GWS2017: Instructions for presenters, session organizers, authors

GWS2017 logo

  • For session organizers
  • For presenters of Papers in concurrent sessions
  • For presenters of Posters
  • For presenters of Exhibits
  • For authors submitting papers to the conference proceedings
  • For shipping materials to the conference hotel

Instructions for session organizers

Sessions proposed and organized by individuals are a central component of GWS conferences.  (Click here for an explanation of the different session and presentations formats.) The quality of sessions is tied directly to the effort put in by you, both as organizer and chair. As organizer, your careful planning can result in a stimulating, informative session.  As chair, you can set the tone for the session, build rapport among the presenters and between them and the audience, make connections among topics being raised, ensure that no one hogs the discussion, and foster collegial and professional exchange. Should problems crop up, you will be looked to for solutions. Throughout the session, you will be looked to for leadership.

That's the general tenor of what's expected of you as organizer/chair. Now, we turn to the logistics of your session.

Unless you are organizing a Day-Capper or Sharing Circle, your session will very likely involve PowerPoint (PPT) presentations.  As noted on the Session Formats page, we provide a PowerPoint projector and hookups, but not laptops — as session organizer you must bring your own laptop and run all the PPTs from it.

We strongly urge you to obtain, load, and test your participants' PPTs before you arrive at the conference. Make sure all PPTs you receive are compatible with the version of PowerPoint you are running ... we have seen instances where an entire slide show fails to render because it was not checked beforehand.

Your other primary duty is to make sure the session runs smoothly and on time. Once at the conference, here is how the session should be run:
1. Meet with your presenters in the room 20 minutes before the start of the session (in other words, during the half-hour break that immediately precedes your session).  Hook up your laptop to the connections provided.  If your participants have not sent their PowerPoint presentations to you in advance, load them on to your laptop and check to see that they are working — RUN THROUGH ALL SLIDES.  If you have any technical problems, have someone notify us at the registration desk and we will dispatch an A-V technician to your room.
2. When the starting time comes, call the session to order.  Announce the title of the session and briefly introduce yourself.  Then introduce the first presenter by reading a brief (no more than two sentences) biographical sketch that he or she will provide (you will need to solicit these in advance so you can print them out and bring them with you).  Do the same in turn for the other presentations.  Remember, sessions last two hours and must end on time.  Hotel personnel and/or the next session organizer need to get in the room right away.
3. Start on time and do your best to keep things running on time!  This is the most important job of a session chair.  The biggest complaint we get on our conference evaluations is from people — and there are many — who like to jump between sessions to catch individual presentations, only to find that a particular session is running late.  So, you'll need to...
4. Establish ground rules for timekeeping and stick to them.  Decide beforehand how you will keep each presentation running on time.  A standard method is to give a signal to the presenter when there are 5 minutes left in the presentation period, and again when there are 2 minutes left.  Many chairpersons like to hold up a piece of paper with "5" and "2" written on it, but any kind of signal you are comfortable with will do.
5. Cut the presentation off, if necessary, so that things stay on schedule.  This is, of course, the hardest part of the job.  Some people will run on and on even after they've been given the 2-minute warning.  As chair, it's your job to cut them off as gracefully as you can.
6.  It's a good idea to take at least a few notes on each presentation, and jot down a question or two about each one.  Then you can use your own questions to kick-start the Q&A period, if need be.
Except for the room reserved for Sharing Circles, which has no A-V in it, the A-V set-up for each meeting room will be: an LCD projector, a screen (dimension is usually 8x8 or 10x10), and a mike patched into the house sound system (except for the smallest meeting rooms, where a mike is unnecessary).  Again, you as session chair will need to provide a laptop to run PowerPoints from.  If you or any of your participants need additional equipment, you or they must arrange and pay for it; please contact us and we will put you in touch with the A-V contractor.  This includes laser pointers — we do not provide them.


Instructions for presenters of Papers in concurrent sessions

Paper presentations — whether they are part of a session of Invited Speakers, or are individual papers that have been assigned to a concurrent session by the Conference Committee — are the heart of the GWS biennial conferences. Paper presenters need to impart their message cogently and clearly, and be ready to make connections with other ideas presented within their session so as to provided an expanded context of understanding to the audience.

