An IGLP Approach for First Time Panel Presenters

ALL OF US PRESENT OUR WORK IN A VARIETY OF SETTINGS. Although we all say we want to contribute to a discussion and look forward to feedback, all too often we fail to present our work in a way that encourages discussion or even leaves time for feedback.

At the IGLP Conference, we hope to encourage a truly engaged and collegial conversation on every panel.   Here are some tips – and policies.

TIME MANAGEMENT.   Every panel will follow this format:

Opening  remarks: 5 minutes. The Moderator will introduce all panelists.

Panel  Presentations: 10 minutes each.  Each panelist is strictly limited to TEN MINUTES for a preliminary presentation of their paper.  We have asked Moderators to be ruthless. Moderators will have laminated IGLP time cards to indicate clearly to speakers when there remain five minutes, two minutes and zero minutes.

General  Discussion: 30 minutes. Our goal is a spirited discussion of the larger theme or issue posed by the panel, drawing on the presentations and on the work of others who may be in the room. To this end, we recommend that this time NOT be used for specific questions directed toward individual panelists. Individualized comments and questions are often better addressed to a speaker after a panel has concluded and one has time to engage informally in a direct conversation.

The Moderator may open the discussion by reflecting for up to five minutes on cross cutting themes, distinguishing or contrasting the papers to encourage a more general discussion.   The Moderator will ask the audience NOT to ask specific questions of individual panelists, but to engage the panelists and one another on the larger themes.

Feedback: afterwards. It is enormously useful to receive feedback on what one has presented at a Conference. The best time is rarely when one is still up on the panel. We encourage everyone to seek out panelists whose ideas or research they found stimulating for further discussion after the session has concluded.


How can you make best use of your ten minutes? Here are some tips suggested by people in the IGLP network. If you have other suggestions from your own experience listening to or giving academic presentations, please send them to us. We’ll pass them on!


  • You can’t “present” your paper. No one can present an entire paper it has taken months to research and write in ten – or fifteen, or twenty, or thirty — minutes. You must be selective.   That means you need a strategy.  In light of your research and all  the thinking you have done, what would you like to say to this group today?
  • Describing your paper is rarely a good Tempting as it is, describing in general terms “what I did in part one” and then “what I do in part two” rarely works. Few people can get a sense for HOW you do what you do and what is interesting about it from this kind of 30,000 foot table-of-contents description. State your ideas, your findings, your conclusions: BE the paper – don’t describe the paper.  The paper can take care of itself.
  • Retracing the logic of discovery is rarely a good presentation strategy. When you think back on your work as a whole, it can be fascinating–for you — to remember how you came to the topic, how you did the research, what you thought half-­‐way through and how you developed your ideas. This kind of bildungsroman is rarely fascinating for other people. They want to know what  you  think  about  something they are also interested in now. How should they now change their ideas and why?
  • The Elements of At IGLP, we encourage presenters to answer four simple questions:
    • Identify the terrain. In what field and what debate are you intervening?
    • Identify your intervention. What did you discover that others have not seen?  What did you reinterpret that we ought now to understand differently? How has your work changed the debate? What did who misunderstand that you have set straight?
    • Identify the stakes. Why does this matter? Who would or might do what differently? What lines of inquiry have you opened which were closed? What tools have you developed that might be used?   Here, you might wish to pre­‐empt opposition.   How would those with whom you disagree – against whom you have written, who stand to lose given the stakes you have identified – respond?    
    • Start a conversation. Presenting academic work is more like tennis than moot court. The goal is not to prove that you are right. It is to start a conversation. What remains puzzling for you? How would you frame the methodological, political, doctrinal or institutional choices opened up by your analysis?