60 comments on “Too abstract for you?

  1. Hi Jeremy, I figure abstract 2 is the best! Because it starts with a question and that makes it inviting! You set to thinking about the answer.It also gives you the clue as to what type of presentation you are going to deliver. The abstract looks attractive and enticing! 50 words

    • Hi Sandra,

      thanks for your comments.

      So it looks like an abstract should be inviting, make yu think and vie you, too, a clue as to the type of presentation you are going to hear.

      That sounds like a good prescription!

      Jeremy

  2. Easy – no.2: it sounds like it’s aimed at normal people, it’s going to be fast-paced, there’s a bit of a mystery in there too: twitter friends too, a Shakespeare Prince? The speaker has a sense of humour.

    no.1: not much humour, speaker takes himself way too seriously (bet there will be black and white text-filled slides and lots of ’em) and ouch, the dreaded sentence: be prepared to act. And meat, not sure: probably a rehash of stuff available everywhere.

    no.3: sounds real good, would be tempted if I hadn’t already read no2. In fact, there’s probably more meat in this one, a good opportunity to walk away with something new but golly, the chance to laugh while I’m learning is not to be passed up!

    Hey ya, Jeremy – glad to see you taking off the New Year with wings! Here’s to sunshine and sea bathing. When are you in Stuttgart or in Germany, I wanna come see this live.
    Karenne

    • Hi Karenne,

      thanks for ‘new year’ comments!

      Yes, number 2 seems to be winning at the moment, but is that because it sounds more entertaining? Does that mean that we all need the content to be leavened with entertainment?

      Hmm. And ‘be prepared to act’ doesn’t seem to appeal!

      More coming (and thanks for tips on tagging etc)

      Jeremy

      • Hmm… I reckon giving presentations or leading workshops has much in common with teaching… and great teaching generally includes a wee bit of entertainment: drama, intrigue, humour (as well as the very necessary content) in the motivating the learners mix, doesn’t it🙂

        And students have the same reactions to “be prepared to act”

  3. Hi Jeremy,

    It’s the first one for me. It makes the workshop sound like there’s going to be a nice balance of theory and practice and that there’s a logical staging to it all. I like the last sentence too which attracts me partly because it tells me I’m going to do something practical and partly because it sounds like it’s about one of my own special areas of interest – drama.

    In fact this workshop sounds like it should be part of the drama symposium I’m convening at IATEFL. You don’t fancy a bit of last minute rescheduling do you ;-)?

  4. Hi there and Best Wishes for 2010!

    I would choose to attend the session based on Abstract 2.

    I appreciate the use of the direct questions and the visual impact of Shakespeare’s prince etc and call me fickle and a sucker for marketing techniques but this is the session which sticks in my mind.

    The use of the direct questions makes me feel that I might be lucky enough to find some answers to questions and paradoxes that I have often pondered. At the very least, it suggests that I might leave the session thinking and that I may be encouraged to do further research of my own.

    The direct questions also make me feel that the session will be lively. I won’t fall asleep, even if it is straight after lunch. I want to be kept on my toes and if I am not encouraged to actively think, then I would be better off going away and reading a report based on the session on my own.

    With this thought in mind, Abstract 3 looks as if it is a pure presentation of a research paper with little chance for me to participate and form my own opinions on the topic. I would prefer to read the report for this session on my own when I am able to concentrate deeply and reflect quietly.

    Finally, I am not passionate about Abstract 1 as it seems a little dull and slighty wishy-washy. The use of the verb “consider” suggests to me that the presenter is neither confident in their findings nor in their ability to transfer them to the conference participants. As a result, I now don’t feel confident that I would find this session useful.

    The “Be prepared to Act” bit also puts me off. If I’ve got to act, please don’t tell me; just make me do it when I get there. I don’t like the thought of acting and showing myself up in front of lots of people but I probably wouldn’t mind doing it if you hadn’t scared me with the thought beforehand.

    Those were my gut feelings about how I would choose a conference session to attend.

    Thank you for making me think!

