The chair is responsible for introducing each paper and the authors as well as the discussant(s). The chair is also responsible for managing the time for each presentation, making sure no author exceeds his or her allotted time, and ensuring that the discussion is polite and productive. Please allow an equal amount of time for each presenter, followed by comments from all discussants, and audience discussion.

Chairs may recommend papers to the MPSA for research awards. The Chair will also help with the questions that may be posted by virtual attendees through Zoom chat and assist with basic technical challenges that presenters may experience (there will be tech support staff who are available for this as well). A higher level of comfort using Zoom or Skype, or experience teaching online is key.

Before the Conference

  1. Use the online conference program to review the schedule and lineup for your session.
  2. Reach out to your panelists via email and introduce yourself. Inform your panelists of the time that they will be allotted to speak during the 90-minute session (e.g., if there are five presenters, 10 minutes each; if four presenters, 13 minutes; if three presenters, 14 minutes). When presentations are completed, there should be 20 minutes for comments from all discussants, and a final 15 minutes to end the session with audience discussion or Q&A. You can find the email addresses for your panelists by logging in to view the online conference program, navigating to your session, and clicking the name of an individual panelist to open their “Person Summary” page. Please note that email addresses will only be visible on the “Person Summary” page if you are logged in.
  3. Remind your authors to upload their papers to the online conference program. You can also request that presenters distribute their papers to the rest of the panel via email.

If you are chairing a roundtable, there will be no papers to upload or distribute. You should still reach out to your panelists to introduce yourself, briefly describe how the roundtable discussion will be structured, and if there are specific topics or questions you would like panelists to speak to.

Hybrid Conference Responsibilities

Chairs will help to facilitate the hybrid conference format by overseeing the virtual Zoom meeting room during the session. Please consult our Zoom instructions if you are not comfortable with the Zoom platform. In an effort to create the best hybrid conference experience for all participants (whether in-person or virtual), please follow the hybrid instructions for chairs below. As a reminder, all sessions are being recorded.

Instruction for Chairs

  • Arrive at the conference room 10 minutes prior to the session start time.
  • ENCORE Event Technology Services or MPSA staff will start the zoom session at the scheduled start time. If there is some delay in staff starting the meeting or your meeting is disconnected during the session, the chair should follow the directions below to start/reconnect the zoom session. Should you have any questions or run into any technical difficulties, please contact ENCORE Event Technology Services at (312) 917-3462 immediately
    • The virtual conference platform will be open on the computer in the hotel conference room. From the Home Page, click Zoom Hosting Assignments under the Navigation Menu on the left-hand side of the page. This will open a list of all sessions scheduled in this hotel conference room for the day, in order of occurrence.
    • Scroll to your session and click Start Zoom Session. This will open the meeting room for virtual attendees.
    • At the scheduled start time, begin recording the session in Zoom.
  • Follow the order and timing listed for the session in the conference app or the print program to allow time for all presentations.
  • Introduce the session and all speakers (both virtual and in-person). Inform virtual audience members of the chat feature in Zoom if they would like to submit questions. Alert everyone that the Zoom meeting room will close abruptly for virtual attendees at the scheduled end time, so it is crucial that sessions do not run over the time allotment.
  • Instruct presenters and discussants to go to the podium and stand at the red “X’ on the floor to share comments.
  • If a presenter is virtual, turn the laptop around so they may view the audience.
  • Ensure that all presenters use the Share Screen feature in Zoom while they are presenting. Help the speakers keep their presentations within the allotted time and signal the amount of time remaining toward the end of their presentations.
  • When presentations have concluded and discussants have given their comments, return to the laptop at the podium and monitor the Zoom chat for questions or comments submitted by virtual audience members. Repeat any questions from the audience so people attending virtually can hear what is being asked.
  • Provide a two-minute warning prior to the scheduled session end time to allow participants the time to complete their remarks before the session concludes.

What should I do if my discussant doesn’t show up for the session? All discussants in the conference program have confirmed their participation and are expected to perform their roles. If there is an emergency that requires last-minute cancellation, discussants should make every effort to email the written comments that they would have given, so that the chair and panelists can read and discuss those comments during the session. In the event that the discussant(s) does not arrive for the session, and has not communicated their absence to any of the panelists, panelists should still present their papers and exchange feedback with one another. After the session, please inform the MPSA of the discussant’s absence by emailing the Conference Director (

Looking for additional resources for the conference and/or your visit to Chicago?

View Author GuidelinesDiscussant GuidelinesLightning Talk Guidelines and FAQsPoster Guidelines and FAQsInstructions for Virtual Attendees, and Tips for Using Zoom.

View Travel ResourcesOnsite DetailsA/V Details and Tech Support information, Local Dining options, Family Resources, and Health and Emergency Services locations and contact information. A Conference Guide can be found here.