Conferences & Events



2020 Virtual Conference Participant Guidelines

Important Notes for Conference Presentation

  • Session Access - All sessions, both for presenters and attendees, will be accessed through the online program.  A few minutes prior to the start of your session, a 'Join Now' button will appear next to the session title in the program.  By clicking this button and entering a password, to be sent to all registrants a few days before the conference, you will be added to the session. 
  • Zoom Practice Session Recording - If you were unable to attend one of the practice sessions but have questions about Zoom features, such as Screen Share, viewing participants, Chat Feature, or Polling, please watch this video.

General Guidelines

These guidelines are for all APPAM conference session participants (presenters, chairs, and discussants) to establish expectations. Poster guidelines are also available. 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 discussant(s), to identify its unique contribution to policy.
  • Identification of relationships among the research presented, either by the presenters themselves or by the discussants.
  • 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. A Zoom Meeting Speaker Guide for the new virtual format is available here.


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

  • Session Access - All sessions, both for presenters and attendees, will be accessed through the online program.  A few minutes prior to the start of your session, a 'Join Now' button will appear next to the session title in the program.  By clicking this button and entering a password, to be sent to all registrants a few days before the conference, you will be added to the session. 
  • We understand that virtual sessions can bring challenges to audience interaction. To remedy this, sessions will be much shorter, 55-minutes, and will focus largely on the discussant feedback and audience Q&A. We hope these shorter session times will hold attendee attention spans and encourage more engagement.
  • APPAM attendees like to interact, even in a virtual setting. With this in mind, please allow 15-20 minutes for audience questions and commentary.
  • Presentations should last no longer than 5 minutes and use no more than 3 slides. The discussant feedback should be no more than 15 minutes so the remainder of the session will be reserved for audience interaction.
  • Paper presenters will be asked to develop one question each that they'd like to pose to the audience about their work. These questions can be specifically related to an aspect of their paper, general feedback on the topic, or even about professional development for students or early scholars.
  • If they are to provide useful insight to authors and serve as stimulants for audience follow-on, discussants must receive papers no later than two weeks prior to the conference. This will allow for adequate time for discussants to read the session papers. Presenters will receive instructions on how to upload papers to and are urged to do so by the deadline provided so discussants 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 discussant(s), 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.

Dates to Remember

September 25 - All presenters must be registered for the conference. Any presenter not registered by this date is subject to removal from the program.

October 28 - All papers must be uploaded to submission system through the Speaker Center received via email. Please contact Tristanne Staudt,, if you have not received this link.

November 4 - All presenter questions for audience due to session Chair.

November 11-13 - 2020 APPAM Virtual Fall Research Conference


Session Formats

All sessions must follow the format below; these sample sessions run from 11:00 – 11:55 am.

Panel Roundtable
  • 11:00 - 11:05 - Chair introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 11:05 - 11:10 -  First presenter presents their paper
  • 11:10 - 11:15 - Second presenter presents their paper
  • 11:15 - 11:20 - Third presenter presents their paper
  • 11:20 - 11:25 - Fourth presenter presents their paper
  • 11:25 - 11:40 - Discussant(s) presents their comments
  • 11:40 - 11:55 - Audience Discussion


Sessions with three papers should allow each 7 minutes for each paper presentation.

  • 11:00 - 11:05 - Chair/Moderator introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 11:05 - 11:10 -  First speaker presents
  • 11:10 - 11:15 - Second speaker presents
  • 11:15 - 11:20 - Third speaker presents
  • 11:20 - 11:25 - Fourth speaker presents
  • 11:25 - 11:40 - Moderator presents their comments
  • 11:40 - 11:55 - Audience Discussion



Sessions with less than four speakers can adjust timing so that the speaker contributions are delivered within 20 minutes.


If you have any questions, please contact

Below are specific guidelines for presenters, chairs, and discussants.

Presenters Chairs Discussants Presentation FAQ


Guidelines for Presenters


Paper Preparation

You received an email with contact information for all the people taking part in your session (other presenters, chair and discussant(s)). Please reach out to your chair and let them know the status of your paper and when you plan on uploading it for the discussant. If your paper is not ready to be posted publicly, you can share it with the discussant privately but you must share it with them by the submission deadline to give them adequate time to prepare comments. There are no formatting or length requirements for submitted papers. Papers must be submitted by October 28.


Presentation Preparation

Please remember that your presentation is not only a way to share your research but also a time to receive valuable feedback from others in the policy field.  As such, presenters will be required to prepare one question each that will solicit feedback from audience members no later than November 4.  This question can be related to a specific aspect of the paper, the policy topic in general, or even professional development advice if the presenter is a student or an early scholar.  This question should be submitted to the session chair no later than one week prior to the conference.  

