The quest for the perfect public speaking picture

Every time I present a conference paper or deliver a public lecture, I’m full of hope that it will yield a decent profile picture for social media and professional bios. It will be something distinguished, and will demonstrate my marketability and poise. I will smile gently but powerfully, or cast a radical glare to the right of the camera, and point, or karate-chop my hand to demonstrate the meaning of the universe.

At a recent conference presentation, for a change, I had a friend in the audience who took numerous photos of me. So, they were numerous, and nobody else can be blamed. And I present here some of the disturbing faces of my scholarly persona, mid-paper.

First, the academic break-dance.


Second:  Well, I have no idea what there is to be this frightened about in campus culture, apart from alcohol culture and hazing.


I mean, what could you possibly say with that face except the building is burning down, run for your lives? Or possibly, guys, this powerpoint was thrown together last minute, and the constipation is what’s really on my mind. 

Also, I will never be able to look at this picture without internally screaming: flip the damn name tag around!

And third: ladies and gents, I rest my case like a smug scholarly Santa Claus. This is the best I’ve got.


Note too, that people dress to look slimmer than they are. I do the opposite. I actually am slimmer than I look here. It’s a magic trick.

Here, the wonderful interpreter and I are really getting down. I’m going contemporary Bollywood, plus song, and she’s clearly going silent Bharatanatyam.

image (5)



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