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You Zoom job talk is also a Zoom teaching demo (as a special case of all job talks are also teaching demos).


This might seem like a petty, minor thing, but I was told directly that things like this made a difference when I was on the market last year.

- Invest in a good camera and a microphone. Don't just use your built-in laptop thingamajig. Good sound especially can make a big difference, apparently.

- Use the Zoom thing that helps overlay your face OVER your slides (I think it's called "Use slides as virtual background.") This way, the audience will both be looking at your slides AND your face; and also, you won't have to worry about what's in your actual physical background.

- Have interesting, colorful slides, with frequent examples. People's attention spans are shortened over Zoom.

- Did I already mention getting a good camera and microphone?

Bill Harrison

Nathan and TT have given some great advice, despite that some of it may sound petty. A good microphone, lighting, and camera do make a difference to the audience.

I'd add that you and search committee should have a clear contingency plan if you are dropped from the Zoom call. (This plan should be agreed upon well before the talk begins.) For example, you should recommend that the search committee chair contact you by an alternative means, by phone or email, to let you know that you have been dropped and how you intend to regain access to the Zoom room if you are dropped.

Two relatively good ideas related to the above. I would have a second computer on-hand, maybe a friend's laptop, and have it set up ready to go for your talk. Second, I'd make sure that your phone can double as a WiFi hotspot just in case your home internet goes down. This may allow you to reconnect rapidly if it turns out the problem has to do with your own computer.

more tips

1) My sense is that slides are more attention-grabbing on Zoom than a handout (especially given lowered attention spans, as TT mentions!).
(If you like handouts, make one of those too! and distribute it for reference.)

2) This may be a personal preference, but if you have a handout or slides, distribute them in advance! and/or link / drop the files in the chat. (Have a link handy in case file-sharing is disabled.) It's nice to be able to look at them for reference, especially when one gets (inevitably) distracted.

3) As a follow up to Bill Harrison's point about contingency plans, one thing I have done as a backup plan is pre-record my talk. This way, I can send something in the absolute worst case scenario. (Sometimes I've sent it in advance; other times I have it in reserve to send via phone... the former is safer, but I've also worried about looking too paranoid!)

4) In addition to investing in a good camera & mic, also make sure to use an ethernet for more reliability (I've also heard about WiFi boosters). Those ring lights can also be great if you need to correct bad lighting.

Zoom not Teams

If you are unfortunate enough to be invited to Microsoft Teams interviews, here are a few tips.

Familiarise yourself with the location of the "end share screen" button, as it is very easy to accidentally click the "leave meeting" button.

Buy the most advanced laptop out there. Teams heats up your laptop much more than Zoom. (Maybe this is just my problem but heard others say something similar; or perhaps this is the cost of using a Microsoft program on a Mac.)

Be patient if you choose to use the share PowerPoint function. It is super laggy but you don't want to jump 3 slides by clicking 3 times.


Just stopping by to thanks so much to all of those those who have commented so far, I appreciate the advice so much!

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