In the coming weeks many philosophy majors will be presenting papers either at our own LPSC colloquium or at the UVU philosophy conference. Since many of you haven’t presented papers before, I thought it might be helpful to offer some pointers and tips.
1. You will need to find out how much time you have for your presentation, and how much of that time will be set aside for questions and discussion. A typical amount of time is something like 15 or 20 minutes for presentation, plus 5 or 10 minutes for discussion.
2. The next thing to determine is whether you would be comfortable informally presenting your paper, or whether you want to read it aloud. If you think you’ll be nervous, it’s somewhat easier to read your paper aloud. Then you won’t get flustered or confused or leave out anything. But if you’re comfortable and confident, you might prefer the looseness and spontaneity of an informal presentation.
3. If you are reading, practice. It typically takes about 2 minutes to read a page. You want to be sure to read slowly enough that the audience can follow what you are saying. You might even want to rewrite your paper so that it is more easily digested by a listening audience. You may want to prepare handouts with an outline, or key passages you’re analyzing, or arguments, or diagrams, if you think it will help your listeners understand what you’re saying. You may want handouts also if you are not reading.
4. Be loud and clear. No one likes listening to a mumbler.
5. When it comes to questions, you might hear one that you don’t know how to answer. Then you should say, “That’s a good question. I don’t know how to answer it. Does anyone have any ideas?” You won’t look like a fool (unless it’s a simple question that you obviously should have already considered.) You will look like someone who is willing to learn.
Others may have other pointers or tips. Please share!