You will have five minutes to present your work during the session. The following format is suggested as it has been found to work well within the 5 minute time frame you are allotted for your presentation.


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. 

While you will only have five minutes to present during the session, you will have the opportunity to upload a full-length recording of your presentation to the online program.  You will receive these upload instructions in mid-August.  If you do not receive these instructions, please contact Tristanne Staudt,


Presentation Technology

It is highly encouraged to utilize PowerPoint to prepare and display presentations via the Zoom Webinar screenshare feature. APPAM will host practice sessions for all participants in mid-October. You must have a computer with a webcam and microphone, a strong internet connection, and the latest version of Zoom downloaded on your device before the practice session and the live session. APPAM will provide a Zoom Meeting Panelist Guide shortly.

APPAM urges all conference participants to ensure that use of this technology does not interrupt or delay a session. With a strict 55 minutes for virtual sessions, even a minor delay can greatly hamper the success of a session. Remember that there will be less than 5 minutes available for setting up your Zoom session and re-testing all present video, audio and screensharing prior to the start of most sessions. Presenting authors will be responsible for screensharing and advancing their slides.

Conference participants are asked to monitor and respond to the Online Program Q&A from November 4 – November 18. In order to answer questions, the panelist must create an Online Program account using the email address associated with the accepted submission. Once that is complete, the panelist will receive email notifications when there are new comments, but we also encourage panelists to check their Online Program session and paper pages to ensure all questions have been answered during this timeframe.


Content and Format of Presentation Slides

Each speaker will be allotted three slides during the session and each should be displayed long enough for viewers actually to comprehend the message they are supposed to convey. For easiest reading, slides should utilize charts/tables whenever possible and font sizes should be no smaller than 18 points.  Slides should serve as an aid but should not be read from directly.


Presenter Guideline Summary

To sum up the guidelines for presenters, please keep the following in mind:

  1. You will have five minutes to present
  2. You will be limited to three slides
  3. You should monitor all questions coming in through the online program
  4. You must develop one question to solicit audience feedback
  5. Optional: You may record and upload a full-length video of your presentation to the online program


Guidelines for Chairs

The chair can be critical to the success of a session. The principal challenge for a chair is to enforce time allotments. This is essential for these condensed session lengths.  A presenter that runs over his or her allotted time is using time that belongs to another presenter or to the audience. APPAM asks chairs to do the following: 

  • Monitor paper progress before the meetings and encourage timely distribution of session papers to discussant(s). 
  • Ensure that presenters upload papers to for discussants to read in advance of the conference. If they have not, please bring email Tristanne Staudt,
  • Convene the panel, either by email or conference call, in advance to make introductions and develop some rapport. 
  • Act as the Zoom Meeting host for the session by monitoring the Chat feature and watching for Raised Hands from participants.
  • 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. You should notify presenters of their approaching time limit by unmuting yourself and stating the time.
  • Facilitate audience Q&A by utilizing interactive polls to engage the audience at the beginning of the Q&A portion of the session.
  • 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 will receive questions for the audience from each paper presenter but may also add some of their own, either directed at the paper presenters or the audience members.


Chair Guideline Summary

To sum up the guidelines for chairs, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Before the Conference: Connect with presenters and discussants to coordinate the timing and session organization
  2. Before the Conference: Collect presenter questions for the audience by November 4
  3. During the Session: Serve as Zoom Meeting host by monitoring the Chat feature for questions and watching for raised hands from Participants wishing to speak
  4. During the Session: Introduce the session participants
  5. ​During the Session: Track time of each participant, ensuring the session runs smoothly
  6. ​During the Session: Facilitate Q&A by posing a poll question to the presenters and audience members
  7. During the Session: Continue the Q&A session by accepting audience questions and posing questions from the presenters for audience response. 

Guidelines for Discussants

Discussants play a critical role in determining the quality of audience participation in the session. Discussants should be aware of the above time limits. Please allow yourself at least two weeks to read the papers for the sessions and formulate comments tying the papers together before the conference. To find uploaded papers, locate your session in the Online Program, click on the individual papers, and scroll halfway down the page. If a paper has been uploaded, there will be a “Full Paper” download button.If the presenter(s) have not uploaded their paper(s) or sent them to you privately by the paper submission deadline, please let Tristanne Staudt know at tstaudt@appam.og.

