10 things not to say at work

A long time ago, I borrowed a camcorder* and taped myself giving a practice talk.  Then I forced myself to watch it.   It was excruciatingly awkward.  Every dumb pause, every verbal tic, every “literal” that’s figurative, every “uh, well, um”, gets magnified when you hear yourself.  Ouch. But doing it, and repeating every few years, made me a better speaker.

Therefore, I recommend taping and critiquing yourself before your next big talk.  I also recommend you read this article, “10 things not to say at work“, and examine how many of its rules you violate, both in scientific talks and when talking less formally about your work.  Do you say, “We showed that the debris disk extends to 50 AU, ” or do you say “Actually, we showed that the debris disk sort of extends to 50 AU”?  Do you agree with the article’s rules?  What others would you add that are specific to astronomy?


* A “camcorder” was a primitive device to record audio and video to magnetic tape.  I said it was a long time ago.

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