Mastering the Art of Session Chairing: Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Conference

Introduction

In a research conference, the session chair plays a crucial role in ensuring that the session runs smoothly and that the audience is attentive. The chair is responsible for planning and directing the presentations, handling questions and comments from the audience, and resolving any disputes that might occur. In this post, we’ll go through the main duties of a session chair and offer helpful advice on how to do your job well.

Additionally, we’ll go over how to open and conclude a session, how to handle questions from the audience, how to choose the best presenters, and how to resolve any problems that might come up during the conference. Session chairs can guarantee that the conference is well-organized and successful by adhering to these rules.

As a session chair, you are responsible for managing a specific session at a research conference. This process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Reviewing abstracts and papers: The session chair will assess the papers and abstracts submitted to their session before the meeting. They will make use of this information to guarantee that the papers are of a good calibre and that they are pertinent to the session’s topic.
  2. Planning the session: The session chair will coordinate the session’s schedule with the conference planners. This involves choosing the sequence of the presentations as well as how much time will be allotted for each one.
  3. Moderating the session: The session chair will introduce the speakers and their papers on the conference day and manage the session’s time. They will also address any queries or problems that come up throughout the meeting.
  4. Evaluating papers: The session chair may be asked to assess the papers delivered in their session after the conference. This will entail rating the calibre of the study and offering the authors feedback.
  5. Provide feedback to the authors: The chair of the session has the option of giving feedback to the authors of the papers that were presented in their session comments.
  6. Be familiar with the conference’s policies, follow them and communicate any potential conflicts of interest to the conference organizers: It is important for session chairs to be familiar with the conference’s policies, as they will provide guidance on how to handle various aspects of the conference, such as conflicts of interest, schedule, and guidelines for presentations.

1. Reviewing Abstracts and Papers

The process typically includes the following steps:

Reading and assessing the abstracts and papers submitted for the session: The session chair will go over all of the abstracts and papers submitted for the session to make sure they are of the highest calibre and relevant to the session theme. The session chair will choose the papers that will be presented during the session based on the calibre and relevance of the submissions. This usually entails selecting a wide selection of papers that address various facets of the session theme.
Author communication: The session chair will get in touch with the authors of the papers that have been chosen for presentation and give them any information and advice they might need to get ready for the conference.
Reviewing and giving input on final papers: In order to make sure the papers are up to the conference’s standards, the session chair may evaluate and give feedback on the final versions of the papers that will be presented in their session before the conference.

This phase is essential because it makes sure the conference has high-quality papers and that the papers presented are pertinent to and adequately cover the conference subjects. It also helps the conference stay organised and on schedule.

 2. Planning the Session

The process typically includes the following steps:

Creating the schedule: In order to create the timetable for their session, the session chair will collaborate with the conference organisers. This will entail choosing the session’s beginning and end times as well as the sequence of the presentations.
The amount of time that should be allotted for each presentation will be decided by the session chair in consultation with the conference planners. This usually depends on how long the paper is and how much time is required for questions and discussion.
Cooperation between the session chairs: To ensure that the conference schedule is consistent and that there are no conflicts across sessions, the session chair will work with the other session chairs in coordination.

Speaker schedule: The session chair will inform the speakers who will be presenting in their session of the timetable. The speakers will benefit from having this information to plan ahead.
Working in consultation with the conference planners: The session chair will coordinate with the conference planners to make sure that the session goes off without a hitch and that all required tools and resources are on hand.

This stage is essential because it keeps the conference on schedule and well-organized, which benefits presenters and attendees alike. Additionally, it makes sure that the conference is set up to allow for the greatest possible level of interaction and participation from attendees.

3. Moderating the Session

The process typically includes the following steps:

Speaker introductions and papers: Before each speaker starts speaking, the session chair will provide a brief introduction to them and their papers. This will provide the audience with background and aid them in comprehending the importance of the findings being presented.
Maintaining the timetable: The session chair will maintain the timetable by making sure that each speaker adheres to their given time and that the session concludes on time. Additionally, they will deal with any unforeseen circumstances, such as scheduling changes or technical difficulties.
Questions and discussion management: Any questions or issues that come up during the session will be handled by the session chair. This could entail leading a group conversation, presiding over a panel discussion, or moderating a question-and-answer session.

