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SIOP Presentation Suggestions for Symposia/Forum

Symposium/forum. A symposium/forum is a multi-presenter session. This session type welcomes (and replaces) all submissions that in the past were submitted to: (a) symposium; (b) practice forum; (c) academic-practitioner collaborative forum; (d) education, teaching, and learning forum; and (e) theoretical advancement. Any multi-presenter session proposing research, practice, theory, and teaching-oriented content should be submitted here. Participants in a symposium/forum should include a chairperson and three to four presenters. A symposium/forum often includes discussants, but it does not have to do so. We encourage submissions in which diverse and novel perspectives are presented, including sessions in which the audience plays the role of discussant and the chair facilitates the discussion. Stand-alone papers are not assigned to symposia; such papers should be submitted as posters. Although individual presentations within a symposium/forum may have all authors from the same institution, the overall session must contain presenters from at least two different affiliations. This submission rule originally resulted from considerable feedback and concern about sessions becoming “advertisements” for products by a single company or research being presented from a single academic program. We intend the program to be science based and inclusive for all participants. Sufficient time should be allotted for audience participation. It is assumed that first authors indicated on a submission will serve as the actual presenter at the SIOP conference.

Suggestions for Effective Symposium/Forum Presentations

Several Weeks Before the Conference

Planning is Paramount (See Guidelines Useful for All Types of Sessions)

Prepare Visual Aids

  • Visual aids can greatly improve the effectiveness of a presentation. While increasing an audience’s interest, well-prepared slides can also clarify and support key points in the presentation.
    • If you need to refer to a particular slide more than once, prepare duplicates of the slides so 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.
    • Ask yourself, what’s the point?
  • A visual serves one main purpose; to help make a point. This concept is sometimes 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.
    • Prepare the right number of visual aids.
  • As a general rule of thumb, plan on spending roughly one minute per slide. If you have 12 minutes to present, you generally don’t want the number of slides in your presentation to exceed 12-15.
    • Make sure each visual can be read without strain from all parts of the room.
  • A common complaint about presentations is that the audience cant read the visuals because the typeset is too small. For things such as large correlation matrices, it is not possible to present the information adequately. In such cases, it may be better to not present the correlation matrix or maybe handouts are necessary. Make sure all your visual aids can be read from a distance. We recommend using a font size of 20 point or greater so your visuals will be legible.
    • Remember, they are visual aids only.
  • The most important part of the presentation is you, the presenter. Visual aids may be an important tool, but your words and conduct are primary. Be particularly careful about the number of handouts and the amount of information in your visuals. If the entire message is on the visuals, why do we need a presenter?
    • Create a summary visual aid
  • During the presentation your audience members may have been engrossed in one particular element of your presentation and missed other key points.
    • Consider the accessibility of the visual aids
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.
  • Assume some members of your audience will be disabled. Remember, disabilities are not always obvious. Some people will likely have difficulty seeing your visual aids. Be prepared. Design presentation materials that are user-friendly for your whole audience.
  • Make materials easy to read. Handouts with black print on white paper are generally preferred. If possible, provide large print copies of your presentation when requested.
  • Describe the information presented in your visual aids.
    • Help the audience see the information by describing and summarizing what’s being presented.
    • If you choose to bring handouts, make plenty of copies.
  • If you are using handouts, bring at least 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, 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.
    • Prepare a back-up form of your visual aids.
  • Sometimes technology does not work. If you are planning on using PowerPoint, prepare some or handouts in case you encounter a technical problem.

Prepare and Practice Your Presentation

  • Ensure the accessibility of your presentation.
    • Describe the information presented in your visual aids. Help the audience see the information by describing and summarizing what’s being presented.
  • Interpret; don’t 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 don’t, or they say different things to different people. Your job is to use your expertise and insights to help others understand the information.
  • Summarize
    • 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.

Practice your talk to make certain you are within your allotted amount of time.

Send Your Presentation to Other Session Members 2 Weeks Before the Conference.

  • 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 other’s presentations. Do not wait until the last minute to make presentations accessible. A common rule of thumb is to make the presentation/paper available 2 weeks before the conference. Doing so not only gives you more time to practice but is considerate of other symposium/forum members.

Coordinate Technology Plans With Other Session Members

  • LCD projectors will be available in each session room. However, you will need to bring your own computer to use the LCD projectors. Coordinate with other session members to ensure that at least one of the session members will bring a laptop that can be used for the session. Then be sure to make plans for loading the presentations and making sure they work properly on the computer well before the session begins.

At the Conference...

Before the Session Begins

  • Error check visual and computer aids beforehand.
    • There is nothing more distracting to a presentation than presenters fumbling with technology (e.g., 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 starts.

