70

When I am chairing a session, I always check a few minutes beforehand to ensure that all of the speakers are there. That's also a good time to check on pronunciation of names. Just say something like: Can you please say your name for me? I'd like to pronounce it right when I introduce you. Then it will be fresh in your mind, there'll be a decent ...


69

Firstly, I should note that the examples you give are certainly somewhat agressively formulated (more so than would be common in my field), but not in themselves invalid questions. It is certainly "allowed" to be critical of the presented work, and there is nothing the session chair can or should do about this. As a speaker, it always helps to think in ...


47

As others have noted in the comments, there's a difference between questions that have legitimate content but an unnecessarily aggressive tone (e.g., "Isn't it obvious that won't work for reason X, you fool?"), and questions that are purely verbal attacks with no real substance ("How did you even get accepted to this conference?"). As a speaker, the best ...


43

I would not know any reason that forces chairs to read the title of the talk. On the contrary, even with grammatically correct titles, it feels rather lazy and unnatural to me. Also there is a certain kind of speaker who will read their title, no matter what you do. This is a little bit less awkward, if you haven’t read the title already. Hence, if I am ...


41

Yes, you should. Whether this is common depends very much on the conference. The last time I was at a conference, I was invited out of the blue by someone I didn't know to chair a session, in a very short and very informal e-mail as if it was coming from a long time friend in a hurry. This was less than a year after I obtained my PhD. A PhD student in ...


35

As a presenter I believe that the best advice I can give is be honest, be yourself, and be prepared. This goes for your presentation and any research/material surrounding your lecture. I have given many presentations/lectures/seminars in the field of computer science. Many of these at one point in time revolved around trade automation within direct ...


34

The typical duties of a session chair are: Before the session, make sure all of the presenters are present and check A/V to minimize problems during the session. Convene the session at its start, getting the audience to sit down and be quiet. Introduce each presenter and their talk. Keep the session on time, warning a presenters when they approach the end ...


20

My method seems to be a bit more... devious... than the methods proposed by other answers. This is something that was handed down in a roundabout fashion from other researchers I know. No one talks about it directly but I've had one on one conversations when it comes up. As a presenter I try to make sure to lead the audience to what might seem like a couple ...


19

A neutral way to effectively bypass the question could be to ask "may we have a chat about that in the break?". Those sorts of questions are often not productive to answer in front of an audience, particularly if you don't think it's a valid concern. If you have an answer on hand, then you should answer the question - but you don't want to get into an ...


14

As a chair, it is a good idea to find and meet your presenters before your session, especially if you don't know them. Few things are more embarrassing than introducing a speaker you don't know, then asking "Uhm, is professor X actually in the room?", only to see X stand up in the first row right in front of you. You should make sure that the presentations ...


13

First, a general method for softening rudely-posed questions is that the session chair can rephrase the question into a more productive form. That is, the useful and constructive content can be separated from possibly hostile tone or affect of the questioner... especially if, as the session chair can probably judge by the affect of the speaker, the speaker ...


13

One possibility is to have a chat with the speakers over breakfast, if this is served at the conference place for all the participants. For example, a well-known conference in my field organizes the so-called speakers' breakfasts to allow a first contact between chairmen and speakers. A second possibility is to check a few pronunciation guides on the ...


12

Yes, it's okay to volunteer to chair a session, but there is not a lot of benefit to it and you might be turned down. People may see it as unusual, since it's not a prestigious job (certainly nothing to list on your CV). It's important to have a chair who can keep the session running on time, provide appropriate introductions, and sometimes ask a question ...


10

You need to be able to stand up and stop big shots from talking if they exceed their time. I have seen chairs turning the mic off for people overrunning their time. Do you want to be the one shutting up some big guy? Plus, you should think of questions to ask for every talk in your session, to avoid silent embarrassment after the talk if nobody else asks ...


