Reading-from-the-Page in Presentation: Crazy’s Defense

Opinions about how to present effectively (or at least, not crashingly boringly) at the professional conferences come up perennially on the blogs, usually (for us Bible types) around the time of our November professional conference, but at other times as well. Other fields also make their own observations (h/t to Bitternsweet Girl).

Now, Dr. Crazy makes a thorough argument for the “reading from a piece of paper” model of presentation. Crazy is in literary studies, and most of her argument is directly relevant to what we usually do in biblical studies: present novel interpretations of literary source material that is already well known to our hearers.

As usual, Crazy’s post draws thoughtful comments, some of which challenge the distinction she makes between presentations of experiments (as in the sciences) and presentations as described above (as in literary and biblical studies, though I know our epigraphy and archaeology sections might fall more into the description-of-research mode).

Take a look. It’s never too soon to be thinking about the next conference. Does Crazy make you re-think the “reading a paper” mode of presentation favorably, even though that’s almost certainly not how you teach?

[Reading-from-the-Page in Presentation: Crazy’s Defense was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/04/30. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

4 Responses

  1. Brooke, thanks for creating this round up. I look forward to reading what others also have to say on this issue.

  2. Dr. Crazy makes a lot of sense to me, perhaps because, like her, I get attached to my exact wording when sharing a nuanced interpretation. That being said, however, reading aloud is still only effective if the topic is right and if her rules for presentation are followed. If you are writing something to be read aloud, be it a sermon or a conference paper, you need to hear it aloud in the preparation process. At first, this will likely require actually reading it aloud to yourself. In time, hearing a sentence aloud becomes part of the mental process. Most of all I like her rule of not giving audience members an excuse to check out!

  3. I love Crazy!

  4. One of the problems with conference presentations is that unless you are one of the keynote speakers, you have such a short time in which to make your point effectively. I tend to work from a pretty full manuscript and read most of it because I think it is incredibly rude to take up time allocated to other members of your panel.

    I don’t teach from a manuscript though – I tend to speak to my powerpoint slides. Likewise when I am doing a eulogy at a funeral, I do it from a tight manuscript so I get everything right, but when I preach, I tend to use notes with a full introduction and conclusion.

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