Moderating an Oral Presentation

Overview of Oral Presentations (Face-to-Face)

Thank you for agreeing to be a moderator for the face-to-face oral presentations at the Symposium of Student Scholars.


  1. Students are given 15 minutes in total -- 12-13 minutes for the presentation with 2-3 additional minutes for questions. 
  2. Oral presentations are grouped into one-hour timeslots with four presentations (maximum) per timeslot. The groupings are done by discipline. Not every timeslot has exactly four presentations.
  3. Each presentation is scheduled for a particular time within the hour timeslot. For example, one presentation will be scheduled at 2:15pm, one will be scheduled at 2:30pm, etc. Attendees are encouraged to stay for an entire hour-long timeslot, but realistically, many attendees quickly move from room to room to see particular presentations (for instance, a student may attend the 2:15pm presentation in one room and then switch rooms to see another presentation elsewhere).
  4. Oral presentations are scheduled thoughout the conference, with 15 minutes between the hour-long sessions.

What Do Moderators Do?

  1. Please check in at the registration desk located in the University Rooms in the Student Center (Kennesaw Campus) about 15 minutes before your scheduled session. There is food and swag in the University Rooms along with the poster sessions, so feel free to come as early as you want and check it out. 
  2. Arrive at your designated classroom at least 10 minutes before your session. The room will already be unlocked - you do not need to get keycard access prior to the Symposium.
  3. Turn on the computer and projector (if they aren't already). If you have any technology issues, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at or text Amy Buddie (she will send you her cell number if you don't already have it).
  4. As presenters arrive, ask them to load their presentations onto the computer. 
  5. Start at the correct time; do not start early even if all presenters are in the room. Welcome all attendees to the session, and introduce the first presenter by name and title of presentation. 
  6. Start a timer. At 10 minutes, let the presenter(s) know that they have two minutes left. At 12-13 minutes, ask the presenters to stop and ask the audience for questions (moderators are encouraged to ask questions too). 
  7. After 2-3 minutes of questions, stop the presentation, start applause, and then introduce the second speaker (name and title of presentation). Again, start a timer so that you can give the above warnings.
  8. Repeat the procedure for the other presentations in the hour-long session. 

Common Errors by Moderators of Oral Presentation Sessions

Feedback from previous conferences illustrates several complaints about moderators:

  1. Moderators not starting and stopping presentations at the designated times. If a presentation ends early, do NOT start the next presentation early. If a presenter is absent, do NOT start the next presentation in that timeslot. Many attendees are coming specifically for a particular presentation, and they do not like finding out they missed it because the moderator changed the schedule. 
  2. Moderators rearranging the order of presentations. Again, many attendees plan to attend a particular presentation assigned for a particular timeslot. When a moderator decides that the 2:15pm presentation would be better at 2:30pm, attendees planning to come to that presentation will have missed it.
  3. Moderators being late. Oral presentation sessions are very tightly scripted, with only 15 minutes assigned to each presentation within each hour-long session and only 15 minutes between sessions. A late moderator takes time away from all students' presentations during that session. Students have worked hard on their presentations; it is not fair to them when they are unable to give a full presentation due to a tardy moderator. 
  4. Moderators being absent. At past conferences, moderators sometimes do not show up at all, which means that students in the room have to fend for themselves. This makes the conference look unprofessional. If you sign up to moderate an oral presentation session, please be sure to show up for your assigned timeslot. 
  5. Moderators not keeping time accurately. If a presenter goes past 15 minutes, this means that the next presenter(s) will not have their entire time to present. Be sure to keep time accurately so all presenters have the same amount of time to present.
  6. Moderators who are perceived as rude. It is rare, but some past attendees have noted that moderators can come across as hostile, rude, and/or dismissive of students. Please remember that these are undergraduates who are maybe giving their first conference presentation ever. Let's be sure to give them a good impression of academic conferences. Moderators are encouraged to ask good, probing questions; however, it is not acceptable to belittle or demean students.