4-9 September 2022, Bonn, Germany

Guidelines for chairpersons and moderators of oral sessions

The purpose of these guidelines is to support the chair persons and moderators in their role of smoothly running the session and facilitating excellent communication by providing the necessary information on the organization of EMS2022 and some useful guidelines on how to perform their tasks.


  1. At the EMS2022, oral sessions will be run in a fully hybrid format for the first time. Thus, routines familiar from past pre-COVID conferences need to be adapted. Therefore, we invite – and strongly encourage – all convenors to attend one of the training sessions on all aspects of hybrid session chairing in advance of the running of their own session.
  2. Sessions must be chaired by two convenors or assigned chairpersons. We would like to emphasize that, if the onsite meeting is possible, all chairpersons of sessions are required to be physically at the meeting in Bonn; online chairing opportunities are not provided. We ask all convenor teams to nominate two chairpersons for each time block of your session to cope with the different tasks of the hybrid organisation of the session (onsite Q&A and online questions and contributions).
  3. In case the convenors have nominated as chairperson an individual not part of the convenor team, please also make that chairperson aware of these guidelines and the requirements.

Training sessions

Two training sessions will be organised for session chairs. Participation in one of them BEFORE the running of your session is obligatory. It is important to be confident in the coordination of online and onsite presentations, online and onsite Q&A and online and onsite comments and answering of questions; chairs must gain a clear understanding of who is responsible for which part, and work closely together at the same time as managing the technical facilities.

Training Session 1: Sunday 4 September 2022, 17:30
Location: HS 1
The training session (approximately half an hour) will be followed by a small reception for convenors: by invitation only.

Training Session 2: Tuesday 6 September 2022, 18:15
Location: HS 1
The training session (approximately half an hour) will be followed by a small reception for convenors: by invitation only.

Concept for the EMS2022 oral sessions

  • Presentation upload: ALL oral presentations – onsite and online – need to be uploaded to the conference platform in advance of the start of the session. No upload onto the laptop in the lecture room will be allowed for hygiene reasons.
  • Laptops in the room: All presentations are displayed via Zoom by the conference assistant in the room. No upload onto the laptop in the lecture room will be allowed for hygiene reasons and it is NOT possible to use your own notebook. There will be two laptops in each lecture room: a Host laptop and a Presenter laptop. The Host laptop is shared by the conference assistant and one of the session co- chairs; the conference assistant takes care of housekeeping in Zoom (i.e. muting Zoom participants if necessary), and the chair monitors the incoming questions and comments, etc. On the Presenter laptop, the conference assistant accesses Zoom to share the respective uploaded presentation slides.
  • Presenters: All lecture rooms have a monitor at the speaker’s lectern and a wireless presenter device that serves to move the slides forward and as a virtual pointer.
    • Onsite presenters must point on their presentation on the lectern monitor in order to transmit this pointing signal both to the projected screen in the room as well as to the Zoom meeting for virtual attendees.
    • Online presenters will have to indicate to the conference assistant to move slides forward. Online presenters also have the option to submit a pre-recorded talk should they be unable to be present due to time-zone differences, unstable internet connection, or other barriers.
    Ensure that onsite presenters always stand at the lectern in order to catch their video and to use the lectern microphone as otherwise virtual attendees in Zoom will not be able follow the session. For attendees in the room, the microphone will help difficult-of-hearing.
  • Onsite and online audience: The fully hybrid session approach involves speakers and audience split into separate online and onsite groups. Online speakers need the same attention as onsite speakers in the lecture room, and questions can come from onsite attendees as well as online attendees through the Zoom chat. Online attendees in Zoom can also ask live questions that can be followed by the onsite audience. Onsite attendees can ask questions by raising their hand and, when called by the chairperson, speak (hand microphones will be available).
  • Chairpersons: Chairperson 1 will essentially have the same tasks as in an onsite-only meeting, Chairperson 2 will sit in front of the Host-laptop together with the conference assistant to monitor the incoming online comments and questions or raised hands of persons who want to ask live questions. Chairpersons 1 and 2 have to coordinate constantly to either read out online questions from the chat or give the word to an online or onsite person to ask a live question. More relevant tips can be found in the presenter guidelines.

The weeks before the conference and last-minute duties

Daily programme

Should any modifications in your session programme occur after the upload of the final meeting programme, please forward this information directly to ems2022@copernicus.org. These changes will be included in the daily programme for each lecture room to be displayed onsite and online. Changes to the daily programme are possible until 26 August 2022.