Taking care of any issues that come up: The session chair will take care of any issues, such as snags with the technology or disputes amongst speakers, that come up during the session. They’ll do their best to address these problems quickly and competently.
The session is now over. After reviewing the key themes of each presentation and expressing gratitude to the speakers and audience for attending, the session chair will call the meeting to a close.
This step is essential because it ensures that the session runs smoothly, that the speakers can effectively present their papers, that the audience can interact with the papers and the speakers, that the conference will run on schedule, and that the conference will be set up in a way that allows for the greatest amount of engagement.

4. Evaluating Papers

By evaluating the research’s quality, the session chair will evaluate the papers that were given during their session. They will examine the reliability of the research methodologies, the accuracy of the data, and the applicability and importance of the conclusions.
Giving the authors feedback: The session chair will provide the writers of the papers that were presented in their session comments. The authors will be able to improve their study and make it more publishable with the assistance of this feedback, which will frequently offer suggestions for enhancement.
In order to offer them with comments on the papers delivered in their session, the session chair will connect with the conference organisers. The conference planners will use this feedback to help them decide which papers to approve for publishing or further evaluation.

Making suggestions for future research: In light of the articles presented during their session, the session chair may also provide suggestions for future research.
This phase is essential since it ensures that both the conference and the papers presented are of the highest calibre. Additionally, it aids in the enhancement of the papers’ publishability and aids in the decision-making process of the conference’s planners regarding which papers to accept for publishing or further study.

 5. Provide Feedback to the Authors

Reviewing the papers’ final presentations: The session chair will go over the papers’ final presentations that were presented in their session. This usually involves making that the writers have made any necessary changes in response to the prior input.
Constructive criticism: The session chair will offer the authors of the papers constructive criticism. The authors will be able to improve their study and make it more publishable with the assistance of this feedback, which will frequently offer suggestions for enhancement.
Input delivery to writers: The session chair will promptly deliver the authors’ feedback, usually by phone, email, or another form of communication.

Helping the authors revise their papers: The session chair may also help the authors revise their papers in response to the feedback given, by responding to any queries they may have and offering additional direction as necessary.
Feedback to conference organisers: In order for the conference organisers to be educated decision-makers and to be aware of the status of the papers given in their session, the session chair will also provide feedback to the conference organisers.

This phase is essential since it both aids the authors in making their papers more publishable and improves them, as well as aids conference organisers in choosing which papers to accept for publishing or further review. Additionally, it aids in ensuring that the conference and the papers presented are of the highest calibre.

6. Be Familiar with the Conference’s Policies

The conference’s policies should be understood by session chairs as they will provide guidance on how to handle many parts of the conference, including conflicts of interest, the timetable, and rules for presentation style.
For instance, strong regulations regarding conflicts of interest are in place at many conferences, including disclosure requirements and the exclusion of people with conflicts from particular roles. As it is inappropriate for a session chair to analyse or assess their own research article, it is crucial that session chairmen adhere to these regulations.

The conference organisers should be informed of any potential conflicts of interest by session chairs in order for them to make informed decisions and take the necessary action. By doing this, you can further guarantee that the conference is open and that everyone is informed of any potential conflicts of interest.
Session chairmen can prevent any ethical issues and guarantee that the conference is run in a fair and transparent manner by being aware of and adhering to the conference’s policies.

Role of Multiple Session Chairs for a Research Conference

The process for running a session at a research conference will normally involve distributing the duties among the session chairs if there are numerous chairs. Here are a few techniques for doing this:

The session chairmen may be given specific responsibilities, such as leading the session, facilitating the conversation, or assessing the papers.
Collaboration on session planning and moderating: The session chairs may work together on session planning and moderating. This might entail segmenting the session into sections, with each chair in charge of a certain section.
Sharing evaluation duties: The session chairs can also divide up the evaluation duties, with each chair studying a particular group of papers and offering comments.
To guarantee that the session goes smoothly and that the session is moderated and the papers are judged consistently, the session chairs will need to work together in a cooperative manner.

