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Guidelines for Chairing a Session
An attentive, well-prepared Session Chair can help ensure that the speakers give high quality, troublefree talks and that the audience appreciates the entire session. The Session Chair’s Prime Directive is to that their sessions stay on time. ALL TALKS MUST START ON TIME. No talk can be allowed to go overtime. There a few things worse at a conference than a session that ruins the schedule. Each session room will be equipped with the following
• 1Podium and mic
• 1 podium PC or laptop, LCD projector & screen
• 1 lapel microphone
• 1 remote clicker (for slide advancement)
• 1 timer
There will be an AV volunteer in the room for all sessions and a professional AV technician on site to monitor and troubleshoot in the session rooms. Session chairs will be responsible for keeping the sessions on time and will be provided with a timer to assist with this process.
Presenters should bring their presentations on a USB drive for uploading to the Registration area at least one day in advance of the presentation. Morning presenters are required to upload their presentations no later than 5pm the evening before. Lecture rooms will be open .5 hours prior to the start of the session and volunteers will upload the presentations and be available to answer questions. Afternoon presenters can upload in the morning but are required to upload their presentations no later than 1pm. Presentations will be deleted from the podium PC at the end of each day by AV technicians.
It is essential that speakers strictly stick to their allotted times and that the chair keeps the session on time. Plenary presentations will be 45 minutes long, with no questions after. Contributed paperpresentation slots will be 15 minutes long and symposium presentations either 15 or 30 minutes. All contributed and symposium presentations should allow for a few minutes for questions, typically 2-3 minutes. Thus, the session chair should signal to the presenter when he/she has 3 minutes left in order to wrap up and allow for questions. If a presentation generates numerous questions, it may be necessary to cut the questioning short and suggest that those interested talk to the speaker later. By contrast, if a question session is slow to start, it is often helpful if the session chair attempts to
stimulate discussion by asking a question of his or her own.
At WCH-7, we will have 12 to 15 concurrent sessions every day, so keeping on time is particularly important. If one of your speakers cancels at the very last minute or does not show up, you must cancel that talk and start the next talk at its proper time. Rearranging the schedule’s order of presenters
is not allowed under any circumstances. Similarly, if a speaker finishes his/her presentation early and the remaining time is not filled by the question period, the next speaker must wait until the scheduled time to start his or her presentation.
Session chairs must be prepared to (politely) cut off a presentation if a speaker’s time is up.
Guidelines for Effective Session Chairing:
Prior to Your Session
Greet each of your speakers before the start of your session. At that time, make needed introductions and help them feel comfortable with the room arrangements and fellow participants. Discuss their positions at the podium and remind them of their time limitations. Determine any required assistance and to ensure a reasonable comfort level.
Describe to your speakers the method you will use to notify them when they are nearing their presentation time limit and how you will interrupt
them if they have reached the end of their allotted time. Try to leave time for pertinent questions and answers (especially if the talk is particularly inspiring or controversial). If however, all time has expired for that speaker, it is acceptable to ask the audience to discuss issues with that speaker after the end of the session. It is up to you as the Session Chair to ensure that ALL speakers receive their allotted time and that the audience has opportunity for their questions and comments.
When Your Session Begins
Concern yourself with the environment - check sound and lights. If there are problems, either the volunteer can assist or you can send them for assistance from the AV technician. Directly ask members of the audience if they can see you and hear you clearly. Your audience will appreciate that you are in charge and concerned about them and the quality of the session.
Using the microphone, formally announce the beginning of the session. If needed, politely encourage the audience to settle into their seats and conclude their conversations. Make any general WCH announcements that have been provided to you.
Introduce yourself as Session Chair and give your affiliation.
For each talk, introduce the speaker; give their affiliation and the title of their talk.
During Each Presentation
It is up to you as the Session Chair to assist your speakers if there are problems. If the speaker’s voice is fading, bring water. If the speaker’s presentation is not displaying well, help adjust the equipment. If lights need to be dimmed, either do it yourself or ask someone else to do it. If the speaker cannot be heard or cannot be seen, you should politely try to correct the situation.
You must keep track of elapsed time during a presentation:
o At 12 minutes of a 15-minute presentation, stand up.
o At 25 minutes of a 30-minute presentation, stand up.
If time permits, the Session Chair should invite questions if the speaker does not do this. An excellent Session Chair will have at least one general question ready for each speaker in order to help get the discussion off the ground, should the audience be reticent.
When questions are asked, make every effort to ensure that the question is heard by everyone in the audience. If necessary, ask the speaker to repeat the question, or repeat the question yourself if you are in a better position to hear the question. Use your own judgment regarding the need for this depending on room acoustics.
As the allotted time for the speaker’s talk ends, initiate applause for the speaker.
At the End of the Session
When the last speaker’s presentation and questions/answers/discussion sessions have concluded, THANK the speakers and the audience for attending and state that your session is now completed.