Sunday, March 17, 2013

Likes and Dislikes in an Indological conference

What works and what does not work in a (traditional) conference? This is my personal list:

  1. 1. Don't read. I can understand that reading helps if you are shy and/or you cannot speak English well enough and in similar cases. But please consider that reading will strongly diminish the likelihood that you can communicate something. Thus, rather focus on speaking less or in a simpler way, but without reading.
  2. 2. In this connection, I wonder whether we should really keep on forcing everyone to speak in English. Perhaps simultaneous translations would be a more expensive but much more effective alternative?
  3. 3. Putting down your thesis with no evidence (no texts being quoted, no secondary literature, no interviews, nothing!).
  4. 4. Only putting down evidences with no thesis (describing what you have read/listened to, with nothing new added).
  5. 5. Too many words in the slides (one does not know whether she should read it or listen to what is being said).
  6. 6. Slides with typos (as a consequence: write less in your slides, so that you can have enough time to proof-read it).
  7. 7. Too few slides: One rightly tries not to have too many slides, but too few also do not work, since one is distracted by a slide referring to X while the speaker is talking about Y. Thus, if you want to use a ppt, be sure you have an image for each one of the main parts of your speech.
  8. 8. Don't recycle a speech deemed for a different audience/purpose. It feels bad to be a second-choice-listener!

  1. 1. Refer to other speeches within the same conference (it feels like being in a workshop and one sees links one might have missed).
  2. 2. Focus on your strengths: if you are a great narrator, narrate. There is not a single way to be an academic and there is no point in being, e.g., a shallow manuscriptologist although you think that manuscriptological studies are more "scientific" than narrations.
What would you add or delete from the list?

On reading at conferences (pros and cons), read this post (and its comments) and this post. On an alternative idea of conferences, see this one and the corresponding wiki. For a list of dislikes in Indological presentations, see this post. For a former list of dislikes at conferences, see this post.

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