Today, virtually every Paper presentation is also a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation.  The instructions below also include guidelines for creating effective PPTs.

Time allotment for papers. Papers that have been assigned by the Conference Committee to a concurrent session are allotted 20 minutes: 15 minutes for the presentation itself, and 5 minutes for Q&A. There are six (or sometimes five) papers per two-hour session. (For sessions of Invited Speakers, the session organizer has the discretion to schedule a longer or shorter amount of time for each paper.)

It should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: it's critically important for you to not try to push your presentation past 15 minutes.  People like to jump between sessions and chairs have been instructed to gracefully but firmly cut you off if you run overlong.  And people want to participate by asking you questions!  Your cooperation here is much appreciated.

PowerPoint guidelines. If you are using PowerPoint (PPT), you will be asked run your presentation from the session chair's laptop. This means you will need to meet the chair in your assigned room at least 20 minutes before the start of your session (in other words, during the preceding refreshment break time) to load your PPTs onto the laptop and make sure they work.   We strongly suggest that you save and bring a backup copy of the PPT saved as a PDF.  That way, if you absolutely can't get your PPT to work on the chair's laptop, you can present it via the PDF, which will run on virtually any computer.  (Obviously, any animations, embedded video, etc., will not work from a PDF version.) 

Type size, font: Use 18–24 point type so that it may easily be read from across the room. Avoid using italics, ALL CAPS, and boldface for more than a few words as they are difficult to read. Use a standard serif font such as Times New Roman or a sans-serif font such as Arial or Helvetica.

Bullet points & numbered lists: Limit yourself to at most 4 bullets/numbered items per slide and 10 or so words per bullet/item.  Do not let your PPT become a boring series of bullet-point slides — they are deadly dull.  NEVER read bullet points/numbered items verbatim; describe details verbally and use the bullet points to provide an outline of key concepts.

Avoid jargon and acronyms: Keep in mind that not everyone in the audience works for your agency or shares your level of expertise.  Be alert to this especially if you work for the US National Park Service — do not use the 4-letter abbreviation for park names, for example — these are far from obvious to the uninitiated.  Using unexplained acronyms and abbreviations, and "insider" jargon, is not conducive to a collegial interchange of ideas.

Begin and end with contact information: Prepare a slide that you can place at the beginning and end of the presentation with your presentation title, name, and contact information. In case you do not have enough handouts or business cards (if you are bringing them), encourage attendees to write down this information for follow-up.

Proofread, spell-check, and practice. Dont imbarras yurself wiht misteaks liek THese: go through your slides and make sure the spelling is correct.  And practice your presentation beforehand, making sure you can finish on time.

Amount of time per page/slide. Presenters are discouraged from reading papers word-for-word (it’s usually less engaging), but if you do choose to read your paper, experience has shown that it is impossible to intelligibly present a double-spaced page (reading word-for-word) in less than 1.5 minutes.  This means that, in general, the reading version of your presentation should run no more than 10 double-spaced pages.  Remember, you have 15 minutes to talk, and need to leave 5 minutes for questions.

The same goes for PPT slides: each one should be on screen for at least one minute.  That may seem like a long time, but for an audience trying to assimilate new information, it's not.  So again, you should have no more than 15 slides (including the introductory and closing/contact info slides).

Interaction with your session chair.  If you are presenting in a session of Invited Speakers, your session chair presumably has already been in contact with you to invite you to be part of the session.  If you are presenting your paper in a Contributed Papers session put together by the Conference Committee, the Committee will find someone to chair that session.

At your conference session...

  • Arrive 20 minutes before the start of your session — in other words, during the half-hour break that immediately precedes your session.
  • Introduce yourself to the chair if you haven't already met.
  • Make sure that the chair has the correct biosketch you sent in with your abstract.  If that has changed (say, in the interim you got a new job), be sure to bring along a new biosketch for the chair to read.
  • Follow the session chair's instructions and give your presentation, staying within time limits.

