Guidelines for Session Presiders

October 2023

The following guidelines are intended to help those who are moderating sessions encourage a professional and respectful environment. Acting in the role of presider for an AAR session is not only an important position, but a necessary one. The presider acts as a “session advocate” and sets the tone of the session. They are vigilant about maintaining a respectful tone and discouraging diminishing remarks. They keep time and help create an environment where everyone is engaged and critical conversations are encouraged.

Review the Professional Conduct Policy and AAR’s mission and core values.

Before the Session

  1. Contact presenters in a timely fashion before the conference, providing them with the overall timeline of the session with an outline of the session including: how much time they have to present, the order of papers, the amount of time for respondents (if any), questions from the audience, and AV set-up. AV set-ups cannot be changed by individual participants as they are costly for program units. 
  2. Encourage all participants to follow AAR Guidelines for Accessible Presentations.
  3. Inquire about preferred names, pronouns, and pronunciations.
  4. Inquire about accessibility needs, e.g. presenting from head table rather than podium.
  5. Just before the start of the session, confirm that presenters are able to access A/V. If there is a problem, look for an A/V tech in the hallway.
  6. Do not rearrange the room. Doing so will result in additional charges for which the Program Unit will be responsible. If there is a problem with the room setup, contact AAR staff. 

Beginning of the Session

  1. Begin the session on time and welcome the attendees to the session. 
  2. Be sure to mention the name of the Program Unit(s) sponsoring the session and any theme that the session might have. 
  3. Announce that the first row of seats is reserved for presenters and those with accessibility needs. 
  4. Remind participants and audience of the importance of professional conduct and the AAR’s values, specifically respect and inclusion.
  5. Unless presenters have explicitly agreed in certain cases, video recording is prohibited. We encourage all presiders to read the following statement prior to the start of presentations: “Before we get started with introductions, I want to remind you of the importance of AAR’s professional conduct policy and procedures as well as the AAR’s values. As we present and engage with our scholarly work, recording this session is prohibited - an understanding you agreed to when you registered for this Annual Meeting.”  
  6. Outline the structure of the session for the audience (example: “There will be four papers with 15 minutes each, and 20 minutes for Q&A). Follow the order of presentations in the program to avoid confusion.


  1. Introduce participants as they have requested. We recommend not using titles but just the first and last name.
  2. If there are microphones in the room, ask each presenter to use the microphone. Even if a presenter thinks that they speak loudly enough, microphone amplification helps all audience members, especially those who have a hearing impairment. 
  3. Managing time is critical so that each person in the session or on the panel has an equal opportunity to present. Before the session, reiterate the expectation for each presentation’s length. Presiders should sit near the podium, in order to communicate with the presenting speakers. We recommend having a five-minute warning, a one-minute warning, and a “time is up” sign for you to use.


  1. Try to allow 15-20 minutes for a question-and-answer period. Q&A can take place following each individual presentation or in a block after all presentations have concluded. 
  2. During Q&A, remind the audience to avoid jargon, speak briefly (no more than 30 seconds), and ask a question. Repeat the question after it is asked, as it is sometimes hard for all attendees to hear the question as initially asked. It also helps to ensure that the person asking the question knows that they have been heard. Restrict follow-up questions. 
  3. To ensure parity, please be mindful of who is asking questions. Research shows that when women or gender non-conforming people are called on first, there tends to be more gender balance among subsequent questioners. 
  4. Redirect questions to presenter(s) whose paper has not gotten as many questions.
  5. In case Q&A fails to start or slows down, have a few questions/prompts ready to stimulate discussion.

Ending the Session

End the session at the scheduled time, thanking the presenters and audience. If the conversation is still unfolding, encourage it to continue outside so the next session can assemble or the business meeting can begin promptly.

Unruly or Abusive Behavior in Session

If someone is behaving inappropriately, asking the person to stop, and reminding them of why their behavior is inappropriate will cause the person to stop in most cases. If someone persists in that behavior, or if the behavior is serious enough to warrant immediate ejection from the session, please use the emergency numbers on the back of your name badge. 

Violations of the Professional Conduct Policy, especially anything serious enough to warrant ejection from a session, should be reported to the AAR Facilitator at [email protected].

Program Unit Chairs should include information about inappropriate behavior in their sessions in their Annual Meeting Reports so that the Program Committee can be aware of it and follow-up.  

In Case of Emergency

Emergency phone numbers for each property are listed on the back of your name badge. In case of an emergency during the meeting, please call 911.