Where Are The Lantern Slides?

Second post in a series about presentations . . .

I attended (ok, participated in) a conference in another discipline in which presenters traditionally read excerpts of their papers — verbatim. I find the practice odd for a few reasons. First, few people are talented enough at reading scripts to be able to hold an audience’s attention for more than 30 seconds. Second, if we are practitioners of the flipped classroom pedagogy in which students first encounter content outside of class, then reciting a text that no one has previously read doesn’t make much sense. Time and money is better spent on more complex cognitive activities.

Mark Twain's TourWhy does this conference panel format still exist? It’s likely that untenured instructors and graduate students regard these conference presentations as de facto requirements for hiring, tenure, and promotion. Disciplinary professional associations and hotel chains are only happy to encourage this belief. When panel sessions consistently attract audiences that are smaller in size than the panels themselves, it suggests that  conference attendees simply want to add more lines to their respective curriculum vitaes. And if that’s the case, there’s little incentive for them to care much about content or delivery of their presentations, as long as they get to present.