Last-minute duties
  • Session modification: log in to your session dashboard. Here, you can edit your chairpersons, add public information to your session to be shown to the people reading the online programme, and find the mailing list of your corresponding authors for final information you would like to provide.
  • Contact your authors and chairpersons by email. Please make sure that they are all attending. Let them know of any planned events associated with your session.

Chairperson and moderator guidelines

The job of the chairpersons is to run the session smoothly and make it informative, interesting, and lively by facilitating excellent communication between the speakers and the audience and especially keeping the time. The following are guidelines for chairpersons to help make this happen. Information on technical support is provided in the Appendix.

Rule 1: Prepare yourself

Prepare yourself for the session and in particular for the discussion parts, by reading the abstracts and looking at the extended display material or live presentations that have been uploaded by the authors presenting in your session beforehand. Thus, you will always be aware of what to expect during the flow of the session and be in a good position to steer a lively and interesting discussion. Science does progress more through interactions, criticism, and questioning than by just an assembly-line type of paper delivery. Based on the material presented in these uploads, prepare one question for each presenter that can be put to the author during Q&A – in case there are no questions from the audience.

Please monitor your session through the session modification tool up to the scheduled presentation time. In particular, we ask you to do the following:

  • Select two chairpersons per session block.
  • Please check the last-minute duties below.
Rule 2: Get to the venue early and make sure all facilities are working

Get to the venue well in time, make last minute agreements with your co-chair who will monitor the online questions at the Host laptop and who will moderate the session in the lecture room, recap within the information in these guidelines and from the training session about the technical facilities, and introduce yourself to the assistant (see also the Appendix about technical support).

Rule 3: Find out in advance whether all your speakers are present

In order to avoid the situation of suddenly having to fill a gap, try in advance to find out whether all your speakers are likely to be present:

  • Check with the conference assistant whether live presentations have been uploaded for each scheduled presentation. You can also check in the convenors’ dashboard the list of live presentations that have been uploaded.
  • Check that online presenters are in Zoom and that onsite presenters are present in the lecture room.
Rule 4: Let your speakers know the rules

A session will run more smoothly if you let all the speakers know how you plan to run your session. This could be done by email before the event. Reminding them how much time they have to speak, how much time to allow for questions, and how you will let them know time is up will avoid confusion later on.

Rule 5: Introduce yourself and the speakers

Introduce yourself and welcome the audience to the session. It is your job to stimulate and spark the interest of people at the session and have them stay in the auditorium. Regarding the speakers, introduce each one before they begin and provide their affiliation. Speakers love to be properly introduced and the audience likes to feel they know the person speaking. Remember, however, not to use the precious and limited time allowed to the speaker for her/his presentation.

Rule 6: Do not let things overrun: time schedule and programme gaps

Open the session exactly on the scheduled time and introduce yourself and your co-chair to the audience. Timing is important to ensure that a meeting runs smoothly. Timing is particularly acute in view of multiple parallel sessions as many participants will want to switch between talks in different sessions and attend selected presentations. Also, right timing should enable participants to leave the session at the adequate time for lunches, coffee breaks, transportation, etc. Therefore, if a gap should occur in the time schedule and no stand-by paper is available to fill in, we ask convenors/chairpersons to be prepared for such an event by either

  • allowing discussions on the previous talks,
  • allowing general discussions on the item of the session and/or related topics or
  • foreseeing a stand-in presentation.
  • In case no poster pitches have already been scheduled in the programme, foreseeing such short introductions to the posters related to the session is also a possibility. See also the Chairperson Guidelines for poster presentations (in preparation).
Rule 7: Communicate how much time is left to the speaker

Letting the speaker know their time is up is crucial in keeping time. The Limitimer (see the technical information in the Appendix) will help the speaker, you and the audience to keep track of the time. You may also consider giving them a sign 3 minutes before the time is up. However, make sure you bring your own watch so you can monitor time. If you do not know what time a speaker started, it is difficult to know when to ask them to stop so always write down the start and finish times of speakers throughout the session.

Rule 8: Keep control of the Question and Answer sessions

It is difficult for the session chairs to keep things on time if the speaker is in control of taking questions. Make sure you are the one who selects the next questioner. Also, be prepared to step in if the speaker and questioner are getting into a long-winded, technical discussion.

Rule 9: Prepare some questions in advance

A good scientific session is characterised by a lively question and answer session. It can take an audience a few seconds to digest the contents of a talk and think of questions. So, it is always good to have one or two questions ready to ask. These can be prepared beforehand by reading the abstracts and the display material that has been uploaded by the author in advance and supplemented with those that occur to you during the talk. Also, it is worth thinking of one or two general purpose questions such as "How do you plan to continue this research work?"

