24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Information for presenters and commentators

Dear colleague

Thank you for arranging to give a presentation or commentary at iCHSTM 2013, the largest meeting in our field! Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

These guidelines are intended to help you prepare for your session(s) in advance of the meeting, and to give you some idea of what to expect, and how to get the most out of your presentation.

Before the meeting  

We are currently in the process of asking all symposium organisers and session chairs to contact their presenters by email. You may also wish to contact your organiser or chair directly, to introduce yourself and discuss arrangements for your session.

If your session includes a commentary, please send a copy of your paper directly to your session commentator as soon as possible.

In all cases, please ensure that your presentation is complete before you travel. If you will be using a PowerPoint or other presentation file, please load it onto a USB stick and ensure it is free of viruses. If you will be reading from a prepared text, bring an electronic as well as a paper copy.

If you have special audiovisual requests (see below) please advise the organisers as soon as possible at enquiries@ichstm2013.com.

Technical arrangements

All the rooms used in all of the main paper-session venues (University Place, Roscoe and Schuster Buildings) have the following equipment as standard:

  • LCD data projector (beamer) and projection screen
  • Windows PC running Powerpoint, connected to the projector
  • external VGA input to allow data projection from a laptop
  • wired internet access from the PC
  • audio speakers

If your needs are covered by the above, you do NOT need to contact us about your requirements.

Please contact us to check arrangements if you intend to use the following:

  • whiteboard or blackboard
  • moving-image clips (please specify with or without audio)
  • any large or complex presentation relying on an internet connection

Also, please note carefully the following.

Apple users: unfortunately, we cannot provide specific support. If you wish to project from an Apple device, please ensure you bring the appropriate adapter cable for output to a VGA connection, plus any chargers or other equipment you may need; and please arrive early to check that everything works properly in the room you’ll be using. If you are bringing a PowerPoint file for use on the room PC, please check carefully in advance that it loads and displays correctly.

PC users projecting from a personal laptop: if your machine has a standard VGA output, it should be fine. If not, please bring an adapter.

Projecting from a personal laptop whilst using the internet: we do not guarantee that this is possible. Wifi coverage is good in University Place, but less certain in Roscoe and Schuster. If you need internet access for your presentation, we recommend that you use the room PC.

Presenting from Prezi, LaTeX beamer etc: please note that PowerPoint and Adobe Reader are the only presentation software installed on the PCs provided. If you produce a fully portable version of your file (Portable Prezi, etc), it should load correctly on the PCs but we can’t guarantee this: we recommend that you bring your own laptop to project from.

35mm slides: unfortunately, we cannot offer slide projector facilities.

Clickers (hand-held remote controls for presentation slides) are not provided in all rooms: please bring your own.

Setting up

Please help us to minimise delays, and maximise the time available for presentations and questions, by preparing as follows.

If you will be running a PowerPoint or other presentation from the room PC: please copy your file(s) onto the PC well before the session begins. If possible, you should do this before the first session in the morning of the day you are presenting. If this is not possible, please arrive 15 minutes in advance of the stated session start time to load the file and familiarise yourself with the room. Please give your presentation file a helpful filename beginning with your own surname.

If you will be projecting from a laptop: please arrive 15 minutes in advance of the stated session start time and test the connection carefully, making sure that the connection can be flipped from the room PC to your laptop and back without problems.

All presenters and commentators: please arrive before the stated session start time, introduce yourself to the other speakers, and familiarise yourself with the room.

Audiovisual and other assistance will be available from our team of Congress stewards, identifiable by their purple T-shirts. Stewards will generally be available to help you set up at the beginning of the session, and on call nearby in case of problems.

Session timings

Given the unprecedented scale and complexity of iCHSTM, it is very important that we keep closely to the published timings, in order to help everyone attend the papers they want to hear, and to manage the flow of delegates around the venues at busy times.

Please note that in order to minimise crowding and queues (lines) for coffee, we have introduced a ten-minute stagger in the schedule of start and end times. In the early morning session, for example, half the sessions begin at 09.00 and end at 10.30; the others begin at 09.10 and end at 10.40. Please check the exact timings of your session carefully to make sure you arrive at the venue in good time.


The time available for your paper will depend on how many papers there are in your session.  We expect that the majority of sessions will give equal time to each paper. Chairs and symposium organisers have some discretion over the management of discussion, which they should discuss in advance with you. Please note the following recommendations, which allow reasonable time for introductions and changeover of presenters.

  • 3 papers in session: you should aim for 22 to 25 minutes of running time. (This allows a reasonable short question period; if you over-run, the session chair may reduce your question time accordingly.)
  • 4 papers in session: 18 to 20 minutes per presentation, on the same basis
  • 5 papers in session: 15 minutes per presentation, on the same basis
  • Sessions including a commentary: the session chair will advise on timings in these cases following discussion with participants

You should aim to finish with enough time to spare to allow for discussion of your paper.

PLEASE STAY WITHIN YOUR ALLOTTED TIME, as a matter of courtesy to other speakers and the audience, and to help us to synchronise timings across sessions for people who need to move between different symposia.

The session chair will let you know the signals they will use if necessary to ask you to bring your presentation to a close.  Each room will be provided with coloured cards which the chair will hold up to signal that you have 5 minutes, and then 1 minute, remaining. A final (red) card, labelled STOP, means that you have reached the end of your allotted time, and you must stop speaking at this point to avoid taking time from other presenters.

Please keep your answers to questions brief and to the point, to allow as much time as possible for discussion during your session.

Advice for commentators

If you have not already done so, please contact the presenters in your session now to get copies of their presentations.

Make sure you check carefully with the symposium organiser(s) how long you are to speak for. Most organisers prefer the commentary to be shorter than each individual paper – perhaps 10 minutes.

Most commentators choose to work without a PowerPoint presentation, but this is up to you.

Remember that the essence of a good commentary is to explore the wider themes of the session, not (only) the individual positions of the speakers. The published abstract for your symposium may be a useful source of inspiration for points to address.

During the session

We are encouraging the use of Twitter and other social media during iCHSTM, to allow those who couldn’t make it to Manchester to engage with our proceedings. Please don’t be distracted if some members of your audience appear to be playing with their mobile devices: they will most likely be relaying what you’re saying to the outside world!

Some delegates may wish to take photographs of your PowerPoint slides for later review. We have asked session chairs to ask such delegates to take photographs without flash, to minimise distractions to speakers. But please be prepared for someone to forget this request!

Further information

If you are new to the art of paper-giving, some useful suggestions may be found in Linda Kerber’s 2008 Chronicle of Higher Education three-part article, ‘Conference Rules,’ Part Two of which offers advice for presenters:


Even experienced hands may also find Paul Edwards’ well-known guide on ‘How to Give an Academic Talk’ useful:


Thank you again for taking part in iCHSTM.  We hope you enjoy it!

If you have any questions, please contact enquiries@ichstm2013.com

Sincerely yours,

The iCHSTM Local Organising Committee