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Guidance for Chairs

Thank you for agreeing to take on the important task of chairing a session at the AMS-SEM-SMT Joint Annual Meeting. Below is additional guidance that may help you prepare for and manage your session.

 

Before the meeting

Connecting with Colleagues

You will have received a detailed list of the presenters, their affiliations, email addresses, and paper titles. If you did not, you may request this from the society that has organized your session. Once you have this information, please introduce yourself to all the presenters or panelists in your session, and feel free to request a draft of the paper(s) to be presented along with any handouts, so that you can review these materials before the meeting.

Also, you may wish to request brief biographical sketches (affiliation, papers or books published) from each of the presenters, so that you can facilitate introductions.

 

Planning the Session

It is important that you plan your time as precisely as possible. Start the session on time. Ask everyone to silence cell phones and other devices. For most sessions, you can plan on twenty-minute papers and Q&A periods of roughly 10-minutes per presentation. However, if you are chairing a session with a special format or atypical number of presentations, please adjust accordingly.

Please prepare one or two comments or questions for each paper or presenter in the event that there are no immediate questions from the audience and discussion needs to be initiated by the chair.

Also, we recommend that you ask your presenters if they would like to share their social media handles, or if they have objections to attendees live-tweeting their presentations or posting photos of their PowerPoint slides. If presenters do not want social media posts, this should be announced clearly prior to each presentation. All attendees are strongly advised to review and adhere to our Social Media Dos and Don’ts.

 

During the Session

When to Arrive

Both chairs and presenters are encouraged to arrive at the session room 10-15 minutes before the start of the session to meet each other, introduce themselves to the room monitor, and complete the A/V setup.

 

Managing the Session

Before the session starts, please remind presenters of their time limits and the session format. Be respectful and pleasant, but firm in enforcing those limits. Set a clear signal (i.e., passed note, hand signal, etc.) for indicating that the presenter has exceed the allowed time. If the presenter does not see the signal or respond to it, feel free to end the presentation time by gently interrupting.

When managing the Q&A, please advise the audience to ask questions only, and to keep any background information as brief as possible. If people don’t comply with these guidelines, don’t be afraid to interrupt them. Be polite and tactful, but firm. Be prepared to challenge offensive or discriminatory comments.

When managing the Q&A, try to establish and announce the order of questioners when possible. Direct questioners to floor mics when available, so that all present can easily hear the question. Encourage reticent audience members to ask questions before allowing more voluble ones to ask a second question. If there are more questions than time allows, announce in advance who will get the last question, apologize to the others, and stop when the last person’s question has been answered.

If the Q&A is slow to start or no one has a question, ask a question you have prepared. Make sure all presenters are asked at least one or two questions that allow them to further explore their presentations and encourage discussion.

Most importantly, please take care to ensure that your session begins and ends on time. Sessions that go long inconvenience others and make it difficult for succeeding sessions held in the same room to start on time.