How Should Scientists A Dress?

As more and more scientists are appearing in the media and addressing events such as TAM or TED, there is some pressure to be more presentable. Here we have two examples that I am happy to share.

Laurie Santos giving her TED talk at Oxford, 2010

Yale professor, Laurie Santos, who I am proud to claim as a former student of mine and now a valued colleague, gave her TED presentation in Oxford this week on human irrationality in economic reasoning and her research on primate behaviour in trading situations. Although I was not there, I know that she will have given a very polished presentation. Here she is being very cool in the private life of a scientist.

A more shabby professor with an ill-fitting jacket (thanks Jamie)

Here is one of me at TAM this week.  Clearly, we want our speakers to be seen to have made an effort but is there a danger that presentation starts to take over the message? One of the things I learned at TAM is that the audience prefer the speakers to move around and be a bit more engaging rather than being stuck behind the podium. Obviously people what to hear what is being said but presentation is very important to convey the message. Information is not enough – we need it delivered in a way that keeps the audience paying attention. So for my talk tonight at the Frome Festival (which will be a much smaller or should I say ‘select’ event), I will bring along a hand-grenade for a demonstration. That should make them sit up.


Filed under In the News

10 responses to “How Should Scientists A Dress?

  1. The news reports after your appearance tonight will write themselves, I’m sure. 😉 Good luck with it.

  2. Yogzotot

    Talking dress, what was this quite “interesting”, very colourful, oversized shirt I saw you wearing for a bit at TAM? Looked like a comic book promotion.

    • brucehood

      Ah that was for my Aussie friends. It was a Mambo surfing shirt that looked suspiciously religious until you read the fine print. They are an awesome clothes company
      but really I am too old to wearing their stuff.

  3. Ken Robinson is a decent role model – although when the video feed started breaking up when I saw him via Skype at a conference on Regio Emilia, he looked a lot like Max Headroom. Speaking as a lay person who follows this kind of stuff for my own personal edification, I think the goal is the same for both scientists and stand up comics in that you don’t want to look like such a “character” that nobody listens to what you’re saying.

  4. Jacob V

    I think it boils down to appearance not being a distraction when the message is more important than the performance. Many professional storytellers dress flamboyantly to overtly let the audience know it’s more about entertainment, imagination and whimsy. So if a PhD is discussing important topics I care about, I wouldn’t want to see them wearing cargo shorts and a scruffy aloha shirt. And I really enjoy and value those professionals and scientists that are adept and engaging public speakers. To me an engaging speaker values the audience by making efforts to be proficient with his/her part of the process, and dressing to casually does communicate something to your audience regardless of your speaking skills.

  5. Arno

    I have to admit Bruce, that that is a cool shirt.

  6. Isn’t that Robin Williams in that bottom picture?

  7. Meh

    It was all I could do not to yell “take it off” during the presentation…

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