Guidance for presenters and session chairs

Thank you for being a presenter and/or session chair for OER18: Open to All.

Please make sure to read these guidelines carefully: the success of the conference depends a lot on active and lively sessions and fair chairing. We have drawn up these guidelines to help you and your audience get the most out of your session. The following guidance is also available as a Google Document and PDF.

Guidelines for Presenters

About presentation formats

Presentations20  minutesThese will normally take the form of a 15-minute presentation followed by 5 minutes for questions.
Lightning talks5 minutesThe title says it all.
Workshops and other long sessions60 – 90 minutesThese may follow a variety of formats. See the session description for more information for how each session will run.
PostersOn displayYou should bring your poster in A1 portrait format for display.

Note: Sessions are grouped and contain several presentations, often with varying lengths’ timeslots. For example, a 1-hour time slot may have up to three 20-minute presentations. Session chairs will keep speakers to time.

Before the conference

Setting up your presence on the OER18 website

  • The OER18 conference website can be found at The site is public and can be viewed by anyone but only registered delegates can log in to post content.
  • Your presentation will have have its own dedicated session page, which you can find by following a link from the Programme page The platform contains features for participants to comment on your page. To receive email notifications of these comments, we recommend that you ‘follow’ your session.
  • You may wish to make your slideshow and additional resources available to other delegates. The online platform doesn’t have the facility to upload documents; instead you should upload them to a service such as Google Drive, SlideShare or Dropbox and insert the link on your page.
  • To log in to the OER18 website, visit for more information. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

Designing the content and format of your presentation

The content and format of your presentation should be as close as possible to the session proposal you submitted, taking into account any requests and recommendations made by the reviewers. When designing your session, have the session proposal at hand. We recognise that your knowledge and/or thinking may have moved on in the meantime, but bear in mind that your audience will have chosen to attend your session on the basis of what you wrote in your proposal.

Preparing your presentation and other visual aids

  • Your audience will see many presentations during the course of the conference. Talks given with only limited use of presentation technology (or even with no technology at all) can be extremely refreshing.
  • If you use presentation technology, please adopt the principle that ‘less is more’. If using PowerPoint or similar tools our guidance is they should be an aid to the audience, not an aid to remembering what you’re going to say next. Aim for one slide for every two minutes of presentation: i.e. about six slides in a standard paper. Keep bullets to a minimum, and use images (preferably with compatible Creative Commons licences) to communicate conceptual information.
  • Think carefully before printing supporting materials such as handouts of your slides or copies of your research paper. Your presentation will have a dedicated page on the conference platform, and so you can give people ready access to digital copies.
  • Please practise your presentation as many times as you need, with all your visual aids (including audio/video clips), preferably in front of colleagues. This will make for a smoother presentation which is more likely to keep to time (and thus less likely to be cut short by the chair). It’s also a good idea to invite colleagues who are unfamiliar with your work to your practice session. They’ll be able to help you refine the content; for example, to remove extraneous material or to explain obscure terms.
  • It is your responsibility to take your slideshow to the conference and upload it to the computer in the room where you will be presenting. We recommend that you have the file both on a USB stick and on a web-accessible email account. (Important: taking slides to the conference is not the responsibility of ALT or the session chairs.)

Making sure your technology will work on the day

  • All rooms are equipped with a laptop PC with PowerPoint, current web browsers and internet access. Presentation files can be downloaded or copied via USB. Laptops will be connected to the internet via the venue WiFi but this may get busy at times.
  • If you wish to run your presentation on your own equipment, you will need a HDMI connector. Please bring your own connectors and arrive in the session room even earlier to test them with the data projector.
  • Audio playback – this is available in all rooms via the laptop provided.
  • Be aware that the version of the tool on which you develop your presentation may not be the same as the version on the computer at the conference, and so you may lose special effects such as fonts and animations. This can happen particularly when you transfer a PowerPoint presentation from Mac to Windows, so try to test the transfer beforehand.
  • Problems can also arise if you embed an audio or video file in your presentation; again, test it on another computer before you come to the conference. We recommend copying and testing your presentation on the room laptop in one of the coffee/lunch breaks before your session.