10

"That method won't work at all for what you're trying to do. Your results are completely invalid." Stay calm and kindly answer: "Thank you, I am very grateful for your input. Could you please be more specific about why you think it wouldn't work?" This way you will embarrass them - you will show that you react like a kind person and scientist, ...


9

When a name comes from a non-English language, there's always the question whether the pronunciation has been anglicized or not. In such cases, I see no sound alternative to asking the speaker directly. For example, some of my siblings have anglicized the pronunciation of our common name "Blass" more than I have. I experienced another example a few years ago,...


8

My question here, specifically, is what can be done to minimize these (uncomfortable for everyone) instances?` I disagree with your premise, that one should do anything to minimize these instances. These questions (excluding sexist behavior) are not only legitimate, but are a useful mechanism of quality control that forces researchers to perform their ...


8

Disclaimer: As usual, there can be different traditions depending on the field. I'll answer on the basis of my experience in a relatively small field, that of metrology, which is between physics and engineering. The session chair is usually chosen among experienced researchers for the following reasons: At least out of courtesy, they are expected to ask ...


8

The following answer is based on my understanding of what it means to organise a symposium in a conference (i.e., commonly a conference session of about 60 to 120 minutes with around 3 to 8 talks all with a common theme, where the chair is the one to invite and arrange the talks and often provides a more general introduction to the talks). Obviously, I'm not ...


5

It's pretty common to assign a chair arbitrarily from among the speakers of a session. After all, those are the people who are most likely to want to attend that session anyway. If they assigned someone else, it might prevent that person from attending a different session at the same time, that would interest them more. It would have been more courteous ...


5

I would propose to put both points into your CV. The interpretation you're afraid of is a bit far-fetched, and while some persons may indeed come to such a conclusion, I think most will not. Even for those who would think there has been an influence, I would argue that putting both is better than putting only one of them. This is because they are in ...


4

I have done so, and the participants weren't troubled by it at all. As a PhD student you are supposed to become an expert on your (very narrow) topic, so near the end you are supposed to know more than most about that one topic than others in your field. Susceptability to status differs quite a bit from country to country and discipline to discipline, so ...


4

In addition to what the others mentioned, in the Q&A: Steer the Q&A: keep audience questions fresh, focused and constructive, avoid non-questions, rants, ad-hominems, personality clashes, know when a back-and-forth needs to be (gracefully) taken offline vs when it doesn't. Know when to let things roll and when to change the topic. When needed, ...


4

The short answer is yes. Anything that can be considered meriting can (or should) be added to a CV in my opinion. I have a heading "Other meriting academic miissions" in my CV where I list things that I consider meriting but do not fit under other headings where the list is longer. this includes, invited talks, tenure evaluations, etc. My strategy with my ...


3

I see absolutely no reason why not. It fits perfectly well into "other academic achievements, honors, and activities" (or whatever else your title of this part is). Just don't declare it the biggest achievement in your lifetime and provide the relevant details (conference name, level, session, etc.) in a reasonably full and concise format so that people can ...


3

Chairing a session during a prestigious conference is certainly a good indication that you are recognised within your community (at least to the conference committee) and they value your contributions to the field. It should be definitely part of your CV (and online CV if you do have one).


3

I think you are misunderstanding the instructions. Let's say a presenter is scheduled to begin their talk at 11:00. If they are not there at 11:00, they have failed to attend, for the purposes of these instructions. The instructions go on to say what you should do in that case. It's not asking you to predict the future, or to guess at 11:00 whether they ...


2

I can only speak for my field (biology), and I can say that I have seen this happen. Most of the time, I think the session chair were informed of their role before. It is a small task, but you could enquire if they have specific rules to follow or if someone else will be there as a support (technical support for example).


2

You should expect some professional distance between yourself and anyone you supervise. You can be "friendly" of course, and you can interact at departmental social functions in a friendly way, but you have to recognize that whenever a dispute arises you are the boss, not the pal. Some departments, however, with a long history of very collegial ...


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