Chalk Talks

The "Chalk Talk," used primarily in the sciences and engineering, is basically a discussion of your research agenda without help from slides or formal visual presentation. In the talk, you're expected to communicate your research goals, the specific aims of your planned experiments, expected outcomes, and the reasoning behind your approach, including possible alternatives, should "Plan A" fail.

General Advice:

  • Ask the Chair of the Search Committee what is expected, as you want to make sure not to disappoint anybody (This request will also help you build your relationship with this person).
  • Try to remain enthusiastic and engaging, rather than defensive.
  • Spend 10 minutes on the past/present, and the rest on the future.
  • If possible, write stuff on the board ahead of time rather than in real time.
  • Keep it simple. Boil things down.
  • Focus on communicating and connecting.

deer in headlightIf you want to avoid feeling like a deer in the headlight, practice, practice, practice. To join the FAS Postdoc Mock Talk Group in 2017-18,  please contact either Myunghee Kim, muynghee_kim@g.harvard.edu, or Barnabas Daru, barnabas_daru@fas.harvard.edu. The MockTalk schedule includes a list of ongoing talks in 2017-18.

Some additional resources:

Key point: You are not seeking the approval of your graduate committee or your advisor. You are interviewing to be their colleague and as such you need to show that you have opinions and ideas that are going to make you an important part of their department.