Conferences & Events


Conference Participant Guidelines


General Guidelines

These guidelines are for all APPAM conference participants (presenters, chairs, and discussants) to establish expectations. Poster guidelines can be found here.  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!

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 discussant's comments.
  • Presentations should last no longer than 15 minutes in panels with three presenters or 12 minutes if there are four presenters. The discussant should be granted roughly as much time as a presenter. Multiple discussants should divide this allotted time among themselves.
  • 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

August 30 - All changes to submissions, including authors, titles, and abstracts, must be complete.

September 27 - All presenters must be registered for the conference.  Any presenter not registered by this date is subject to removal from the program.

October 25 - 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 7 - 9 - APPAM Fall Research Conference in Denver, Colorado.


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 - 10:35 -  First presenter presents their paper
  • 10:35 - 10:50 - Second presenter presents their paper
  • 10:50 - 11:05 - Third presenter presents their paper
  • 11:05 - 11:25 - Discussant(s) presents their comments
  • 11:25 - 11:45 - Audience Discussion


Sessions with four papers should allow each 12 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

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

Presenters Chairs Discussants


Guidelines for Presenters

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.

The following format is suggested as it has been found to work well within the 12-15 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 LCD projectors and screens in all meeting rooms for use during conference sessions. Presenters will need to provide their own computers. 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.

Published Book Display

All presenters are invited to have their published book exhibited at the conference.  To take advantage of this offer, please provide the title, author and publisher information on this form.  The form  can be emailed directly to Association Book Exhibit who will contact the publisher directly. Every effort will be made to display titles but this is ultimately the deicison of the publisher.  Authors are also able to personally provide copies of the books for display.

For more information on this display, please contact Association Book Exhibit at

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. 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 all discussant(s). 
  • Ensure that presenters upload papers to for discussants to read in advance of the conference. If they have not, please bring this to the attention of the APPAM office.
  • 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, having a discussant 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. 
  • Do not ask the panelists to respond to the discussant(s) comments. Instead, move quickly to an open discussion that involves the audience. 
  • 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.

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. If the presenter(s) have not uploaded their paper(s) or sent them to you privately by the paper submission deadline, please let the APPAM office know at

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 critics can be shared with paper authors outside of the session. Your comments should be no more than 12 minutes – 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.
  • 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?