Thinking further about my earlier post on how boring and useless live debates were and how one might improve on them, it occurred to me that the same might be done for conference presentations to make them more useful and entertaining.
Here's the setup: The speaker, instead of being required to create a 60- or 90-minute presentation, creates both a 10-minute presentation and a more detailed but unconstrained paper with more details on the same topic. This is published before the conference on the web where all attendees can see it, mail the author comments and questions, etc. At the conference proper, the speaker hands out the latest copy of this paper (or perhaps it is part of a for-sale program), gives eir 10-minute overview, and spends the rest of the allotted time on Q&A or otherwise interacting with the audience. This is the great value of most speakers anyway: most are experts in a field, not orators, so why waste their valuable time on oration and short-change the always popular audience Q&A? If it's a topic that organizers fear won't generate an hour of audience Q&A (I've never seen a topic like that but I suppose we should plan for it) they can designate someone ahead of time who has read the paper and who has interest in the topic to ask questions and stimulate discussion after the short presentation.
-- Lee Daniel Crocker <email@example.com> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html> "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past, are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC