Suggestions for Roundtable Sessions
Roundtable Discussion. The typical approach for
a Roundtable Discussion is to have one or two experts on a topic serve as hosts
for a table. Members of the audience are typically seated in a circle to
facilitate their active participation in the discussion. The Roundtable session
type can be used by attendees to seek help with problems they are currently facing,
to learn about the latest developments in an area, or to develop contacts with
people who have similar interests. Proposals for Roundtable Discussions should
provide a focal topic, describe why it would be an appropriate topic for this
session type, list one or two experts to serve as hosts, and provide background
information about the expertise of each host.
Suggestions for Effective Roundtable Presentations
Have Your Presentation Completed Early Enough to Send to Other
The best sessions are those that have a coherent theme and are
well integrated. This is best
accomplished when session members, including the Discussant, have advance notice
of each others presentations. Do
not wait until the last minute to make these accessible. A common rule of thumb is to have the presentation/paper
available 2 weeks before the conference.
Doing so not only gives you more time to practice, but also is far more
considerate of other symposium members.
Preparation of Visual Aids.
Visual aids can greatly improve the effectiveness of a
presentation. While increasing an audiences interest, well-prepared slides or
overheads can be extremely useful for clarifying and supporting key points in
If you need to refer to a particular slide more than once, prepare
duplicates of the slides such that you do not need to scroll back and forth
during the presentation.
A picture is worth a thousand words. When feasible, including
figures will more effectively communicate your message than a large, extensive
table or words.
Error Check Visual and Computer Aids Beforehand.
There is nothing so distracting to a presentation than presenters
fumbling with technology (e.g., projector, LCD) while the audience patiently
waits. If at all possible, error
check any visual or computer-based aids you intend to use before the session
Ask Yourself, Whats the point?
A visual serves one main purpose; to help make a point.
This concept sometimes gets forgotten, and tables or charts are included
in the presentation for no apparent reason.
It is better to figure out your message and then determine the best way
to share that message.
Interpret; Dont Just Report.
As the presenter, you are the expert on the subject being
discussed. The data speak for
themselves is a common expression. The
trouble is, they oftentimes dont and they often say different things to
different people. Your job is to
use your expertise and insights to help others understand the information.
Do not forget to allow time at the end of the presentation, and
prior to giving suggestions for further research, to summarize the main points
of your presentation. Keep in mind, many of your audience members, during the
presentation, may have been engrossed in one particular element of your
presentation, and missed other key points.
An overhead for this purpose can be useful.
Respect Other Presenters Time.
You want time to discuss your research, and so do the other
presenters. Please respect their
timeit is the polite and courteous thing to do.
As a general rule of thumb, plan on spending roughly one
minute per slide. Therefore, if you have 12 minutes to present, you generally
dont want the number of slides in your presentation to exceed 12-15.
Bring Plenty of Handouts.
If you are using handouts, assume you will need a minimum of 40
copies. You might want to
double-check the room size for your session.
You will probably also want to have a sign-up sheet available in case you
run out. If instead you prefer to
post your materials online to be downloaded, please bring mailing labels or
cards that contain your Web site. Asking
participants to write down long Web addresses will almost ensure that mistakes
will be made.
Remember, They are Visual Aids.
The most important part of the presentation is you, the presenter.
Visual aids may be a very important tool, but your words and conduct are
primary. Be particularly careful
about the number and amount of information in your visuals, and the number of
handouts. After all, if the entire
message is on the visuals, why do we need a presenter?
Accessibility of the Presentation.
SIOP is committed to ensuring that conferences are accessible to
people with disabilities. Each and
every member of your audience deserves the opportunity to benefit from your
presentation. Please help us with
this effort by using the following guidelines:
Assume that There Will be Some Members of Your Audience with
Remember, disabilities are not always obvious.
Some people will likely have difficulty seeing your visual aids and/or
hearing your presentation. Be
prepared. Design presentation materials that will be user-friendly to
your whole audience.
Describe the Information Presented in Your Visual Aids.
Help the audience see the information by describing and
summarizing whats being presented.
Whenever Possible, Offer Materials that are Easy to Read.
Handouts with black print on white paper are generally preferred.
If possible, provide large print copies of your presentation when
Make Yourself Visible to the Audience.
