Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bueller?... Bueller?... When an Audience is Silent After a Paper Presentation

Over on Dunelm Road, John Goodrich, assistant professor of New Testament at Moody Bible Institute asks, "What to do and think when nobody asks questions [after a paper presentation]?

The question made me first laugh because it happens to everybody and is so obvious a question, but I had never heard anyone ask it before.  After a moments thought, then, I was glad for an entry on such an occurrence.

JG says,
What struck me, though, was the fact that, at the end of what I felt was a fairly well-executed paper, nobody asked any questions.
Now, this has happened to me before, and I’ve seen it happen to others as well. And while it is somewhat of a relief not to be raked over the coals in front of your peers, it is also quite anti-climactic for there to be total silence at the end of a 25-minute talk–given the time, effort, and nervous energy that goes into the entire process. I mean, you wrack your brain for a paper idea, craft the abstract, submit it, wait for its acceptance, get funding, write the paper, travel to the event, and finally after months of anticipation courageously share some of the most creative thoughts you’ve had in your life, only for nobody to make a single comment or ask a single question. What is one to think about such an empty reaction? Have my ideas simply been accepted uncritically, or was my thesis so uninspiring and unambitious to be undeserving of constructive feedback?

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