Instructions for Session Chairs


This is an important job, and we are grateful for your assistance. If something goes wrong leading up to the meeting and you find that you are unable to chair the session(s) to which you’ve been assigned, please contact Kevin Elliott, PSA2018 Program Chair (, or Jessica Pfeifer, PSA Executive Director (

Once the session is over,  please click here to submit your chair report. This is very helpful for us in future planning.

Please keep in mind that chairs, like all other participants, must register for PSA2018. You can register here:

28423187 1113211042154514 5120159656401126355 oYour main responsibility as chair is to ensure that your session runs smoothly and on schedule. You will briefly introduce each speaker, help them remain aware of the time during their talk, manage the discussion following the talk, and close the session by thanking all of the speakers.  You will also help with logistical problems, as far as possible.

We encourage you to contact the speakers in your session ahead of time. I will be sending a separate email to them with information about the time allocation for each speaker and the A/V situation (see below), but it wouldn’t hurt for you to make sure everyone in your session is on the same page. You can access your speakers’ contact information by logging into your meeting account here, going here to search for the speakers in your session, and then clicking on “Request vCard” for each speaker. Be aware that you can contact them in this way only if they have made their profiles public; we encourage you to make your profile public so that others can contact you as well. If you run into difficulties, you can click here to view a user guide for the website. And if you find all those details too annoying, you can just do a google search for everyone’s contact information!

  • Please arrive at your session 10 minutes before the scheduled start time to ensure that the session begins on time and to help with any last-minute problems that speakers might have.

  • The conference room should have a projector and screen, but it will not have a computer. We strongly encourage the speakers to use the same laptop throughout the session and to transfer all of their presentations to it before the session starts in order to avoid delays.

  • You will find a folder near the front of the room with instructions for chairs. Each folder will have contact information for an AV specialist who can help if there is a problem with the audio-visual equipment.

  • You should also find in the folder three laminated signs reading "5 minutes," "2 minutes," and "Stop."  Please use these signs during each talk to make speakers aware of their remaining time. At the end of the session, please leave all these in the folder at the front of the room on the podium for the next session chair to use.

  • If you are chairing a session on Thursday afternoon, please be aware that there is a coffee break in the middle of the session (from 2:30 - 2:45 p.m.). There’s also a coffee break in the middle of the morning sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (from 10:00 - 10:15 a.m).


For contributed paper sessions, each speaker is allocated 20 minutes for presentation and 9 minutes for discussion. This leaves 1 minute for each transition between speakers. Please give only a brief introduction (name, affiliation, and paper title) for each speaker, as it will cut into the speaker’s limited time.  If it is necessary to switch laptops between speakers, please encourage the next speaker to start this while the Q & A is ongoing, to minimize transition time. If speakers exceed their allotted time for presentation, you should shorten their Q&A time accordingly. After 30 minutes, you need to introduce the next speaker.  Likewise, if a speaker is late for their session and misses part of their allotted time, the presentation + Q&A should be shortened by the appropriate time to keep the session as a whole on track.  The sessions need to keep on schedule to facilitate moving among sessions for audience members who wish to do so. For the same reason, speakers must present in the order they appear on the program.

There is no time allocated for a general Q&A in contributed paper sessions.  If, however, there are only three papers in a two-hour slot, then you have the option of holding a general discussion in the final half-hour time slot. You should not lengthen the time allocated to each speaker in order to fill the full time; again, this is to facilitate moving among sessions for those audience members who wish to do so.


The participants in a symposium or cognate society session must appear in the order listed in the program, but you should consult with the symposium or cognate society session organizer regarding the time allocated to each speaker and the schedule for Q&A. (It is typically about 30 minutes per speaker, but the number of participants varies.)  The organizer may decide to have general Q&A rather than Q&A following each talk, and some proposals include a commentator who will also be given some time. Please give only brief introductions – speaker name, affiliation and paper title – and keep speakers to whatever schedule is set by the organizer.

It is a good idea to email the symposium or cognate society session organizer in advance of the meeting to find out their desired schedule for the session. If they have been in touch with all their participants to make sure they know the plan for the session and the AV situation, you probably don’t need to worry about contacting the other speakers. Feel free to contact me if you are unable to get in touch with the organizer.  


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