2019 Platform Moderator Guidelines
As a platform moderator your role is critical to ensure that the sessions are enjoyable and educational for the speakers and the audience alike. We would like to make a few suggestions to help you in preparing for your session. These suggestions represent best practices derived from moderators who have run successful platform sessions in the past.
Your room should be setup and ready for your session when you arrive. If there are any problems, please contact a USCAP representative or one of the AV personnel as soon as possible.
Arrive to your room 15-30 minutes before the start of the session. Check the podium, microphones (speakers and moderators), computer, and laser pointer for the speakers. Learn how to operate each of these, in case one of the speakers needs help. You may also want to check in with the AV technician running your session and learn how to operate the timer.
When speakers arrive, you can ask them how to pronounce any of the names in their abstract and find out who is presenting the paper. Make a notation of the speaker on your abstract list so that you can announce the presenting author. Also show them the speaker timer on the podium that will be used to indicate the amount of time left. Make sure each speaker is at the session. Occasionally, speakers will cancel or not show up. If a speaker does not show up or cancels, the time should be left empty. In other words, subsequent speakers should not be put into this time slot. Again, people may be going from room to room to hear specific speakers, so staying on schedule is critical. One strategy to fill an open slot is to have a general discussion about a topic or theme of interest to the group.
Running Your Session
The moderators announce each platform presentation. The title of the abstract is read aloud, along with the list of authors. The presenting author should be noted. At the end of the presentation, the moderator opens the paper up for questions.
It is helpful to remind the audience to silence their cell phones and pagers. Arrange to split the abstracts with your co-moderator before the session. The title and authors can be read as the presenter is coming up to the stage; this saves time. If you run into any problems with the lights, noise, or heat/air conditioning, you can ask the AV technician running your session to call for someone to come and help or one of the moderators can seek help from a USCAP representative.
One of your main roles as a moderator is to make sure that the session is running on time. This means that each platform session should start at the published time, and not early or late. Many of our attendees are going between rooms and they rely on each speaker starting at the correct time to jump from session to session. Each presentation is scheduled for 15 minutes, including presentation and question time. The speakers are instructed to take 10 minutes for their talk and leave 5 minutes for questions.
Be sure to use the timer, starting the time at the beginning of the presenter’s talk. If a presentation is running too long, allow the speaker to use his/her question time to finish the formal presentation. Give a warning at the end of their allotted time that they have 30 seconds to wrap up. You may have to stop the presentation, regardless of where the presenter is in the talk. The flashing lights on the timer should also be an indication for the speaker to wrap up a presentation that is too long. You will not be able to take questions after a talk that has run too long. If a presentation is too short, questions are generally used to fill the time. On occasion, you may have to fill a significant amount of time. Come prepared with several open-ended questions you can ask the presenters. If you have asked all of your questions and there are no more from the audience, moderators can open up the session for a general discussion of the topic. It is not recommended to take breaks, since the audience tends to disperse.
Question and Answer Session
The time for questions at the end of each speaker should be carefully controlled by the moderator. The moderator needs to be prepared to fill the question time if there are no questions from the audience and to cut the question time short if necessary. The moderator should also be prepared to control questioning that is too aggressive or inappropriate.
Indicate to the audience that individuals should come to the microphone and state their name and institution before asking their question. Each moderator should be prepared to ask 3-4 questions for each abstract before the session, especially if the audience has none. It is best to allow the audience to ask questions first; then, the moderators can ask their questions to fill time, as necessary.
Managing Disruptive Behaviors
Occasionally you may encounter a participant (speaker or audience member) who displays disruptive behaviors related to defensive posture, emotional outbursts, attention seeking, disrespectful challenging of others’ statements, temper tantrums, sexually/racially insensitive comments, tangential discussions and excessive details. When the disruptive behavior is emotional, acknowledge the participant’s right to his/her feelings and paraphrase that you’ve heard him/her, leave the topic, or declare a time out if the behavior doesn’t end; initially ignore show-off comments and behaviors of attention-seekers and impose equal-time ground rules; for obnoxious challengers, thank the participant for playing the devil’s advocate, differentiate between personal attacks and attacks on perceptions and process, and avoid losing your temper or becoming defensive. For insensitive comments, directly confront the person and explain your displeasure and that the comments are inappropriate; for tangential discussions and exaggerated details, re-direct the participant to the discussion by asking relevant questions and ask the participant to confine remarks to the discussion topic.
If you feel a situation has escalated to a point where it is unsafe for you or other people in attendance, you can call security from any house phone by dialing 333 on any hotel phone. Security can be reached from an outside line or cell phone by dialing 301.965.4500.