In order to make sure that the session is in line with the conference’s general schedule and that the essential resources are available, the session chairmen will also need to engage with the conference’s organisers.
In order to ensure that the session goes successfully, the papers are of high quality, and the conference is well-organized, it is crucial that the session chairmen collaborate effectively and efficiently.

As a Session Chair how I should Start a Session ?

Starting a session is crucial for ensuring that it goes smoothly and that the audience is attentive as the session chair. Here are some ideas for how to begin a session:
Identify yourself: You should start by introducing yourself as the session chair and giving a brief overview of your training and expertise.
a brief session preview By detailing the topics that will be covered and the session’s agenda, you can give a session a preview. This will assist the audience stay interested by letting them know what to anticipate.

Before each speaker begins their presentation, they should briefly introduce themselves and the papers they will be discussing. Give a succinct summary of the study’s significance and research question.
Setting the tone By extending a warm welcome to speakers and audience members and encouraging active engagement, you may set a productive and professional tone for the discussion.
Give guidelines: Inform the audience how to use resources relating to the session, such as the conference programme or conference website, and when to ask questions, how to offer comments, and other directions.
Start promptly: A delay can confuse attendees and throw off the conference’s schedule, therefore start the session on time to avoid this.

Before each speaker starts their presentation, they should introduce themselves as well as their papers. Describe the significance of the work and the research issue in brief.
Decide on a tone: Welcome the speakers and the audience, and promote involvement and engagement to set a good and professional tone for the discussion.
Provide guidelines: Indicate to the audience when to ask questions, how to offer comments, or where to find materials relevant to the session, such as the conference schedule or conference website.
begin promptly: A late start can confuse attendees and throw off the conference’s schedule, so be careful to start the session on time.

Setting a professional and orderly tone at the outset of the event will assist the speakers and audience feel at ease and engaged throughout. Additionally, it contributes to the conference’s organisation and the smooth operation of the session.

As a Session Chair how I should Close my Session?

Setting a professional and orderly tone at the outset of the event will assist the speakers and audience to feel at ease and engaged throughout. Additionally, it contributes to the conference’s organisation and the smooth operation of the session.
How should I adjourn my session, as the session chair?
As the session chair, you have a responsibility to ensure that the session is successfully concluded and that the audience has a satisfying experience. Here are some ideas for how to end a session:

Enumerate the main points: Highlight the primary takeaways from the presentations and the importance of the research as you summarise the presentations’ main topics.
Encourage conversation and criticism: Encourage the audience to join in the discussion and to offer comments on the presentation, either orally or in writing, through a question-and-answer period.
Thank you to the crowd and the speakers: Thank the audience for participating and paying attention to the speakers’ presentations.
Provide resources and next steps: Describe the next steps, such as when and where to access the papers online or the date and location of the conference the following year.

Finish on time: Finish the session on time to avoid interfering with the conference’s overall schedule.
Give details on the following session: Give details about the upcoming meeting, including the topic, the time and place, and the session chair’s name.
In addition to ensuring that the session has been effective and that the audience has a great experience, concluding the session in a professional and orderly manner helps the audience comprehend the value of the research and the important takeaways. Additionally, it aids in conference organisation and keeps attendees informed about the upcoming session.

As a Session Chair how I should Manage Audience Interaction with Speaker

In order to make the session dynamic and interesting, it is crucial for the session chair to control audience questions. Here are some tips on how to respond to inquiries from the audience:
Promote inquiries: By fostering a friendly and open atmosphere for conversation, you can encourage the audience to ask questions.
Sort questions according to importance Put questions in order of importance and timeliness. For instance, questions about the current presentation should be answered first, then questions that are more general about the session’s topic.

