Friday, November 1, 2013

Want to try ten-minute talks at Tucson?

(Via this post, I am also testing the possibility of directly pushing the "column" to the APCG distribution list. We will soon find out whether it works!)

At APCG meetings, a presenter is typically allotted twenty minutes, of which comments and Q/A are in the final one or two minutes.  In the format that I envision, a presenter will wrap up the talk in ten minutes, which will leave ten minutes for a substantive Q/A.

Will APCG members be interested in a session like this at Tucson?  Any volunteers for the ten-minute talks?

For a long time, and whenever possible, I have been sounding out the possibility of annual meetings--APCG and AAG--as opportunities for conversations and exchanges, instead of mere presentations.  I have talked with, and written to, APCG and AAG people about this.  Now, I have a chance to explore that while wearing that metaphorical hat of the APCG president.

Sessions at conferences offer very little opportunity for substantive back-and-forth.  At pretty much every session, after a speaker presents the paper, the audience, typically anywhere between ten and twenty in number at the APCG and much lesser at AAG, politely applauds the speaker for her work.  Sometimes a question or two is raised, but, there is no serious discussion or debate on the subject primarily because there is no time for discussions.  Twenty minutes for the presentation and Q/A provides a very limited window for discussions.

A session at the Tahoe annual meeting
Photo from Bill Bowen

Instead, imagine sessions where speakers effectively pack their ideas into ten-minute presentations.  The ideas presented trigger a number of issues, which are articulated by the audience via questions and comments.  The speaker then responds to those questions and comments.  

Thus, here is a proposal for a session at Tucson, for which I will need at least four volunteers willing to present their ideas in ten minutes each, and then tackle the questions from the floor for another ten minutes.  I will chair the session and make sure that the speakers are held to the ten minute framework. The audience, too, will have time restrictions for their questions and comments--they will have to express their thoughts within thirty to sixty seconds each.  After the presenter responds to one audience member, I will then move on to another member's question/comment.

Wouldn't that be a lively/lovely intellectual environment?  Don't you feel like you want to be there, right now?  Let me know if you are interested to be a presenter at such a session in Tucson.  Here is to wishing that I will be overwhelmed with the number of volunteers ;)

Perhaps you have other ideas also on how to make the conference sessions a lot more interactive than they are.  Of course, let me know about those ideas too.

Ideally, you would leave your comments right here at the blog.  Other options include the distribution list, or emailing me.

BTW, there are even tighter session formats--like this one, where the house rules are " 5 minutes per speaker, 5 minutes for audience."  I way prefer the ten/ten format ;)


The Goat's Friend said...

Sriram -- I think it sounds like an exceptionally pleasant idea; the AAG initiated the five-minute presentation, but without questions, and I think your idea has considerable merit. It's a great way to give out some information (for example, a proposal, or preliminary results) without being committed to the full Monty (as it were). // Paul

wvg452 said...

I gave my first paper in 1968. As I remember the experience, it was exciting and stimulating yet unfinished. It was unfinished because of the very thing being discussed time for interaction. My presentation at an AAG conference was the same. To be able to exchange ideas is the valuable contribution of conferences. Great idea, I hope it goes forward. //Ralph

wvg452 said...

Excellent idea, I wish that format was present when I was teaching.

Kristine said...

Lovely/lively indeed. I imagine this exchange-focused format would be even more fruitful than the traditional presentation. I wonder about also having the 20-minute format for some who desire the full Monty :)

Kristine said...

Lovely/lively indeed. I imagine an exchange-based format could be even more fruitful than the traditional presentation. Would there still be the 20-minute format available for those who still want the full Monty?

Sriram Khé said...

I received the following comments via email:

From Jan Monk:
I like the idea of experimenting with alternative formats and my message includes comments on a version I have used.


I have successfully used at international meetings a format in which panelists give short (e.g.5 min) presentations around a common topic, and then the audience forms small discussion groups each chaired by one panel member who then reports back to the whole on their group's discussion. But in cases such as this, the presenters and toipics tend not to be student research. For example, at the 2013, IGU in Japan the theme for the panel was issues in (international) collaboration in research and education.

From Duane Marble:
The paper presentations are short enough as is. If you want more time for discussion then assign more time for it - after, of course, making sure that (a) the paper really exists, and (b) it has enough content to sustain discussion.

From Carl Johannessen:
That sounds like a good idea, Shiram. At least for half the presentations and you could try it. The major point can ususaly be stated in ten minutes. If it is truly a new discovery, give the person 30 minutes.

From Ralph Allen:
I hope that your blog request is fruitful and positive. To be able to interact with others is the great benefit of conference attendance. For the new folks it is a stimulation they will never forget and yet for so long it remains a bit unfulfilled as a result of presenting, applauding, and then ... next on our program is....

This idea -- ten minutes -- is so much more beneficial when followed by ten interactive minutes.

Anonymous said...

Don't sell the APCG short--there are at least 40 in the audience in the picture from Squaw Valley!

-Bob Richardson