.
  5. Feb 28, 2013 #4
    At this point in my life, most of the stuff talked about in colloquia and seminars is over my head. I can usually understand enough to understand the definitions and I can sometimes sort of understand the proofs given (at least some of the main ideas.) Some advice that I got once was that you should try to take away three things from the colloquium/seminar and spend a little time learning more about those topics. It has worked for me so far.
  6. Mar 1, 2013 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    My math prof always recommended I attend the local colloquia in his dept. When I'd say but I'm a physics major he'd respond with well if you throw enough mud on the wall some of it will stick. ou have a good criteria there with three pieces sticking... I did go but not much stuck but I wish I'd looked into it more now.

    Sleep learning is an effective way of soaking up the lecture maybe... The meet and greet time is where you'll get to meet people you might like to work with in grad school or in post-doc so its always important to make a good impression there and act intelligent. Sometimes one key question can make the difference...
  7. Mar 1, 2013 #6
    Thanks for the advice.
  8. Mar 1, 2013 #7
    LOL. Most science people are socially inept and also boring, I can honestly say that for the majority of seminars I've attended I have fallen asleep or couldn't stand to pay attention anymore and walked out. Rude or not, I'm not wasting my time with someone that is horrible at public speaking.

    On another note, I've noticed that cross-disciplinary professors such as math-physicists or vise-verse tend to explain what they aren't good at. A physicist tries to explain the math as best they can but usually ends up sounding like a rambling idiot than impressive. Same for mathematicians that try to explain physics. I think it's some sort of pride thing that they are trying to wow the audience that a physicist knows math so well, which is hardly ever the case.

    Recently, I attended an optical imaging seminar and the presenter was a very well-known optics physics researcher but instead spent the first 30 minutes discussing biology (because that's the main applications of his work), this was totally irrelevant to the audience at hand, we were all optics researchers. I ended up walking out after that 30 minutes because I wasn't going to learn anything of substance from someone rambling about biology when their brilliance is in optics.

    But anyway, if you're interested in the material, talk to the presenter afterwards perhaps about a further explanation of something that was discussed during the presentation. This usually makes those people feel good because they're usually pompous enough that they only want to talk about how brilliant they are. If things go well with the discussion, ask them about if they can use any help in their group. Bam, you're in.
  9. Mar 1, 2013 #8
    I like presentations which present background information relevant to the speakers research that presents material the audience might need a refresher for like
    - when an optics researcher who is doing research on a bio application of optics presents some biology background slides and is presenting to an audience of optics researchers
    - when a biologists who is doing bio physics research presents some physics background slides and is presenting to an audience biologists.

    It helps spread and/or refresh ideas in colloquium which the specialized audience might not have fresh on their mind or allow the audience a different perspective. Both of which are a benefit to the audience and go beyond "preaching to the choir".

    To the OP.
    Dont ask questions for the sake of trying to impress or appear smart. This usually ends up being transparent.
    Dont be the guy asking "questions" which are actually statements about how you understood topic X.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook