I have mixed feelings about my old post in praise of showmanship in scientific presentations. On the one hand, I’ve consciously tried to make my own conference talks more entertaining over the past few years. On the other hand, someone who gives excellent but non-showy talks recently told me about being put off by a talk that had a lot of showmanship. So now I’m wondering if I’ve started to go too far in trying to make my conference talks more entertaining.
There’s no easy way to find out, for two reasons. First, people who thought your talk was bad aren’t likely to tell you. Second, different people prefer different levels of showmanship in talks, so there’s no pleasing everyone. The optimal level of showmanship for any given audience is going to be a fuzzy moving target.
So what the heck, let’s try crowdsourcing! If you’ve seen me speak at a conference in the past few years, tell me: was my talk too showy, or not showy enough, or what?
And since most of you probably haven’t seen me speak at a conference in the past few years, here’s a broader question you can all answer: