Saturday, 7 January 2012

Your Time is Up!

A recent session I attended at the ASCH meeting in Chicago reminded me of a problem that plagues conferences: some speakers don't know when to stop talking. Painfully, the audience sits through minute after minute beyond the time allotted without hearing the desired words, "In conclusion..." The audience cannot help but feel bad for the chair of the session as he or she passes note cards to the lecturer, clearly indicating that time is up. Yet, audaciously, the presenter continues onward, perhaps with no indication that the end of the paper is anywhere near.

I wonder what justification such a speaker has for infringing on the time of other lecturers on the panel, embarrassing the chair, and frustrating the audience. Perhaps older professors feel as though the knowledge that they are providing is worth their weight in gold, and consciously or unconsciously believe that no one would mind if they extend their argument into a thirty- or forty-minute discourse. But this problem is not limited to seasoned professionals; younger professors transgress the boundaries of time as well. I wish that presenters would realize that their message would have a greater chance of being received if they adhered to basic elements of courtesy and time management.

Jonathan Yeager

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