Instructions, Best Practices, and FAQs for Session Chairs

Thank you so much for agreeing to chair a session at the conference! We’ve provided you with information and guidelines about chairing your session below. Please let us know if you have any questions that aren’t addressed here.

Chairing Responsibilities

Your main responsibilities as a chair will be to introduce the panel, announce the presenter(s), keep track of the time of presentations/sessions, and moderate the q&a, which will come primarily from the chat.

Time of arrival

Please arrive to your session at least 10 minutes before it starts in order to introduce yourself to the presenter(s) and to make sure that everything is set to begin the session on time.

Session/presentation timing

  • If you are chairing a paper session or panel, each presenter has 20 minutes to present their paper. Please keep each presenter within time as much as is possible. If a presenter goes over time, please take the time that they’ve gone over out of their q&a time. This will help to ensure that each presenter gets the same amount of time and that the sessions stay within their allotted timeframe.
    • Except in the case of pre-organized panels (in which case the presenters can choose how they would like to distribute the q&a(s)), we have decided to have each presenter’s q&a will immediately follow their paper.
    • If you are chairing panel x or panel y, your session is going to go for two hours in order to allow each presenter to present for 20 minutes with a 10-minute q&a.
  • If you are chairing a lecture recital or workshop, the presenter has 45 minutes to 1 hour to present their workshop or lecture recital, after which there will be a q&a for a maximum of 30 minutes. Please try to conclude the session as close to one hour and 30 minutes as possible so as to ensure that presenters and attendees get to have a break between sessions.


You should not have to worry about technology during the session you are chairing. There will be a graduate student conference assistant or conference organizer acting as the “room attendant” in your session will be in charge of technology for your session; they will arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the start of each session. You will be given co-hosting status on Zoom for your session.

In addition to helping presenters to check their technology prior to the start of each session, the room attendant will:

  • let participants into your session.
  • turn the chat function off and on during your session (more info below).
  • cue up and play the presentations of any presenters who pre-recorded their talks in advance of the conference.

Please do not share the Zoom link for your session with anyone who hasn’t registered for the conference.

Introducing your session

Begin your session by briefly introducing yourself and announcing the title of the session. While we encourage chairs to provide a land acknowledgement for the session (in whatever way(s) make sense to them), we want to leave this up to each of you. Let the audience know about the structure of the session (i.e. how long the presentation(s) will be and how q&a will run, including that the chat function will remain off during the presentation(s)) and remind the audience that many presentation texts can be found on the conference website ( and to please not take screen shots during presentations or q&as.

Please introduce each panelist with their bio, presentation title, and any trigger warnings just prior to their presentation. Try to keep your introduction of each presenter/presentation to approximately a minute if possible (to facilitate keeping to the schedule).

Chat function in sessions

We have decided to leave the chat function off during each presentation in order to minimize distractions for each presenter. The graduate student conference assistant or conference organizer acting as the “room attendant” in your session will turn the chat function off at the start of each presentation and turn it on at the beginning of the q&a.

Moderating q&a

You may want to come up with a few questions to ask the presenter(s) in case there is a lull in discussion.

Because we’ll be operating in Zoom’s webinar format, you’ll be taking all of the questions from the Zoom chat. In order to acknowledge the voices of as many participants as possible, try to take questions in the chat in the order in which they are asked, except in cases of obvious repetition, off-topic remarks, or aggression on the part of the asker.

Please state the name of the person who has asked a question (unless they’ve asked to remain anonymous) followed by their question. We will encourage all attendees asking questions to identify themselves.

Social Media

Although there is absolutely no pressure to post about the conference’s events on social media, we have chosen the hashtag #musicsoundtrauma2021 in case you would like to do so.

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