    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda,

      i love ‘If I have to act please don’t tell me’!!

      It IS interesting, isn’t it, that the direct question seems to be a good way in to an abstract. It appears to be what Sandra (below) calls more enticing than some more prosaic offerings.

      I am also interested in your identification of words like ‘consider’ as fairly bloodless.

      Hmm. Food for thought. Thanks.

      Jeremy

  5. No. 2 does it for me, Jeremy. I like the direct questions – it makes me think of my own situation. And there’s some intrigue too. No. 1. and No. 3 take too long to get to the point and even then they don’t really persuade me. Definitely no. 2.

    • Hi JS,

      thanks for your comments. I really like your use of the word ‘intrigue’. That seems to be a quality that is going to become more important as this conversation moves on.

      Jeremy

  6. I think the second. The first reads like an interesting article, but perhaps a bit dry for a presentation. I might be nervous that this presenter was going to give me a five page handout of graphs and statistics, then read it at me. Plus, it’s finished off with the blood curdling threat ‘Be prepared to act’!
    The third doesn’t clearly state what will be learnt (or it does, but the way it is constructed starts off with where the presenter has been learning before tailing off with what should be the focus)

    The second piques interest with the questions (and implies that they will be answered) and the cute juxtapositions at the end.

    Of course, the abstract is serving a dual role – to get your paper accepted and to pull in the punters – and these aren’t always compatible. If the conference organisers want a certain style, they need to be catered for. As for the punters, they might be disappointed if they are mislead by the abstract. Play a straight bat and get the right kind of people in?

    • Hi Darren,

      thanks for this.

      Play a straight bat? Yes, I agree with that, though ‘piquing’ interest and ‘enticement’, ‘intrigue’ etc are words that are beginning to come up and are not necessarily bat-straight??

      Jeremy

      • What I mean is, match your abstract to your presentation style. I would go to the second presentation expecting a playful, lively and surprising workshop. If I got a lot of bullet pointed powerpoint slides and citations I would be put out. But if I liked the look of the first abstract, I would probably be horrified if you got me up to sing and dance!

  7. Jeremy,
    I would like to see a link in the abstract to a short (1-3 min.) video that gives an overview of the session and examples of what will happen. While an interesting title or clever abstract may get me in the door, it’s the content and how it is delivered that keeps me there. A video that gives a clear idea of what I am in for may give me that insight ahead of time. BTW… I prefer #1.

    • Hi Tom,

      I think the video idea is absolutely brilliant – though it might be difficult to get organisers to agree to this!

      Interesting that you prefer number 1 – others have all gone for number 2 so far. I wonder why you didn’t!!!

      Jeremy

      • While I think #2 is more creative and interesting, I feel #1 gives me more of an idea of what will actually happen during the session. That’s why I thought the link to a video would help. That way, you could use #2 in the program and the video could be used to demonstrate. Best of both worlds for me – the practical and the creative.

  8. The first one is my favorite because it gives me an idea of what will be discussed in the talk, but it also tells me what is expected of me. The latter is probably the most important. I know I will be involved in the discussion (“They will then discuss…”) and I know I will have to participate (“Be prepared to act”). Both those elements attract me. I also think it’s good to note because acting might turn some people off and this way the people who are reluctant to act or participate in this way won’t attend and there won’t be any akward conflicts.

    • Hi,

      I think you are absolutely right when you say that number 1 ‘tells you what’s expected of you. So the people who were/are horrified by ‘be prepared to act’ won’t come if it’s number 1, but what if they read number 2 (no mention of acting) and then suddenly find themselves doing it? That’s your ‘awkward conflicts’ I suppose?

      Jeremy

      • Hey, this is Nick Jaworski. Don’t know why my login showed up as Oxford House before. Anyway, not important.

        In my experience, I think many people are reluctant to get involved in any drama-type activity. However, get them in the class and they will do it. Not only that, they will probably find they like it. However, giving them an idea of what’s expected ensures a participatory audience and no awkward moments. Definitely a benefit for the presenter.

        After reading everyone’s comments, I find it interesting that most people go with 2. Good to know from a presenter’s standpoint. Very helpful blog post in that right.

  9. Very jealous of where you’re writing from considering the cold grey day I’m looking out on. And lots of admiration for being in front of your laptop getting on with your blog instead of in a hammock getting on with a pisco sour…
    I vote for number two. As Karenne says, it sounds like it’s aimed at normal people and it is nice to feel like a normal person, like you won’t be out of your depth if you listen to a talk. It also uses questions, which suggests that the speaker doesn’t think he or she already has all of the answers, and I like the hints about the content in the final sentence.
    Number one is okayish, straightforward but a bit dull, although I would definitely go if there was acting, although I realise I’m in a complete minority here. Number three is a bit too meaningful for my taste, ‘perhaps it is there that true fluency ultimately resides’ generally makes you think the speaker completely loves himself and was more concerned with sounding clever than writing a sentence that would mean something to the reader.
    You should put the real abstract up in a week or so!

  10. Hi Gemma,

    greyish day here this morning too (but still warmer than where you are).

    Abstract 2 seems to be the most (but not universally) popular one so far. But I’m interested in people’s reaction to the actual language used. Some people (you included, I think) seem not to like the more distancing words like ‘consider’ or ‘where fluency resides’ etc.

    I wonder if it chimes with the kind of person the reader is or what they are up for (bit of academic, vs a bit of fun).

    (Margaritas, y the way; Piscos are for German editors swinging in Bolivian hammocks – or Chilean or Peruvian ones!!!)

    Jeremy

  11. Tom Krawczewicz :

    While I think #2 is more creative and interesting, I feel #1 gives me more of an idea of what will actually happen during the session. That’s why I thought the link to a video would help. That way, you could use #2 in the program and the video could be used to demonstrate. Best of both worlds for me – the practical and the creative.

    Yes, I think that’s a good point (made elsewhere too); sounds like truthfulness really matters?

    Jeremy

  12. The abstract as genre! Ah! I did a tiny study of this once, based on the abstracts of the ETAS Conference in Switzerland one year, and using Halliday’s “field, tenor, mode” construct as the analytic tool (I think it’s mentioned in a book of mine, but I can’t locate it right now). What was interesting was the tenor – i.e. the way that the interpersonal relationship between writer and reader was encoded. Compared to more formal, academic conference abstracts, TESOL practititioners, even when big name speakers, tend to try to create a “we’re-all-mates-in-this-together” relationship, using first and second person pronouns, (“I will do this…you will do that…”), while, in the field dimension, there is a lot of mention of the practical and facilitative (as opposed to the theoretical). This suggests that the abstract has not just an informative function, but that it is a kind of identity marker (I’m really just a nice bloke and I won’t talk down to you!).

    The macro-structure of abstracts often (but not always) takes the form of a problem-solution format, e.g. “Some learners fail to achieve high levels of fluency [= problem]…In this very practical workshop I will outline fun ways which might help…[= solution]” etc. This structure is often flagged by the use of strongly evaluative language – negative in the problem section, positive in the solution (e.g. “fail” vs “fun” in the example above).

    Taking these generic features into account, Jeremy’s abstract #2 is probably the nearest in terms of your typical abstract register, although the absence of the writer’s personal “voice” (in the form of first person pronouns) is interesting. However, the presence of exclamation marks is perhaps a non-verbal (and rather breathless) way of flagging high involvement and makes up for the lack of pronouns and/or strong evaluative language. My two p.

    • Hi Scott,

      thanks for a typically erudite and informative set of comments. More than 2p!

      Abstract writers just want to be liked!! Breathlessness and all.

      It does begin to sound like that typical problem-solution-conclusion paragraph construction, doesn’t it?

      But what about you as an abstract-reader? Do you respond to the ‘friendly’ tenor or are you looking for something a bit more hardcore?

