Chairpersons & Speakers


Guidelines for Chairpersons or Speakers

1. Appointment of Chairpersons

The Chairpersons of conference sessions will be appointed by the Conference VP in consultation with the others working on the conference program.

2. Topics and speakers

In line with the general theme of the conference in question, the Conference VP and others working on the program will organize the submissions received as a result of the Call for Papers into suitable themes and sub-themes. The Conference VP will then identify any gaps in the program and put out a second Call for Papers, or ask appropriate members or experts to contribute to the program, or work with the Sections and Committees to complete the conference preliminary program. Once this is in place, the Conference VP will invite individuals to act as session chairs. These individuals should be selected in accordance with the topic under discussion.

The committee/section officers should contact the VP at or within three months of the previous annual conference with suggestions of what topics they would like included in the next conference program in order to check that such a session could be accommodated, and to ensure all deadlines are met.

In addition, the VP may receive suggestions for papers or sessions at any time and may subsequently consult with the committee/section officers to determine possible contributors.

3. General organisation of sessions

Once a topic and / session has been decided and approved, and a Chair selected, the Chair should work with the speakers and the Conference VP and assist, if necessary in setting the focus of the papers, informing them of the session timings, type of contribution required, written and verbal translation requirements etc., as well as keeping the Conference VP informed of progress. They may obtain abstracts, speaker CVs and equipment requirements by the deadline set by the VP. Note that written and verbal translations must be approved by the VP and in principle by the Executive Board before being offered to speakers.

4. Information for the Secretary-General

The Chairpersons have to inform the VP, in writing, by a date specified by the VP, on any special needs or topics to be raised during the conference. The VP will then inform the EB in order for the Secretary-General to make any preparations necessary for the conference programme or agendas for the General Assembly.

5. Communication with speakers

The VP, or a delegated sessions chair or programme assistant, is responsible for contacting likely speakers and informing them on the relevant details of the session topic, negotiating the direction of the paper, advising them of other speakers in the session and the timing of the papers. He or she should correspond with speakers to decide the order of presentations and then stick to the published order wherever possible. Further, he or she should take care that their subject sticks to the agreed theme and that it flows and, if there is some connection between papers that the subjects progress from the macro to the micro.

6. The Chairperson’s role at the Conference

The Chairperson will conduct the session at the conference, and is asked to take an active part in the session, starting perhaps with a short overall view of the topic, introducing the speakers, calling for questions and even starting the discussion by raising some points of interest or contention.

7. Structure of a session

Conference sessions are normally one and a half hours long. Although the organisation of a session is generally flexible, this would allow for three speakers each with papers of about 20 minutes in length plus 10 minutes time for discussion, preferably following each presentation, plus time for the Chairperson’s introductory input and the introduction of each speaker with a brief biography. The Chairperson should remind the speakers, particularly those who are presenting at IASA for the first time, that most conference attendees, and indeed many of the speakers, do not have English as a first language. To facilitate understanding, it is important that speakers try and speak slowly and clearly. This is particularly important if there is simultaneous translation. The Chairperson has to keep the speakers to time using an agreed prompt method and is responsible for the session not going over time.

A session can comprise two speakers only but it is recommended not to try and cram in four speakers. Special requests for extended or double sessions must be made to the Conference VP.

8. Questions and answers

It is imperative that adequate time is made for questions and comments from the conference floor. It is recommended that each speaker answers questions at the end of his/her paper rather than leaving them to the end of the session when there may not be enough time, or issues from previous papers forgotten, unless the papers deal with an extremely common theme or issue. This, however, has to be at the discretion of the Chairperson.

9. Delivery of a paper by a third party

Whilst the delivery of a paper by a third party is not encouraged there are times when this cannot be avoided. In such circumstances and where possible, the paper should be presented by someone with a stake in, or opinion on, the matter. In a sense it should be turned into a joint paper and the presenter should be able to enter into a discussion or answer questions from the floor rather than be a passive translator.

10. Other content delivery, e.g. panel discussions or poster sessions

Diversity of delivery is encouraged. A panel discussion is a way to involve the audience and get a range of experts debating often controversial issues. If a panel discussion is mounted it is recommended that there be no more than four panellists plus a moderator who can be the Chairperson, and that at least half an hour is set aside for audience questions and comments if the panel occupies a full session. A panel can take the place of a 30 minute paper but it must be strictly moderated.

A “poster session“ is a way of giving members who have issues or achievements of limited interest which are not suitable for the formalities of a conference the opportunity to communicate their message in an informal manner. The hard facts of their presentation are “published“on posters adjacent to where they will deliver their message or in hand-outs. Poster sessions can run in parallel with the plenary sessions and/or during break times. They will take place in a different venue to the plenary sessions and a number of posters may be delivered in the same room or space.

11. Some guidelines for speakers

The Chairperson and or VP are asked to recommend the following guidelines to speakers for the open session:

11.1 Supply a CV and a picture prior to the conference in accordance with the deadline set by VP

11.2 Supply a paper abstract prior to the conference in accordance with the deadline set by VP

11.3 Bring a written copy and/or computer disc of the paper suitable for publication in the IASA Journal to conference and deliver it to the IASA Editor. Alternatively, make a commitment to email a copy to the Editor immediately following the conference

11.4 Review and sign any required release forms

11.5 Stick to the agreed agenda topic

11.6 The paper shall relate to archival principles and procedures

11.7 Avoid lengthy details about the history and description of collections (a short introduction or a written handout could be used to give such details)

11.8 Try to stimulate and generate discussion

12. Equipment

The Chairperson and or VP shall ascertain whether speakers need equipment and inform the conference hosts prior to the set deadline. Guidelines for the basic equipment available will have been determined by the conference hosts, but anything special required by the speakers should be relayed to the Conference VP to ensure it will be made available.

13. Language of papers

The Chairperson shall ascertain the language of the presentation. In general the language of IASA conferences is English. Papers not to be presented in English may require simultaneous translation. At the very least, announcements of the language in which the paper will be presented should be made in the program. If the paper is presented in German or French, the German or French title of the paper should be used in the program. Material for translation should be presented early enough for such translation to be made if approved by the Conference VP and the EB. This date will be indicated by the Conference VP. The complete translation or a detailed summary may be produced for handout at the conference with the complete translation also used for publication purposes.

14. Papers for the IASA Journal

At the conclusion of the session Chairpersons will ensure that each speaker gives a copy of his/her paper to the IASA Editor. He/she should also thank the speakers and other contributors in writing.