off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Farrar from Repetition:
An advice to the speakers 


Prof. Abdus Samad a well known interventional cardiologist from Pakistan is a multifaceted personality whom God Almighty has gifted with numerous qualities. Whenever he is making a presentation at a conference or chairing a session, he amuses the audience by narrating some jokes, incidents and also conveys the message without annoying those for whom it is meant. The most recent incident was when he was chairing a scientific session at a conference in Lahore. In his concluding remarks he advised the speakers to avoid repetition which is not at all liked by the participants and is also embarrassing for the organizers. To supplement his advice, he narrated the following story.

“In the good old days in Baghdad the Caliph decided that instead of fighting, people should discuss the issues and have debate. Hence, people used to have Manazara at the Bank of river Euphrates at night but then a stage came when people started fighting among themselves at these discussion forums. Hence, the Caliph is reported to have approved certain rules for such debates and Manazara. These rules provided that every one has a right to say what he or she wants to say once, it was termed as Izhar. However, if the speaker felt that he could not properly explain his viewpoint or the audience failed to understand what was being said, the speaker may be allowed to repeat it once and it was named as Takrar. However, if the speaker went on and said the same thing for the third time, it meant he was trying to impose something which the audience does not like and it was named as Israr as if he has got a right to fight. But if the speaker repeated the same thing for the fourth time, it means that now he is ready to fight since the audience was not accepting what was being said. If there is no response from the audience, the speaker might repeat it fifth time which was named as Yalgar meaning that now the fight was imminent. At this stage there is an option for the audience to leave the meeting place, go and enjoy tea, lunch or dinner. This was named as Farrar. Prof. Samad opined that the speakers should not go too far and force the audience to opt for this last option of Farrar. “
Apart from avoiding repetition, time management is also very important. However, it is quite surprising to find out that most of the speakers at the medical conferences in Pakistan do not stick to their allotted timings. For a fifteen to twenty minutes presentation they come with over hundred to hundred fifty slides, most of which are taken from the internet where they are freely available and then insist on showing them all despite repeated reminders that there time was up. With the result that they do not leave a good impression and also fail to convey the message on the topic on which they were supposed to talk. They should be intelligent enough to realize that if some earlier speaker has already mentioned something, just skip that and move forward saying that this has already been covered by the earlier speakers. They should be professionally mature enough to make this decision on the spot while making the presentation. When they fail to do so, it only shows that they are themselves not clear as to what they should be saying.
One can quote innumerable instances witnessed at these conferences. In one case when the speaker was reminded of the time two three times, he shouted at the chairperson who was working as his subordinate in the institution to keep quiet. In another case the speaker on being reminded that his time was up, took away the bell from the chair and went on to complete his presentation. However, in yet another case when the speaker did not stop despite repeated calls from the chairpersons, they concluded the session and called off the meeting and every body left the room while the speaker was still on the mike.
Time management is an important issue which should be given due importance by not only the conference organizers but also the chairpersons or those who are moderating the session and the speakers should also prepare their talks keeping in view the allotted time so that enough time is left for discussion which is as important as the presentations itself. Now since these things are being noted and some chairpersons have started talking about this, one hopes the speakers will get the message and put up a better performance when they get a chance to make a presentation next time.

Tail-Piece: Keep in touch with good friends. Don’t let these ships sail away. You need them to be taken out and exercised regularly - Dave King.{jcomments on}

© Professional Medical Publications. All rights reserved.