Chair guidelines

Key tasks and responsibilities

The chair has an essential part to play in the overall success of a conference session. The key aspects of the role are to:

  1. Ensure the smooth conduct of the session.
  2. Prepare opening and closing remarks for the session, which stimulates audience interest and adds value.
  3. Start and finish the session on time, according to the program schedule.
  4. Introduce the session topic and welcome each speaker.
  5. Moderate the question and discussion time.
  6. Ensure that everyone can be heard.
  7. Ensure information and housekeeping notes from the conference organisers are conveyed to those attending the session. The chair is the prime communicator of relevant information and messages to the delegates in each session.

Session formats

AIEC sessions have different formats and require different approaches for chairing.

  • Thematic session (two 30-minute presentations)
  • Panel presentation or discussion (75 minutes)
  • Cafe session
  • Network conversation
  • Pre-conference workshop
  • Pre-conference masterclass
  • Lightning sessions (formerly e-poster sessions)

View session types and formats

Meeting speakers

Speaker contact details will be shared with the chair or moderator, who may get in touch with the speaker(s) before the session to find out more information and discuss how they would like to conduct their presentation.

At the conference, we recommend that you meet the speakers in the session room 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the session. This will enable you and the speakers to meet each other and discuss any issues before the session starts.

Speaker profiles

The names, presentation titles, biographies and photos of the speakers in your session will be available via the online program and the conference app.

Please check with the speaker before introducing them that their profile is correct. Some speakers forget to advise us when their positions have changed.

If a particular speaker profile is not available, please ask the speaker before the session starts what is the best introduction for him or her.

Introductions and acknowledgement

A key role of the chair is to introduce the session and the panellists or presenters. At the beginning of the session, please provide a brief introduction and welcome all conference delegates.

If speakers are on Twitter, please take a moment to read out their Twitter handles, as this will allow the audience to properly mention them in their tweets. We have asked all speakers to include their Twitter handles in their bios and PowerPoint presentations, but it’s always a good idea to remind delegates at the start of the session.

Panels and presentations

It is recommended that you read the session description carefully in advance, so that you can introduce and close the session by making appropriate links between the topics/issues that are presented, especially in the case when there is more than one presentation or if the session will have a panel or discussion format.

Lightning sessions

For lightning presentations, please provide a brief explanation of how the poster session will run. That is, each presenter will have five minutes to introduce themselves and key points of their presentation. All presentations will be scheduled at the start of the session, and then the audience will break-out into smaller groups and continue the discussion at the touchscreen terminals.

Café sessions

For cafe sessions, please provide a brief explanation of how the session will run. If a presentation is required at the start to set the scene, ensure it is brief and that enough time is allocated to the small group discussions. Also, ensure you allow enough time at the end of the session for the different groups to provide their feedback and report back to the group.

Housekeeping notes

If there are additional housekeeping notices to be read out, these will be provided on the lectern at the front of the room. For last minute announcements the crew staff assigned to your room will approach you before the session starts.

For example, please remind delegates (and speakers!) to:

  • turn off or put mobile phones on silent before the session
  • use the official hashtag #aiec2019 

Speakers' Preparation Room

All speakers and chairs must check in at the Speakers' Preparation Room.

Even if you do not plan to use audiovisual for the session you are chairing, we still ask that you visit Speakers' Prep Room. There will be tech support to assist you. You will be able to check if your speakers have arrived and have submitted their presentations. 

You may also talk to the staff about making your session interactive and enabling the 'Ask a question' feature via the app.

Audiovisual and PowerPoint presentations

All audiovisual equipment and services are provided by the audiovisual team onsite. 

Before your session

All presentations must be uploaded and networked via the Speakers' Preparation Room at least two hours before the start of the session, or the day prior if possible. Speakers are instructed to bring a backup of their PowerPoint presentation on a memory stick.

Please make sure all speakers in your session have uploaded their presentations. Check that the presentations are accessible from the lectern in the session room.

During your session

If you require technical assistance during the session, advise a member of the conference crew assigned to your room, who will assist or call the tech support.

More information will be provided closes to the conference.

Polling and interactive sessions

Interactive sessions are a powerful audience engagement tool that allows presenters to interact with their audience and drive conversation through live polling from their own devices.

Some speakers may have integrated polling into their presentations. There will be technical support for speakers and chairs during the session.

Please make sure you know in advance if presenters will be using polling, and ask the conference crew or technician in the room for assistance.

Time keeping

In the interest of keeping an efficient program schedule, please ensure speakers do not exceed the allotted duration of their presentations and that the session runs to time.

Café sessions and poster sessions require the chair to keep a close eye on timing.

We will provide time-keeping cards that you may use at your discretion during the session. Please discuss with speakers before the start of the session how you want to use these time-keeping props, and when they will want time-remaining reminders. The conference crew can also assist you with this.

Program changes

In some sessions, there may be last-minute cancellations if a speaker is unable to present as planned. This would be considered an unusual situation, but as chair for the session we ask that you are prepared for this eventuality. The time allocated to missing speakers can be used for facilitated discussion or similar activities. It would be helpful if you could find discussion points to facilitate audience discussion in this time slot. Examples of activities could include inviting the audience to share why they are at the session or their interest or experience in the topic. This could be done as a group or sharing with the person sitting next to them.


The chair plays a key role in facilitating question time after the presentations.

For panel sessions it is best to leave questions until all presentations have been completed.

For thematic sessions it is appropriate to invite questions at the conclusion of each presentation. Please make sure that close attention is paid to time in order to ensure that each presentation gets the same time allocation. It is recommended that you prepare two or three questions to ask each speaker in case there aren't any questions for the speaker from the audience.

For café sessions, there will be limited time for questions. Please ensure all delegates have understood how you will run the session and allow for questions and clarification about the process at the start of the session. The last part of the session (approx. 15-20 minutes) should be dedicated to the reporting and feedback from the delegates.

Using a roving microphone

There will be a roving microphone available for questions from the audience. Please encourage delegates to use the room microphones to ask questions as this allows everyone to hear. The conference crew staff assigned to your room can assist with passing the mic around.

TIP: It is helpful for the chair to repeat the question so the audience can hear it, especially when delegates do not use the roving microphone.

Using the 'Ask a question' feature in the conference app

All chairs are welcome to combine questions from the floor with questions received via the Ask a question feature via the AIEC conference app. 

If you would like to enable this, please speak to tech support team in the Speakers' Preparation Room at least 2 hours before your session starts, or ideally the day prior.

The tech support team will provide you with an iPad for your session, as well as instructions on how to manage the app questions during the session.

Assistance during your session

There will be audiovisual support available to assist if necessary.

Conference crew members or the Registration Desk staff will be available throughout the conference to assist if needed. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.