Moderator Guidelines



Moderator Guidelines

A moderator is someone who guides a discussion, indicates when a presenter should speak and stop, and coordinates question and answer periods. Oral Presentation Sessions, Multimedia Sessions, and Comm Talk Sessions all have moderators. Preformed Panels, Skills Building Workshops, and Blue Sky Sessions all have self-designated moderators/facilitators.

If you have volunteered to be a moderator, you are expected to follow strictly the guidelines below.

Pre-Summit Preparation

Moderators will be provided with information about the sessions they are guiding, including the abstract names and contact information of the panelists.

We encourage you to contact your panelists ahead of time, requesting copies of their slides and/or speaking notes, so that you can give some thought to how the presentations are related to and might complement each other. Abstracts in Oral Presentation Sessions, Multimedia Sessions, and Comm Talks were grouped into a session because they have something in common; this could be a conference theme, an SDG topic, an emerging issue, a program approach or research objective, a conceptual focus, a particular stakeholder group, a challenge facing our field, an innovation, or something else.

Through your interactions with the panelists before and during the session, moderators should try to draw out these (and other) ways the presentations may be complementary or contrasting in order to help the audience, as well as the panelists, gain insights about the topics and our field. Moderators should encourage panelists to include information in their presentation about how their work relates to and advances the main conference themes of:

  • Catalyzing Transformational Change This theme emphasizes the review/analysis of existing or new experiences and evidence to identify approaches and opportunities that are likely to have transformational effects and make programs more impactful.
  • Future Forward This theme emphasizes understanding the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies, new methodologies, new social relationships and discourses, including ethical considerations, in the digital age.
  • Connecting the Dots This theme emphasizes collaboration, partnership, and synergy across disciplines, perspectives, approaches, sectors, organizations, stakeholder groups, as well as levels of practice and research.


After the presentations, moderators should be prepared to ask questions that will draw attention to these unifying Summit themes and encourage identification of insights.


Supplies and Support Provided

  • Each conference room is equipped with a laptop with wireless connectivity, projection and sound equipment.
  • Conference Center technical staff and/or a room monitor will be present to assist you.
  • A set of laminated time management cards will be on the dais near the podium.
  • An Insights Generation slide will be preloaded on the laptop and will be the last thing projected at the end of each session (all formats).
  • Both auditoriums and Karam Rooms 1-5 have simultaneous translation capability.


Time Allocation and Flow

Different Session Formats have different lengths and number of panelists as described below.

Oral Presentation Sessions

  • 37 sessions @ 75 minutes
  • 9 sessions @ 90 minutes ("High Density")
    • Seventy-five minute Oral Presentation sessions have 4-5 presenters. Each presenter has a maximum of 10 minutes to present with the remaining time reserved for Q&A and audience discussion.
    • Ninety-minute Oral Presentation sessions have 6-7 presenters. Each presenter has a maximum of 10 minutes to present with the remaining time reserved for Q&A and audience discussion.
    • Role of the moderator: Introduce the speakers, manage the time, start and moderate the Q&A/discussion, encourage reflection and capturing insights.


Multimedia Sessions

  • 15 sessions @ 75 minutes
  • 6 sessions @ 120 minutes
    • Depending on the length of the multimedia products being screened, each session features 3-4 products. Each presenter will have 5 minutes to introduce their product followed by the screening of that product. The balance of time after all products have been screened is reserved for Q&A and audience discussion.
    • Role of the moderator: Introduce the speakers, manage the time, start and moderate the Q&A/discussion, encourage reflection and capturing insights.


Comm Talks

  • 12 sessions @ 30 minutes
    • Each presenter has 10 minutes to deliver their talk with the remaining time reserved for audience reaction
    • Role of the moderator: Introduce the speakers, manage the time, encourage reflection and capturing insights.


Presenters have been asked to strictly observe these time limits. Moderators are expected to strictly enforce time limits out of fairness to all presenters and the audience who will want time to ask questions and participate in discussion.

Before the Session

  • Please arrive 15 minutes before the session begins.
  • A table, chairs and podium for the presenters will be provided at the front of the room. Sit in the seat closest to the podium where presenters can see you clearly and you can show them the time cards.
  • Greet the presenters and brief them on how the session will be conducted. Remind them of the time they have for their presentations. Let them know how you will communicate time warnings throughout the session.
  • Ensure that all presentations and any audiovisual files or online links associated with it have been uploaded to the laptop and tested for functionality.


During the Session

  • Please make sure you begin every session ON TIME. This will ensure that every presenter has equal time to present their abstracts.
  • Start each session by requesting that participants silence or turn off all cell phones.
  • Ask the audience to withhold their questions until all presenters have spoken to ensure that all presenters have equal time to present.
  • Introduce all presenters in the order they appear on the program. Mention the presenter's name, title and the organization they are affiliated with for this event. No other information about them is necessary.
  • Feel free to offer 2-3 sentences about the unifying theme(s) or concept(s) the panelists will address to help orient the audience to what they will hear. Do not use it as an opportunity to express your own views or agenda. The panel is not about you; it is about the panelists' work.
  • If a presenter does not show up to the session, adjust the order of the presentations accordingly.
  • Use time cards (5 Minutes Left, 2 Minutes Left, 1 Minute Left, Please End) to ensure presenters are staying on time during their presentations. It is unfair to other speakers and to the audience if you let one speaker use more than his or her share of the time.
  • When the question and answer period begins, ask audience members to be concise and to refrain from offering long commentary or personal opinions about the presentations. Encourage them instead to focus on questions for the panelists that will help clarify what was said or draw out additional insights.
  • Always end the session by thanking the presenters and the audience.


After the Session

An Insights Generation slide has been provided by the Insights and Dissemination Committee encouraging audience members to reflect on what was shared at the session and to identify any insights they have had about SBCC and its uses.

This slide is preloaded on the laptop computer and should be projected at the end of every session. Encourage attendees to turn to one or two people near them and discuss briefly what they found interesting, insightful or useful for their work and/or for the field of SBCC. A link is provided on the slide where these insights can be shared more widely with the rest of the conference goers.

Troubleshooting: What to do if…

  • A presenter will not stop talking: It's important to establish the rules with presenters before the session. Explain the importance of staying on time. If you have been providing visual time cues but a presenter is still going over time and showing no signs of stopping, stand up next to the person as yet another visual cue. If this doesn't work, it's perfectly acceptable – and respectful to other presenters – to interrupt the presenter and ask him/her to stop in fairness to the other panelists.
  • No one is asking questions to some or all of the presenters: If possible, before or during the session, note down a question or two that you can ask the presenters in case this happens and to get conversation going.
  • A presenter does not show up: Contact the room monitor to notify them of any presenters who do not show.
  • An attendee is being unruly: Establish the guidelines for the session before beginning. If an attendee is being disruptive, ask that questions/comments be held until the end so that the session does not fall behind time. If the person continues to be disruptive, report it to a room monitor or to staff.