International Conference


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 and a Zoom Webinar Panelist Guide for the new virtual format.

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

  • APPAM members like to talk and react even in the virtual setting via the Zoom chat and Q&A features. 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 15 minutes for audience questions and commentary. This 15-minute period is separate from the time normally accorded to panelists responding to the chair's comments.
  • Presentations should last no longer than 13 minutes in panels with three presenters, 11 minutes in panels with four presenters, or 9 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 - Friday July 10 2020. 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 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 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM.

Panel Roundtable
  • 11:00 - 11:05 - Chair introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 11:05 - 11:16 -  First presenter presents their paper
  • 11:16 - 11:27 - Second presenter presents their paper
  • 11:27 - 11:38 - Third presenter presents their paper
  • 11:38 - 11:49 - Fourth presenter presents their paper
  • 11:49 - 12:00 - Chair presents their comments
  • 12:00 - 12:15 - Audience Discussion


Sessions with four papers should allow each 11 minutes for each paper presentation.

  • 11:00 - 11:05 - Chair/Moderator introduces the participants and the session topic
  • 11:05 - 11:18 -  First speaker presents
  • 11:18 - 11:31 - Second speaker presents
  • 11:31 - 11:44 - Third speaker presents
  • 11:44 - 11:57 - Moderator presents their comments
  • 11:57 - 12:15 - Audience Discussion


Sessions with three speakers should allow each 13 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 a Speaker Center link with contact information for all the people taking part in your session in early June. 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, July 10, to give them adequate time to prepare comments.If your session doesn't have a chair, one will be assigned in early July, by the Program Committee so please check back. 


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 via the Zoom Webinar screenshare feature. APPAM will provide your session link in early July, then host practice sessions for all participants in mid-July. 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 Webinar Panelist Guide shortly.

The Program Committee urges all conference participants to ensure that use of this technology does not interrupt or delay a session. With a strict 75 minutes for virtual sessions, even a minor delay can greatly hamper the success of a session. Remember that there will be less than 15 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.

Contents and Format of Presentation Slides

Try to economize on the number of slides in a presentation. Slides should be brief, graphs, charts, and visible aspects are encouraged, and they should be displayed long enough for viewers to read and comprehend the message they 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. An independent Zoom practice session, in addition to the APPAM practice sessions, to test video and audio is highly encouraged.
    • 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, and remind the audience to use the Zoom Q&A feature and that you'll hold questions for the end. 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. Please unmute yourself to give verbal 5 minute, 2 minute and stop alerts since the presenters may not be able to see your video or chat when using Zoom screenshare.
  • Chairs should have their videos turned on at all times during the session and only unmute themselves when they’re speaking. All participants should be on mute when they’re not presenting or answering a question.
  • 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 9 minutes – 13 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. All questions will be received via the Zoom Q&A feature. The chair should read the question allowed and either direct it to a specific presenter or say that it’s an open question to all presenters.
  • 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?