ask a scatterbrain: setting up talks

So, now that the book is coming out soon, a bunch of people have said, “you should set up talks.” Here’s the thing: I don’t know what this means, or how to do it. I mean, it’s not like I can show up in LA, drop by UCLA, and say, “hey there! here to give a talk.” I understand that “getting talks” this is something not-so-uncommon that people try and do. But how do they do it? Do you tell your friends you want to give a talk? Is that tacky? Is there an assumed quid pro quo? I’ve noticed that some people seem to do mini tours when they have work coming out. Any idea how they manage this? What’s the etiquette here? I realize posting this on scatterplot is a not-so-subtle way of “doing this.” But I’m not simply trying to use my bully pulpit. I’m curious about how people organize things like this…

3 thoughts on “ask a scatterbrain: setting up talks”

  1. So I got a good few off-line comments about this — with some useful advice. So I thought i’d pass it on.

    1.) Working through peers is a better idea than working through people “above” you. So ask around from folks you went to grad school with, or people who are about on your level, professionally. In short, don’t email William Julius Wilson about this. Email your friend from grad school who might be on a post-doc or have an assistant professor job somewhere.

    2.) Give folks something to work with. So don’t be vague. if you want to give a talk on something, have an abstract you can share, or something that briefly outlines what you’ll talk about.

    3,) If you approach people, don’t be a snob. So if there is a small working group that you end up being asked to talk at (instead of, say, a larger series), do it.

    4.) Think about the kind of work you want to present. Options are things that are polished or things you want feedback on. You will have different audiences for these. If you want feedback, make sure it’s still pretty polished. In general you only give talks once at a place. People remember them. So it shouldn’t be something half-baked.


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