A 20-something graduate student stands up to read his 10-page paper on some of his original research from the past two years. The reading will run for a whopping 20 minutes. This is his first paper reading and his first public presentation outside of a classroom. He has had butterflies and sweaty palms about it for weeks. He could not sleep the night before because he was thinking about the impending experience.
He gets about one page into his paper and then the door in the back slams. The audience turns around and the student looks up. They all see you sheepishly walking in, mouthing “sorry,” and trying to find a seat. A few seconds pass and the student tries to find his spot in his paper. He picks up the pace, realizing that he just paused during the distraction. The rest of the audience tries to regain their concentration on the student’s topic. Most are able to do so, but some struggle.
This poor student flew out from across the country to read at this conference and the tardy arrival just robbed him of the few precious moments he has for the spotlight.
A story of leaving early
In another session, a 20-something student is reading her paper. You realize that you have to leave early, because you want to beat the lunch rush. Looking for an opportunity to leave inconspicuously, you realize that the girl is only five minutes into her paper, so you will have to wait another 15 minutes. That is, unless, you can sneak out with no one noticing; they always notice.
You stand up, but not all the way. You duck as though you are trying not to block a TV. After you clear your row, you pick up the pace. In the process, you drop your phone with a clang. The entire audience turns to you and the girl looks up from her paper. She assumes the worst. You are leaving, because you are bored. She swallows her pride and keeps reading.
This poor student flew out across the country to read at this conference and you just personally robbed some of the few precious moments she had for the spotlight, making her feel terrible.
Be on time, leave on time
These situations happen almost all the time at academic conferences. When you arrive late or leave early, people will recognize you and your institution. They do not just think that you are rude, but they pass judgment on your school.
During any presentation, you should treat it as a movie. Sit down. Watch the full length of it. Do not leave until it is over. If you need to take care of something, plan accordingly. There are few things in this world that require us to act within the 20 minutes it takes a student to finish a paper.
If for some reason you are going to be late, then skip it altogether.
Be on time, and leave on time to academic presentations.
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor