Working out the right duration for symposium plenary discussion sessions is a difficult undertaking. On the one hand, if the symposium plenary discussion sessions are too long, you will end up losing the concentration of the attendees. People’s attention spans are short, and this applies, regardless of the caliber of attendees you are dealing with. On the other hand, if the symposium plenary discussion sessions are too short, they won’t be adequate to cover the issues that need to be covered. And in the final analysis, the symposium will end up being a meaningless event. Thus, the task of working out the right duration for symposium plenary discussion sessions is one that is just as complex as that of organizing transport for the symposium attendees.
In trying to figure out what the right duration for symposium plenary discussion session should be, you just need to ask yourself the question as to ‘what feels right’. Not too long. Not too brief.
You really have to resist the temptation to come up with sessions that are too long. You have to understand that people are always getting ideas in their minds. A fellow sitting through a particularly long session may suddenly remember that his Gap card balance is due. Subsequently, if the session takes too long, the fellow may end up just excusing himself, to deal with what he views as a greater priority.
Conversely, you also have to resist the temptation to create symposium plenary discussion sessions that are too brief (perhaps in a bid to maintain the attention and concentration of the attendees). If the sessions are too brief, the speakers will rush through the subjects. Yet the objective behind a symposium is to have the various issues addressed in depth.
You also have to keep in mind the fact that the content of the symposium sessions goes a long way in determining how well the attendees are able to concentrate. You may have reasonably brief sessions, but if the speakers are boring, the attendees will still lose concentration. Conversely, you may have quite long sessions, but still manage to maintain the concentration of the attendees, especially if the speakers — and the subjects being discussed — are engaging.