Yes! I’m loving Linda Kerber.

She’s got a piece in the Chronicle on how to be a good chair, promising a sequel on giving papers. But this older piece on giving a good talk looks fine to me. (Update: Here’s the Part II. But no answer to the question from Academic Cog about what a conference paper should do intellectually.)

I have only one small disagreement with the excellent advice to chairs. She writes:

Sometimes you may try to limit a speaker who is taking up too much time but find that the speaker ignores you. You may feel uncomfortable pressing the issue. Remember that you are a host; follow your own good instincts and don’t get into a major struggle that will distract from the goals of the session. It’s important for people to see that you have tried to keep the session on track. But having made a reasonable attempt, you’re not at fault if someone violates the ground rules. Stay cheerful and hospitable; usually the speaker will wind down soon, and maybe what he or she has to say will have been worth it.

Forget that. Crack that whip. It is fine to say firmly, “I”m sorry. You need to stop and allow time for the other panelists right now.” Unless, of course, you can already tell that what the panelist is saying is worth it. But it seems to me that overtime talks and rambling boring talks often coincide, and are often riddled with things that sound like conclusions but aren’t.

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