Organizers and program chairs, listen up, lest you make these offers to your would-be speakers:
1. There are too many people on the panel.
Panels of more than three people are fraught with peril for both the speakers and the audience. Speakers know there has to be extra time for introductions and audience questions, and, knowing they have diminished time, many speakers will talk past the limit.
I once had an organizer ask me to join a panel of eight where each of us were only allowed 2.5 minutes to speak. There was no way I would join that panel.
If you’re tempted to join a large panel, ask yourself what value you can add in such a short time.
2. The format isn’t flexible.
If you prefer walking around the room instead of standing behind a lectern, taking questions at the beginning rather than the end of the presentation, or any other variation on the standard, make sure the organizers know and can accommodate you.
If the event organizers already determined the format for you, decide whether it meets your needs and lets you shine.
3. There’s not enough time to prepare.