Audiovisual equipment in the rooms. Except for the room reserved for Sharing Circles (which has no A-V), each room will be equipped with the following A-V equipment: an LCD (PowerPoint) projector with connecting cable running to the speaker’s podium, a house mike patched into the hotel sound system (except for smaller rooms where no mike is necessary), and a screen (dimension is usually 8x8ft or 10x10ft). If you need any additional A-V equipment (e.g., laser pointers, Internet access, audio equipment, etc.) you must supply it at your own cost; contact us and we can put you in touch with the A-V contractor.

Room set-up. The meeting rooms generally are set up theater-style and seat anywhere from 35–500 persons.  The room reserved for Sharing Circles and Café Conversations will be set up with round tables and space for a circle of chairs.

Instructions for presenters of Posters

Poster presentations are best-suited for highly graphical communications or for giving status reports or overviews of projects, planning processes, and other work-in-progress.

Technical details. Each poster presentation will be allotted a vertical space 44 inches high x 44 inches wide (i.e., half of one side of a standard poster board, thus allowing four presentations per panel — two on each side). See the picture of a typical poster board, below. This 44x44 space is the maximum you have — remember, you are sharing your side of the panel with another presenter. Today, almost all posters are generated on a wide-format color printer (FedEx/Kinko's, Office Max, etc., have them); this makes for the best presentation and also makes it easy to control the final size of the poster.


We highly recommend that you allot space for a title (using 4-inch high letters) running across the top of your poster; this will make it much easier for people strolling through the posters to immediately grasp your subject. Bring push pins or thumb tacks to secure your poster to the poster board. Tape cannot be used to secure display materials to the panels. Each panel will have a table placed directly underneath it to use for any handouts or display copies of publications (see above photo).  Again, remember that you will be sharing this space with your poster-mate on your side of the board, so plan accordingly. You are responsible for bringing all materials needed to display your poster.

Set-up begins Sunday, April 2 at 4:00 pm. All posters should be in place by 10:00 pm that day. Attendees will be encouraged to circulate through the posters and demos during refreshment breaks, so if at all possible plan to stand by your poster during these times. Take-down begins Thursday morning, April 6 at 11:00 am and must be completed by 12:00 noon so that the vendor can remove its panels and tables. Any posters, handouts, or other materials remaining after that time will be discarded or recycled (please take responsibility for your materials and take them home with you).

There will be a Poster Reception Tuesday evening, April 4, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, in a space immediately adjacent to the Posters. A cash bar and complimentary light snacks will be available. This reception is a prime opportunity for attendees to circulate among the posters. You should plan to staff your poster during this time.

There will be a diagram of the poster session layout at the conference so presenters can find their assigned locations. The posters will be available for continuous viewing during the period between set-up and take-down.

Posters accompanied by digital technology (e.g., laptops running databases, GIS, Web sites, etc.) are welcome; you'll need to check the appropriate box on the Poster abstract submission form.  You must provide all necessary hardware (including extension cords and duct tape to secure cords to floor) and take responsibility for securing that hardware during periods when you are not present. The GWS, conference co-sponsors, and the hotel can assume no responsibility for your laptop or any other equipment.

Posters accompanied by digital technology will be given the same set-up as the poster presentations (details above), except that all of them will be placed near an electrical outlet. This means you will be sharing your 2x6 table with only one other presenter (usually another computer demo); this will give you a bit more room for your computer equipment. If you are proposing a Web-based demo, you must request an Internet connection on your abstract submission form. There will be an extra charge for this (and be forewarned it can be expensive, depending on the hotel).

See below for instructions on shipping material to the hotel.

Finally, please note that presenters of Posters and may prepare a paper describing their presentation for possible inclusion in the conference proceedings (see below).


Instructions for presenters of Exhibits

When you submit your abstract for a Freestanding or Tabletop Exhibits, you will be required to give the exact dimensions of its “footprint” (length x depth x height) on the abstract submission form, and indicate whether or not electricity is needed. Exhibits are considered part of the Poster Session and may be left up for the duration of the Session (see above for set-up and tear-down times). You need not staff your Exhibit all the time, but you are encouraged to do so during refreshment breaks and the Poster Reception.

