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SIGCSE conferences are becoming increasingly diverse, with attendees from all over the world who represent varied gender, racial, ethnic, disability, and other identities. As a session chair, you play a critical role in ensuring that the session for which you are responsible is as inclusive as possible for attendees while also keeping the conference scheduling on-time. Thank you for helping chair a session at SIGCSE 2023!

Each in-person paper session consists of three 25-minute paper presentations. Each presentation is expected to last up to 20 minutes with 5 minutes for questions.

Prior to the Symposium

  • Please carefully read over all of the instructions on this page and notify if you have any questions.
  • Review the content for your session using the program link on the SIGCSE TS 2023 website:
  • Session chairs should read each paper in their session and generate one or two questions for the authors in case the audience needs help getting started during the Q/A session. DOI links for each paper in the program should be activated by the ACM DL during the week of March 6.
  • Session chairs are encouraged to pack a USB thumb drive in case they need to help presenters move files between computers at the symposium.

Before Your Assigned Session

  • Arrive at your session 15-20 minutes early so that you are able to identify and greet all your presenters. As you greet your presenters, ensure you ask about the:
    • pronunciation of speaker name(s)
    • speaker’s affiliation(s)
    • speaker’s title(s)
    • speaker’s pronouns if they wish to disclose them
  • Discuss accessibility concerns with the speakers before the session. For example, a presenter with a visual impairment may request assistance from a student volunteer to advance slides. To signal remaining time for presenters, ask the presenter what they prefer; a tap or double tap on the table/floor can be an effective alternative to visual cues. The session chair, or a volunteer, can also facilitate question asking.
  • Have all speakers check equipment before the session begins and send your assigned student volunteer for help if needed.
  • Reserve a few seats in the front row for audience members who may be using the services of a sign language interpreter or live captioner. Explain to presenters that they should speak with a normal tone and pace, unless asked to slow down by the interpreter. When speaking with deaf presenters or attendees, always face them directly and do not face the interpreter.
  • As attendees enter the room, please ensure that aisleways are kept clear and that there is room to seat wheelchair users.
  • Start the session on time by introducing yourself and the entire session.
  • When speaking to the session, always use a microphone, and ask that the audience do the same.

For Each Paper Presentation

  • Introduce each speaker using their proper name and pronouns to avoid misgendering. Ensure that introductions are consistent for all speakers in the sessions using common titles and language.
  • If the presenter is not speaking directly into the microphone, briefly halt the presentation to adjust the microphone / audio levels before proceeding.
  • Keep time and provide five-minute, two-minute, and one-minute warnings before the start of the 5-minute question and answer period. Feel free to use a digital app on a computer/tablet or paper time cards to signal time to speakers. Just be sure the text size is large enough for the speaker to see them.
  • Start the question/answer period by reminding the audience to use a microphone to ask questions, so that everyone can hear. Remind them to state their name before speaking, for the benefit of those who cannot see who is speaking. If questions are asked without a microphone, repeat the question into the microphone for the benefit of those using hearing technologies.
  • If needed, ask one of the questions you had prepared in advance for the speaker while audience members line up at a microphone.
  • Cut off any questions that are belligerent or insulting. Please let the Program or General Chairs know about the issue.
  • Have the next speaker start to set up about 1 minute before question time is done to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Twenty-five minutes is a hard stop. When time is up, stand up, say “Let’s thank our speaker”, applaud, and invite up the next speaker. If you need to cut off a questioner or discussion due to time, suggest that the discussion resumes after the session is over.

NOTE: If a speaker is absent or if a speaker finishes before their 25-minutes is over, do NOT start the next paper early! Similarly if a speaker starts late, do your best to adjust question/answer times to get the session back on schedule. Attendees will time their attendance with the start times listed in the program.

At the End of the Session

  • At the end of the session, remind attendees what is up next in the conference schedule.
  • Before leaving the session, sign off on the student volunteer form.


Much of this guidance is adapted from Emery Berger’s blog post “A Guide for Session Chairs”, and the SIGACCESS Accessible Conference Guide.