SIGCSE 2020 Session Chair Information

Paper Session Chair Guidelines

Each session consists of three 25-minute paper presentations. Each presentation is expected to last up to 20 minutes with 5 minutes for questions.

Session Chair Responsibilities

Session chairs should complete the following tasks:

  • Before the session, connect with the presenters and ensure that you know:
    • pronunciation of speaker name(s)
    • speaker’s affiliation(s)
    • speaker’s title(s)
    • speaker’s pronouns
    • if the speaker is a student who will be graduating soon
  • Before the session starts, have speakers check equipment and send your assigned student volunteer for help if needed.
  • When speaking to the session, always use a microphone!
  • Start the session on time by introducing yourself and the entire session.
  • Introduce each speaker using their proper name. Ensure that introductions are consistent for all speakers in the sessions using common titles and language.
  • Keep time and provide five-minute, two-minute, and one-minute warnings before the start of the 5-minute question and answer period.
  • When the speakers is done, say “Let’s thank our speaker” and applaud.
  • Twenty-five minutes is a hard stop. When time is up, stand up, thank the speaker, and applaud up the next speaker.
  • Have the next speaker start to set up about 1 minute before question time is done to ensure a smooth transition.
  • If you need to cut of a questioner or discussion, suggest that the discussion resumes after the session is over.
  • Cut off any questions that are belligerent or insulting. Please let the Program or General Chairs know about the issue.
  • If a speaker is absent or if a speaker finishes before their 25-minutes is over, do NOT start the next paper early! Attendees will time their attendance with the start times listed in the program.
  • Come prepared with a question for each speaker! You can discuss this with your speakers.
  • At the end of the session, tell attendees what is next.
  • Before leaving the session, sign off on the student volunteer form.

Many of these items are from Emery Berger’s blog post “A Guide for Session Chairs”, which provides more details about useful session chair information.

Session Chairs: How to make sure your session is inclusive?

SIGCSE conferences are becoming increasingly diverse, with attendees from all over the world who represent varied gender, racial, ethnic, disability, and other identities. As a session chair, there are steps you can take to ensure that the session for which you are responsible is as inclusive as possible for attendees. The following guidelines complement Emory Berger’s Guide for Session Chairs towards promoting increased knowledge sharing and engagement of all our community members. These guidelines are derived in part from the Accessible Conference Guide.

  • In advance of the session please ask presenters to review the SIGCSE 2020 Presenter Information including the links to the SIG ACCESS Accessible Presentation Guide.
  • In preparation for introducing the presenter, ask the author what pronouns they use, to avoid misgendering.
  • Ensure that aisleways are kept clear and that there is room to seat wheelchair users.
  • If the presenter is not speaking directly into the microphone, briefly halt the presentation to adjust the microphone / audio levels before proceeding.
  • Remind the audience to use a microphone to ask questions, so that everyone can hear. Remind them to state their name before speaking, for the benefit of those who cannot see who is speaking. If questions are asked without a microphone, repeat the question into the microphone for the benefit of those using hearing technologies.
  • If there is an interpreter or captioner present, the lighting should be good enough that they can be easily seen by the deaf attendee(s). Explain to presenters that they should speak with a normal tone and pace, unless asked to slow down by the interpreter. When speaking with deaf presenters or attendees, always face them directly and do not face the interpreter.
  • A presenter with a visual impairment may request assistance from a student volunteer to advance slides. To signal remaining time for presenters, ask the presenter what they prefer; a tap or double tap on the table/floor can be an effective alternative to visual cues. The session chair, or a volunteer, can also facilitate question asking.
  • Discuss accessibility issues with the speakers before the session.

If you have any questions about accessibility, please feel free to reach out to this year’s Accessibility Liaison: Mohsen Dorodchi -

Thank you for chairing a session at SIGCSE 2020!