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My advisor invited me to host a panel at a conference next week because she is on vacation and of course I said yes right away without thinking.

But now I realize I should asked more questions, because I don’t really know what to do.

What are some good tips on how to be a great host for a panel? For ex, maybe I should get everyone’s presentation in advance on the same pin drive so we don’t need to switch between presentations all the time. That’s obvious. But what else?

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If you had a bit more time, I'd suggest that you contact each of the participants and ask them a few questions. It may be too late for that, but they will probably want to know the order of presentation.

They will certainly want to know how much time they each have and how you should (or should not) signal them as the end of their slot approaches.

You need to know how questions from the audience are handled at the conference - after each presentation - all together at the end - not at all. Make sure that there is time for questions, if allowed.

If someone ends early, it is usually appropriate to delay the start of the next speaker so that those people who want to hear only part of the panel have time to arrive and/or leave without disruption. But that may vary with local custom.

If possible, try to meet the presenters before the panel session.

Coordinate with any volunteers that are available for such things as water or special needs.

Get there early to make sure the setup is correct.

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Some basics from my experience as a panel chair: At the bare minimum, email all of the presenters in advance about their AV/tech needs. As a panel chair, you will need to make sure that each presenter doesn't go over the necessary time limit. You can tell them at the panel that you will signal at them when they have, say, 5 minutes left, or 1 minute left. You can do this with your hands or with a sheet of paper with the time left on it. Make sure to meet the presenters beforehand so that you can know how to pronounce their names correctly, too. You might want to read a short bio in addition to the introduction of each speaker; it depends on the conference.

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