The Chair of a session has the essential task of making sure that the session runs smoothly. This entails more than just keeping time, although this is an important aspect of being a Chair. The Chair is charged with making sure that the presenters feel welcome and that all technical issues are resolved.
Since time is limited, it must be watched, and all scheduled presenters should have the same opportunity to present their material. Presentations exceeding the time limit not only interfere with other presentations in the same session, but may also cause delays in other sessions, or prevent the audience from moving on to following sessions in a timely manner. Each presenter has 12 minutes for their presentation and 3 minutes for questions.
• The Chair should not allow a speaker to receive questions after the full 15 minutes for the presentation are up. However, the Chair can suggest that any further questions be addressed after all speakers have concluded, in the interest of time.
• In order for the Chair to communicate the time remaining in a non-obtrusive way, note cards marked “5 minutes,” “1 minute,” and “Please finish!” will be provided for all session Chairs (available in the room of the session). Make sure the presenter acknowledges these warnings.
• It may be a good idea to sit in the front row, facing the presenter during the presentation. Do not hesitate to ask someone to conclude if they ignore the final note card.
• Please inform the presenters about these procedures before the session begins.
The following lists a few additional things to keep in mind, and hints on how to make the session enjoyable for audience and presenters.
Before the session:
• Make sure you know which session you are to chair; check for any scheduling clashes with any other commitments and notify the Program Committee if you cannot serve as session chair.
• At the conference, arrive at the room of the session at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the session.
• Check the technology and alert any of the technicians or student volunteers of any problems.
• Greet the speakers and make sure that everyone scheduled to speak is present, and that all presentations have been loaded on to the computer (including your own if you are to present in the session).
• Explain your role to the presenters, so they know to look at you for cues.
During the session:
• Introduce yourself to the audience and give a brief introduction of the speakers and the overall topic.
• Explain the time allocation – each presenter has 12 minutes to present, and 3 minutes for questions. Explain also that after 15 minutes have passed the next presenter will be introduced.
• Introduce the first presenter. Check the time when the presentation starts.
• Place yourself so that the presenter can see you without any trouble.
• Be ready to assist with any technical problems.
• Make sure the presenter adheres to the time limit.
• After the presentation, ask if there are any questions, and make sure the questions do not cause the presentation to be too long. If questions remain after the time is up, suggest that the discussion resume after the session. Make sure more than one person gets to ask questions if they want to.
After the session:
• If there is time left, suggest a discussion of topics relevant to the presentations.
• Thank the presenters and the audience for their attention and conclude the session.