The bulk of the time in the session should be spent encouraging audience participation. Discussants should also keep the following in mind:

  • Discussants are asked to make integrative comments rather than paper-by-paper critiques. In many cases, very specific or detailed critiques can be shared with paper authors outside of the session. All discussant(s) comments combined should be no more than 12 – 15 minutes long.
  • If there are two discussants for a session, please contact the other discussant and determine how you will split the responsibility of reading/providing commentary for the papers in your session.  You can find the other participant contact information in your Speaker Center link.
  • Discussant remarks about each paper should deal with the major issues that enhance or undermine the paper' contributions, reserving minor issues for direct communication with the authors.
  • Discussants are encouraged to help shape the audience participation in the session by identifying key points worthy of further analysis and discussion. 
  • Discussants 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?


Discussant Guideline Summary

To sum up the guidelines for discussants, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Before the Conference: Connect with panelists to receive their paper no later than October 28
  2. Before the Conference: Read and prepare comments and questions on the papers
  3. During the Session: Deliver feedback on paper(s) 
  4. ​During the Session: Ask questions of the presenters based on their work



Presenter Guidelines Questions

Questions & Answers

Q: How long will I have to present?


In panels, there will be about 20 total minutes of paper presentations.  This will be 5-7 minutes per paper, depending on how many papers are in the panel.  Disucssants will then have a total of 15 minutes to provide their feedback on the papers they were assigned.

Roundtables or Super Session speakers will also have about 20 minutes to present their work.  The time should be evenly divided among the speakers in the session. 


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Q: Why are the sessions only 55 minutes?


The session length was determined based on feedback from a survey administered earlier this year.  We found that respondents were 'Zoomed-out' and preferred shorter sessions with guided questions. This format better retains audience attention and engagement.

While presenters will have very limited time to share their work, they will have the opportunity to record and upload a full-length video of their presentation.


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Q: How have the roles of chairs and discussants changed?


The chair and discussant roles are largely the same as in-person sessions though we do ask that they ensure the Q&A portion of the session remains lively and engaged.  They can do this by preparing extra questions of their own for both the presenters and the audience, and collecting questions from presenters to pose to the audience.  

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Q: How do I upload my paper or recorded presentation?


You can upload both your paper and presentation recording through your Speaker Center link.  You should have received this link in early September but if not, please contact Tristanne Staudt,, to receive your personalized link.

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Q: How do I find contact information for others in my session?


You can find contact information for all other participants in your session through your Speaker Center link.  Once in your portal, select 'Accepted Submissions' in the left navigation portal, then select the paper title (paper presenters) or session title (chair, discussants, roundtable speakers, and moderators).  The contact information for each participant will show on the page that loads.

If you do not have the link to access your Speaker Center, please contact Tristanne Staudt,

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Q: Where can discussants find the panel papers?


Discussants can find all panel papers in the online program.  The papers will show as PDF attachments at the bottom of each paper's abstract page.  To find the papers, you can do any of the following:

  1. Use the Participant Index to find papers the author is associated with
  2. Find the session using the Schedule by Day, then select the individual papers
  3. Use the search function (magnifying glass icon) at the top of any Online Program page to search by keyword, title, or author.

If the PDF does not show, the author has not uploaded it.  Please reach out directly to the author to receive their work.

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Q: How do I join my Zoom session?


All Zoom links can be found in the Online Program.  The password, custom to each registered participant, will be sent in the days prior to the conference.

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Q: What programs should I use to prepare my presentation?


All participants are encouraged to use slides to supplement their oral presenations.  You are welcome to use any programs you'd like but we highly encourage using PowerPoint, KeyNote, or Adobe PDF.

Presenters will be responsible for sharing their own screen/slides during the session.

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Q: I'm not familiar with presenting via Zoom. Are there guidelines to help with this?


Zoom presenter guidelines will be made availabe in late-August.  In the meantime, you can use Zoom’s helpful video tutorials to familiarize yourself with the Zoom platform.

Additionally, we'll be hosting a number of practice sessions where presenters can get hands-on experience using zoom features such as Chat, Screen Share, and turning audio/video on and off.

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Q: Will we be able to see audience members during the sessions?


All Fall Conference sessions will utilize Zoom Meetings, rather than Zoom Webinars, so both speakers and attendees will have the ability to share their video and audio.  We felt this format best mimicks the in-person experience and encourages more audience interaction.

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Q: When should speakers join the session?


With only five minutes between sessions, it's imperative that sessions follow strict time schedules.

We ask that all presenters and speakers join 2-3 minutes prior to the start of the session.  Attending the Zoom practice sessions will be important so that all presenters are ready to go at the start of the session.

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Q: Will sessions be recorded?


All conference sessions will be recorded and made available to registered participants the week following the conference.

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