      Jeremy

      • The friendly tenor is all very well, but difficult to get right. When I presented my genre analysis results at a conference, the response of some NNS teachers was sceptical, to the effect: “It’s all right for you – you can get away with informality and jokiness – but for us it’s a risk, and even a sign of disrespect to our peers”. That gave me pause for thought.

  13. Dear Mr Harmer
    Thank you for being consistent and moving on to the abstract.
    Personally, considering the options given I would choose number 2. I’m not a fan of interrogative sentences to lure the fish and exclamations to catch it though. This method serves well if you’re writing for CPE or whatever. The register is right and the devices are efficient))) I liked your way of killing two birds with one stone inviting both followers of communicative and grammar-translation approaches. And you leave some secret door to open to the world of Shakespeare and the football changing room, plus the mysterious twitter. That’s good!
    On the other hand, writing the same in plain English (and this WILL be appreciated by professionals) wouldn’t outshine the competitor (if seminars are a battlefield, which is very questionable for me). I’m sorry to say but it comes as a constant fight for the audience. Whether we talk about: ELT seminars, books or our own classes.
    The lyrics from Seussical the Musical comes to me:
    Oh, notice me, Horton
    Put down the clover!
    This is your next door neighbor calling.

    I must think of that)))

    PS: This is a nice “game” you are playing with the blog-readers! Making them (me) read and respond. I can’t stop admiring teachers.

    Best wishes from frosty Russia,
    Olga

    • Hi Olga,

      thanks for very interesting comments.

      fish-luring seems to be the most popular so far (!!) but there ARE some who prefer a more straightforward account.

      I don’t know Seussical, but I like the quote!!

      Making people respond seems to me to be the best kind of blog, I think..

      Best wishes back to you from a slightly grey Mexico City. But definitely no frost.

      Jeremy

      • Some like it hot!
        Some like it straightforward…

        “Making people respond seems to me to be the best kind of blog, I think..” Your blog like no other makes us think…

        Think invisible ink!
        Or a gink with a stink!
        Or a stair to the sky…
        If you open your mind,
        Oh, the thinks you will find
        Lining up to get loose…
        Oh, the thinks you can think
        When you think about… TEACHING:-)

        Copyright Seussical

  14. scottthornbury :

    The friendly tenor is all very well, but difficult to get right. When I presented my genre analysis results at a conference, the response of some NNS teachers was sceptical, to the effect: “It’s all right for you – you can get away with informality and jokiness – but for us it’s a risk, and even a sign of disrespect to our peers”. That gave me pause for thought.

    Yes, I find that response (on the NNS teachers) quite compelling actually – and some people (so far) have responded better to the more formal aspects of abstract number 1, perhaps for that reason.

    It IS interesting, though, isn’t it, that some of the language in these abstracts is alienating – e.g. ‘we will consider..’, fluency ‘residing’ etc. Perhaps it’s just a personal taste thing, e.g. some like ‘friendly’ others like ‘hard….’ no, sorry maybe that’s perhaps not the word to use. I still wonder whether you personally are normally swayed by friendliness of by more ‘serious’ (that’s better) intent.

    Jeremy

    • Well, if you insist on pinning me down! I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other on jokiness vs seriousness – I just hope that the abstract is an accurate reflection of the content. At the same time, I know from (sometimes bitter) experience, that the abstract is typically drafted way in advance of the talk’s final incarnation, and that any resemblance between abstract and actual talk is often coincidental, to say the least.

      When push comes to shove, its the presenter’s bio-data that makes all the difference – not (I hasten to add) because of the presenter’s credentials, but the style in which they’re presented: this can tell me quite a lot about what sort of presenter I can expect. (I hope you’re going to run a thread on conference bios!)

      • !!!

        Every time I think I’ve finished with this topic more stuff comes along – like cultural relativism (see Darren’s ‘Japanese’ comment), and now you’ve added bio-data.

        Maybe next week if this thread runs out of steam…

  15. I wish I could remember exactly where I heard this, but someone said at the JALT conference in Japan this year…

    When you present in Japanese, if the audience don’t understand it’s their fault. When you present in English, it’s your responsibility to help the audience understand.

