August 9, 2015

Making the Most of ICPhS: Presenting Your Paper

Posted in icphs tagged , , , at 1:28 pm by mariawolters

If you are an author presenting a paper at ICPhS, you have all received detailed instructions on what to do. In this post, I want to give some of the rationale behind the requests. Most of these remarks are aimed at first-time presenters or presenters who feel relatively inexperienced, but experienced presenters might find some interesting nuggets, too.

First of all, the poster presenters are restricted to A1 / portrait, no landscape. This is very tight, and it is much easier to tell a visually beautiful and complete story to an audience if you have A0 landscape.

However, it allows us to leave your poster for longer. That makes life a lot less hectic for you. No rushing out of the last oral session before your poster to put it up, no missing the start of the next session before your poster needs to be taken down.

In order to make the poster sessions less cramped, we are also alternating posters between morning and afternoon, so that when you are at your poster to present, you essentially have double the space.

Best of all, it gives your poster a much bigger audience. Whenever attendees have a spare half hour, when they are having coffee or lunch, when they are unfortunate enough to miss one of the breathtakingly amazing oral session, they can wander around the posters and absorb your poster in peace.

Finally, if you have been assigned a poster, but were hoping for a paper, you will hopefully be pleasantly surprised at how deep and useful discussions at posters can be. In paper sessions, time for discussion is necessarily limited, and people need to rush off afterwards or are not necessarily comfortable making their comment in front of a crowd of their peers.

The paper presenters appear to be similarly restricted at first: 10 minutes for presentation, 3 minutes for discussion, and 2 minutes for changing over.

However, what these restrictions do is ensure that everybody gets a fair hearing. Imagine having travelled halfway around the world to present your paper to an audience who wants to hear what you have to say. You are the last speaker in a three-paper session. But then, the first speaker overruns. And the second speaker not only overruns, but sparks a heated ten minute discussion. At the end, all that is left for your carefully rehearsed talk is 5 minutes, no discussion, because people are heading to the next session.

While 10 minutes is not enough to present your work in detail, it is more than enough to tell people why your work is interesting, why it matters, and what your main findings are (and by the middle of Day 2, your audience won’t be able to absorb much more information, anyway).

Strict timekeeping also makes it easier for the audience to switch between sessions. This is particularly important in a large multi-session conference as this, where sessions are compiled according to many different criteria, and people are likely to pick and choose where they go.

Finally, the two-minute change-over time allows us sufficient time to deal with the vagaries of technology, especially when talks rely on the sound system working.

Related posts:

  • The Oral Programme
  • The Poster Sessions
  • Finding Interesting Papers
  • Timing ICPhS
  • The Discussant Sessions