International Conference Participant Guidelines




These guidelines are for all APPAM conference participants (presenters and chairs) to establish expectations. In order to encourage interdisciplinary discussion among conference participants and audience members, we want to encourage:

  • Interaction among session participants beforehand in order to maximize audience participation on the day of the session.
  • Distillation of the research, by the chair, to identify its unique contribution to policy.
  • Identification of relationships among the research presented, either by the presenters themselves or by the chair.
  • Give and take among participants—especially between researchers and practitioners.
  • Creation of an environment to enhance understanding of issues and the attendant research informing them.

Here are some helpful best practices to a great presentation!

As you prepare for your session at the conference, please keep the following points in mind:

  • APPAM members like to talk and react. Members include many experts; session participants consistently praise APPAM conferences for the exceptional amount of professional interaction that occurs. Much of this interaction happens within or is stimulated by the session discussions. With this in mind, please allow a full 20 minutes for audience questions and commentary. This 20-minute period is separate from the time normally accorded to panelists responding to the chair's comments.
  • Presentations should last no longer than 12 minutes in panels with four presenters or 10 minutes if there are five presenters. The chair should be granted roughly as much time as a presenter so they can adequately tie the papers together and prompt audience discussion.
  • If they are to provide useful insight to authors and serve as stimulants for audience follow-on, chairs must receive papers no later than two weeks prior to the conference. This will allow for adequate time for participants to be able to read the session papers. Presenters will receive instructions on how to upload papers to the and are urged to do so by the deadline provided so chairs have enough time to read the papers and prepare comments before the conference.
  • An excellent panel session is one in which the presenters focus on the more important issues in their research, and collectively, with the aid of the chair, highlight connections among the presented papers. The conference should be an opportunity for professional development in which presenters and session audiences interact to enhance understanding of the issues. Your cooperation with the guidelines in this memorandum will help create an environment for this to occur.


Session Formats

Below are guidelines for well- timed sessions; these sample sessions run from 10:15 – 11:45 am.

Panel Roundtable
  • 10:15 - 10:20 - Chair introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 10:20 - 10:32 -  First presenter presents their paper
  • 10:32 - 10:44 - Second presenter presents their paper
  • 10:44 - 10:56 - Third presenter presents their paper
  • 10:56 - 11:08 - Fourth presenter presents their paper
  • 11:08 - 11:20 - Chair presents their comments
  • 11:20 - 11:45 - Audience Discussion


Sessions with four papers should allow each 10 minutes for each paper presentation.

  • 10:15 - 10:20 - Chair/Moderator introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 10:20 - 10:35 -  First speaker presents
  • 10:35 - 10:50 - Second speaker presents
  • 10:50 - 11:05 - Third speaker presents
  • 11:05 - 11:25 - Moderator presents their comments
  • 11:25 - 11:45 - Audience Discussion


Sessions with four speakers should allow each 12 minutes for each speaker.


If you have any questions, please contact Samantha Oliver Thomason.

Below are specific guidelines for presenters and chairs.



You will receive an email with contact information for all the people taking part in your session. Please reach out to your chair and let them know the status of your paper and when you plan on uploading it for them. If your paper is not ready to be posted publicly, you can share it with the chair privately but you must share it with them by the submission deadline to give them adequate time to prepare comments.

The following format is suggested as it has been found to work well within the 10-12 minute time frame you are allotted for your presentation.

Here's a helpful Best Practices Guide to presenting at APPAM!


Begin with a one-minute overview summary of the paper that includes the central question addressed and the major conclusions. To the extent possible, these conclusions should include policy implications. 


Follow with the reasons listeners ought to accept the paper's conclusions: the underlying theory, description of the evidence, methodological defense of the evidence, and connection to (and improvement upon) the existing literature. This manner of exposition differs from that of a journal article but it is more appropriate to a conference format. Speaking is a more effective way to get an explanation across than reading. 

Presentation Technology

It is highly encouraged to utilize PowerPoint to prepare and display presentations. APPAM will provide computers, LCD projectors and screens in all meeting rooms for use during conference sessions. The Program Committee urges all conference participants to ensure that use of this technology does not interrupt or delay a session. With a strict 90 minutes for panel sessions, even a minor delay can greatly hamper the success of a panel. Remember that there will be less than 15 minutes available for setting up computer equipment prior to the start of most sessions. All presenters on a session may wish to put their presentations on a single computer or flash drive to simplify matters during the panel.

Contents and Format of Presentation Slides

Try to economize on the number of slides in a presentation. Slides should be readable from at least 30 feet (some of the presentation rooms are quite large, some are small), and should be displayed long enough for viewers actually to comprehend the message they are supposed to convey. A good rule of thumb is one substantive slide (a key exhibit, not an outline page) for every two minutes of presentation (or no more than 6 or 7 total slides per presentation). Slides should serve as an aid but should not be read from directly.


Please keep in mind that all presentations are to be in English.


The chair can be critical to the success of a session. Session chairs are responsible for the organization and timing of the session, introducing each paper and presenting author, as well as providing comments or prompts that will tie the session papers or topics together. Chairs are not required to read all the of the papers or to provide detailed feedback to the authors; rather, please have a general knowledge of each paper for the purpose of guiding the discussion.

APPAM asks chairs to do the following: 

  • Convene the panel, either by email or conference call, in advance to make introductions and develop some rapport.
    • You are encouraged to consider an alternative format if the panelists agree; for example, summarize all the papers at the beginning of the session. These alternative formats can help facilitate audience participation and discussion.
  • Start the session on time and state the ground rules at the beginning of the discussion, including timing and commitment to discussion. Note that observing stated time limits shows respect for other presenters and for the audience. 
  • Introduce all participants at the beginning of the session. 
  • Monitor the clock. Presenters who appear to be off-track for completion on time should be cautioned mid-presentation. APPAM will supply chairs with four signs that read, "5 minutes" "2 minutes", "1 minute", and "Stop" to help alert presenters to their timing. 
  • Chairs should sit in the front row of the audience, facing the presenters, rather than at the head table, while the presentations are in progress. 
  • Chairs are asked to make integrative comments rather than paper-by-paper critiques. In many cases, very specific or detailed critics can be shared with paper authors outside of the session. Your comments should be no more than 10 minutes – 12 minutes long.
  • Be prepared to initiate the question period if the audience is not engaged and ensure that questions and statements from the audience are short and to the point.
  • Chairs should contribute to the policy focus of the session. To further this endeavor, here are some questions to consider and use for audience discussion:
    • Does the research inform policy in the most timely and useful way? If not, what could be to done to improve the contribution of research to policy?
    • Are methods used in the research and analysis properly aligned to the nature of current policy problems?
    • Do we need to rethink the roots of the policy problems we are researching? Are we missing research opportunities because we have become too comfortable with our research designs and communities?
    • How can we use the expertise of those in public management, and those who study the political process, to inform our research?
    • Are there emerging policy problems for which we are not producing useful research, but for which we could direct new research?
    • Are there limitations of information, data and research designs that prevent their research from being used by policymakers?
    • What common challenges have researchers encountered when studying the issue?
    • How can we address these challenges in future research?
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