    • Hi Darren,
      that’s interesting – about different expectations from Japanese and western ‘audiences’. It might have something to do with an ingrained ‘Sensei’ tradition?

      I am absolutely sure that different cultures expect different things from talks and workshops and that might be an interesting topic for another blogpost, do you think?

      Jeremy

  16. Nick Jaworski :

    Hey, this is Nick Jaworski. Don’t know why my login showed up as Oxford House before. Anyway, not important.

    In my experience, I think many people are reluctant to get involved in any drama-type activity. However, get them in the class and they will do it. Not only that, they will probably find they like it. However, giving them an idea of what’s expected ensures a participatory audience and no awkward moments. Definitely a benefit for the presenter.

    After reading everyone’s comments, I find it interesting that most people go with 2. Good to know from a presenter’s standpoint. Very helpful blog post in that right.

    Hi Nick,

    yes, I thought it was you!!

    I’m going to let this run a bit longer before making any great statements. No 2 IS popular but understanding exactly why? Hmm. I think it’s just that 2 & 3 have things people don’t like!

    Jeremy

  17. Olga :

    Some like it hot!
    Some like it straightforward…

    “Making people respond seems to me to be the best kind of blog, I think..” Your blog like no other makes us think…

    Think invisible ink!
    Or a gink with a stink!
    Or a stair to the sky…
    If you open your mind,
    Oh, the thinks you will find
    Lining up to get loose…
    Oh, the thinks you can think
    When you think about… TEACHING:-)

    Copyright Seussical

    Ah, now I know what Seussical is!!

    Thanks for lyric and comment – so it’s ‘hot’ vs ‘straightforward’?? That sounds like a good summary of the conversation so far!!

  18. Jeremy ,

    wonderful thoughts and as always, you know how to pull our thinking strings and get us thinking and dancing!

    However, I’m going to side with the IATEFL guys and say, “none of the above”. 1. is too dull and barren. 2. Good start but poor grammar, confusing and leaves me with the impression I’ll be listening to a very incoherent presenter. 3. This is just plain strange. Too risky.

    Sorry for asking for a rewrite. Abstracts are never finished, merely abandoned….

    But I love the idea of a video intro. (this is in vogue in the job market right now, my niche). I’d try http://bubblejoy.com/begin.php Maybe try the fireplace stove a la descarte (since the topic is fluency…).

    Thanks always,

    David

    • Hi David,

      thanks for this.

      So if I understand you,abstracts should not be dull and barren, not have poor grammar or be incoherent, or be strange and risky!

      I reckon that makes a lot of sense.

      But (apart from the video thing – which I entirely agree with), what should abstracts have/be?!!!

      Jeremy

  19. I’m sure to have mis-read “Be prepared to act” because I didn’t take it as threatening -even though I really shrink from drama in these types of situations. I thought it was humourous in its position and shortness. (Like a mock-dictatorial emergency preparedness propaganda abstract!) 2 reads more like one of my CPE students trying to pull out of the stops in terms of grabbing and maintaining attention. For this reason I find 1 by far the most enticing. It’s like a label the says exactly what’s going to be in the tin. Having said this, I would prefer the tenor of the actual presentation to me more along the lines of 2. Why? Because it’s longer.

    • Hi Laura,

      thanks so much for this.

      Yes, it’s interesting that ‘be prepared to act’ freaks some people out, but also attracts some others (because it IS a bit humorous, as you say). I love the idea of no 2 ‘pulling out all the stops’!! Too much,I think you are saying.

      Jeremy

      • Hi Jeremy,
        Now I feel bad! (especially because of your reply to Miguel). I would give you top marks for pulling out all the right stops if you WERE my CPE student! It just seems too contrived – though obviously a 50 word abstract has to be. (Am I digging deeper!?) But no.1 would make ME more likely to attend a presentation. I actually think that the ‘be prepared’ line is funnier than all of no.2.

