Talk Moderator Instructions

Thank you for accepting the important task of moderating a Talk Session at VSS. 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 also familiarize yourself with the Talk Presenter Instructions.

Time Keeping

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 or the presenter does not show up, 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.

Working the 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.

Talk Timer Lights

The talk timer counts UP from zero to 15. Here’s what the talk timing lights mean:

  1. Talk Time – From 0 to 10 minutes: The GREEN light is on during the talk time.
  2. Wrap Up – At 10 minutes: The YELLOW light displays and two-short beeps indicate that 2 minutes of talk time remains.
  3. Discussion – At 12 minutes: The RED light displays and two short beeps indicate that talk time has ended and the 3-minute question and answer period has started.
  4. Talk Ended – At 15 minutes: The FLASHING RED light and two long-beeps indicate that the presentation time has ended. You must stop immediately to allow the next speaker to start on time.

Moderating Your Talk Session

Before Your Session

  1. Arrive at least 30 minutes before your session start time.
  2. The VSS Staff person in the room will have a printed moderator sheet for you. This sheet lists the talks, speakers, and start time of each talk. On the back is room for making notes about the session.
  3. Introduce yourself to each of the speakers and to the technician. VSS Staff and an AV Technician are present prior to your session to oversee preparations and answer any questions. The AV Technician is in the room at all times. In addition, a member of the Board of Directors will attend the session and can help with situations.
  4. If you are also 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).
  5. Confirm that all speakers are present. Report any missing speakers to the VSS Staff person in the room.
  6. Make sure that there are NO DRINKS on the table with the computers to avoid costly accidents.
  7. Ensure that all presenters have set up their computers and tested the projection of their presentation. Ask them to test audio and video, if any.
  8. Ask the presenters take seats close to you in the front row.
  9. Familiarize all speakers with the talk room equipment:
  • Microphones – Speakers can use either the lectern microphone or the Lavaliere (wireless lapel microphone).
  • Mouse Pointer – Test the mouse pointer and give it to the speaker.
  • Talk Timers – Make sure that all speakers understand what the timing lights mean.
  • Switch Box – The technician in the room will work the switch box to control which computer’s display is being projected onto the room screen.

At the Start of Your Session

In front of the lectern is a large “confidence monitor” that allows you to see what is being projected and recorded. It’s important that you stand at the lectern so you are within the frame of the video camera that is recording the session.

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

For Each Talk

  1. The AV Technician will put the first slide of the talk on the screen. Introduce the title of the presentation, the presenter, and all of the authors.
  2. Start the timer and step away from the lectern so the speaker can step up to the lectern.
  3. When the red light appears on the timer (at 12 minutes) move to the stage to make it clear to the speaker that their presentation time is nearing end.
  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. Indicate the next speaker to come on stage and set up his/her computer. Speakers have the option of leaving their laptop on the table with the AV Technician and use the confidence monitor for viewing their presentation, or, if they prefer or need to use presenter view, they can move their laptop to the lectern (being careful to keep all cables connected).
  7. 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.
  3. Make notes on the back of your Moderator sheet and turn it in to VSS Staff, board member, or the Registration Desk.

Technical Assistance

If you have a problem of any kind, alert the AV 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 +1-415-302-4107 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 +1-727-367-6461 or at ext. 7814 or 7814 from a house phone.