Thank you for serving as an interactive session chair at the annual AIB US–Southeast meeting. Your service is critical for the conference’s success. Session chairs are particularly important for the interactive sessions, where papers are presented and discussed in a roundtable format.
You should plan and run the session in a way that ensures a meaningful conversation across the individual presenters. We suggest you start the session with a brief introduction of the papers included. Most interactive sessions have eight papers, so the time allotted to each individual paper should be around 5 minutes. If your session has fewer papers, you may allow more time. Presenters should briefly talk about the key ideas and main contributions of their paper. No formal PowerPoint or overhead presentation will be allowed.
The objective is to have genuinely interactive discussions among all participants. This is your responsibility, and it is up to you to decide how to achieve this objective. Ideally, the brief author presentations should be structured as a conversation (i.e., short talks and highly interactive), not as a sequence of monologues. This is not an easy task, and we are particularly grateful to all of you who have agreed to be interactive session chairs.
Below are some key recommendations:
1. GET ACQUAINTED AHEAD OF TIME WITH THE PEOPLE IN YOUR SESSION
As session chair, you are expected to contact everyone in your session in advance—one week before the conference is ideal.
You can find the participants in your session, and their e-mails, in the conference program on the website. We also suggest you download the information for your session (you can COPY and PASTE the text into MS WORD) for later reference. Please check the time of your session and make sure you have it entered in your agenda and online calendar.
2. CIRCULATE THE PAPERS IN YOUR SESSION AHEAD OF TIME
Please encourage everyone in your session to read all papers before the conference. This way, each participant can attempt, in their presentation, to link their papers to the other presentations and join the discussion in an informed way for a more cohesive and stimulating session. We will send out separate guidelines to the authors for all the sessions, but feel free to e-mail them any additional or specific instructions, as the sessions do differ in length, number of participants, purpose, and content.
*Please remind your participants that no formal presentations/materials are allowed.*
3. ORDER OF PRESENTERS
Keep the order of papers as outlined in the Conference Program unless there is a problem. We ask that each presenter remains in the session in which they’re scheduled throughout that session as a courtesy to the other speakers.
4. MANAGE THE SESSION TIME
Most sessions are 75 minutes. For interactive sessions, we suggest you allow presenters only 5 minutes to briefly outline the key contribution of their paper.
It is important for interactive papers that the discussion is held immediately after each presentation. That way, we can ensure that we are fair to each author in terms of the time devoted to their paper.
The total amount of time for each paper in aggregate (presentation and comments) should be no more than about 9 minutes where there are 8 papers. It would be 10-11 minutes with 7 papers (75 minutes / 7 presentations), and so on.
Please enforce the time limits we have proposed. Presenters who go past their allotted time are taking it away from other presenters and the audience’s Q&A time.
Signal the presenter as time nears expiration, e.g., 5 minutes left, 2 minutes left, and when time expires. Inform presenters ahead of time to watch for these notifications, and that we expect them to stop when the STOP sign is held up.
If a presenter starts becoming highly defensive in response to comments they receive, please try to intervene and move the discussion to another direction. These defensive stances add little to the discussion, and reduce time available for further feedback. Invite them to continue the discussion later after the close of the session.
5. HOW TO START A SESSION
As chair, it is up to you to start the session. The first thing is to start on time, even if others join late. This is often hard to do, especially first thing in the morning when people can straggle in. The second thing is to introduce the topic and the speakers. Your introduction should take no more than 2 minutes. From the beginning, try to use an informal, first-name tone.
6. AUDIO-VISUAL EQUIPMENT NOT PERMITTED
In interactive sessions, audio video equipment is not permitted. The authors are not expected to make a formal presentation; however, a one-page handout is encouraged.