How to Be an Effective Presider, Discussant, Facilitator, or Recorder at an NCFR Conference Session

The roles of presider, discussant, facilitator, and recorder are crucial to the success of a top-quality concurrent session at the NCFR Annual Conference. The following tips will help you prepare in advance. Please read these instructions carefully.

Follow these links to jump to instructions about each role:

Presider

The responsibility of the presider is to be a “time keeper” to ensure that the session moves in a timely manner and that all presenters are given equal time to present their material.

  • Read the biographical material obtained from each paper presenter before the conference. If you have not received the material from the presenter by Oct. 20, contact your section chair or Cindy Winter to obtain this information.
     
  • Arrive at your assigned room 15 minutes early to check in with the speakers and coordinate last-minute details. Familiarize yourself with the audio-visual equipment. If there is a problem with the AV equipment, contact NCFR technology staff. There will be written instructions on the podium that lists the cell phone numbers for technology staff.
  • Do not change room set-ups or move to a different room even if you feel it is not satisfactory. If there is a problem, contact Judy Schutz. There will be written instructions on the podium that lists the cell phone number for Judy.
     
  • Start the session on time even if people are still arriving.
  • Be sure speakers wear the lapel microphone for recording purposes if the session is being recorded, and be sure that the speakers talk directly into the microphones.
  • Announce the name of the session, welcome everyone, and briefly introduce each speaker. This should take no more than 3 minutes.
  • Monitor the presentation and keep each speaker and discussant to the specified time limit (12 minutes each for speakers, 5 minutes for the discussant).
  • If there is a discussant, all speakers should give their presentations before the discussant speaks. Monitor the discussant's time limit (5 minutes). If there is no facilitator at the session, following the discussant remarks, begin asking for questions from the audience. Have one key question ready for each presentation so that every presenter is asked at least one question.
  • When someone asks a question, repeat the question using a microphone so everyone in the room and those watching the session remotely — or the session recording later — can hear.
  • If you are filling the role of a facilitator, keep questions and discussions to a specified time limit of 1 minute per person, and tactfully intervene if a person does not heed this.

Discussant

The discussant gives 5 minutes of "take-home" remarks about the presentation material after the presentations have been given — how the papers are connected, issues for elaboration and discussion, implications of the research, etc. If there is no presider at the session, the discussant introduces the presenters.

  • Read the material obtained from each paper presenter before the conference. If you have not received the material from the presenter by Oct. 20, contact your section chair or Cindy Winter to obtain this information.
    • If there is not a separate presider at your session, prepare a 1-minute introduction of all the speakers. Be concise.
  • Prepare an outline ahead of time about each presentation. Emphasize the connections between the papers and significant theoretical and methodological issues noted in papers (strengths or weaknesses). Your comments should highlight issues for elaboration and discussion. You will have 5 minutes for your remarks so that there is time for audience participation. Do not use this time as a place to present your own ideas or research. Your task is to summarize and present “take-home” suggestions.
  • Prepare one to three implications for how attendees can use the research presented.
  • If there is time, the presider or facilitator will allow attendees to ask questions.

Facilitator

A facilitator has the responsibilities of a presider and facilitates discussion after all the presenters have given their talks. The facilitator also is a “time-keeper” to ensure that the session moves in a timely manner and that all presenters are given equal time to present their material.

  • Read the biographical material obtained from each paper presenter before the conference. If you have not received the material from the presenter by Oct. 20, contact your section chair or Cindy Winter to obtain this information.
  • Before the conference, prepare two questions about each paper that will be presented. This will help evoke discussion from all sides of an issue.
     
  • Arrive at your assigned room 15 minutes early to check in with the speakers and coordinate last-minute details. Familiarize yourself with the audio-visual equipment. If there is a problem with the AV equipment, contact NCFR technology staff. There will be written instructions on the podium that lists the cell phone numbers for technology staff.
  • Do not change room set-ups or move to a different room even if you feel it is not satisfactory. If there is a problem, contact Judy Schutz. There will be written instructions on the podium that lists the cell phone number for Judy.
     
  • Start the session on time even if people are still arriving.
  • Be sure speakers wear the lapel microphone for recording purposes if the session is being recorded, and be sure that the speakers talk directly into the microphones.
  • Announce the name of the session, welcome everyone, and briefly introduce each speaker. This should take no more than 3 minutes.
  • Monitor the presentation and keep each speaker and discussant to the specified time limit (12 minutes each for speakers, 5 minutes for the discussant).
  • After the presentations and discussant comments, ask for questions from the audience and keep discussion moving. Give everyone time who wishes to talk or ask questions. Keep questions and discussions to a specified time limit of 1 minute each; tactfully intervene if a person does not heed this.
  • When someone asks a question, repeat the question using a microphone so everyone in the room and those watching the session remotely — or the session recording later — can hear.

Instructions for Facilitators of Lightning Paper Sessions

  • The facilitator of a lightning paper session:
    • introduces and structures the sequence of individual presentations within the session (if multiple authors are presenting);
    • monitors the time limits closely to ensure that the appropriate number of minutes is reserved for open discussion with the audience; and
    • leads, stimulates, and manages the open discussion with the audience. It may be helpful to have some questions formulated in advance in case discussion doesn’t easily flow.
  • Each presenter is allowed enough PowerPoint slides set to advance automatically for a total presentation time of 8 minutes for each presentation. Each slide deck should include one title slide and a final slide contain two questions for discussion.
  • An opportunity is provided for the audience to respond to the issues and questions raised and to introduce additional questions and comments to the presenters.
  • The open discussion will take place after all speakers have presented their slides.

Instructions for Facilitators of Poster Symposia Sessions

Poster symposia facilitators lead a review and critical exchange of ideas by authors and conference attendees. They engage authors, attendees, and a discussant.

  • Review the papers in advance of the conference.
  • Develop discussion questions.
  • Create up to five discussion questions.
  • Develop a handout using the facilitated poster symposium handout template (PDF).
  • Attend the poster session to get a sense of attendees’ views, and hand out the sheet you have prepared to give to all attendees.
  • While at the poster session, invite conference participants to join you and the authors in a facilitated discussion the last 20 minutes of the session.
  • During the discussion time provide an introduction, outlining what is to come.
  • Introduce authors and the presider/yourself.
  • Before closing the session, leave five minutes for you to recap ideas shared. This will close the session.

Preparation Required for Poster Symposia Facilitators

  • Manuscripts are sent to the discussant by Oct. 20.
  • The discussant in collaboration with authors develops three to four discussion questions.
  • The authors and discussant work to develop a handout; see the template in collaboration with the authors.
  • Put the time and location of the facilitated poster on a handout that can be distributed to conference attendees at the current session.
  • In addition, post a note on the posters indicating the location of the facilitated discussion. A sign will also be made by NCFR staff that will be placed at the posters.

Facilitators at the Conference

  • At the end of the poster session, engage conference attendees in a 20-minute facilitated discussion with authors. In most cases, the facilitated discussion will be held in a separate location designed to hold an engaging exchange.
  • The discussion is a part of time allotted for the poster session, so coordinate with authors the transition.

Recorder

  • Keep a supply of speaker handouts and give to attendees as they enter the session. Take a count of those attending the session and report this to the NCFR registration desk.
  • Take notes during the session and prepare a write-up that will be emailed to the Section Chair after the conference.
  • If attendees are seeking continuing education credit, you may need to initial the time they check in and the time they check out.