Commercial exhibitors: in general, we will consider exhibits only from a few kinds of companies whose products directly contribute to the mission of the conference (e.g., book publishers, GIS dealers, manufacturers of scientific equipment, historic preservation specialties, etc.); please contact the GWS office for information and prices.

See below for instructions on shipping material to the hotel.



Instructions for authors submitting papers to the conference proceedings

A conference proceedings will be published by the George Wright Society as a record of the conference. The proceedings are published as an e-book in PDF format on the GWS website, with content available for free downloading by anyone.  The e-book will be professionally edited in an attractive layout so that offprints of individual papers will be citable just like those from any hard-copy book.  In addition, selected papers from the conference may be published in our journal, The George Wright Forum.

The proceedings are not refereed, and we will try to publish as many papers as possible as long as they meet general quality standards. All papers meeting the criteria below will be considered for inclusion. Following the guidelines enables us to copyedit and format the proceedings quickly and efficiently. Papers that do not follow the guidelines may be returned or rejected.

Deadline. To be considered for possible publication, papers must be submitted to the GWS office by May 15, 2017. Late submissions will not be considered.

Form of submission. All papers must be submitted via e-mail. PLEASE submit the paper and any accompanying graphics as a series of files, as follows:

  • Text of your paper in a word-processing file -- DO NOT embed graphics in the paper; e.g., mytext.doc
  • Captions / photo credits for any graphics in a separate word-processing file; e.g., mycaptions.doc
  • High-resolution (300 dpi) graphics (JPG, TIF, or EPS only) for your paper, each one in a separate file; e.g., mygraphic1.jpg, mygraphic2.tif, mygraphic3.eps, etc. (No more than three graphics allowed with each paper; see below for more info.)

Submit to:

Length. Papers can be no more than 2,500 words, exclusive of endnotes and reference lists. This is a strict limit.  There can be no more than 15 citations / endnotes.  Endnotes should contain references only, not discursive material.

Formatting and citations.

  • Use a minimum of formatting. We re-format all papers, so do not use tabs, hyphenation, cover sheets, page numbering, fancy typefaces, justification, etc. All of that has to be stripped out. Start each new paragraph flush left and double-space between paragraphs. Please run your spell-checker before you submit!
  • Give the full mailing address and e-mail of each author.
  • Do not use agency abbreviations or jargon in your paper (for example, do not use “GRSM” for “Great Smoky Mountains National Park”). Keep in mind that the proceedings will have an international readership that may not understand your agency’s lingo. Briefly explain any potentially unclear references to internal agency workings, documents, etc. Give the location of all protected areas you mention.
  • You may use either the author–date system or endnotes (NOT footnotes) for citations. If you use endnotes, do not place discursive material within them — they should only be used to give references.
  • Format for citations.  Whether using author/date citations or endnotes, follow the online Chicago Manual of Style format for documentation.

Graphics. "Graphics" means tables, graphs, line art, GIS and other maps, and photos. No more than 3 graphics may accompany each paper.

  • Put each table, graphic, or photo in its own file, as detailed above.
  • Do not embed figure captions in the graphics file. Figures may be re-numbered sequentially in the proceedings. Each graphic must have a caption; put all captions and any needed photo or artwork credits together in a separate text file, as detailed above.
  • IMPORTANT: submit the graphic in TIF, JPG, or EPS format at a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) when sized at approximately 4 inches wide. Most graphics will be published at these dimensions. If you don't know the resolution or final image size of your graphic, open it in a program like Photoshop and check it out under the "Image Size" command. Higher resolutions are OK but under no circumstances are resolutions of less than 300 dpi acceptable. For example, we often get photos downloaded from websites; these are almost always at 72 dpi and are not acceptable. Remember, even though this will be an e-book, people will be printing out papers from it, so low-res graphics will not work!

If you have any questions, contact us.


Instructions for shipping materials to the conference hotel

Address shipments like this:

Your Name
Norfolk Waterside Marriott
235 E. Main St.
Norfolk, VA   23510

There may be a charge to receive and hold your shipment. Shipments cannot arrive no more than 3 days before the opening of the conference, so time your shipping accordingly.