OR54 in Edinburgh

I had seriously thought that my days of conference-going were over.  However, they are not.  A couple of months ago, I was approached and invited to be conference chair of the 2013 Operational Research Society (ORS from now on) Conference, OR55, to be held in Exeter in September next year.  Having done the job of chairing such a conference once before (OR33 in 1991 in Exeter) I knew this was an honour/responsibility/heavy load.  But I said yes.  Actually, I said yes to being the co-chair.  The ORS wondered if I would chair with a man named Philip Jones.  (cue for jokes about "Smith and Jones").  Who was this sucker volunteer?  It turns out that he is an Exeter graduate, who was on my courses umpteen years ago, and who was keen to work with me on the conference.  So you will meet his name again in the coming months.

One condition that I put on being co-chair was that I should be able to attend this years ORS Conference (OR54) in Edinburgh at no cost to me .... That will stop them, I thought.  No, the place was made available, so I went up on Monday, stayed two nights, and flew back on Wednesday because I had to speak in Plymouth in the evening on a long-standing booking.  The evenings and day in Edinburgh were full of meetings as well as conference sessions, with the aim of showing me what mistakes to avoid next year, so Phil and I can make a fresh set of mistakes at OR55.  (I am sure that every conference chair has their memories of mistakes ... or disasters ... but hopefully, not many other people remember them.)

I'll be writing about the conference in more detail over the next few days.  The venue was good, and well-equipped, the organisation ran smoothly.  I went to several sessions even though my retirement means that I was there without the excuse that the topic might be useful for my teaching or research.

I am pleased to report that the standard of presentation was generally high.  Everyone is using PowerPoint or similar for their illustrations, and the slides were generally put together well.  But, for future conference goers, here are some thoughts from the less than perfect shows.
(1) If you use an alarm clock on your laptop to remind you of diary dates, make sure that it does not go off during your presentation.  It will disrupt your show, and the audience will be distracted
(2) Don't put too much onto one slide.  PowerPoint is ideally geared up for about three points, and they each should be concise - a point is different from a sentence.
(3) Keep it simple, stupid
(4) There is a difference between the style used for presenting information in a written form, and in a spoken form.  One classification calls the text for the latter "Text that is written to be spoken" and includes sermons and public speeches (oratory).  The difference shows in many ways.  The lesson from this is that if you are going to read from a prepared text - perhaps because it will lead to a printed paper later - you should rehearse that reading with a critical audience.

And, to at least one delegate, I was introduced as the "OR blogger"


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