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2007-01-24 - 3:33 p.m.

...I slipped on another ski lift...

Today I gave a guest presentation in our department's seminar series. And I goofed again. I assumed that the seminar was one hour long - i.e., talk for 50 minutes and leave ten minutes for questions. It wasn't. It was supposed to be THIRTY minutes long. So I ended almost exactly on 50 minutes, only to realize that I had spoken twenty minutes longer than a normal seminar.

How embarrassing to look out and see your audience repeatedly glancing at watch dials. At first I assumed it was because I was boring them to tears. It was only after I'd finished and the student organizer said, "Okay... so... we're pretty much over time now, so there isn't really any time for questions..." that I realized what had happened. I felt mortified. I mean, I normally pride myself on ending exactly on time! What's up here?? I apologized to the student organizer about the misunderstanding, to which he replied, "you sure did present a lot of information there." ouch.

Did I just bore them to tears?? Did I go over their heads? Am I just covering topics that are completely uninteresting to them? I'm at a loss for feedback.

There were no questions from students. There were no questions from the two of my department colleagues who came (and then left fairly early - was it because I went overtime, or did I bore them, too?). Luckily a few members of another department showed up and asked a few good questions.

I've given this same talk in several places, and it always gets excellent reviews. So what was different here? Also, this is the first department EVER where the scheduled time for a talk was only 30 minutes, so I was completely thrown off by that one.

I spoke with K afterwards and he said, "be thankful that you have a lot to say." Okay...that's true. But maybe part of the reason I had so much to say is because I am just so isolated. There is no one here with whom I can talk about science - when I got the chance, it just spilled out of me in the hopes that I could get some feedback?

I am probably over-reacting. This has just happened at a bad time. So it has compounded those twinges of a sensation that maybe I am not the best fit for this job. Oh, I think that I am a good enough scientist. But what about the blend? I feel kind of like crunchy peanut butter inside a petit four.

Something positive: afterwards I had a chance to speak with a woman in another department (Genevieve) who came to my seminar. I am doing an independent study course with her masters student. She said, "we don't normally get to hear talks like this" (and clearly meant it in a good way). I sort of commiserated with her, as I gathered that she has similar feelings within her department, albeit for different reasons, it seems. We are going to have lunch on Friday. If nothing else there is someone around with whom I can talk! And that is indeed a positive outcome.

K reminds me that I always appear to be the confident achiever. We have crises of insecurity as well. I know. I know. This will pass.


Special thanks to Dr. Geek, Elgan, and Artgnome for your helpful comments. D-land supporters extraordinaire! It really DOES help to hear your perspectives, and gives me a boost.

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