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.