Talk Moderator Instructions

Thank you for accepting the important task of Talk Session Moderator. Besides introducing each speaker, you are also responsible for ensuring that each talk starts and ends precisely on time. Below are some suggestions to help make your session run smoothly.

You should first familiarize yourself with the Talk Presentation Instructions.

Staying on Time

A primary responsibility of the moderator is to keep the session on time. It’s important that all talks start and stop at the scheduled time. Here are some pointers:

  1. Instruct the presenters that all talks must start on time and must adhere to the 15 minute time limit, which is a 12-minute presentation followed by a 3-minute discussion period.
  2. Tell the speakers that you will not allow extra time for the talk. There should be time for questions and people should have time to switch rooms.
  3. Make sure that your watch (or phone) is indicating the correct, current time.
  4. To facilitate the talk starting on time, during the current speaker’s 3-minute discussion period, the next speaker should get set up on the platform. Explain this process to all speakers.
  5. If a talk finishes early, or if a talk is cancelled, you must wait until the appropriate quarter-hour start time to introduce the next talk.
  6. Explain to the speakers how the timer works and what the light signals mean. Explain how you will indicate when it is time to wrap up.
  7. Remind presenters that you are responsible for making the decision to move on to the next talk.
  8. Make sure the presenters take seats close to you in the front row.

Talk Timers

Failing to start the talk timer is the most common mistake made by moderators. Remember to start the talk timer immediately after introducing the speaker. To start the timer at the start of each talk:

  1. Press the Start/Stop button to stop the timer.
  2. Press the Clear button to reset the timer to zero.
  3. Press the Start/Stop button to start the timer.

For an explanation of the timing lights, see Talk Timing instructions.

Before Your Session

  1. Arrive at least 30 minutes before your session start time.
  2. Introduce yourself to each of the speakers and to the technician. VSS staff will also be present prior to your session to oversee preparations and answer any questions. In addition, a member of the Board of Directors will also attend the session and can help with situations.
  3. If you are a speaker in this session, before the session begins, find another person to perform moderator duties for your talk (introduce your talk, keep time, and moderate questions).
  4. Confirm that all speakers are present. Report any missing speakers to the VSS staff person in the room.
  5. Make sure that there are NO DRINKS the table with the computers to avoid costly accidents.
  6. Ensure that all presenters have set up their computers and tested the projection. Ask them to test audio and video, if any.
  7. Ask the presenters take seats close to you in the front row.
  8. Familiarize all speakers with the talk room equipment:
  • Microphones – Speakers can use either the lectern microphone or the Lavaliere (wireless lapel microphone). For more information, see Tips for Using the Lavaliere.
  • Laser Pointer – Test the laser pointer and give it to the speaker.
  • Talk Timers – Make sure that all speakers understand what the timing lights mean. See Talk Timing.
  • Switch Box – The speakers should know where the box is and what button to push to put their presentation live.

At the Start of Your Session

  1. Welcome the audience and announce the title of the session.
  2. Introduce yourself.

For Each Talk

  1. Introduce the tile of the presentation, the presenter, and all of the authors.
  2. Start the timer.
  3. When the red light appears on the timer (at 12 minutes) get on stage to make it clear that the presentation is finishing up.
  4. You decide (not the presenter) who asks questions. So you invite the audience.
  5. If possible, prepare a question to get the discussion started. If there are no more questions, no worries, take a break. Just make sure that the next talk starts on time (no earlier).
  6. IMPORTANT! Some non-native speakers may find it hard to formulate or to understand a question. Please handle this with care. Sometimes it is better to ‘move on’ to the next talk than to have someone else ask another question and embarrass the presenter again.
  7. Indicate the next speaker to come on stage and set up his/her computer.
  8. Make sure that that the next speaker can start on time (don’t accept when presenters claim time ‘I have to answer this, it is very important…’ etc. You are the boss!

At the End of Your Session

  1. Thank the audience and the speakers.
  2. Have a brief chat with the speakers, technical staff, and Board member to determine if there were issues that should be communicated to the VSS staff.

Technical Assistance

If you have a problem of any kind, alert the technician in the room for assistance. The attending board member should note the problem and report it to VSS staff so it can be logged.

To reach the VSS Technical Manager, please call Jeff Wilson at 415-302-4107 or send someone to the Registration Desk. If you need to reach VSS staff at the meeting, send someone to the Registration Desk or call 727-367-6461 or at ext. 7814 or 7814 from a house phone.

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