Makati City (September 8) – There was a recent invitation from the Mindanao Institute of Journalism for me to be a resource speaker at an academic forum attended by around a hundred lecturers and students of Kidapawan Doctors College.
“We have been talking about the narrative and drivers of violent extremism (VE). When we say drivers, we are referring to the push and pull factors that ‘recruit’ individuals to VE. And we tend to pay less attention to VE’s enablers – that is, factors that make VE and its activities ‘resilient’. We are interested to know what UNDP has done so far – from development work perspective – in addressing these ‘enablers’ of VE.”
Supposed question on the Introductory Session about “Regional Outlook on Violent Extremism” by Phil Matsheza, Regional Team Leader, Governance & Peacebuilding, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub
Subsequent to my earlier post and the comments it elicits, let me share with you below five practical tips I always remind myself of before presenting a conference paper. These tips are meant for the prospective young conference presenters, and not to the seasoned conference speakers who are repeatedly passionate enough to go beyond the time limit set for them.
1. Know your goal.
The reason behind paper presentation in a conference is not to share your research as a whole, but to give your audience just a taste of it, in order to receive feedback for the further improvement of your work. If you want to share it as a whole, let it be published in a credible journal.
2. Know your audience.
Don’t get excited when your panel is full of people. They may be there interested to listen to your co-panelists and not to you. If they are there to listen to you, they are there to know from you if your research is worth reading once it gets published, or not.
3. Know your time limit.
Before the conference, inquire from the organizers or panel moderator the time limit set for every presentation. If it’s 15 minutes, then prepare your slides for 10 minutes because if you consider your adlibs, fillers and many “Next slide, please,” you will spend an additional 5 minutes in the actual presentation. Prior to the start of the panel, I usually look for the one in charge of the projector and ask him or her to listen to my presentation and manage by himself or herself my slides’ transition without me telling him or her anymore, “Next slide please!”
4. Do not explain everything.
Considering your goal and the limited time at your disposal, do not ever attempt to explain everything about your paper. It is better to state only a few things with emphasis, than to explain many things very quickly. I had a lady co-presenter in a conference who tried to give an exhaustive explanation of her paper. When thrown with a ‘why/how’ question during the open forum, she was practically embarrassed for having no good answer or no answer.
5. Q&A is a shared time as well.
Do not monopolize answering the questions during the Q&A Session because like the paper presentation, this session is also shared with your co-presenters. Try to answer the questions directly and concisely. Give enough space to your co-presenters to give their answers.
(Photo via savepoint.blog.br)
Before attending a regional workshop on religious education in Jakarta next week, my past two weeks were a series of paper presentations or talks. In a DILG-PPSC jointly organized national training of trainers on preventing and countering violent extremism held in Manila on November 27-29, I was asked to share my working paper on deconstructing media reporting in Mindanao.
Immediately after the closing program I rushed to the airport to catch my 9:40 pm flight bound for Davao City. But sad to note, I arrived at NAIA at 10:09 pm already. Blame it to the traffic jam in the Metro. I booked for the next available flight (around 6 am), but I had to enlist my name as chance passenger for the earliest flight (4 am) that day (November 30) in order to arrive in the next conference venue before the start of the panel session (8 am) where I was invited to talk about the post-Marawi Siege landscape.
The following day (December 1), I had to leave the beach resort (Waterfront Insular Hotel) and climbed up the mountainous part of the city (Malagos Garden Resort) to deliver another talk at the seminar-workshop dubbed “Reporting Marawi, Reporting Violent Extremism” organized by the MindaNews and an institute of Mindanao-based journalists.
Two days afterward, I had to fly back to Manila to moderate the panel on youth radicalization and violent extremism of a forum on the peace process in Mindanao, organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Immediately after lunch, I had to rush to the province of Cavite, outside Metro Manila, to share my thoughts on cultural sensitivity and media reporting in Mindanao at a one-week special course conducted by a national public safety institution.
The next day, I flew to Kuala Lumpur to attend the 7th International Conference on Southeast Asia at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya, and to present a paper on Marawi Siege’s security implications to the Southeast Asian region. During the opening ceremony the other day, the convener of the panel on the role of women in conflict zones in Southeast Asia invited me to join her panel, which I gladly accepted, and I talked about the role of women in promoting violent extremism in the Philippines.
In all these presentations as well as in previous experiences in conferences, one recurring thing I have observed time and again is the dismal failure of a considerable number of speakers to observe the time limit (usually 15 to 20 minutes), and correspondingly, some moderators’ ineptitude to properly manage the time limit set for each panel. One moderator even emailed me the night before the panel session, asking me to limit my presentation to 10 minutes, while actually allowing my co-presenter in the panel to talk for around 45 minutes and another co-presenter to talk in half an hour.
One panel convener kept reminding me four times to limit my talk to 15 minutes “in order to devote more time to the discussions during the Q&A session”. Yet the same panel convener was around 30 minutes late in the panel, and having designated herself as the first presenter, she had two minutes excess to the 15-minute time limit she herself had set.
In view of these and similar experiences in the remote past, I’m just wondering if there’s a need for a sort of “conference paper presentation 101” and “conference panel moderation 101.”
Please let me know your views and comments.