Making the Society for the Abolition of Boring Conference Panels happen

It won’t actually come to this.

I think

So last year, I mused on trying out some different types of conference panels, to see if we couldn’t be doing better than our usual two-minutes-at-the-end-for-a-long-winded-question-that’s-more-a-statement-actually.

That sparked enough interest to get together two panels for next week’s UACES conference in Lisbon.

Long-standing readers (and those who’ve just gone back to the original post) will remember I’m trying out two formats here.

Format 1: flipped panels

For our panel (106) on Monday on the EU27 and Brexit negotiations, we’re trying to use a flipped approach.

That involves we recording presentations that run as long as we like and posting online beforehand, then having only very brief one-sliders in the panel itself.

You can watch the efforts of myself (here), Natasza (here) and Petr (here) already now.

As you can see, we’ve all gone longer than the usual 15 minutes and I personally found it nice not to have to worry about the time-limit for this.

In Lisbon, we’ll have 5 minutes to present key points and then we go into a nice block of time for Q&A/discussion.

Format 2: gladiator time!

For our second panel (416) on Tuesday on Learning & Teaching, we’re getting the audience involved.

At the start, we’ll be getting everyone to access Poll Everywhere, via laptop or app, so they can vote.

The presenters will be given an initial 3 minutes to present, before the audience gets to vote on whether to give them another 3 minutes.

Presenters can get up to a total of 12 minutes, with each block being conditional on the audience being willing to go along with more of this.

We’re going to draw lots for the order of papers too, because I’m guessing it’ll make a while for the audience to get used to using their power and it only seems fair.

I’ve given a couple of notes to the presenters to reflect upon:

How do you balance getting your key points across with trying the patience of your audience? Logically, you make some kind of cliff-edges every 3 minutes, but what if your paper isn’t like that, or doesn’t have that kind of content? How much do you trial content and how do you spring surprises?

How do you structure any powerpoint you’re using? I can keep the results of the polling on my laptop, but again, what do you need to communicate when to the audience?

I’ll not say how I’m approaching these points, because I’m guessing there will be a variety of approaches, but I’ve found it much more thought-provoking/tricky/a pain for my content than the flipped model.

Testing, testing

To back-up the panels, I’ll be asking for feedback from both audiences and presenters on the formats and I’ll give you a quick run-down on that post-conference, with a view to publishing at some point.

With that in mind, if someone else wants to try these formats at their event, then knock yourselves out: I’m happy sharing my feedback forms with you too.

So, as I go off to finalise that second panel, I will hope that you had a good summer. If you’re coming to Lisbon, then I hope to see you at these panels: please do either watch the flipped presentations and/or download the app.

If you’re not, then I’m sure I’ll be trying you about it soon enough!

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