Chairperson guidelines for poster sessions

Chairing a poster session at a scientific conference is a challenging task as it implies direct questioning and dialogue on synthesised points of a scientific work. The job of the chairperson is to make the session informative, interesting and entertaining by facilitating excellent communication between the speakers and the audience. The following are guidelines for chairpersons to help make this happen.

Organisation of poster presentations

Poster presentations are organised into two parts:

  1. "Poster Pitches": 1-minute recap of the central result on the poster: time during the oral session blocks is reserved for poster pitches.
  2. "Poster Session": Author-in-attendance time at the poster board: poster sessions are scheduled at the end of each day after the oral programme (except Friday: extended morning coffee break).

Preparation for poster pitches: The time of the poster pitches and the poster session (Author-in-attendance time) of your specific session is published in the conference programme.

A. Poster pitches

Preparation for poster pitches: Invite poster presenters to present 1–2 slides about their poster in advance.

Poster authors will together with their letter of schedule be asked to prepare 1–2 slides about their poster. However, direct invitation by the session convener(s)/chair(s) 1 or 2 weeks before the conference may be helpful (a tool to address all poster authors of your session is available in the online system).

You may of course prefer to introduce the posters of the session you are chairing yourself. This will involve asking all poster presenters to provide 2–3 sentences on the main message of their poster or a slide you could use. Again, the tool in the online system will help you to address all poster authors without having to collect all email addresses.

Otherwise many of the "rules" prepared for the chairperson guidelines for oral sessions apply accordingly for the poster introduction slot:

  • Upload of presentations: If possible, all poster presenters should also upload their slide on the laptop in the lecture room before the start of the oral session.
  • Introduce the poster presenter
  • Mention the poster board number, and where to find it (if not done by the author).
  • Ensure that the speaker is audible, i.e. check and correct the position of the microphone, especially for speakers with a low voice.
  • Communicate how much time is left to the speaker; for example stand up after 1 minute and time is over after 01:30h; the Limitimer available in the room may be used.
  • Question and answers: Do not allow questions and discussions during the poster introduction time, but invite the audience to discuss all questions and suggestions with the author in front of the poster in the poster area.

B. Poster session (author-in-attendance time)

Authors of posters are requested to attend to their poster during the time their poster presentation is scheduled. The chairperson should try to attend to as many posters as possible. This task could be split if more than one chairperson is nominated.

The ideal approach for a poster session would be that the Chairperson gathers and guides the audience from poster to poster, invites the authors to present their posters for 1–2 minutes and stimulate discussions afterwards.

However, due to the number of posters, the size of the audience, and also limited space in front of a poster board, such an approach will in most cases not be feasible.

Rule 1: Prepare yourself

Prepare yourself for the session by reading the abstracts of the contributions beforehand. Thus, you will always be aware of what to expect and be in a good position to instigate a discussion with the poster presenter. Science does progress more through interactions, criticism, and questioning than just by an assembly-line type of delivering papers.

Rule 2: Get to the venue early

Get to the venue early and make sure you know in which area posters of your session are located and which are the poster board numbers that are allocated to posters of your session.

Rule 3: Find out in advance whether all poster presenters are present

You can check with the Copernicus staff at the registration desk whether they have registered, or go through the poster area and check whether the posters have already been put up at the designated poster boards.


Annex A: How to designate a Chairperson

Normally (one of) the convener(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 convener(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.

If your session is large, i.e. consists of more than 8–10 posters, then it may be advisable to nominate more than one chairperson for the poster session.