Technical Session Guide for the Session Chair

(Last revised May 2016)


General Information

A technical session at a PES meeting may take one, or possibly a combination, of the following forms:

  • poster session
  • paper session
  • panel session (intended for broad coverage of an area of interest)
  • Special Technical Session
  • Tutorial or training session.

This guide is intended to assist the session chair in the planning, organizing, and conducting of such sessions.


Prior to the Meeting

Panel Sessions or Special Technical Sessions

The chair and the organizer of a panel session or a Special Technical Session are very often the same individual. You, as this person, will lay the foundation for the success of the session during the planning part of the process. These sessions need to be planned well in advance to be successful. In planning the session you need, as a minimum, to do the following:

  • Define a scope for the session so that the objectives for the session are clear and the session can be focused on meaningful information dissemination or exchange.
  • Submit the necessary information in the appropriate time frame to the organizers of the conference/meeting so that the event can be included in the meeting program. (See Part 3 of the Author’s Kit for details.)
  • Select and obtain commitments from the participants in the session to support the published dates for finalization of technical sessions.
  • Prepare a schedule for the session that will allow for sufficient discussion involving the audience as well as for needed breaks.
  • Discuss and get agreement from each participant in the session on the subject to be covered in the presentation by the speaker(s).
  • Obtain a two- to eight-page paper of the presentation material from each of the panel session presenters well enough in advance to allow review and publishing in the Conference Proceedings in accordance with published deadlines. Review the material to ensure that it meets IEEE PES guidelines for presentations and does not contain inappropriate commercial matter. As session chair you must require revisions as needed if the presentations are at variance with IEEE PES policies. Be sure to keep deadlines in mind when revisions are required.
  • Circulate the panel session papers among the session participants so that all authors can learn what is in the other session participants’ handouts or papers. Note that a session participant may choose to write more than what he or she will use in the presentation. This should not be a problem as long as unnecessary overlap is eliminated from the presentations. Note: Panel Session Papers submitted for publication in the Conference Proceedings may not exceed eight pages, and must be rejected if they are longer.
  • Prepare a four- to ten-page overview summary of a Special Technical Session so that it is submitted for inclusion in the meeting’s Proceedings in accordance with published deadlines.
  • Contact the authors to obtain copies of the PowerPoint slides or overheads used for the presentation. (They must be on the PES PPT template. If the presentation is not on the PES PPT template, the presenter may not speak at the session.) Review the slides to ensure that the illustrations are legible and conform to the publication Guidelines for Preparing Visuals for PES Presentations. Review the illustrations to ensure that they do not contain commercial information in violation of IEEE PES policies. A company logo may be on the first and last slides only. (Please note that panel presentations will be collected at the meeting for posting on the PES web site. The presentations must be provided with any embedded movies removed.)
  • Session participants have been directed to contact you if they require equipment in addition to what is standard. Any cost incurred is the responsibility of the presenter, and must be paid in advance with a credit card. Contact the appropriate member of the meeting’s local committee to make arrangements for the equipment required. Be sure to do so well in advance of the meeting to allow time for arrangements to be made.
  • Obtain the final version of the session papers sufficiently in advance to meet the deadlines for submitting them to your committee’s TCPC prior to publication in the Conference Proceedings.
  • Obtain biographies from each of the session participants so that they can be properly introduced.
  • Solicit discussion from the audience in advance of the meeting from knowledgeable individuals who will attend the meeting. You should also be prepared with questions of your own in case the discussion is slow in getting started.

Poster Sessions

A poster session will include Transactions papers and Proceedings papers that have been approved by a technical committee and the author has requested the opportunity to make a presentation at a PES meeting. The poster session typically includes from 10 to 15 papers, though it may have as many as 20 or more. The presenter will have at his or her disposal one poster board of about 121.9 x 121.9 centimeters (48 x 48 inches). This poster will be furnished by the conference organizers. In general, the author will also be provided with a chair and a small table that can be used for demonstration equipment. The table will be typically the same length as the poster board and about 30.5 centimeters (12 inches) deep. During the poster session, the author is required to be in the session for the duration of the session, which is typically 3–4 hours long. The author should be prepared to present the paper, or portions of the paper, as often as is requested by the audience during the session. It is anticipated that the poster presentation will be more on a one-on-one basis than to a larger audience, so questions are posed as they occur to the listeners.

For poster sessions, the session leader must handle the following:

  • Contact the authors to ensure that the poster material is being prepared in accordance with the publication Guidelines for Preparing Visuals for PES Presentations. It is expected that the authors will prepare illustrations in a 21.6 x 27.9 centimeter (8.5 x 11 inch) hard copy form, which they will put up on the poster boards. It is also expected that the authors will prepare presentation topic material in a bullet format as opposed to just pasting copies of the paper text on the board which will not be legible any distance from the board and is therefore useless. The author must fit all of the poster material in the space allotted.
  • Review the poster material to ensure that it does not contain commercial information in violation of the IEEE PES policies. A company logo may appear on only the first illustration used.
  • Alternatively, supplemental to the posters, the authors may bring their own battery-powered computer for the presentation. The use of the display which is integral to a laptop PC is not adequate for the presentation. As a minimum, a separate monitor is required when this is used.


