TCS 22 Conference Moderator Guidelines
If you are interested in serving as a moderator for the TCS 22 conference, please contact TCS 22 Program Chair Dr. Patrick Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moderators have a special job in public presentations. While the work put into developing a session will determine its value, the professional polish a moderator provides in conducting the session greatly reinforces the content and message. Many moderators also play a role as a speaker. If this is the case, the moderator should introduce him or herself as both at the start of a session.
Preparing Your Speakers
The moderator must prepare all speakers for the session, so that they understand clearly what is expected of them. Moderators must speak with each speaker about his or her own presentation in order to understand how one presentation coordinates with the others. It is important for the moderator to let each speaker know what other speakers in the session are talking about.
While written correspondence is good for confirming details, telephone conversations are effective for resolving questions. Well-prepared moderators will talk with speakers at least twice during the planning process. Sometimes, the moderator completes the planning stage with a conference call among all speakers.
Speakers must be informed of the date, time and location of the public presentation. Even if another person is sending the speakers this information, a considerate moderator will communicate this material as well, to make certain it is received and understood. It is important for moderators to be precise and firm with speakers about the amount of time allocated to their presentations. While most speakers will try to comply with the time limits, few are aware of their pace when actually presenting. Therefore, moderators need to be proactive in keeping the session on schedule.
Moderators prepare the audience to listen by first introducing the session and its purpose. Next, the moderator introduces all speakers. Moderators will be provided with speaker biographies. Moderators should attempt to make all introductions similar. Introductions should be informative yet also brief.
Leave Time For Discussion
All sessions must leave time for discussion. TCS conference sessions are one hour long, which, for example, leaves 20 minutes for each speaker during a 4-speaker session. The moderator and speakers should reserve between 5 to 8 minutes for interaction with the audience. Therefore, for instance, during a four-speaker session, presentations should take between 12 and 15 minutes. Moderators have the option, however, of allowing discussion after each individual presentation or holding discussion until after all the speakers have made their presentations.
When a Speaker Runs Over Time
Speakers talking past the time limit of their presentation is common. This is a problem because it may affect the time allotted to the other speakers during the session and may be affect the next session. Some tips to diplomatically remind a speaker of time limits:
- During the planning stages, alert the speakers to the fact that all time limits will be strictly observed. If a speaker has problems condensing information, offer to review the presentation and suggest ways it can be shortened before the session begins, remind the speakers of their time limits, and tell the speakers clearly that you will signal them as they come to the end of their time.
- Use a technique to alert speakers they are coming to the end of their time. For example, one or two minutes before the end of the talk (particularly if the talk does not seem to be winding down), call "time" softly to the speaker, pass him/her a slip with the remaining time written on it, or tap a pencil.
- Use other techniques to end the presentation, such as standing or walking toward the speaker. Moderators should use approaches that are comfortable to them.
Sometimes, announcements are a necessary feature of sessions. Moderators should read the announcements and alert the audience to handouts or additional materials.
As speakers are asked questions, the moderator or speaker should repeat the question for the entire audience to hear. If questions seem unfocused or unclear, the moderator may wish to rephrase them for the speaker. The moderator also should keep time limits in mind during the question and answer period. The moderator should warn the audience when a session is drawing to a close, and close the session promptly if another session is scheduled after it. The moderator can invite the audience to follow up with speakers after the session.
Moderators can conclude a session with a short thank you to all the speakers. If discussion was cut short, the moderator can extend an invitation to the audience to stay in the room or move to a location outside the session room, where additional discussion can take place.
(i) These guidelines have been adapted from the American Planning Association's 2002 Moderator's Guide, available at