Guidelines for Session Chairs and Assistants

Read the guidelines through to the end, with particular attention to "Running the session".

Printed copies of the following instructions, along with speaker biographical sketches, will be available at the stage desks in each of the halls.

The job of the Session Chair is to:

  1. Introduce the speakers in your session.
  2. Ensure the sessions run smoothly and in a coordinated fashion.
    (managing the speaker and audience microphones is the job of the session aides).
  3. Keep to the schedule; in the case of missing speaker the session will be suspended and the chair will announce: a break and the session to be resumed at the next scheduled presentation.

The session chair will have an assistant. The job of the assistant is to:

  1. Ensure the countdown clock is running properly (clock is managed by Freeman Audio Visual technician).
  2. Ensure the pointer device and remote control for slide advancement, Logitech spotlight®, is available and in working order (replace battery will be available as well as a spare device).
  3. Ensure that biographical sketches are available on the stage desk.
  4. Help with next speaker microphone dressing.
  5. Assist in general for any technical issue related to the presentation.

To download the following guidelines, please click here.

Running the session (session chair)

  • Please check the time and place of the session you are chairing on the conference program.
  • Arrive 10 minutes before the start of the session to familiarize yourself and
  • to note if the anticipated speakers are present.
  • Invite the speakers to sit in the front row to facilitate a quick hand over.
  • Confirm with assistant that the pointing device, Logitech spotlight®, is working and the biographical sketches are available
  • At the start of the session, briefly introduce yourself, the session title, and the session duration.
  • If there are any housekeeping announcements on behalf of the LOC, this is the time to make them.
  • Introduce the speaker by name and affiliation and then announce the talk title.
  • While the session assistant gets the speaker miked, give highlights from the speaker’s biographical sketch and invite him/her to start.
  • Position yourself where you can see the speaker and he/she can see you.
  • Enjoy the talk as it unfolds.

The countdown clock (operated by Freeman) should count down from 25 minutes for an invited talk, or count down from 17 minutes for a contributed talk.

Warning light should come on:

  1. At 5-minutes remaining, green light.
  2. At 2-minutes remaining, yellow light.
  3. At 0-minutes remaining, red light.

If the speaker runs over the allotted time (25 or 17 minutes), consider whether to forego questions or to finish the talk.

Example: If the “Conclusions/Summary” slide is up, allow the speaker to finish. If necessary, intervene and use your desk microphone to inform the speaker that his/her time is up. Be courteous but firm.

  • Thank the speaker.
  • Ask the audience if they have any questions or comments on the talk, and direct the runners sequentially to those indicating a question by a raised hand. 
  • Keep an eye on time and be prepared to close the question period. 
  • Thank the speaker.
  • Introduce the next presentation with the title, the presenter name and affiliation, and so on.
  • At the end of the session, remember to thank all the participants and the audience.
  • Finally, formally announce that “session title” is closed.


Session guidelines

Presentation slides

All slides will be loaded in advance after quality assurance checks by the JACoW team. The Freeman Audio Visual technician will bring up the correct slides on the presentation laptop. It is not permitted for speakers either to use their own laptop, or to load their slides from a thumb drive at the last moment.


Talk timing

Invited talks are 25 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions and introduction.

Contributed talks are 17 minutes plus 3 minutes for questions and introduction.
It is normal to take a few questions at the end of each paper - if time permits.
Please keep as close to the published schedule and talk timing as possible. Coordinated sessions will permit conference delegates to move confidently between parallel sessions.

There will be trained IPAC staff with you on stage to set up the presentation timer (25 to 0 or 17 to 0).

If a presentation is withdrawn, a presenter does not arrive, or a presentation finishes early, do not bring the next presentation forward. Use the time for questions or a short break. Delegates will be planning to come to presentations based on the published session times.


Speaker introductions

Speakers were requested to provide short biographical sketches in advance of the meeting. These should have been provided to you either by email or as printed copies on the stage.

The objective is to give speakers the maximum time for their presentations. Therefore, introductions by session chairs shall be brief. If the provided biographical sketch is lengthy, then mention the highlights rather than reading the entire sketch verbatim.



Please use the desk microphone for speaker introductions and your own questions. Please turn on/off your microphone manually.

Speakers should be miked before the start of their talk. The session assistant will be responsible for this.

Speakers should return their microphone to the sound table or session assistant promptly after their talk is done so it can be available for another speaker. We have two earpiece mics per room to share between speakers.

There will be two runners in the room equipped with handheld mics to take questions from the audience.

Ensure that either you or the presenter repeats any question that is asked by an audience member without a microphone. Even if you think the question was loud and clear, repeat it or paraphrase it.



Ideally and foremost, questions should come from the audience.

The chair should always be prepared to ask a question or two of each presenter in case no one else does. Read the abstracts that will be in your session in advance and jot down a couple of questions you could ask each author to spark a Q&A session if needed. Also, try to think of a question or comment that could unify all the papers in the session. This means that you can sit back and enjoy the session more during the actual conference.

Do not ask any questions if the presenter has used all of their allocated time.

If the chair senses contention or grandstanding in a delegate question to the speaker, intervene and recommend that the parties discuss the point after the session.


On behalf of the IPAC'18 committee, thank you for contributing your time.