Manage the flow of questions by giving each speaker enough time to respond and by diverting any off-topic inquiries to the proper time or session.
Question organisation: Record questions and replies in writing, and before responding, make sure to say the speaker’s name and the question aloud.
Provide clear and succinct responses: Respond to inquiries in a clear and succinct manner, and urge the speaker to offer more details if necessary.
Encourage audience involvement by allowing for follow-up inquiries and by inviting the audience to participate in the conversation.

In order for the session to be interactive and engaging and for the audience to be able to understand the research and the topic more deeply, it is important to manage audience questions well. Additionally, it contributes to the conference’s overall organisation and the seamless operation of the session.

Resolving Conflicts between Presenter and Audience as a Session Chair

In order to make sure that the session runs smoothly and that all participants have a great experience, it is crucial for the session chair to resolve issues between presenters and the audience. Here are some tips on how to settle disputes:
Stay impartial: When settling disputes, it’s critical for the session chair to maintain objectivity and impartiality. Avoid taking sides and concentrate on coming up with a solution that is reasonable and considerate of all parties.
Active listening Actively pay attention to what the presenter and any audience members in the conflict have to say. Try to comprehend their viewpoints and the rationale behind their beliefs.

Resolve the situation quickly: As soon as a problem emerges, resolve it quickly and professionally. This will lessen session disruption and stop the conflict from getting out of hand.
Speak with the involved parties: Talk individually with the parties engaged in the issue to gain a thorough knowledge of the circumstances and to come up with a solution that takes into account the needs of all parties.
Find a resolution: Make an effort to arrive at a resolution that takes into account the concerns of both the presenter and the audience member(s) at issue. This can entail settling on a middle ground or offering an alternate course of action.
Disseminate the decision: Share the resolution with the rest of the audience and the people involved to make sure that everyone understands the outcome and to prevent further conflicts.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that disagreements can arise at any conference, and it’s your responsibility as the session chair to be ready to handle them politely and professionally. You may lessen session disruption and make sure that everyone has a pleasant experience by resolving disputes quickly and working to find an equitable and courteous resolution.

Role of Session Chair in Maintaining Session Schedule

In order to keep the session on schedule and provide each presenter equal time, it is crucial for the session chair to make sure that presentations don’t exceed their given time. Here are some tips for preventing a presentation from going over their allotted time:
Send out the schedule: Make sure the presenters are aware of the schedule and the time constraints for their presentations before the session.
Employ visual aids: To help the presenter maintain track of time and stay inside their given time, use visual aids like a timer or a countdown clock.
Remind the presenter of the time restriction nicely by interrupting them if they are going over their given time.

Send out a warning Before the time limit is reached, sound a warning indication to the presenter that their time is almost up, like a light or a bell.
Encourage the speaker to conclude: Summarizing the key points or proposing that they address any lingering queries during the question-and-answer period can help the presenter conclude their talk.
Be stern: Be strong in telling the speaker to end their presentation and move on to the next speaker if they continue to go over their given time.

When interrupting a presenter, it’s crucial to be kind and professional and to make the time restrictions known in advance. You can help to ensure that the session stays on schedule and that all presenters have an equal opportunity to present their work by using visual aids, issuing warnings, and being forceful but kind.

Role of Session Chair in Selecting the Best Presenter

In order to make sure that a research conference session is of the highest calibre and engaging, the session chair must choose the greatest presenters. Here are some ideas about how to choose the top presenters:
Reviewing papers and abstracts: Review the papers and abstracts that have been submitted for the session and choose the best and most pertinent ones.
Observe diversity: To make sure the session is interesting and well-rounded, look for a wide variety of papers that address many facets of the session theme.

To ensure that the papers are delivered by specialists in the field, assign papers to speakers who have knowledge in the pertinent fields.
Think about the presenter’s presentational abilities: When choosing a speaker, take into account their presentational abilities, such as their capacity to interest the audience and effectively communicate their study.
Communicate with authors: Get in touch with the authors of the chosen papers to make sure they can attend the conference and to give them any information and direction they might need.
Review the final papers and offer comments: Before the conference, evaluate the papers’ final gaps and give the authors input to make sure they adhere to the conference’s standards.