  20. Yep, my money’s on Abstract 2!

    Abstract 1 comes across as a little scary or domineering, as if it has already been decided what is going to happen and why (and workshops should never come across this way if we really expect participants to feel like they’re actually going to get a chance to participate!).

    Abstract 3 sounds too dry – not enough juice in it!

    Abstract 2 poses questions, in a way that makes it feel like we’re all there to explore and try answering them together. It slightly challenges pre-conceived notions we may have (with the reference to CLT and especially GT), and has a nice hook at the end with the idea of some intriguing surprise helpers. That one has JH written all over it, so no doubt in my mind that’s the one you’ve already submitted!

    Having observed and come to these conclusions (and thanks for the chance to do so!) about abstracts, you now have me slightly concerned, and rummaging around some of my own abstracts from the past to see (to my chagrin) just how scary/domineering or else crusty/juice-less some of them were… Oh dear. Well, never too old to learn and change, eh?
    🙂

    ~ Jason

    • Interesting how we can read things differently. Abstract 1 doesn’t come across in this way at all to me Jason. In fact I think that language like ‘the speaker and participants will consider…’,’They will then discuss..’ and ‘Be prepared to act.’ makes it sound like, as a participant my views may have a chance to be aired and I’ll be playing an active role. ‘Be prepared to act’ might not just have theatrical overtones too – it also might have more Freirian ones, as if I’m not just going to be a passive receiver of knowledge. If Abstract 1 is the one you’re doing Jeremy I’ll be the first in the queue to get in (although it sounds like I might be in the minority)

      Nick

      • Hi Nick,

        well there is clearly a debate about whether the more direct approach of abstract 1 wins over the more ‘fun and friendly’ (Alice’s words) approach of number 2.

        I am getting more and more fascinated by this – about the personal responses that I am reading, and about the cultural overtones that have to inform this kind of discussion. Maybe (it occurs to me) we write the kind of abstract that we think will bring in the kind of people WE want to be there??

        Jeremy

    • Hey Jason,

      thanks so much for this.

      I am interested by the idea that abstract 1 sounds too dictatorial. Sounds like Scott has a point after all in that ‘tenor’ is everything.

      Abstract 3 is a bit dry – and some people have picked up on the dry language – the actual words used.

      Is abstract 2 the ‘actual’ one? Coming to a conference near you sometime soon – perhaps (!) and then you’ll find out!!!

      Jeremy

  21. I agree with those who mentioned the cultural aspect implied in the “abstract”. Of course the abstract is not only informative, and the style says a lot about the link the writer tries to establish with his readers and listeners-to-be. The right balance is not easily found. In France we are a bit sceptical about everything advertised as “fun” and “friendly”: beef comes first. Fun and friendly beef, that’s wishing “bon appétit” indeed! Scepticism is due to the fact that “fun and friendiliness” are a judgement, and it is for us the listeners to decide upon this. And I do like the “be prepared to act”, I find it funny and to the point, it tells me what is expected of me, and I also like the double meaning of “to act” (action and drama). The idea of an “inner voice” is interesting too : I’m not sure if it’s there somewhere (linguistic schizophrenia?)but it would be good to discuss it with those who heard The Inner Voice!
    I like number three too because it mentionned the place of teacher’s intervention, which is a very good topic methinks. But number three reveals the speaker’s position in advance and ruins the suspense! So I’ll choose number one, hoping that some creativity and fun will emerge too.

    • Hi Alice,

      thank you so much for your comments.

      And yes, I completely agree with you that a lot of this is about cultural perceptions. Maybe some ‘western’? speakers and conference attenders look for ‘fun and friendly’ but others don’t. Maybe tenor is really important, and being too informal, jokey etc comes over to some (as Laura has suggested) as trying to hard.

      Perhaps we have to tailor our abstracts to the kind of people we expect to comer; or, looking at it from another angle, we have to write our abstracts to get only those kinds of people we WANT to come?

      All quite complicated!!

