In our last post in this series, we provided some very general information on programming--where it comes from, how it's selected, and where to find the information you'll need to make a proposal for something you'd like to see on the schedule.
Today, we want to provide some information on the presentation styles through which you can present topics. This post will cover the following:
- Papers, Lectures and Presentations
- Pre-empaneled Papers
- Roundtable Discussions
- Combination Presentations
- Afternoon Classes.
Papers, Lectures and Presentations
A paper, lecture or presentation is the live, in-person reading or prepared speech that you give on the topic of your choice. You might have written an essay, a research paper, an article, or an in-depth blog post that could become the basis for a presentation of this type. Most of the time, you'll need to do some research and reading, and at minimum, you'll need to come with speaking notes for yourself. (We don't require you to write a paper, or to turn in a paper to us, but we strongly encourage that you do prepare a written paper, especially because this paper will be eligible for inclusion and publication in the post-conference compendium. It's also helpful to have something written down even if you plan to wing it during your presentation and speak more informally.)
- This type of presentation is especially good for analyses, research, comparisons, perspectives from non-literary fields, theories, histories, arguments, deconstructions, critiques, and the like. If you have a lot of information to present to an audience, a paper/presentation is often the best presentation fit.
- Most papers are written by a single author, but co-authors and author groups are welcome. At least one author must attend the conference to make the presentation.
- A paper, lecture, or presentation may take a 25- or 50-minute time block. If you include 5-10 minutes for questions and discussion following the presentation, that's in the range of 8-12 written pages for the 25-minute block, and 12-20 pages for the 50-minute block.
- Typically, these presentations are scheduled in more spacious rooms, so that as many interested audience members as possible may attend. A microphone will be provided. LCD projection is available for those presentations that are visually-oriented; a good example might be a presentation on portrayals of women in fantasy art, where visual references are necessary. Projection is provided on a most-needed basis and not announced until after the final schedule is complete, so it's best to plan your paper, lecture, or presentation as though you won't be able to show slides.
If you and your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances want to ensure that you present as part of the same 50-minute block, you might be interested in presenting pre-empaneled papers. One member of your group will make the initial proposal, and provide information about her own paper and the group's overarching theme, if any; then, the other group members will be contacted for more information about her individual part of the presentation. Essentially, submitting pre-empaneled papers means that you have a 50-minute set of papers, lectures, essays, or speeches and you would like to offer these as a group.
- Everything mentioned in the Papers, Lectures and Presentations section above applies here as well!
- We encourage pre-empaneled papers to have a connecting theme--portrayals of females in fantasy books of the 1980s, publishing books with female main characters, works by a single author, and so on.
- A set of pre-empaneled papers can have an active or an inactive moderator. An active moderator might lead a brief question-and-answer period for each paper, or ask questions of all of the panelists between the lectures. An inactive moderator might be the point of contact for the panel, and during the conference, she might just introduce each panelist and paper in turn. The moderator might make only a very brief statement on the topic and then introduce the panelists, or she might act as a panelist and deliver her own lecture or paper. The structure and use of the 50-minute period is up to the panel.
- We recommend that 2-3 papers, lectures, presentations (or some combination) be included in a set of pre-empaneled papers. That gives you time to read your papers--or excerpts from your papers--and time for discussion.
A panel is designed as a discussion among 3-5 people. For the most part, the panel's moderator directs the discussion: she asks questions of the panelists (as opposed to a roundtable, where the questions are asked of the audience) and asks follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing; she ensures that each panelist has the chance to speak; she has plenty of provocative questions to ask to fill silences; and she keeps everyone on topic and on time. She'd also be the one to decide whether and when to take questions from the audience.
Panelists are the experts, the guests on the talk show. They should think about the panel topic in advance, make notes if necessary, and bring questions for other panelists.
- Panels are best suited for gathering several people with shared experience in an area, for weighing pros and cons, for sharing very different viewpoints, and so forth.
- Panels may have a large audience, but most of the discussion is generated by the moderator and panelists.
- Panels are scheduled in a 50-minute period. It's okay to wrap up early if the panel comes to a natural stopping point, but the moderator and panelists should prepare for at least 35-40 minutes of discussion, with more time devoted to panelist discussion than audience questions.
