Thursday, November 8, 2012

I was a chair for the first time. Ever.

This time, I write snippets as I attend the IRRI Young Scientists Conference. 
No, not literally.

I was chairing this morning's session on Innovations and Novel Approaches in the first IRRI Young Scientists Conference (IYSC). Being a chairperson for the first time, I was clueless with what I was supposed to do; particularly because someone else was doing the moderator duties.

Thankfully, the moderator of the session, Shanta Karki was well prepared and organized. She had print outs of speakers' profiles (which I used to introduce the speakers), time-keeping and alerting materials, and certificates of participation on hand before we began the session. The back-end of this technical session felt like a well-oiled machine.

There were only a few people as the session start time approached. Luckily, we had Hei Leung in the audience. He was able to convince more people to listen in on the Innovations session. 

It turns out that chairing a technical session wasn't so hard after all. All I had to do was introduce the speaker before his/her presentation and then facilitate the question-and-answer portion... and keep the speaker and the discussion from going overtime. The challenge, though, was how to stop a lively exchange when time ran out and how to get the ball rolling just in case nobody had a question for the speaker. In my case, though, I didn't have to think of questions because experts sitting in the audience were asking away.