Guide for Moderators and Presenters

A. Presenter Guide

Welcome to ICMB XI! Whether you are a repeat presenter or brand new, thank you for sharing your research with us. We are eager to hear about your work and this guide is meant to help you ensure it reaches your audience equally.

Be open to diversity in your audience and any accessibility issues.

Be aware that some of your audience might not be able to:

  • see well or at all,
  • hear well or at all,
  • move well or at all,
  • speak well or at all, or
  • understand information presented in some ways well or at all.

Making the Presentation

File Types & Specifications
  • Oral presentations should be saved as PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX) or PDF Files.
  • Posters should be printed out and will be hung using thumb tacks.
    • Poster board spaces are 3' (91 cm) high by 4' (121 cm) wide so posters need to fit within that space.
    • ICMB will provide numbered spaces and thumbtacks for all poster presenters.
Make text and important visuals big enough to be read, even from the back of the room
  • A minimum font size of 24 points is standard for presentations.
  • This includes graphics on slides, videos, posters, and other non-electronic material.
Use an easy-to-read font
  • Simple fonts with consistent thickness are often easier to read from a distance.
  • Fonts where parts of the letters are thin are harder to read.
  • Avoid fancy fonts that are difficult to read.
  • Select templates and themes with sans serif fonts that are 24 points or larger.
  • Good Sans Serif font examples include: Calibri, Franklin Gothic Book, Lucida Sans and Segoe UI.
  • Another accessible option is the Atkinson Hyperlegible Font.
Use sufficient contrast between colors ("luminance contrast")
  • This includes contrast between text and background colors, and between colors in graphs.
  • There are guidelines for web pages that you can use to help determine sufficient contrast — even though the medium is different.
  • See Understanding contrast guidance and contrast evaluation tools.
  • Use appropriate background and text colors.
Consider how to use motion or animations
  • Animating slides can be helpful to avoid having too much text on any given slide. However, motion or excessive animation can be distracting, difficult to read, or make people ill. This includes text or images flying in from the side.
  • Avoid using flashing or rapid GIFs in your presentations because this can trigger seizures.
Be aware of your research impact on your audience
  • If you are presenting a study about people, the subject(s) of your study, or other people who are part of the population you studied, may attend your event (e.g., Autistic people at an autism-themed conference).
  • Be mindful of the ways that your own identities may influence and affect your audience, especially if you are not a member of the group that is being represented.
Adhere to the SSMB Code of Conduct
  • Be aware of the Code of Conduct and rules about inappropriate images before submitting your presentation.
  • Talks and Posters will be screened to ensure no inappropriate images are shown.

Giving the Presentation

  • Describe the content of your slides
    • Always describe the important visual information in your slides during the presentation. This will provide the visual information to people in the audience who are blind or who cannot see the slides well as well as to those who are auditory learners.
  • Speak clearly
    • Avoid speaking too fast, so participants and interpreters can better understand you and keep up.
  • Use simple language
    • Always avoid or explain jargon, acronyms, and idioms.
    • For example, expressions such as "raising the bar" can be interpreted literally by some people with cognitive disabilities or those for whom English is not their first language and can be confusing.
  • Give people time to process information
    • Pause between topics.
    • When you ask if anyone has questions, some people with cognitive disabilities will need extra time to form their thoughts into words.
  • Be visible
    • Be visible and in good light when you talk, so participants can see your face. This helps some people hear and understand better.
    • Be careful not to face away from the audience to read projected material, particularly if you don't have a microphone.
  • Use a microphone when provided.
    • Some people might need to hear the audio electronically, even in a small room. This includes people using ALDs and remote captioners.
    • Note that if you ask, "Can everyone hear me OK?" that some people might be uncomfortable saying that they cannot.
  • Presentation timing
    • Time your presentation carefully, including appropriate pauses between topics, to encourage dialogue and respect others' presentations.
    • Try not to rush through your presentation: rushed presentations make captioning and interpretation difficult.
    • Speak slowly, define terms, and spell out names and acronyms.

If you require accommodations for presenting, please contact us.

