SETAC North America Session Chair Job Description and Guidance

The role of session chairs and co-chairs at SETAC North America annual meetings is important to the success of the sessions. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist you in chairing a session. If you have any questions, please contact or +1 850 469 1500 ext. 101.

Session Submission

Session proposals are submitted using the SETAC online Meeting Management System (MMS) before the deadline. Please review the various session formats supported at SETAC North American Annual meeting to select the best format for your session. A minimum of one chair should accompany every session submission but more are recommended.

Session Review

All proposed sessions will first be reviewed by the SETAC North America Science Committee.

  • This review is to make sure all areas of science SETAC North America wants presented at this meeting are included in the session proposals
  • This is a quick review (26 February – 12 March 2018)
  • If an area is not represented, the science committee will use MMS via a private link to add additional sessions before their review deadline
    • The sessions must have at least one chair assigned. If a chair is not known at the time of the submission, the submitter must assign themselves as a chair and can later find a replacement

The second session review will be performed by the technical subcommittee to the meeting program committee (14–28 March 2018)

  • The technical subcommittee is created by the meeting chairs with assistance from the SETAC North America office. The subcommittee comprises 10 members representing (best effort) all 3 sectors and all areas of science presented at a SETAC meeting.
  • The subcommittee will review all session submissions and determine if they are applicable for this SETAC meeting
  • If needed, the subcommittee will reject, combine or ask for clarification from the session submitter before including the session in the call for abstracts

Once the subcommittee is finished reviewing the sessions, an email will be sent to the submitter of the session informing them that the session is or is not tentatively accepted as a session for this meeting and will or will not be included in the call for abstracts.

All tentatively accepted sessions included in the call for abstracts, even if labeled as “spotlight session,” are not guaranteed a session slot in the final program and must still get the abstract submissions and final approval by the technical subcommittee during the abstract review meeting in June.

Session Planning – Before the Meeting

Once the program committee has accepted a session proposal, the responsibilities of the session chair or co-chair include:

  • Solicit abstracts and specifically recruit for participation in the session.
  • Critically review all submitted abstracts in the session and provide recommendations for the acceptance or rejection of each abstract. Organize the flow of the sessions so that presentations are grouped so that they collectively “tell a story” and provide a well-rounded perspective on the topic.
  • Give written comments through the website to the technical subcommittee regarding recommendations for the best final slate of presentations, their order, and any other recommendations that would be helpful to the subcommittee. Guidance on how to access and review the abstracts on the SETAC database is provided by the SETAC office via email.
  • Ensure a balance among the presenters in terms of sector (government, business and academia), gender equity, and career level. Try to include student presentations.
  • Traditional platform sessions typically have room for 8 presentations. If a large number of quality abstracts is received, an accompanying session (platform or poster) should be organized.
  • If the session is using an alternate format (e.g., debate or panel), please leave detailed notes to the technical subcommittee to have during abstract review.
  • Please note that each session chair is required to pay for registration and attend the meeting.

Timeline and Specific Duties

November–21 February

  • Chair or co-chairs submit session proposals


  • SETAC North America office sends session acceptance decisions to chairs and co-chairs


  • General call for abstracts opens


  • SETAC North America office emails chairs and co-chairs information on how to access and review abstracts online. Chairs and co-chairs recruit designated abstracts and can start viewing and reviewing abstracts submitted to their session.


  • General call for abstracts closes (check with abstract announcements for specific deadline)
  • Between mid-May and mid-June, chairs or co-chairs prioritize the list of abstracts for inclusion in their sessions. The chairs should log in and select the abstracts they recommend to be accepted as poster or platform and any comments they wish to provide to the committee during the review process.
  • After the abstract review committee meets in June to review all comments and recommendations from chairs and create the final program, chairs or co-chairs are asked to sort the accepted abstracts into time slots within their session and create session continuity


  • SETAC North America office posts the final program online and prepares printed meeting program


  • Chairs and co-chairs contact presenters to ensure they are aware of the presentation requirements and the consequences of canceling and “no-shows,” the need to find alternate presenter of the material if necessary, and to discuss other logistical information

At the Meeting

Prior to and during the session:

  • Arrive at the session room 30 minutes prior to the start of the session
  • Ensure all presentations are loaded and speakers are present. Introduce yourself to the speakers and check name pronunciation and affiliations
  • Meet your AV technician to review equipment. Familiarize yourself with location of light switches, switches at podium and check operation of laser pointers.
  • Advice the audience on and enforce the SETAC Photography and Recording Policy and the SETAC the Code of Conduct.
  • Start and keep the session on time. You MUST STAY ON SCHEDULE. It is VERY important that you keep your speakers on schedule and NEVER start or end a speaker early or late. It is VERY important that all sessions are in sync with each other to allow the audience to move between sessions without missing any part of a presentation.
  • Field questions for the speaker, and limit questions or comments that are very long or monopolize the speaker’s time. Intervene if questions become unprofessional.
  • Ask and encourage questions after each platform talk if there are none from the audience. Try to start a discussion if there is a canceled or “no-show” presentation.
  • For traditional platform sessions, signal speakers at 12 minutes. Stop speaker at 15 minutes. There will be 5 minutes between each presentation. DO NOT start the next presentation early or allow the previous presentation more time, and keep each session on schedule so audience members have time to switch rooms. Announce to the audience when each presentation time slot is over, and make them feel comfortable to change to another session if desired. During this 5-minute transition period, the chair should encourage discussions or field questions to presenters or audience in order to keep the session lively between talks but not allow any presentation to continue after the allotted 15-minute time slot.