Session Chair Guidelines

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Guidelines for UKNOF Session Chairs

The day before the meeting

  • Ideally during the previous day's setup, introduce yourself to the A/V and webcast crews and explain your role & time-slot. Make sure both of you are clear which of you will control the on/off from the microphone you will be using, and any signals you will give them to do so.
  • Decide whether you prefer to use a hand-held, fixed podium, or lapel/lavalier microphone while chairing. Note that trying to use more than one microphone can lead to bad audio or confusion, it's generally best to pick one and stick with it. Also, if you are moderating questions/discussion from a panel or audience, it's generally easier to control the discussion if you have your own microphone you can interject with immediately.
  • If possible at the end of the day before the meeting, review the slides for each of your speakers. Ensure their talk has a meaningful title and abstract/description (it makes them more discoverable & useful in the slide & video archives), and that the first slide in the deck has their name, affiliation and talk title. This is useful for subsequent video viewing, even if the talk is only a short lightning or panellist contribution.
  • This is a good time to think of any questions you might want to pose to the speaker at the end of their talk, especially if there are none from the audience.

On the day of the meeting

  • During the break prior to the session(s) you are chairing, re-contact the audio technician, and get set up if needed for a lapel microphone.
  • There should be a reserved area for meeting-runners at the front of the room. Sitting beside the time-keeper and presenter laptop driver will help co-ordinate the session, but make sure you can get up easily from your seat to the stage between speakers, also that when you get up and down you will not get in the path between the camera and the lectern. Set up your laptop, power, widgets etc well in advance of the session start.
  • A single-sheet summary of the running order is usually prepared by the UKNOF Forum Chair listing for each speaker:
      • their name
      • talk title
      • whether their talk has been uploaded yet
      • talk start/end/duration
      • number of slides - this will give you an idea if they are likely to under/over-run their timeslot
      This sheet will be available as "Timetable.xls" under "Materials" on the event site admin in Indico, and there should be a hardcopy on the lectern so you don't space when introducing speakers.
  • Before the start of your session, check with the registration desk that all your speakers have arrived. Usually they will have a cloud-shared checklist of which speakers have arrived. Track your speakers down, and introduce yourself to them. Verify they have submitted their slides, whether they have any special requirements, and that they know how to drive the slide clicker. Talk to the UKNOF Forum Chair or Events Director ASAP if any speakers are absent. If in doubt, make sure you know how to pronounce the speakers' names !
  • Also make sure you know who is driving the presenter laptop and time-keeping for your session, and that they are aware of any speaker special requirements. Verify with them that each speakers' slides have been uploaded to indico and the presenter laptop, especially if the speaker has requested their presentation not be published online/outside the room.
  • Check with the speaker if there are special additional media, e.g. audio/video/live demos present, that the webcast runner is aware of these, and that they will work on the presentation laptop.
  • Ten minutes before your session, co-ordinate with the Events Director, who will ring the bell to get everyone back into the room after the break. Also establish from them if there are any logistic announcements you need to make at the start or end of the session.
  • It's generally a good idea to use the P/A system a few minutes before the start of the session to let the audience know things are starting and they should sit down, quieten down, and close the doors.
  • Wait until you get the okay from the webcast-runner before starting the session. Introduce yourself, your role in UKNOF, and if there is a theme common to the talks in the session, it's a good idea to mention or comment on this.

For each speaker:

  • request they come to the stage
  • go to the podium to introduce them - make sure you are visible on-camera, not a disembodied voice
  • wait for any movement, shuffling, noise to die down
  • introduce the speaker(s) with their name, affiliation, and title of their talk.
    It can be polite to acknowledge if they have come a long way, or spoken at a previous UKNOF.
  • If the speaker is giving a sponsor presentation, make this VERY clear when announcing them, and thank the sponsor for their support of UKNOF.
  • once this done and any ensuing chit-chat and/or device fiddling is completed, make sure the speaker is standing at the lectern and there is a silent pause
  • ideally at this point the speaker should (re)-introduce themselves and their talk
  • sit down well out of sight so you are not a visual distraction for the audience or the webcast
  • The timekeeper will give the speaker flash-card signals so they keep to their slot, but it's a good idea to remain aware of the speaker's progress:
      • if they are in danger of over-running their slot despite the flash cards, your getting onto the stage and hovering is a strong silent signal to the speaker they are running out of time
      • don't get caught out if they under-run !
    • Get back on stage shortly before the speaker finishes. Stay away from the lectern until they have stopped talking, but move into the camera field of view once you are fielding the questions and until the next speaker starts.
    • When the speaker has finished, thank them and initiate applause.
    • Wait for the applause to die down, then request questions from the audience if there is sufficient spare time.
    • Do your best to pick questioners from the audience in-turn, and not let one or two dominate the questions or discussion. The microphone runners will help you track who is next.
    • Give questioners the go-ahead to speak only once they have a microphone in their hand. You may need to remind them to state their name and affiliation for the webcast.
    • Keep track of the remaining time, and be prepared to state how many more questions will be accepted to keep things on-track.
    • When the questions are done, it may be appropriate to thank the speaker again, and initiate further applause. This allows the full extent of the applause to be apparent on the webcast.
    • Wait for the applause and any movement to die down, the speaker to have left the stage, and for you to return to the lectern on-camera before saying anything further.
    • Allow a silent pause before requesting the next speaker comes to the stage.

    Wrapping Up

    • When all the speakers are done, make any logistic announcements before the session finishes.
    • Also acknowledge the meeting sponsors, in descending order of contribution. There should be a hardcopy list of all the sponsors on the lectern, be VERY careful not to miss any.
    • Remind the audience of the re-start time after the break, and ONLY then announce the session has ended.
    • After the end of the session, or if you have to leave the stage for any reason during the session be VERY careful that your microphone is immediately muted !