A moderator is an important part of a presentation session. Moderators assure that sessions run smoothly and that all presenters have adequate time to speak.
Before the Session
It is important to arrive at the session about fifteen minutes early. The presenters should arrive ten minutes early, to confirm that their presentations are loaded and to set up any audio-visual enhancements to their presentation. Use the time before the session to introduce yourself to the presenters.
During the session, you will be introducing each of the presenters and announcing their presentation title. Therefore, be sure to ask each presenter about the appropriate pronunciation of his or her name and/or any words or names in the presentation title that you are unsure how to pronounce. Ask each presenter if his or her presentation title, as listed in meeting agenda, is up-to-date and accurate.
Beginning the Session
Begin each session on time. Do not wait for stragglers to be seated. If people are milling around, stand about 30 seconds before the session begins and ask people to take their seats. Remain standing and then begin the session on time. If people are seated, you can simply stand up at the beginning of the session and begin.
Moderators should begin by briefly welcoming everyone to the
session. Ask people in the audience to hold their questions until the end of
each presentation. Also ask that everyone check their cell phone to ensure that
they are turned off.
One of the most important duties of the moderator is to serve as timekeeper. Being a strict timekeeper is essential to assure that all presenters have adequate time to speak and that there is some time for questions and discussion at the end of each presentation. We will provide you with cards to hold up to each presenter to indicate that his or her presentation time is coming to an end (the cards indicate when presenters have five minutes remaining, two minutes remaining, and when their time is up). It is very important to be strict in timekeeping during the presentations. If a presenter continues to talk for more than one minute after his or her time is up, you will need to stand, interrupt him or her, apologize that the presenter is out of time, and introduce the next presenter.
All presentations will be loaded and ready to present prior to the session. If a presenter needs to load his or her presentation during the session, the time it takes to load the presentation should be deducted from the presenter’s allotted time.
Allotted times for each presentation are available in the meeting agenda. Presenters and the moderator should be familiar with the start and end times for the presentations.
After each presentation is finished, the Q&A and discussion can begin. This allows people in the audience to ask questions and make comments about the presentation.
It is helpful for the moderator to stand at the beginning of the Q&A and remain standing until the end of the allotted time. Open the Q&A by thanking the presenter and opening the floor for questions or comments that can be directed to the presenter.
Allowing the presenter to go over the allotted time takes time away from the next presenter. Stopping the conversation may seem disrespectful, but it is necessary in order to keep the session running smoothly. Interject into the conversation (interrupting speakers or audience members if necessary) and say, “I’m sorry, but our time is now up.” Then proceed to introduce the next presenter or close the session.
Closing the Session
At the end of the session, thank the presenters and the audience and offer one final round of applause for all. Make a brief announcement about the next event in the meeting agenda, including a brief directional statement (for example, “we hope that you will join us in the lobby for a poster session and refreshments.”).