At The Conference: Running A Panel
Please be politely ruthless about keeping speakers to time. The further speakers travel, the more serious it is if one, by overrunning, eats into the time of another. There may be a special difficulty when the chair of a particular session is young, and an overrunning speaker is eminent or powerful and not lightly to be crossed by the younger person. An experienced organiser of a panel should look sometimes to fortify a young chair in their authority.
Offering the chair, at some sessions, to deserving others is an excellent way to help cement goodwill and a sense of shared venture. In the best cases, this leads on to the creating of an enduring, informal team of researchers who may publish together over years. The CCC tradition of allowing 10 minutes between sessions, to allow migration between panels, may look like bread-and-butter stuff. But it has a scholarly purpose – to allow the cross-fertilisation
between specialisms which is increasingly needed and sometimes spectacularly valuable. Increasingly, what in one specialism is a cliché in another is a rare aperçu.
Please protect time for discussion. So many conferences are marred by shortage of it. To have feedback is a reason why many travel to distant events. And discussion is where cross-fertilisation between specialisms is most likely to happen. Because some papers can help to define a whole panel, with their ideas recurring valuably in session after session, it may be well – if such papers can be identified in advance – to try to put them on early in the event.
Erosion of numbers at start and finish of an event is common and worth resisting. Once more, it's particularly sad if speakers who've crossed oceans get a diminished audience because timetabled very early or very late in an event. One technique for resisting erosion is to put on some of the more attractive speakers at start and end, even though that may clash with the principle mentioned in the previous paragraph. Please don't, however tempted by unforeseen and serious developments, alter the timing of speakers after it has been published. Again, distances are relevant: it's terribly sad (or worse) to miss the chance of hearing a rarely-accessible colleague through a misunderstanding about timetable.
Anglophone organisers will remember that French is the other official language of the CCC. We're very keen to include French colleagues and their institutions in the future, as we have in the past. For a mainly-Francophone panel, we suggest that speakers print beforehand a short summary of their paper in English pour orienter ceux qui sont quasi-nuls en français.