      Jeremy

  22. I’d go for number 2 as well…Yes! Inviting! But you also feel there’ll be some reflection and contrast (Communicative Vs Grammar-translation)…and to make it even more appealing some familiar & tech words (Shakespeare-Twitter) are thrown which would make this workshop enticing for those interested in combining mainstream language teaching methodologies/approaches and ITCs…

    • Hi Miguel,

      thanks for this.

      It seems that on balance, abstract 2 is the one that people like. But Laura (above) thought it was trying too hard!!

      But this post has provoked some very interesting comments which might well form a kind of beginners ‘guide’ to abstract writing!!

      Jeremy

  23. Thanks for this really helpful discussion. I have recently started doing talks and workshops and to writing the abstract is something I find really challenging!

    I think I have to agree with Nick B because abstract 1 holds more weight for me. It reads as though the talk will be interesting and well informed. I think in some contexts this is particularly important, especially when dealing with topics like ‘drama’ which often frighten people off. I also like the ‘Be prepared to act’ too, as this makes me feel that there will be a practical element to the talk.

    Number 2 sounds a little too informal to me, but it does create a sense of intrigue! I do think it all depends on where you are doing it and what the expectations of the audience are.

  24. Hi Richard,

    thanks for your comments.

    Iam sure that you are absolutely right about the expectations of the audience. Some people like the more direct approach of abstract 1; some would much rather be ‘hooked’ or ‘intrigued’ by something like abstract 2. Maybe it’s impossible to write the ‘perfect’ abstract?

    Jeremy

  25. Hi Jeremy,

    An interesting topic – I am astonished that so many people seem to go for Abstract 2 as it turns off me off completely. Using questions in an abstract implies that the session is going to give me the answers; experience tells me I am likely to be disappointed. It also sets the session up as being rather top down – speaker as the person with the answers. The use of the exclamation mark makes me cringe – it implies Gosh!! Wow!! Holy Cow!! when quite frankly it’s a pretty unremarkable statement. Why not go the whole way and include some smileys 8-o The references to Shakespeare, football and twitter seem to be a desperate attempt to appeal to everyone – high culture, low culture and geek culture should cover all the bases – but at the same time they are just a bit too TEFLy for me. And why is the author trying to sell themselves so much?

    Abstract 3 is hard to follow – not surprising as it is a single sentence. It is wordy and vague, leaving me with little idea of what to expect – well the vagueness suggests it will be loooong and boring. I’d probably have got stroppy when I found out I had to act, but luckily I nodded off. But it’s still preferable to Abstract 2

    So it’s Abstract 1 for me. Sure it’s not wildly thrilling, but like Laura says, it’s the label on the tin. If I am wading through a conference programme with a couple of hundred abstracts, clarity is what works best for me.

    • Hi Peter,

      thank you very much for your comments.

      I am very interested how some people really go for the ‘fun and friendly’ approach, but others (like you)find that it is trying too hard.

      It does begin to look as if we can come to some conclusions about what works and what doesn’t. I’ll see if I can do some summarising a bit later.

      Jeremy

  26. Jeremy,

    Thank you for writing this and providing me with advice in writing abstracts. I recently turned one in I felt proud of submitting. I think it was my best written abstract by far and your post helped. I would have left a comment earlier but I was too busy writing abstracts. Your blog continues to be a valuable resource I am using to help make me a better presenter!

  27. Your post came in very good time. I’m about to write an abstract for the Braz-tesol conference in São Paulo, July 2010 and was happy to see my choice matched everyone’s , #2 is good humoured, the question at the beginning caught my attention and added some mystery to it. Really don’t know if I’ll be able to create an interesting abstract like this one.

    I’ve seen you’re one of the confirmed speakers, hope to meet you f2f.

    • Hi Anamaria,

      yes, abstract no 2 seemed to be fairly popular (for the majority). But not everyone approved of it!!! I guess it’s a matter of taste….

      Looking forward to seeing your abstract.

      Looking forward to that f2f!!

      Jeremy

  28. I definitely was caught by the second one. The third was too dull. The first one was interesting but not so persuasive. Using questions is more eficient because it creates curiosity and awakes interest. Thanks for your article!

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