Rule 10: Time keeping is vital, so do not be afraid to move on without questions

Some speakers may expect to answer questions even after their allotted time is up. If you are running over time, you should not be afraid to move on to the next talk without questions. You will be more confident in enforcing this principle if you have warned the speaker beforehand that running over time will mean no time for questions. You can stay on schedule by diplomatically saying that “the speaker will be happy to take questions during the break”. We hope these hints will help you as chairperson in this essential task for the conference; we thank you very much for your contributions, efforts, and preparations in the organisation and running of your session!

Many of the rules are taken or inspired by the following article: Ten Simple Rules for Chairing a Scientific Session by Bateman A., Bourne, P.E. (2009) Ten Simple Rules for Chairing a Scientific Session. PLoS Comput Biol 5(9): e1000517.doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000517. Copyright: © 2009 Bateman, Bourne. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Appendix: Some information on technical support during your session

Photo and video taking by the audience: Be aware and remind people that it is not permitted to take a screen capture or record live online presentations and discussions in any session unless the presenter, panellists, and speakers authorise this. Equally, video and photo recordings of scientific material shown in any onsite oral or poster presentations are not allowed unless the presenter authorises it. Presenters are encouraged to inform the audience if they welcome photos, screen captures or sharing on social media by including one of the following graphics on their slides: “Screen capture/photos welcome (white)” (download PNG, JPG, PDF), “Screen capture/photos welcome (blue)” (download PNG, JPG, PDF), “Screen capture/photos NOT allowed” (white) download PNG, JPG, PDF), “Screen capture/photos NOT allowed” (blue) (download PNG, JPG, PDF).

A slide with rules for the running of the session will be on display at the start of the session. Please draw the attention of the audience to the main points, including that slides will be handled by the conference assistant and that microphones of online participants should be kept mute unless one is presenting or invited to ask a question.

Chairperson: Normally (one of) the convenor(s) who prepared the session is also chairing (part of) the session. Should this not be possible, speakers/authors may be nominated by the appropriate convenor(s) or asked by the meeting organiser to act as chairperson of a particular sub-session. In order for the meeting organiser to maintain the quality of the scientific programme, it is essential that the chairpersons are aware of the tasks and how to lead a session and discussion.

Time allocation: All times allocated for presentations (normally 15 minutes) also include the time for discussions and change-over. For a standard slot, this means that the presentation should finish after 12 minutes, thus leaving 3 minutes for discussions.

Limitimer: To help you keep the session on time, a Limitimer (a device that simulates a traffic light) is available in all lecture rooms; the assistant will work the device. For all lectures the same timing will be set: the green light is on from the start of the presentation for 9 minutes (3 minutes before the 12 min time for the presentation is up); then yellow is on, meaning the presenter has 3 minutes to finish and conclude. Then the light turns red and 3 minutes are available for questions and discussions. The Limitimer will also always show the time elapsed since the start of the presentation. Ensure that the Limitimer is clearly visible to the onsite speaker (for solicited presentations of 30 minutes the green light stays on for 24 minutes).

Programme changes: Any programme changes received after the programme has been uploaded, and until 10 days before the meeting, will be included in the "Daily Programme": this revised session programme is shown outside or near the entrance of the corresponding lecture room. The chairperson will receive a printed copy of the revised programme from the assistant, and s/he is kindly asked to return it after the session. Any last-minute modifications should be noted in these programmes by the chairperson (or the assistant if asked by the chairperson), as well the start and end times of each presentation.

Display material and live presentation file: convenors see an overview of all uploaded display material in the session modification dashboard. Live presentation files are also accessible but these are expected to become available only shortly before the meeting as authors often leave preparation and fine-tuning to the last minute.

Microphones, video, and virtual pointers: A webcam catches the lectern in the lecture room and the microphone at the lectern is captured for streaming in Zoom. Ensure that onsite speakers are always at the lectern in order to catch their video and to use the lectern microphone as virtual attendees in Zoom could otherwise not follow the session. For attendees in the room, the microphone helps the difficult-of-hearing. Use your chairperson microphone at your desk when moderating the session. Ask the audience to use a microphone when asking questions or repeat their questions through your microphone.

All lecture rooms have a wireless presenter device at the lectern with a virtual pointer. Speakers are obliged to point on their presentation on the lectern monitor in order to transmit this pointing signal both to the projected screen in the room as well as to the Zoom meeting for virtual attendees.

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