Information for the 2018 NCTE Annual Convention in Houston, Texas, November 15–18, will be posted soon. All content below is from the 2017 Annual Convention.
Panel Presentations and Classroom Demonstrations
Panels are 75-minute sessions in which two or more individuals speak, leaving at least 15 minutes for audience questions and responses. Each speaker might present for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the number of speakers on the panel. Or, each speaker may make brief opening remarks (for example, 5 minutes) before the panel enters into a moderated discussion between panelists. Generally, a session chair will make very brief introductions and keep track of time. The session chair should be prepared to stop speakers who exceed time limits. If there is no chair (for whatever reason), the panelists should select one from among themselves; the last speaker often makes sense, as someone with a clear interest in keeping to established times.
Classroom Demonstrations are 75-minute sessions with two or more individuals, but are presented as though attendees were participating in the speakers’ classrooms. Speakers in classroom demonstrations should also plan for at least 15 to 20 minutes of questions and answers with the audience at the end of the session.
Panel and Classroom Demonstration session rooms will be set with theater-style seating, a head table for four speakers, and a lectern.
Four tips for a successful panel or demonstration:
Less is more! No audience member in the history of convention panels has been disappointed by having more time for conversation and interaction after relatively short, energizing talks. Three speakers, each talking 15 minutes (rather than 20) and thus leaving 30 minutes for conversation is highly preferable. Even if the conversation runs shorter, people will be happy to leave on a high note, and interested attendees can stay to talk one-on-one with presenters.
Present as a performer. You want the experience to be informative and engaging for your listeners. Be concrete and specific, perhaps with illustrative stories or direct suggestions. Focus on a few points and make them well. Don’t get bogged down narrating reviews of literature or lengthy background information; bring a handout with that kind of material for those who would like it. Not everything can or should be a TED talk, but TED talks are good examples of engaging performances. If you want to read your talk, write it as something to be heard, which generally means shorter, more straightforward sentences. Think of yourself as giving a poetry or fiction reading; listeners should enjoy the experience.
Be scrupulously fair to other panelists. Keep your talk well under the established time limits. Arrive early to make sure any technology works, and have a plan B if it’s not working, so that you aren’t wasting valuable time fiddling with a computer or projector. If you have to do this, take the extra minutes out of your talk, not the whole session’s time. During Q & A, speak as directly as you can, trying to ensure that others panelists have time to interact. If you feel like you’re getting a lot of the audience’s attention, look for ways to engage your co-panelists.
Remember that you’re among colleagues. NCTE audiences are collegial and friendly. After all, they’re teachers, too. They’re rooting for you, wanting you to do well, so you should be comfortable. They’ll only get upset if you carry on too long, if you are unprepared, or if you haven’t taken into account their needs and interests as listeners.