During the Session

  • 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 about your research.
  • Ensure your presentation is accessible.
    • 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 during 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, since presentations are recorded and sold, if you don’t use the microphone, it is difficult to be heard on the audio.
  • Turn audio/visual off when not in use.
    • This reduces background noise that is potentially distracting to your audience.
  • Allow time for reviewing visual aids.
    • Assume some members of your audience will need time to look at the visual aids and then focus their attention on you for further information.
  • Respect other presenters’ time.
    • You want time to discuss your research, and so do the other presenters. Please respect their time; it is the polite and courteous thing to do.
  • Realize the chair is in charge.
    • The chair has the job of moderating the session and ensuring it runs smoothly. Please respect his/her position. If you run long, don’t get mad at the chair for telling you to sit down. By adhering to the chair’s suggestions, the session runs more smoothly for everyone.

After the Session

Be prepared to distribute your paper (See Guidelines Useful for All Types of Sessions).

Suggestions for Effective Symposium/Forum Chairs

  • Preparation is the key to success.
    • Planning for the session and helping presenters prepare contributes to an interesting and informative session overall.
  • Plan the use of time.
    • Start and end the session promptly. As presenters are approaching their time limits, give them a prearranged signal that they should begin to conclude their presentations. You may need to stop a presenter to keep the session on track. To do this, you may want to politely say, we really need to move on so we can stay within our allotted time.
    • Plan a logical and informative segue between each presentation, so the symposia/forums flows smoothly and the audience understands clearly how the next presentation is related to the other presentations.
    • The best way to ensure the session runs on time is to let presenters know before the conference how much time they will have and the order in which they’ll be presenting.
    • Prepare an overall plan and approximate time schedule for the session. Allow sufficient time at the end of the session for audience discussion and ample time for setup of the next session in the room.
    • Encourage your presenters to practice their presentations to be sure they wont exceed the time allotted.
    • Be sure to sit in a visible position for the presenters to easily see your cues, and let presenters know where you will be during the presentation. A good rule of thumb is to let presenters know when they have 5, 2, and 1 minute remaining in the presentations.
  • Help presenters prepare before the symposium/forum.
    • Offer to review the presenters’ presentation, plans, visuals, or handouts. Note duplications in content and suggest revisions to avoid excessive repetition.
  • Ensure that session members and the discussant review each other’s papers before the conference.
    • It is much easier to see similarities and differences between papers when everyone reviews them beforehand. It will also be possible to reduce redundancies in the presentation. A particularly effective strategy is for 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 each presenter can focus on what is unique in his/her study.
    • As a general rule of thumb, presenters should have their materials to the discussant at least 2 weeks before the conference (some discussants may want more time, so be sure to check).
    • One useful technique is to set up an e-mail list including all session members. This makes it easier to communicate, and ensures everyone has access to the same information.
  • Work collaboratively with the discussant and 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.
  • Show enthusiasm for the session.
    • 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.
  • Assist with seating of those with disabilities.
    • Ensure that members 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.
  • Moderate the audience discussion.
    • Provide a few general comments at the start of the session to orient the audience to the papers, and how they fit together.
    • Repeat each question or comment before responding so that all can hear. For taping purposes, this ensures 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.

Suggestions for Effective Symposia/Forum Discussants

  • Remember you make a big difference.
    • The discussant can tie a diverse set of papers together into a coherent theme. In many cases, the discussant can make an otherwise good symposium/forum exceptional. The best way for this to happen is to prepare in advance.
  • Be constructively critical.
    • A discussant who finds nothing to add to a set of papers is as uninformative as a discussant who finds nothing good with them. Remember, you were asked to be the discussant because you are the expert. Now is the chance for you to demonstrate your expertise and provide insight into the domain of study. You may not like a particular paper, but please critique it in a professional manner. Remember to critique the research and not the person conducting the research.
    • Try to find at least one:
      • good thing to say about each paper
      • thing that could be improved in each paper
      • connection among the set of papers
      • implication for research
      • implication for practice
    • Try to avoid spending too much time on each paper individually; focus on connections across papers and general themes. Be sure to give each paper equal attention.

Overall, focus on the positive.

  • Prepare general discussion points 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. For example, why were differences between studies found? What are the implications of these studies for research in this area? How can these studies improve practice? Preparing these questions before the session ensures the session moves along smoothly.
    • If possible, consider making slides that convey this information.
    • Please have at least a couple of questions ready for the audience (e.g., has anyone found this in your own research?).
  • Avoid talking about your own research.
    • Although you may have useful research that bears on the issues, remember your role is to discuss and critique the current set of presentations. This is not the forum for introducing your new ground-breaking study. Mention it if it is relevant, but focus the majority of your attention on the presenters research.
  • Realize you don’t have much time.
    • Even the most well-intentioned session chair cannot control some presenters, and it is possible the session will leave you with little time. Anticipate what would be the one or two comments you would want to make sure everyone hears? If a presenter does take too much time, avoid the temptation to chastise the presenter for his/her inconsideration.
  • Realize you might not receive the papers in advance.
    • If everyone does his or her job, this won’t be issue. Don’t assume they all will. You might have to comment on a presentation without having read the paper beforehand. Having read and commented on the other papers beforehand will make this easier for you.
  • Give presenters a copy of your remarks.
    • Many presenters will not have the time or energy to write down everything you say. Providing them with your comments after the session could help your comments have greater impact.

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