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Guidelines for Chairing a Session

Thank you for agreeing to assume the high responsibility of the session convener. Much of the success of the conference will rest on the efficient and consistent execution of our oral sessions. Recognise that you are the leader of the session.

The Chairperson, together with the Co-Chair, is the one everyone will turn to if there are problems among your speakers or within your audience. Bear in mind that all participants are expected to be considerate and collaborative, communicating openly with respect for others and critiquing ideas rather than individuals.

The following guidelines for chairing sessions at the 11th IWAGPR conference are provided to ensure that the conference runs as smoothly as possible. They are the result of years of experience in listening to the common complaints from attendees.

General Remarks

An attentive, well-prepared Session Chair can help to ensure that the speakers give high-quality talks without problems and that the audience appreciates the entire session.

The allotted times for speakers should be adhered to. When a speaker drops out after the time schedule is published, and attendees have made plans as to which talks to attend, a disruption caused by this change in the programme can snowball across different tracks and disappoint people who wanted to listen to a specific speaker. An empty time slot created by a “no show” may be used for discussions or questions to previous speakers or have a summary of a poster presentation. Also, the order of presentations should never be rearranged, even if requested by the speakers themselves.

As important as running the session well is the critical ear. If you pick up on something that causes a stir or is particularly controversial, jot it down and make a point of informing the Conference Manager, or the Chair of the Scientific Committee as appropriate. Talk with the Room Support Assistant present in the room. Feedback is an essential aspect of this programme.

Prior to Your Session

Meet with your Co-Chair and all your speakers before the start of your session. They should have previously handed their presentations at the Speakers’ Upload Area.

If there is no appointed Co-Chair in your session, or she/he has not shown up, you may invite one of the speakers to help you in your duties.

You will have access to the list of presentations scheduled for that session.

The use of laptops is not possible and speakers should be aware of it.

At the start of the session, make the necessary introductions and help the speakers feel comfortable with the room arrangements and fellow participants. Discuss their positions at the podium and remind them of their time limitations.

Describe to your speakers the method you will use to notify them when they are nearing their presentation time limit (2 minutes before the scheduled time) and how you will interrupt them if they have reached the end of their allotted time.

Try to leave time (3 minutes) for a pertinent question and answer. 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 someone in the audience has the opportunity for a question or comment.

Inform your speakers of the exact time that each of their talks is to begin, and remind them that attendees are free to get up and move to another session after each talk. Further explain that because of this expected movement, it is particularly important for each talk to finish on time and for the next speaker to begin at the appropriate time (even if the previous speaker ends early). You can help facilitate a smooth change between speakers by asking the next speaker to begin moving toward the front while the question and answer unfolds.

When Your Session Begins

The list of presentations and speakers is displayed outside the room.

Concern yourself with the environment - check sound and lights. If there are problems, the Room Support Assistant can assist or you can send someone to the Office for assistance. 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.

Introduce yourself as Session Chair and give your affiliation.

During Each Oral Presentation

For each talk, introduce the speaker and give the title of her/his talk.

It is up to you as the Session Chair to assist your speakers if there are problems. If the speaker's voice is fading, provide water. If the speaker's presentation is not displaying well, help adjust the equipment. If lights need to be dimmed, ask someone 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.


If the number of speakers that have shown at the beginning of the session is lower than four you should allow a few more minutes for presentations and questions, accordingly, such that the scheduled times are maintained.

Being fair with all the speakers means that you should be strict with time control.

Never allow a change in the order of the speakers. People that may want to attend one of the presentations will be disappointed and it may happen that some speakers have another presentation in a different room in the same time period.

At 10 minutes, give a ‘signal’ to the speaker (could be by raising a card, or low voice).
At 12 minutes, interrupt the speaker (this could be done by standing up, or stating "It is time to conclude").

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 have concluded, THANK the speakers and audience for attending and state that your session is now completed.

Poster Session

  • Be sure to attend the Poster session. It is equally important as the Oral session.
  • Prepare questions for the authors and, in particular, stimulate the discussion with students.
  • Vote the best student poster in the session (see Student Award section below).

Student Award

Some oral presentations and/or posters in your session may be marked as student presentations. All such presentations will be judged and the best-scoring ones will be rewarded. Your participation in this judging process is therefore very important. To facilitate your work, scoring guidelines have been prepared and will be available in the session room. One form is to be filled in for each student presentation. At the end of the session (including the poster session) please hand your forms to the LOC. We appreciate your cooperation.