I was rehearsing my conference paper this morning, and discovered a very useful tool to time the paper. With this online stopwatch I found out that my paper takes me 20 minutes and 52 seconds to read. Very reassuring.
Also on the subject of presentation tools, I plan to use a PowerPoint presentation at the conference, to allow the audience to read along with quotations from primary material, and to display some images. I had a discussion over the use of PowerPoint this weekend, when an exact scientist (who shall remain anonymous) advised me to include slides that summarize my arguments, or at least reveal the structure of my paper to the audience. I used to be bored by such slides in lectures, but perhaps in the case of a twenty-minute paper, which tends to be rather dense, this is not such a bad idea? I have the impression, though, that although such summarizing slides are common in the exact sciences, you do not find them much at conferences in the humanities. Is it because we put more faith in our rhetorical skills?
I looked into this question, and googled Paul N. Edwards’ brave attempt at transforming the conference culture of the humanities. He writes that speakers at a conference should simply talk to their audience, instead of reading out a paper. Also, PowerPoint in his view can function as a means of structuring as well as timing a paper.