For the benefit of those who are deaf or hard of hearing, your
mouth and face should be in direct view of the audience throughout the
presentation. When speaking, avoid
turning your back to the audience or standing in dimly lit areas of the room.
Use the Microphone.
Even if many audience members can hear you without it, those with
hearing disabilities may not. Also,
each presentation is recorded and sold, and if you are not using
the microphone, it is often difficult to be heard on the audio.
Turn Audio/Visual Off When Not In Use.
This will reduce background noise that is potentially distracting
to your audience.
Allow Extra Time for Reviewing Information Presented on Visual
Assume that some members of your audience will need time to look
at the visual aids and then focus their attention on you for further
Show Enthusiasm for Your Presentation.
If you cannot be excited about your topic, how can you expect
anyone else to be? To the extent
you feel comfortable doing so, show that you are excited (e.g., Now here is
the cool part, Would you look at this?
Can you believe this is what we found?).
Your first few comments will set the tone for the entire session.
If you can show excitement for the session, it is more likely that the
audience will as well.
Preparation is the key to success.
Planning for the session and helping presenters prepare will
contribute to an interesting and informative session overall.
Plan the Use of Time.
Start and end the session promptly.
Prepare an overall plan and approximate time schedule for the session before
Active Audience Participation is Critical.
Although you may have some pre-arranged points to discuss, involve
the audience from the beginning. If possible, ask them some general questions up front, and
try to tailor your presentation to their interests.
Help Presenters Prepare well Before the Session.
Offer to review the presenters presentation, plans, visuals, or
handouts. Note any duplication in
the content and suggest revisions to avoid excessive repetition.
Try to Ensure That Session Members Can Review Each Others
Papers Before the Conference.
It will be much easier to see similarities and differences between
papers when everyone has a chance to review them beforehand.
It will also be possible to reduce redundancies in the presentation.
A particularly effective strategy is for the someone to provide some
guidance for how the session will go (e.g., who goes first).
This way, other presenters will know whether or not they should spend
time on introductory material. If
the presentations all address different aspects of a topic area, the presenters
may consider spending a few minutes discussing the topic area more generally so
that each presenter can focus on what is unique in his/her study.
Assist with Seating of those with Disabilities.
Ensure that each member of the audience can see and hear the
presentations. Reserve a couple of
seats in the front and back of the room for persons using wheelchairs, canes,
crutches, or motorized vehicles.
Count the Number of People in the Audience.
Estimate the number of people attending the session.
Provide this information to the Program Chair after the session.
If possible, ask a volunteer to perform a head count at the entrance to
the conference room.
Moderate the Audience Discussion.
Provide a clear description as to the nature of the session as
soon as it starts, to orient the audience to the issues.
Repeat each question or comment before responding so that all can
hear. For taping purposes, this will
also ensure that the question or comment is recorded.
A few minutes before the session is scheduled to conclude, politely
announce that the next question will be the last.
If necessary, politely interrupt the speaker.
Try to encourage a friendly feel to the session.
Work Collaboratively With the Other Presenters.
Together, can you come up with an interesting spin to the
session? Are there unique
perspectives that can be addressed?
Ensure Session Members Audio/Visual Needs are Met.
Check with each presenter to ensure that his/her audio/visual
needs have been met. However,
please realize that no new requests can be made at this late date.
Further, SIOP discourages the use of video projectors (e.g., as hooked up
to a laptop) because of the excessive cost.
Be Constructively Critical.
Remember, you are in this session because you are the expert.
Now is the chance for you to demonstrate your expertise and provide
insight into the domain of study. Use
this opportunity to provide critical insight.
Try to find strengths and weaknesses of different perspectives,
and implications for research and practice.
Overall, focus on the positive.
Have General Discussion Points Prepared Beforehand.
The best way to guarantee an interactive session is to have a set
of discussion points that strike to the heart of the session.
Preparing these points before the session ensures that the session moves
If possible, consider making some handouts that convey this
Please have at least a couple of questions ready for the audience
(e.g., has anyone found this in your own research?).
Try to Avoid Excessively Talking About Your Own Research.
Although you should certainly discuss your own research, also try
to incorporate a broader perspective and discuss relevant research from other
people or domains.
Realize That You Might Not Have Much Time.
Sometimes one or two questions can dominate a session.
Anticipate thiswhat would be the one or two comments you would want to
make sure everyone hears?