These guidelines can help you make sure that the conference is of the highest calibre, that the session is comprehensive and interesting, and that the audience can learn more about the research and the subject.

Parameters on which a Presenter can be Evaluated

Please be aware that the criteria by which a presenter can be assessed can change based on the conference, the topic, and the session, and that this table is only intended as an example. However, the session chair can use this table as an excellent place to start when assessing the presenter’s performance.
Depending on the conference and the session, a presenter’s evaluation may give different weights to different factors. Here is a table that provides an illustration of the weighting that can be assigned to each factor while evaluating a presentation, but, as a general guideline:

Here is a table that outlines some parameters on which a presenter can be evaluated:

ParametersDescriptionWeightage
ContentThe relevance and quality of the research, the clarity of the presentation, and the significance of the findings.40%
OrganizationThe structure and organization of the presentation, including the use of visual aids and the logical flow of ideas.20%
DeliveryThe presenter’s speaking style, including their use of language, tone, and body language, and their ability to engage the audience.20%
Time managementThe presenter’s ability to stay within the allotted time, and to effectively manage the use of time during the presentation.10%
Knowledge of the subjectThe presenter’s knowledge and understanding of the research topic, and their ability to answer questions and engage in discussion.05%
ProfessionalismThe presenter’s professionalism and ability to handle any issues or problems that may arise during the presentation.05%

The actual weightages may differ based on the conference, the topic, and the session. It is vital to keep in mind that these weightages are merely examples. For instance, some conferences might stress the technical components of the research, while others would prioritise the presenter’s professional demeanour. This table can serve as a decent starting point, with modifications made by the session chair depending on the conference and the session.
In order to ensure consistency and objectivity in the evaluations, it’s also critical to establish defined evaluation criteria and a scoring system. In order to make an informed choice, the session chair should also take into account the feedback from additional assessors, such as other session chairs or reviewers.

Is it Ethical to be Session Chair where I have put my Research Paper?

A session chair reviewing or evaluating their own research work at a research conference is typically regarded as a conflict of interest. This is due to the possibility that the session chair will be prejudiced toward their own work and won’t be able to offer a genuine assessment.
Instead, it would be more ethical for the session chair to abstain from reviewing and evaluating their own work and delegate that responsibility to someone else. The session chair should disclose any potential conflicts of interest to the conference planners and should not take part in the selection of the session’s papers.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that certain conferences have strong rules regarding conflicts of interest, including disclosure requirements and the exclusion of those with conflicts from particular roles. To avoid any ethical issues, it’s crucial to be aware of and adhere to the conference’s policies.
In conclusion, it is widely thought to be unethical for a session chair to assess or analyse their own research paper at a research conference. It is crucial to prevent any potential conflicts of interest and to abide by the conference’s standards on this subject.

Conclusion

In summary, serving as the session chair at a research conference is a demanding but rewarding position. It calls for a blend of managerial abilities, subject matter expertise, and the capacity to control and captivate the audience. It’s crucial for a session chair to be organised, communicate well, and maintain objectivity and impartiality. Session chairs can help to ensure that the conference is well-organized, engaging and that the audience is able to gain a deeper understanding of the research and the topic by adhering to the guidelines discussed in this article, such as handling audience questions and feedback, choosing the best presenters, and resolving conflicts.

It’s also crucial to be aware of the conference’s policies, to abide by them, and to let the conference organisers know about any potential conflicts of interest. Overall, session chairs can play a significant role in ensuring that the conference is a success and a positive experience for all participants with careful organisation and implementation.

Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Vijay Rajpurohit
Vijay Rajpurohit is a researcher in Computer Science. He loves to educate researchers and research scholars on Research Paper Writing, Thesis Writing, Research Grants, Patenting Research Work and the latest Research-related issues. You can reach him @ [email protected]