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University Writing and Research Symposium
The George Washington University

PRESENTATION GUIDELINES

While the review panel made every effort to respect each submission’s proposed presentation style, pragmatic considerations of matching schedules, other submissions, and space limitations mean that you may have been slotted into a different presentation format than you proposed. Please check the program to be sure.

What follows offers general considerations for presenting at the Symposium, followed by specific considerations for each of the presentation formats.



General Considerations

An academic conference like the Symposium is meant not simply as a chance to to present finished work, but more importantly as an opportunity for scholars to share work in progress with other scholars and with an engaged audience.

  • Audience members see how other scholars working on similar or parallel questions construct their objects of study, handle evidence and interpretation, and make arguments about the significance of their work.
  • Presenters get substantial feedback from the audience about the persuasiveness of their work, as well as suggestions about other ways of understanding it.
  • Conversation will be organized by a moderator, an established local scholar whose job it will be to help identify and consolidate interesting results of the discussion.

Presenters should feel free to solicit help from the audience, and the audience should feel empowered to offer their personal and scholarly responses to the work they hear. Both sides are welcome to disagree, to explore unanticipated connections between their work, to consider the nuances or significance of the work presented, or engage in any other kind of free and frank discussion. (For more, see "The Art of Asking Questions.")




Specific Presentation Formats

Aside from the more general expectations of conference presentation outlined above, each presentation format and style comes with its own expectations, whether you are reading a paper as part of a panel, participating in a roundtable, or present a poster.

Panel

A panel session generally will comprise three presenters each speaking for 15 to 20 minutes, followed by 15 to 30 minutes of discussion.

A presentation may be a written essay read out loud (the convention in the humanities), a more informal presentation delivered from notes or a PowerPoint presentation (the social sciences and sciences), or some combination. While writing and pacing your presentation, estimate 2 minutes for a double-spaced page.

Media clips should not overwhelm your presentation, and the general expectation would be no more than 30-60 seconds per clip and no more than 3 clips in a single presentation.

EQUIPMENT: Most rooms will have a computer/projector set up for your use, and (if you've requested it) a VCR/DVD/CD player. PowerPoint presentations are best saved as a "PowerPoint Show" (choose .pps on the "Save As" menu), and though it's a good idea to email yourself the file as a backup plan, your best bet is to bring the file on a flash drive. Mac users will need to bring a mac-to-PC flash drive adapter. For more, see our equipment guidelines page.


Roundtables

Roundtable presenters, like panel presenters, are likely to have written an essay approximately 10 pages long; unlike panel presenters, roundtable presenters will not perform the entirety of that essay. Rather, a roundtable generally will comprise 4-5 presenters each speaking for 5-10 rehearsed minutes about their work, followed by 30-50 minutes of more free-ranging discussion among presenters and audience. That reading (estimate 2-minutes per double-spaced page) might include 1) reading a synthesized version of your full longer paper, 2) reading the intro part and then talking through the rest, 3) talking the intro and then reading select passages or discussing one or two particularly compelling examples. Because time is a limited commodity in this format, any media clips should be very carefully considered.

The idea here is to get the audience up to speed with what you are doing so they'll be able to discuss your topic intelligently in the Q & A that follows. In that spirit, roundtable presenters are expected to have carefully read one another's work ahead of time and prepared questions for one another (email addresses are given in the program). The Q & A can be a good place to discuss more fully things you weren't able to work into your presentation; thus, it can be useful to have prepared some minute-or-so-length parts of the longer essay for ready response to an appropriate questions.

EQUIPMENT: Most rooms will have a computer/projector set up for your use, and (if you've requested it) a VCR/DVD/CD player. PowerPoint presentations are best saved as a "PowerPoint Show" (choose .pps on the "Save As" menu), and though it's a good idea to email yourself the file as a backup plan, your best bet is to bring the file on a flash drive. Mac users will need to bring a mac-to-PC flash drive adapter. For more, see our equipment guidelines page.


Poster Sessions

For physical, practical, and intellectual guidelines to creating your poster (and a video of a past Symposium poster session), see our Poster Session Guidelines.

A poster session generally will compromise 8-10 presenters who occupy a single room; each presenter stands by their work for the entirety of the 75-minute session and discusses it one-on-one with the circulating members of the audience.

As an option, presenters may have prepared a handout for interested viewers to take with them (a modified version of the poster or the data set). It is recommended that you bring a pen and notebook to record viewers’ comments and suggestions, because you'll get lots of 'em. Additionally, because the poster should be able to stand on its own, more or less, be sure to include your title, author’s name(s), and contact information for viewers who may be interested in contacting you later.