- Microphones will be provided. (Panelists may have to share.) Because the panel is focused on discussion, projection is less likely to be available than it might be for other types of presentations. You're welcome to request it; just remember that LCD projectors are prioritized for presentations where visual examples are an integral part of the session. (If you have a lot of visuals, your group might prefer to propose a presentation; each person can provide a few minutes of information and discuss the topic.)
In contrast to panels, roundtable discussions involve everyone in the audience. In a roundtable discussion, the moderator comes prepared with a set of open-ended questions to be answered by the audience. Generally, the moderator directs the discussion and engages the audience members, and the discussion is the purpose of the presentation--there's not a formal speech before everyone jumps right in. Also, roundtable discussions might work best when they're constructed in such a way that an attendee doesn't have to be an expert to participate.
- Roundtable discussions are well-suited to open-ended questions, subjective analyses, book/character explorations, and conversations where the audience's knowledge and opinions are of highest importance.
- Roundtable discussions are designed to be like the discussion session of a big university class. We want these discussions to be very participatory, and we want to ensure that everyone who is in attendance has a chance to speak--and thus, we limit the audience to 25 participants. (A tip: moderators should bring along extra copies of their proposed discussion questions. If time and space allow, volunteers will attempt to set up additional discussion sections on the fly if the originally scheduled discussion fills up.)
- Roundtable discussions are scheduled in 50-minute time periods. We recommend preparing at least ten open-ended questions to fill a 50-minute block. You'll probably find that this is plenty--your audience will often have questions of their own to pose--but you can, of course, prepare a few extras.
- No microphones, recording, or projection will be provided for roundtables.
- A roundtable discussion can have only one moderator. We've imposed this restriction because feedback on multiple moderators has been that the audience doesn't always know who is "in charge," that they have trouble following whose turn it is to speak, and that sometimes multiple-moderator discussions turn into panels where only the moderators get to talk.
A workshop is an instructor-led presentation designed to help the audience members walk away with a new or expanded skill. As with roundtables, we want everyone who attends the presentation to be able to participate fully and to be able to ask questions and get individualized help, so the seating is limited.
- Team-taught workshops are welcome!
- Instructors are responsible for acquiring any needed materials for workshops. To keep costs down, instructors might consider using one or two larger demonstration items, providing materials to be shared in small groups, or asking workshop participants to donate a small amount toward the cost of materials. If this will be your situation, please don't hesitate to consult the programming team for assistance in figuring out which will be the best option for you, as well as how to communicate requests to your workshop's attendees.
- To ensure that the instructors can assist all workshop attendees, the audience size is limited to a maximum of 40 attendees. Workshops may have as few as 25 seats available.
- Audio-visual support is considered on a case-by-case basis. Please do request it at the time you make your proposal, if you need it.
- Workshops will be scheduled in a 50-minute time block.
Most presentations, even if they make use of multiple presentation styles, can usually be categorized by one of the broad groups above. Some presentations might take elements from two or more categories: a workshop might start out with a short paper on the topic, a paper might be followed by a panel, or a roundtable discussion might be followed with a hands-on workshop. You might also have a more formal offering that doesn't fit neatly into the categories above, such as a screening of your original fantasy film. The combination presentation option allows you to describe your presentation and its components.
- Combination presentations will be scheduled in a 50-minute time block.
- If you're considering this type of presentation, we encourage you to write to the programming team in advance; we often find that what's planned for a presentation is in fact quite similar to what's normally found in one of the presentation types listed above, and we can advise on which category might be best suited to your proposal.
Finally, we wanted a way to include topics of interest to fantasy readers that might not be directly related to readings of fantasy literature. You might have special knowledge of historical dress or music, martial arts, weaponry, battle strategy, "monster" makeup, or something similar. Afternoon classes are especially suited to demonstrations and hands-on lessons. Usually, afternoon classes last 50 minutes, but more time may be available during the evening break.
Read more about each type of presentation here.
Keep an eye out on sirenscon for what to put in a biography, summary and abstract, and posts simply for exchanging ideas and finding collaborators.
Call for Proposals/Elements/Proposal Preparation
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: E-mail (programming at sirensconference.org)