The Role of the Presenter * Abstracted with permission from “Making AOM Sessions Exciting!” by Jing Zhou (Rice University) and Russ Coff (Emory). The report was based on an AOM workshop, August 8, 1999, Chicago, IL, where the panel members were the two co-authors of the report, Sally Blount-Lyon (Chicago), Michael H. Lubatkin (Connecticut), Karl Weick (Michigan) and Edward J. Zajac (Northwestern).


The presenter’s job is to “sell the paper” and convince the audience that it is worth reading. This requires emphasis of the contribution rather than a summary of all sections of the paper. The following are some ideas for how authors can get the audience engaged and excited about the paper. Most practices in the “DON’T” column are standard procedure and the suggestions may seem radical. However, the object should be a presentation that covers less but makes a compelling argument that the paper should be read.

Purpose of Presentation

DO NOT: Present summaries of all sections of the paper.

DO: Present enough to tell the audience that the paper is worth a read – tell a good story. Focus on the contribution. Minimize discussion of sections that don’t stress what is new and different.

Presentation Format and Timing

DO NOT: Save the punch line as a sort of surprise ending. Plan for 10 minutes in case there is extra time. Use small fonts or too many overheads.

DO: Consider starting with the conclusion and then explain why you reached it (e.g. methods/results). Provide a 1-page handout describing your contribution and key points. Plan for 10 minutes – it is easier to elaborate than to cut things out. Use fonts larger than 28 pt.

Audience Interaction

DO NOT: Give a monologue describing your research.

DO: Create expectations that you expect active audience participation. Survey/work the audience before the session starts. Look people in the eye and talk to them (not at them). Identify issues or problems on which you would most appreciate audience input.


DO NOT: Focus on why you decided to do the study.

DO: Do focus on what is interesting and new about what you have learned. Do try to start off with a real-world analogy/story.


DO NOT: Present a broad literature review (cites, etc.). Explain every arrow in a complex figure.

DO: State the problem, why it is interesting, and what you will add. Explain what is new in this model over past contributions.


DO NOT: Describe the sample measures, and validation of instruments.

DO: Provide a summary of why the measures are linked to the theoretical construct. Establish face validity and assure that more rigorous methods were applied.

Results and Conclusions

DO NOT: Present any tables with numbers.

DO: Present what was significant (+ and – signs). Explain what the data tell you – not tests. Say broadly what we have learned and what needs to be done now. Urge the audience to read the paper for details.