I am a Ph.D. student in mathematics in number theory and would likely give a short contributing (15-minute) talk at a big conference. I have prepared short slides for the talk but plan to go with chalk and talk. I have given slides presentation before but have no experience with chalk and talk. I need your suggestion, provided I am not very good at writing mathematical notations.

My main question is another one. Certainly, there are invited, speakers. But, I was not invited but applied to the conference, and then the organizers accepted my registration with partial financial support (accommodation+food). Many others belong to my category. Now those who are invited will thank the organizers at the beginning of their talks e.g., they will say "I thank the organizers for their invitation".

But since I am not an invited speaker, how should I start the talk? how should I thank the organizers?

Thank you for your suggestion.

  • 1
    It seems like you are asking two distinct questions (How do I give a chalk talk? Should I thank the organizers?), neither of which coincides with the question in your title (How do I start a talk?). Apr 24, 2023 at 20:47
  • 2
    Only in number theory do people think it is a good idea to do a chalk-board talk :-) Apr 24, 2023 at 22:28
  • @AdamPřenosil, How do I start a talk? I mean what should I say at the beginning of a talk? The other question is different, I agree of course.
    – learner
    Apr 25, 2023 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


Thank the organizers for what they did to make it possible for you to attend.

Don't try to write lots of mathematics on the board. That would be my advice even if you were good at it.

Imagine yourself in your audience. What are the very few most important things you would want the speaker to do to engage you? Talk about how your work fits into the field. State your results in as informal a manner as is consistent with correctness - don't fuss over technicalities. Invite audience members to catch you some time later in the conference to talk about details and collaboration.

Congratulations and good luck.

  • 4
    In particular, you can say "thanks to the organizers for the opportunity to speak." Apr 24, 2023 at 15:09

It's possible traditions are different in mathematics or by country, but in my field, I'd say these ways of starting a talk are common:

  1. Just start talking. Everyone thinks their talk is the most important and wants to spend more time on it at the end. This is rude, but the beginning is a place where you possess the time, so just start.

  2. It's typical that speakers are introduced by someone before they begin; for some talks, this may include a recitation of the speaker's CV and a list of all of their Nobel prizes. Others it is, "the next speaker is Dr. Smith from College University." The speaker can respond to this, "Thank you," and then (1).

  3. Start by thanking your collaborators/coauthors/students who contributed to the work you are presenting. You avoid rushing at the end and missing this key step by doing it up front.

To me, it would be a waste of time to listen to a thanking of the organizers at the beginning of each talk.


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