Word on the street is that Dr. Gordon Wallace is a very funny and entertaining speaker. I decided to see for myself. Turns out the rumor is true, as I found myself chuckling more during his 30 min talk than while watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory! Well that might be an exaggeration but it was certainly a close competition between the two.
Dr. Wallace's area of research is not my expertise so I was a little worried that I would not understand the gist of the talk. Fortunately for me, his excellent presentation skills allowed anyone to be engaged about the topic and therefore understand his research.
He started by pretending he would give a talk from another computer sitting on the table next to his, a joke that was very well delivered and timed. My favorite though was when someone in the audience's phone rang dying his talk. He immediately checked his pockets pretending it was his and saying that his mother must be calling. The audience laughed as his admittedly silly joke but at least he knew they were awake.
So why am I writing about this talk without mentioning the science at all? After leaving Dr. Wallace's presentation, I started thinking about the benefits of incorporating humor and personality Ito technical talks. I think there is a balance of funny and serious that make for the best presentations. You don't want it to be stand up comedy but you don't want to put your audience to sleep either. Finding happy medium where people are engaged as you are excited about your research yields the best results in y opinion. After all you want people to go home and read your papers!