Confirmation of Preparations at the Meeting

At General Meetings of the Power & Energy Society, a breakfast meeting is held on the day of the session at which session chairs and presenters can make final plans. If a specific PES meeting does not provide such a scheduled opportunity, you will need to make individual arrangements to satisfy the objectives listed below. At this meeting:

All Sessions

  • Verify that all presenters are prepared. As the chair, you have the authority to cancel a presentation if the assigned speaker or substitute is not prepared or not qualified. Presenters must be able to respond to discussions verbally in English. If the presentation is canceled you must notify the appropriate Technical Committee Program Chair.
  • The chair has the authority to review all visuals (media presentations, overhead transparencies or poster materials) that are to be used. If any do not meet standards, require that they be revised or removed from the presentation.

Panel Sessions and Directed Educational Programs

  • Verify the pronunciation of names and biographical information of speakers for use in the introductions.
  • Review the session's agenda and procedures. A timetable should be prepared recognizing that specific times may be adjusted depending on the number of papers and known discussions. Presentations do not have to be of equal length. In some cases, one presentation may cover a subject in depth for perhaps 45 minutes (or even longer in a Directed Educational Program) with other presentations in the same session of much shorter duration. In general, however, it has been found satisfactory to allot 15 to 25 minutes for each paper presentation, 5 minutes for each discussion, and 5 minutes for the author's closure. It is very important that the presentations do not exceed the time agreed upon so that there will be time for interaction with the audience. The time and duration of recesses can be adjusted to agree with the actual time expended and grouping of the papers.
  • Determine if any author has an objection to having his or her presentation recorded by someone in the audience. A tape-recording of a presentation may be made only with the permission of the author. If an author does object, it will be necessary to so state in the session at the start of that presentation.

Poster Sessions

  • Emphasize that authors are required to stay with their posters through the entire session, taking only minimal time away for required breaks.
  • Advise authors that it is their prerogative to refuse permission to anyone to record the presentation or discussion.


At the Session

Panel Sessions and Special Technical Sessions

  • Arrive at the session room at least 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled time of the session, introduce yourself to the floor monitor and check that the following equipment is in place and operating properly:
    (a) LCD projector and projection screen
    (b) power and extension cords
    (c) podium and microphone
    (d) water, glasses.

    Any other presentation equipment is the responsibility of the presenter, who must personally make arrangements for its availability and payment for its rental after obtaining (in advance) your permission to do so.
  • At the start of the session, introduce yourself and give a brief synopsis of the session.
  • Announce any changes in presentation schedule from that published in the program that are needed to accommodate the presenters. Changes in order of presentation from the published program should be avoided, if possible.
  • Introduce each paper and author in sequence. By your choice, introduce all authors or only those involved in the presentation or present in the meeting room. Announce to the audience at the start of any paper when the author has asked to not be recorded.
  • For easier viewing dim the house lights during the showing of visuals. Turn the lights up during introductions and during discussions.
  • Warn the speaker three minutes before time expires. Tell the speakers in advance what technique you will use to alert them.
  • Notify the speaker when time has expired, and call for discussion.
  • Call recess at the appropriate time.
  • Complete your timetable for the remainder of the session during the recess. At this time you will have a good indication of the level of participation by the audience. Allow enough time for spontaneous discussions. The principal value of the public presentation lies in the response of the audience and it should not be stifled unless there is a time constraint.
  • Panel presentations will be collected at the meeting for posting on the PES web site. The collection method for each meeting will be announced.

Discussion at Panel Sessions and Special Technical Sessions

It is very important to solicit participation from the audience in panel sessions and to allow sufficient time for questions and answers in Special Technical Sessions. At your choice, you may allow for questions immediately following a presentation, or keep all discussions until after all of the presentations. Written questions may be solicited from the audience but time must be allocated for spontaneous questions and answers. State at the start of the session how questions will be handled. You should also:

  • Be prepared with your own questions if required to get the audience questions started.
  • Fairly allocate time so that all aspects of the session will be open for questions and comments from the audience.
  • Provide a summary of the main points addressed in the sessions, lessons learned, etc. at the end of the session.

Poster Sessions

  • Arrive at the session room at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the session to be available when authors come to prepare their posters and to ensure that the room is properly equipped with:
    (a) easels and posters
    (b) tables
    (c) fasteners
    (d) chairs (at least one per author).
  • Remain in the room for the duration of the session to be available to the authors for any requests they may have of you.
  • Closely monitor poster activities where the author is less fluent in English and try to provide support to such authors if needed. To encourage written questions and answers is one way to deal with such problems.


After the Session

All Sessions

  • Complete the Technical Session Evaluation Survey form and deposit in the collection box (if provided) or mail to IEEE, PES Executive Office, 445 Hoes Lane, P.O. Box 1331, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08855-1331 USA within three weeks of the meeting. It may also be faxed to +1 732 562 3881.
  • Note that it will be necessary to duplicate the second page of the evaluation form to obtain sufficient sheets for sessions with more than two presentations.