“Would you please shut up? Shut up. Just shut the fuck up. I hate you.”
Such were my thoughts a couple weeks ago when I attended a “roundtable” in which the initial speakers* went on for twenty minutes each…despite having been told explicitly to take only four-to-five minutes each. But too many academics seem to lack the shut-up switch, preferring instead to go on and on and on and on, even when they, the audience, the chair, and everyone else knows they have gone on too long. And we all know not just because we (a) have watches, (b) are smart enough to keep track of time, and (c) can’t wait for the boring-ass talk to finish, but also because the speaker interjects, “I know I’m almost out of time, but I just want to say…” No, you are not almost out of time, you are officially out of time, and I don’t give a flying fuck* what else you have to say. And if I do, I’ll ask you about it during the discussion, which is why I came to this damn thing in the first place: to have a discussion. So just shut up for a while.
I’m inclined to believe that this is usually a function of innocent mistakes–not keeping track of time, getting carried away with your work, poor instructions, or at worst, lack of preparation. Still: get your shit together, practice your talk, take a watch with you, etc. And for those of you who think you are important or interesting enough to go way over your alloted time: you’re not. What you are is lucky: that the rest of us are too polite to get up and walk out. Because we’re all thinking about it.
Oh, shucks, I think I’ve gone beyond my allotted time. Anyone still here?
* Remember: roundtables imply general participation, not just presentation. The speakers are supposed to get things started for an open discussion, rather than simply presenting conclusions. At least that’s how I think of roundtables. Otherwise, what’s the difference from a standard panel?
** Perhaps one of my favorite expletives. Too bad it’s so nasty.