At the conference

  • All rooms are on the first floor at Watershed. A printed venue map and timetable will be given to you at registration.
  • We ask all presenters to arrive in the session room at least 5 minutes before the scheduled start session begins and to remain in the room for the whole session. This is to allow time for preparation before the session, and for any wrap-up activities, questions and comments involving all presenters at the end of the session.
  • During the 5 minutes before the scheduled start, the chair will gather the lead presenters together to explain the procedures for the session, including the prompts to tell you how much time you have left, and prompts and the handling of questions.
  • Please load your slides onto the laptop before the session starts. In the event of difficulties, please contact someone at the conference helpdesk.
  • At the start of each session, the chair will remind the audience of the name and theme of the session, and of papers in it. The chair will re-introduce the speaker before each presentation, and field questions afterwards.
  • In a session containing multiple presentations, a certain amount of changeover time is required. You can help to keep this to a minimum by:
    • loading your presentation onto the computer before the start of the session
    • moving discreetly into position as the final question (or two) is being taken in the preceding presentation.

Guidelines for Session Chairs

Managing your timetable

You can check which sessions you are scheduled to chair on the online conference programme at The programme is available online and you can also download a PDF/Google doc version. Your name is listed as Chair for any session you are chairing next to the room number, for example:

Finding session chairs

You may wish to read in advance the session descriptions, available on the online platform, for the presentations you will be chairing. Especially in the case of sessions with multiple presentations, this will help you prepare to lead questions and discussion in a fruitful direction.

Chairing your session

The session page for each abstract can be used to contact the presenter(s) or leave a note for everyone following the session. To leave an update, you must be logged in to the online platform and be following the session. In most cases, however, you will meet the presenters at your session(s) on the day. In order to ensure that the session runs smoothly and does not overstep the time, you will need to give some quick and clear guidance to your presenter(s):

  • If the session involves more than one presentation, make sure the presenters are clear about the order in which they will be speaking. This order has been determined in the programme. Please try to adhere to it.
  • In the Chair Packs, placed in each room, you will find coloured cards with times marked on them – 10 mins, 5 mins,  3 mins, 1 min and STOP. Please emphasise to presenters the importance of observing time guidelines to ensure that other presentations are not adversely affected, and be clear that you will make strict use of the coloured cards in order to keep time.

Presenters have been given their own guidelines, which similarly emphasise the need for strict time-keeping. This includes:

  • punctual arrival at the session
  • smooth changeovers between presentations within sessions
  • presentations being kept to time, according to the format laid out in the following table.

During the presentation(s)

  • At the start of the session, briefly introduce the speakers, reminding the audience of the titles of papers and names of presenters, and of the theme they are generally supposed to be speaking to.
  • During the session you may find it helpful to make some brief notes on ideas that have emerged in order to prompt discussion at the end.
  • In the event that a presenter does not turn up, change the timings as you see fit and finish early.

Presentation Q&A

  • Be inclusive – try not to give one speaker prominence over another. Recent research has also reported that allowing a female to ask a question first that this encouraged more diverse input.
  • Be attentive – stand in a position so that while the speaker is answering questions you can scan the audience. If multiple hands are raised you can make eye contact and nod discreetly to acknowledge you have seen them.
  • Be positive – try to encourage discussion between the speaker and the audience. If no questions are forthcoming be prepared to ask the presenter or the audience a question of your own.

Note on chairing workshops/panels

All workshops are scheduled to be run in Waterside 2 or Waterside 3. Both rooms will be set up in cabaret style seating.

The presenters will have specified a timetable of activities. It should include significant time for audience interaction. The role of the session chair is therefore to:

  • briefly introduce the audience to the title/topic of the session and the presenters
  • work with the led presenter to facilitate interaction between the audience and the presenters (how chairs do this may be negotiated with each led presenter; some may want you to ‘chair’ the session and others will do that themselves)
  • Ensure the session does not overrun its slot.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.