As a moderator, you play an important role in both audience members’ and presenters’ experiences at a conference. You help ensure the session runs smoothly, moderate questions and discussion, and act as an authority when necessary, making sure the session does not begin (too) late or go overtime.
If you can no longer moderate a session, please alert conference organizers as soon as possible. It can be discouraging and challenging for presenters – particularly students – who are expecting a moderator to show up to a session and discover there is no one there to lead them.
Before a Session
- Arrive 5-10 minutes in advance of your session.
- Introduce yourself to presenters.
- Help presenters upload their presentation materials onto your room’s computer if needed.
- Support set up for remote presentations before the session is scheduled to begin. If you require further assistance, please ask a volunteer at the CDSA-ACÉH Registration Table to call Congress officials for technical support.
- Gather presenters’ access copies of their presentations and ask if they would like to have them returned at the end of the session.
- Remind presenters that their presentations will be timed. Presenters in sessions with three presentations will have 20 minutes each, while presenters in sessions with four presentations will have 15 minutes each. Remind presenters to speak slowly if possible, especially if there is an ASL translator or CART present for your session.
- Follow the presentation order as outlined in the conference schedule (unless modifications are required).
- If a presenter is absent, you can adjust accordingly (i.e. you would not read their biographical information/presentation title, and other presenters may choose to either take five minutes longer each to present or share a longer question period).
- Ensure all presenters are at the front of the room by the time the session is scheduled to begin.
Opening the Session
- Call the audience to attention and announce your session’s theme (where applicable). Try to start when the session is scheduled to begin. If people are slow to arrive or a presenter is absent, consider waiting 5 minutes to start.
- Ask audience members if they would like access copies of the presentations, and distribute them to those who do.
- Read all presenters’ bios. The order of the bios should match the presentation order.
- Begin your timer/stopwatch when a presenter begins their presentation.
- Ensure all presenters use microphones when delivering their presentations (when available).
- Help change slides if requested.
- Ask presenters to slow down if needed.
- Hold up the 5-minute card for the presenter to see when they have 5 minutes left to finish their presentation.
- Hold up the 1-minute card for the presenter to see when they have 1 minute left to finish their presentation.
- If a presenter is going overtime, gently ask them to wrap up their presentation. Presenters can go over their allotted time by 2 minutes, but should not go over by 5 minutes.
- Help load the next presenter’s slides if needed.
During the Q&A
- Presentations should take place sequentially, or one right after the other. All questions should be reserved for the Q&A period at the end of the session.
- When the last presenter has concluded, thank them and open the session to audience questions. Remind the audience to avoid using ableist or sanist language.
- Keep track of the order of audience members interested in posing a question, and carry the microphone to each when it is their turn to speak.
- Try to allow a variety of audience members to ask questions directed at either individual presenters or all of the presenters. If one presenter has not been posed any questions, try to come up with a question to ask them yourself.
- Conflicts and tension may arise. Ensure discourse remains respectful. In the interest of time, re-direct heated back-and-forth discussion or ask people to continue their conversation amongst themselves after the session. Heated back-and-forth discussion is different from an organic shared dialogue amongst all in a room.
- Alert the audience when you are taking the last question. Q&A periods typically last 20 minutes, and the last question should be posed about 5 minutes before the end of the panel.
- Wrap up the session by thanking presenters and audience members for attending. Remind the audience what comes next in the conference schedule (e.g. “Hope to see you all at the AGM after the 15 minute break!”).
- Return leftover access copies to presenters.