Policies | Guideline

Session Chair Guidelines

The session chair guidelines ensure that chairs are prepared before and during the meeting to oversee a successful session.

Before your session

Check the program

Prior to departure for the meeting, check the program on the APS website to determine the number and order of the abstracts to be presented, the time allocated to each abstract, and if there are any supplementary abstracts assigned to the session you are chairing.

Check the program changes board

When you get to your meeting, check the "program changes board" near the APS Registration Desk to see if any have been made to the session you are chairing; for example, if any abstracts have been withdrawn.

Arrive early

If possible, arrive at the meeting room about 15 minutes prior to the start of the session and familiarize yourself with the controls for lights, microphones, A-V equipment and the timer. If you encounter problems, immediately alert the Meetings staff at APS Registration Desk or Information Booth, and/or an A-V technician.

During your session


At the start of the session, briefly introduce yourself and explain the timing system to the audience, and as often during the session as you think necessary.

Start on time

An electronic speaker timer will be provided in each room. Start the session on time - announce the first abstract and author, and start the timer.

Check the microphone

Make sure the speaker has the lavaliere microphone placed no lower than 6" below his/her chin.

Stick to the schedule

Please adhere to the time schedule listed in the Bulletin so that simultaneous sessions are as closely synchronized as possible. Many attendees move from session to session in order to hear specific abstracts.

Allotted times

The normal allotted time for contributed abstracts is 12 minutes (10 minutes to present; two minutes for Q&A). If you are chairing a session that includes both contributed and invited abstracts please be aware of the different times allocated for each and set the timer as follows:

  • Contributed abstracts: Set a timer for eight minutes to give initial warning, then set the final bell to go off two minutes later to signal the end of the talk. When this time is up, allow two additional minutes for questions relating to the abstract, thank the speaker and promptly introduce the next abstract and speaker.
  • Invited abstracts: Set timer for 25 minutes for initial warning and the final bell to ring five minutes later to signal the end of the prepared talk. Then set the timer for six additional minutes for questions from the audience.

Timing speakers

Speakers must be asked to stop when their allotted time is up in a courteous but firm manner. Keep in mind that the session must end on time, and that the last speaker has just as much right to an audience as does the first speaker.

Note: Any time used by speakers and/or technicians to set up laptops or any other equipment is deducted from the speaker's total time allotment. Time the speaker from the moment he or she comes to the front, not when he or she begins speaking.

Absent speakers

Should a speaker fail to appear, call the author of the first supplementary abstract assigned to the session, if any. If that author is not in attendance, call the author of the following supplementary abstract, and so on. If there are no supplementary abstracts assigned to your session, allow the preceding discussion to continue, or recess the session until it is time for the next scheduled abstract. At the end of the session, call again for the regularly scheduled abstract, if time allows.

Session problems

If any problems arise that you are unable to handle while continuing to chair the session, either go, or immediately send, someone to the APS registration desk to alert the meetings manager of the problem.

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