Session Guidelines

General Information

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Moderators, panelists, presenters, and all participants are encouraged to submit an abstract of their current work for the Research and Practice Highlights section of the Workshop notebook. All Workshop participants receive correspondence regarding how to submit an abstract of their current work.


The audience will include academics, practitioners, and policymakers with diverse backgrounds, experience, and knowledge. Because of this diversity, it will be helpful to define any legal and technical terms and avoid the use of acronyms.

Plenaries and Monday and Tuesday Concurrent Sessions


These panels have a moderator and three to five panelists. Since panels are intended to provoke discussion, we recommend moderators provide background information on the issue and present prepared questions at the opening of the session.

Session Time

These sessions are 90 minutes long. Panelists will have about 10 minutes each to respond to the moderator's questions. After all panelists have spoken, the moderator will open the discussion to the audience, leaving about half the session for question and answer.


Laptop computers and projectors will be available for PowerPoint presentations in the plenary sessions. PowerPoint is not available in the Monday or Tuesday afternoon concurrent sessions—this is a longstanding Workshop tradition meant to encourage conversation and exchange between panelists and participants.

Moderator Role

Moderators help create an atmosphere where researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from wide-ranging backgrounds can exchange ideas in a positive, constructive environment.

Moderators have three critical responsibilities:

  • Formulate panel questions based on the Workshop theme and expertise of the panelists. Submit three to four questions directly to session panelists by the date requested.

  • Keep the session on time and on track. Student volunteers at the Workshop will help with timekeeping, but moderators should be prepared to politely encourage panelists and audience members to keep their remarks brief and focused to allow maximum participation from the widest range of persons possible.

  • Introduce the panel topic and panelists. Facilitate panelist remarks in response to guiding questions. Ensure the question and comment period runs smoothly, allowing for open remarks from participants and for as many questions to be asked and addressed as possible.

Moderators will develop questions that help guide the discussion and provide a framework for the session. They should give careful thought to designing questions, taking into account the unique perspectives and experiences panel members bring to the issue. Moderators are encouraged to schedule at least one conference call with panelists in advance of the Workshop to discuss the questions or alternatives.

Panelist Role

Panelists, who are invited to sit on Workshop panels because of their experience and knowledge, play an integral role in the success of the Workshop. Panelists should know that their role is twofold: 1) to share what they know and what they have done; and, 2) to engage the audience. Panelists are really provocateurs for those in the audience, who are experts in their own right and often have important stories and information to share.

Each moderator develops three to four questions, which will be sent to panel members during the Workshop planning period. Panelists will then have about 10 minutes to respond to the set of questions during the actual Workshop session.

We strongly recommend that the moderator and panelists schedule a group call in advance of the Workshop to organize the session.

Wednesday Research and Practice Sessions

The Wednesday morning Research and Practice concurrent sessions are dedicated to sharing new and ongoing programs, initiatives, or policy updates that will be of broad interest to our hazards and disaster community.

Session Time

Wednesday Research and Practice sessions are 60 minutes long. Presenters typically open these sessions by sharing new research, program, or initiative updates. They then often reserve the remaining 15 minutes for audience interaction, feedback, and questions.


Wednesday morning sessions will have PowerPoint available, but presenters are not required to use it. If you choose to use PowerPoint for your presentation, please make sure to send your slides to the moderator in advance of your session.

Moderator Role

The role of the moderator for these sessions is to introduce the speakers, briefly set the stage for the session, and keep all presentations on time. Moderators are responsible for collecting PowerPoint slides in advance and getting them loaded onto the laptop computer provided prior to the start of the session.

Presenter Role

Presenters for the Wednesday sessions will present on the program, activity, or policy update that they are involved in and make sure it connects to the topic of the session and other presentations.

We recommend that the moderator and presenters have a group call in advance of the Workshop to organize the session approach and format.