B. Session Moderator Guide

Thank you for your efforts to help make ICMB XI a great experience! Your role as a moderator is crucial to ensure each session runs smoothly, presenters have a smooth, easy experience, and everyone gets the best opportunity to learn and share their research.

As the moderator, you have a responsibility to the presenters and to the audience to ensure everyone's time and experience is respected.

You should understand your own implicit bias before undertaking any type of public leadership role, and you can read up on some of the available guides included in the references section below.

Creating an Inclusive Conference Session

The prevalence of implicit biases tends to marginalize underrepresented groups in fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which have traditionally been dominated by people from privileged identities: white, cisgender, heterosexual men.

Failure to acknowledge implicit biases will result in a meeting environment where underrepresented groups will continue to be marginalized and majority groups will continue to dominate.

Equity is about access and power; whoever has the floor has the power. Listening is as important as speaking, and session organizers can institute appropriate pauses and wait for others to process before sharing. For example, slow responses may be a result of linguistic or cultural differences, which can be accommodated through facilitation approaches that are aware and responsive to these differences.

  • Clearly note time constraints and stick to them.
    • More senior and established speakers (enabled by moderators) might push their time limits, often at the expense of the time allotted to speakers earlier in their careers.
  • Moderate Q&A sessions with awareness of inclusion to make sure more junior and less vocal attendees participate.
    • Moderators of Q&A play an important role in making sure discussions aren't dominated by a small number of vocal participants.
    • Intentionally elicit multiple perspectives from multiple types of meeting participants.
    • Invite those who may not speak right away to share their views or ask questions.
  • Be mindful of who is chosen to ask the first question, as this will set the stage for the discussion.
    • Consider offering early career scientists the first opportunities to ask questions, asking more established participants to wait.
Q&A Session

Research shows that men are more likely to ask a question during Q&As; however, this changes if the first question is asked by a woman (Carter et al. 2018).

Here are some ways to promote greater inclusivity in your Q&A session:

  • Take a few questions at a time, ensuring there are questions from a diversity of people (participants from different genders, younger audience members, members of an underrepresented group, etc.)
  • If you are taking only one question at a time, try starting with a woman, an early career professional, or a member of an underrepresented group.
Before the Session
  • Check that the microphone works.
  • Check there is a chair available for the presenter.
  • Ensure the wheelchair access space is available and free of debris.
  • Review special accommodations requests and ensure that you can provide each.
  • Reserve seats at the front of the room for deaf and hard of hearing audience members, and leave some spaces open for wheelchair users.
  • Tell every presenter in your session that they must use the microphone.
  • Ask presenters for correct pronunciation of their names and their pronouns.
At the Beginning of the Session
  • Announce that all speakers should use the microphone and point out the wheelchair and/or hearing seats.
  • Announce that audience members should indicate they have a question by raising their hand, or by asking their neighbor to raise their hand.
During the Session
  • Announce your presenters, their affiliations, and presentation titles.
  • Every presenter must use the microphone.
  • Monitor time limits and provide speakers with a way to know when their time is up.
  • Repeat audience member questions into the microphone so that everyone can hear the questions asked.

Many thanks to the creators of these guides and studies, upon which we relied heavily while creating this document.

Carter AJ, Croft A, Lukas D, Sandstrom GM (2018) Women's visibility in academic seminars: Women ask fewer questions than men. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0202743.

Charutard A, Hann, C. (2019) Best Practice Guide: Developing inclusive conferences. REACH University of Oxford School of Geography and the Environment.

Initiative (WAI) WWA. How to Make Your Presentations Accessible to All. Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Pendergrass A, et al. (2019). Inclusive Scientific Meetings, Where to Start. 500 Women Scientists.

Serrato Marks G (2018) How to Make Professional Conferences More Accessible for Disabled People: Guidance from Actual Disabled Scientists. The Equation. Union of Concerned Scientists.

Umstead A, Wiener D (2012) Edited 2018 by Pollack K, Wiener D. A guide to planning inclusive events seminars and activities at Syracuse University. Syracuse University Disability Cultural Center.