Research hacks #16: 20 tips on timekeeping and technology for your conference presentation

This is the third post in a mini-series on presenting at conferences. Previous posts covered planning and writing a conference paper and delivering a paper. In this post I offer some tips and advice in relation to two aspects of giving a conference paper that can often sneak up and ambush unwitting presenters: timekeeping and technology.

Timekeeping

  • Know how long you’ve got before you start writing the paper. Your time limit dictates how much you can say, not the other way round.
  • Rough rule of thumb (depending on how fast you speak and how much you extemporise): 20 minutes: 2400 words. 25 minutes: 2900 words.
  • You will probably take more time (if you extemporise) or less time (if you speak fast through nervousness) to deliver the talk on the day than you do in private beforehand. Be ready to adapt to that difference in the ways outlined below.
  • When people are in a situation of high stimulation like giving a paper they tend to speak more quickly. If you know this is an issue for you, practice slowing yourself down a bit. Perhaps even write in coloured pen at the top of every page of your paper “SLOW DOWN?”
  • Keep your own time. Don’t rely on the panel chair or on a clock on the wall. Put your watch on the desk or make sure that your phone is visible in front of you, so you how you are travelling time-wise and so that you are not surprised by the “one minute to go” sign being waved in your face when you are only half way through.

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