Virtual Chairs: Tips and Instructions

Take a moment to review tips and instructions for this year’s panel chairs during the 2021 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition. Review all participant guidelines below.

Virtual Platform Now Live!
The virtual platform is now available for you to visit!
The virtual meeting begins on Tuesday, September 28, at 6:00 a.m. and ends on Sunday, October 3, at 3:30 p.m. To learn more about virtual attendee participation tips, timelines, and resources for a successful meeting, please click here.

Review the  APSA Participant Instruction Guide
Review the guide in advance of the meeting.  Download the APSA 2021 Participant Instruction Guide.Guide Overview:

  • Codes of Conduct
    • Virtual Meeting Conduct Policy
    • Anti-Harassment Policy
    • Annual Meeting Ombuds
  • Virtual Meeting Instructions
  • Business Meetings & Receptions
  • Zoom Room Instructions
  • Role Specific Instructions
    • Definition of Roles and Responsibilities Summary
      • Serving as a Panel Chair
      • Serving as a Chair for Roundtables & Other Non-Paper-Based Sessions
      • Serving as a Discussant
      • Tips for Paper Authors
      • Tips for Presenters (Roundtables, Workshops)
  • Virtual Poster Instructions
  • Lightning Round Participants
  • Pre-Recorded Presentations
  • Livestreaming Sessions
  • Speaker Portal Instructions
  • Headshot Uploads
Organize Panels
Ensure all discussants have uploaded their papers or circulated them via email prior to the meeting. Chairs should show up to the virtual meeting room 15 minutes in advance to greet panel participants and ensure everyone is ready to go.
Set up any required polling
If polling is needed, please let the room tech know the polling question and options 15 minutes before the panel starts.
Keep panels on track
Chairs are responsible for organizing and keeping panels on track in terms of time to ensure sure there is equal time given to the authors and presenters and adequate time left for discussion and audience questions.Panels run for 90 minutes. We recommend staying as close to schedule as possible.
Use a script for starting a session
When starting a session, it is helpful to provide some introductory remarks to familiarize attendees with the panelists and the system. Here is a sample script to help start the panel: “I am [NAME], and I will be chairing today. Our presenters are [NAME, NAME, NAME]. To take part in our discussion, pleas use the chat function on the right hand side of your screen. To submit a question for me to share with the panel, please use the question box at the bottom of the screen. Please remember that we ask everyone to abide by the norms of professional courtesy and respect during the session in the service of fostering an open and inclusive scholarly discussion. Thank you.”
Reminders for attendees
Remind attendees that most sessions will be available as recorded content for access later on. Please remind them to be respectful and abide by the APSA Code of Conduct.  Request they mute their line if they are not speaking.
Start a conversation in the chat
Welcome people to the room and ask who has joined or where they’re joining from. This will help you and the presenters gauge the audience size and scope. The chat box is a crucial connection point with your audience. 
Using the chat during sessions
Moderate the session chat, as needed. If there are websites or resources mentioned, add links in the chat box for attendees. Encourage the audience to submit questions in the chat. 
Discussant Comments
After presentations, invite discussants to share comments. Once the discussants are done, the discussant or chair can ask questions submitted by the audience. If there are no immediate questions, be prepared to ask one yourself. 
Questions and Polls
Track questions submitted for the panel in the Q&A. If the majority of questions are focused on only one paper, try to refocus the audience on a common theme of the panel to expand the discussion. If any polling was done, share the results.
Signaling time to the other presenters
You can signal time to other presenters by audibly chiming in briefly. Wrap up the panel on schedule. A few minutes over may be necessary, but do not let the panel go beyond that.Help the panelists keep their presentations to the allotted time and remember to signal time remaining toward the end of their presentations. In order to keep the panel on schedule and ensure everyone has sufficient time, be prepared to politely but firmly ask panelists to conclude, if they have gone over their allotted time. 
A simple “Thank You” can go a long way
Remember to thank the presenters and audience for taking the time to participate in your session!
APSA Code of Conduct
All meeting registrants have acknowledged the APSA Code of Conduct. However, should a panel become disruptive – including, but not limited to bullying and harassment of panel participants or audience members, please notify the room tech and APSA at Please note: The APSA Meetings Ombuds will be available for virtual or phone consultations only during the annual meeting. Contact to schedule.