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(This was from an APPAM flyer in 1993, author unknown but with initials RDB)

(1) Don't Read Your Paper:

The best way to present your ideas on paper is not necessarily the best way to present them to a live audience. Think carefully about your audience, prepare an outline that emphasizes your key ideas. and then speak extemporaneously from them. If you read your paper. your tone will be monotonous. and you will lose eye contact with your audience.

(2) Stand Up:

By standing. you will ensure that everyone can see -- and hear -- you. and that you can maintain personal contact with everyone in the audience. Besides. when you stand, it is much more difficult to read your paper. .

(3) Don't Try to Cover Your Entire Paper:

It is impossible in a brief presentation to cover all the ideas in even a short paper. So don't even try. Instead, select a few of the most interesting and provocative points and explain them in some detail. Rather than attempt to tell your audience everything that is in your paper, try to get their attention; try to convince them that it is worth their time to read your paper. (On one panel. one member attempted to cover his entire book -- chapter by chapter. His colleagues said it was a most interesting book. but nobody in the audience believed this.)

(4) Honor the Time Limit:

Be considerate. In addition to (I) the presentation of your paper, the panel must provide time for (2) the presentation of all the other papers, (3) comments from the discussants, and (4) questions and discussion from the audience. So if the moderator of your panel sets a ten-minute time limit for each paper. honor it. And the joke at the beginning of your presentation counts against your allotted time. (One panel member talked for over ha1f-an-hour and did not finish his presentation until after the time for the entire session had expired.)

(5) Get Your Paper to the Discussants Well Before the Conference:

The discussants have a difficult j ob. They have to present a brief yet coherent analysis of three or four (often quite dissimilar) papers. If they have read the papers and~ developed their ideas in the hotel the night before the panel. their discussion -- and your panel -- will suffer. If you have some ideas that you think are worthy of being presented at a scholarly meeting. you should also think they are worthy of having the discussants consider seriously. So don't show up at the conference with your paper (or the notes from which you will speak) and expect the discussants to immediately recognize your brilliance.

(6) Keep Your Answers to Questions Brief:

Many questions from the audience are complicated; they warrant a serious response. But a long answer frustrates others who would also like to ask questions. So offer a concise response. Then stop. After the panel, there will be time for a longer conversation with the questioner.





(I) Be Helpful to the Authors:

Your first duty is to the authors. What was useful about each paper? What needs to be improved? You might think of yourself as the not-so-anonymous referee for the journal to which the paper is to be submitted. What does the author need to do to make the paper acceptable for publication? (You might even want to have a separate conversation with each author to provide him or her with a list of detailed comments.)

(2) Be Helpful to the Audience:

By the time its your turn, the audience is a little confused. They have heard three or four brief (and perhaps very different) presentations. They are not sure how these papers relate to each other, or how they build on the research to date. So put the papers and the panel in context. Provide some appropriate background on current research. Or describe how the authors have taken similar or different intellectual approaches. Or explain about what the authors agree and about what they disagree. Do whatever is necessary to help the audience get a coherent understanding of the panel.

(3) Be Tough but Not Snooty:

You were not selected as a discussant because someone thought this was a great opportunity to put your intellectual brilliance on display. Rather, someone believed that you could make an important contribution to the panel -- to keep the presenters of the papers honest, while helping everyone in the room think about the topic. Don't tell the author what paper you would have written had you written the paper; accept, as given, the author's topic and focus for the paper. Don't give your own paper; work from the ideas presented by the author.

(4) Contribute to the Discussion:

The general discussion that follows the presentations can be focused or disorganized. A discussant can help provide some coherence to the audience's participation by describing the key intellectual issues raised (either explicitly or implicitly) by this collection of papers -- those questions that could most benefit from an open examination. Such a concluding focus can help shape the audience's thinking, as well as the moderator's approach to leading the general discussion.




(I) Run a Tight Ship:

Make sure that the presenters, discussants, and audience know that you are in charge. If you designed the panel yourself, this is relatively easy. But if someone else asked you to chair a panel created from several different proposals, you have a tougher job; you will have to fashion a coherent discussion from individuals with perhaps widely different conceptions of the panel's topic. Start by getting and staying in touch with your panel before the conference.

(2) Establish the Ground Rules:

How will the panel be organized? What will be its intellectual focus? What is the order of presentation? How much time does each person have? (I recommend tea minutes per paper, plus 15 minutes for the discussant.) Make these rules clear to everyone several weeks before the conference. You can't arrive at the time the panel is scheduled to begin and tell people they have ten minutes to present their papers; they have to be able to plan their presentations.

(3) Enforce Your Ground Rules:

If you have stated that the presentation of each paper shall be limited to ten minutes, don't let the first one take twenty. You'll never get control again. (If people ignore your time limit, simply cut them off.)

(4) Meet the Participants Before the Panel:

Often some of the panelists do not know each other. In any case, it makes sense to get these introductions, the preliminary banter, and a review of the ground rules out of the way before you all arrive at the room and try to drive out the previous panel. Having breakfast together is an easy , informal way to handle these details, and creates some personal chemistry that will carry over to the panel itself.

(5) Allocate at least Half-an-Hour to Audience Questions and Discussion:

Involve the audience. Scholarly panels should not be talking journals. For those interested strictly in the contents of the papers, reading them is much more efficient. The audience came to listen to the discussion and debate, to ask some questions, and to have some fun. Make sure they get a chance.

(6) Be Creative:

Nowhere is it engraved in the APPAM by-laws that each panel shall consist of three papers, each presented by their author, two discussants who have 15 minutes each, and then (if there is any time left) a few questions from the audience. There can be more or fewer papers. The discussants or moderator could present the key ideas in the papers. Or author # I could present paper #2, and author #2 could present paper #3, etc. (Nothing like having someone other than the author present a paper to prevent a violation of the time limit. Who is going to run over when talking about somebody else's paper?) The objective is to have a stimulating, intelligent, fun discussion. Anything that the moderator can do to further this objective is worth trying.