Time waits for no man

time waits for no...

At times, it may seem that time waits for woman to get dressed, but when it comes to conference talks, the chair will give you a dressing-down if you exceed your time.

The chair of your session HAS to keep to time. Tea breaks don’t wait, the start of a session in another conference room does not wait, the line of speakers for the morning or afternoon session cannot be compressed to compensate for the talkative few who did not keep to their time allotment.

Running late in a talk usually starts a cascade of events resulting in the destruction of hours of carefully planned preparation. When the presenter discovers that half the slides still need to be presented minutes before the end, he or she goes into panic mode with the following disastrous effects:

1) No more smooth transition between slides. The narration at the beginning of each slide is cut short to a skimpy “and next”, “and here”.

2) The graphics that featured your results get the rushed treatment. The X and Y axis are not even mentioned, you frantically wave the red dot of the laser pointer on one or two peaks or valleys in your bar charts and skip many of the details that were essential to understand the result.

3) By now, no more eye contact with the audience. Your eyes are on the screen full time.

4) Layers of information flash in front of the dazed audience as you click through them at a speed that prevents understanding. The audience can no longer keep in sync with what they see and what they hear.

5) Your conclusion slide is read. The nice closing statement you had planned for your big confident finish eye to eye with the audience never even made it past your lips.

The overall result:

• No time for questions

• No questions from the shell-shocked audience bombarded with words.

• Nobody interested to network with you, not after the way you treated your audience.


003 The chairperson and the presenter

What is the relationship between a chairperson and a presenter? What can the presenter expect from a chairperson?

Find out from a chairperson, Dr Mark Sinclair.