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Session Chair Information
Last updated: Wednesday
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Regular contributed oral talks are 10 minutes.
(5 minutes for talk + 3 minutes for questions and answers + 2 for changeover

Dissertation contributed oral talks are 20 minutes and are marked with a “D” at the end of their presentation number.
(15 minutes for talk + 3 minutes for questions and answers + 2 for changeover)

Special Session talks vary in length.
If the Session Organizer provided time allotments they will appear below, in the online Program and on the session’s door sign.

Invited talks are 50 minutes.
(40 minutes + 10 minutes for questions and answers)

The Responsibilities of Session Chairs:

Session Chairs are responsible for the implementation of the rules governing the oral presentations established by the AAS Council and the success, defined broadly, of the session they are chairing. Along with the fair application of the time limits for presentations and questions, session chairs must be familiar enough with the audiovisual equipment and support resources to assist individual presenters. Staff or volunteers are typically provided for each room to assist session chairs with getting assistance or solving minor problems, yet the session chair must also familiarize themselves with the room and equipment before their session begins to ensure success. AAS staff can provide support and training as necessary to enable session chairs in this area.

Additionally, session chairs are responsible for ensuring a professional atmosphere in each session, consistent with the AAS professional ethics guidelines and anti-harassment policies. Session chairs should especially be wary of harassment of early-career speakers in the form of overly challenging or humiliating questioning by session attendees. If a question is inappropriate or unprofessional, it is appropriate for the session chair to intervene or take another question.

Finally, it is the session chair's responsibility to ensure that all members, regardless of disability, can participate in and benefit from the scientific sessions. Those with disabilities, whether permanent or temporary, should be provided seating and resources necessary to fully engage in the session. AAS meeting staff is able to provide resources and works to find out requirements ahead of the meeting, though such resources can often be provided on short notice as long as session chairs communicate these needs to AAS staff via the in-room meeting staff or volunteer.

Session chairs are expected to attend a training breakfast in the morning before their session, where they will have a chance to see the technology used in the sessions, to meet A/V staff, and to discuss how to handle situations that may arise. A brief summary of key points is given here.

Session Chair Guidelines:

  1. keep the program on schedule to facilitate the parallel sessions, and
  2. help coax the discussion of papers with a question of your own, should none come from the floor. Otherwise, talks are not to be rearranged nor are presentations to be added unless approved by the AAS Office. A list of program changes will be distributed to all registrants, as well as posted on the meeting website. For those of you who have not chaired before, a list of helpful hints is below.

Each session room will be equipped with a screen, laptop, projector, laser pointers, microphone, timer and podium.

AAS Hints for Session Chairs

  1. Review the contents of your session in advance. Learn to pronounce the speakers names by making yourself available before the session begins and speaking briefly with any presenters present.

  2. Make sure your equipment (microphone, timer) is on hand. (Important) If the speaker's voice is too soft, encourage him/her to speak up or change the microphone position.

  3. A speaker may not connect his/her laptop to the LCD projector without prior approval from the Speaker Ready room (AV staff). All presentations are to be pre-loaded through the speaker ready room.

  4. Before the session begins, ask that all cell phones be turned off.

  5. Introduce yourself at the start of the session and mention the session number.

  6. Introduce each speaker by reading the title of their contribution, their name and their affiliation. 

  7. Check the Program Update and session door sign for withdrawn papers or speaker changes. If a paper in the middle of the session is withdrawn, use the time for extra discussion on earlier papers so that those moving between parallel sessions will arrive in time for a paper that they wish to hear. Similarly, in the event of a last minute or unannounced cancellation, call a brief break as a courtesy to those planning their moves between the parallel sessions. The session chair must not switch or rearrange the order of speakers.

    If the talks in your sessions do not fill the entire time block, you can choose to have an extra discussion period after the last talk or end the session early.

  8. Moderate the question and answer period. Encourage people to use the microphone so that all can hear the questions. You can repeat the questions from the floor to make them audible to everyone and to give the speaker a chance to think. Try to get as many questions in as possible and try not to let one person dominate the discussion. Help stimulate the discussion by asking at least one question if questions are not forthcoming from the floor.

Please note: an email will be generated when additional chairs are needed.