Session Types

Paper Session

A paper session includes a series of individual presentations followed by discussion.

  • 15 minutes per paper
  • 5 presentations per session, or 4 presentations and 1 discussant
  • Abstracts for each presenter are required and are presented during session
  • For paper sessions that do not use the full 75 minutes, additional presentations may be added after the submission deadline to complete the time
  • Session room will have an LCD projector and digital HDMI switcher with the following connections: Mini DisplayPort, VGA to HDMI, and HDMI; please use a 16:9 aspect ratio to format slides
  • Presenters must provide or coordinate use of their own computers/laptops

Note: If you require other types of audio/visual equipment, please contact Oscar Larson at

Poster Session

Posters are exhibited for informal browsing with opportunities for individual discussion with poster authors. Graphic materials will be displayed on a 4' x 8' poster board supplied by the AAG. Since a poster format is best when your material can easily be communicated visually, text should be limited to brief statements. 

  • Each presentation should make a unified, coherent statement
  • Materials, both textual and visual, should be of professional quality and be clearly legible from a distance of four feet (4')
  • 4' x 8' poster board (landscape-oriented only)
  • Abstracts for each presenter are required and are presented during session
  • Poster presenters can upload a digital file of their poster which will be visible in the session gallery before and after the meeting

Lightning Paper Session

The lightning paper session is a larger group of very short presentations summarizing research or studies in process in a particular field. It provides the audience with rapid and intensive overview of research and also allows for more in-depth discussion among presenters and the audience.

  • 10-14 presentations per session
  • 5-minute presentation for each
  • 30- to 45-minute interactive roundtable discussion following presentations
  • Maximum of 10 PowerPoint slides per presentation 
  • Abstracts for each presenter are required and are presented during session
  • Session room will have an LCD projector and digital HDMI switcher with the following connections: Mini DisplayPort, VGA to HDMI, and HDMI; please use a 16:9 aspect ratio to format slides
  • Presenters must provide or coordinate use of their own computers/laptops

Guided Poster Session

A guided poster is a short oral summary of problem, data, method, and findings presented in poster format, followed by a one-on-one or small group discussion with interested listeners. Each presenter will post illustrations and other relevant materials on a poster board supplied by the AAG. All oral summaries will be given at the beginning of each session before participants disperse to the poster boards around the room. 

  • 3- to 5-minute presentation for each participant
  • 8-12 presentations per session
  • 4' x 8' poster board (landscape-oriented only)
  • Abstracts for each presenter are required and are presented during session

Panel Session

A panel session consists of participants examining a topic followed by questions from audience members.

  • No formal presentations or abstracts
  • 4-6 participants - can include introduction, panelists, and discussants
  • Session room will have an LCD projector and digital HDMI switcher with the following connections: Mini DisplayPort, VGA to HDMI, and HDMI; please use a 16:9 aspect ratio to format slides
Note: Please do not ask your participants to submit an abstract for a panel session, as it will be treated like an unsessioned paper and placed into a paper session that has space.

Top Five Reasons for each Presentation Type

Are you stuck in an AAG Annual Meeting rut, always doing the same presentation type?  Or perhaps you are new to the AAG Annual Meeting and aren’t sure which presentation format you should do? In case you want a little more insight beyond the session type descriptions, one of the AAG’s on staff geographers has unscientifically generated top 5 lists for each presentation format. Items are in no particular order. (Have other reasons you would add? Hit us up on Twitter @theAAG.)

5 Reasons to Give a Paper Presentation

  1. Do you enjoy giving structured oral presentations (you know, ones that you can practice and nail down ahead of time)? Would you like the most speaking time available?  Paper sessions provide you just that, with approximately 15 minutes of presentation time set aside just for you.
  2. Is Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, or the like your platform preference? Is slide design your sweet spot for presentation design skills? All paper sessions have projectors so you can slideshow away!
  3. Are you a procrastinator or perfectionist when it comes to your presentations? With papers (as opposed to printed posters), you can tweak your digital array until right before your session if you wish! Extra time to catch that one evasive typo that seems to elude us all every year.
  4. Go green, go print-less. As paper presentations feature digital slideshows, it is a greener option over posters (though we will be offering poster recycling bins this year!). Keep in mind, if you print your talking points out several times it’s not quite greener... 
  5. Would you prefer to be part of a small group of presenters/focal points in a session rather than amidst a larger group vying for attention? Paper sessions have no more than five presentations - the fewest of all session types.

If you like the idea of a paper session, but have some reservations, check out the Lightning Paper option..

5 Reasons to Give a Poster Presentation

  1. Is structured public speaking not your thing? Would you rather avoid the direct spotlight? Poster sessions do not have structured oral presentation times for authors.  Instead, you have impromptu, casual conversations with attendees who visit your poster. And if you forget your talking points, don’t worry - they are right there on  your poster to refer to! 
  2. Poster sessions often have larger attendance numbers than many paper sessions. While you may only be interacting with an individual or smaller group at any point in time, it does not mean you’ll have a smaller impact with attendees. Also, you’ll have lots of ‘neighbors’ presenting related research and have the opportunity to network with them! 
  3. With the online poster gallery, poster presentations live online before, during, and after the Annual Meeting, making your research visible well beyond the time frame of your presentation session. Use the direct hyperlink to your work for your CV, LinkedIn profile, personal website, etc. to increase your audience long after the Annual Meeting wraps.
  4. Is procrastination part of your lifestyle? Well, the poster abstract deadline is THREE MONTHS later than the paper session deadline. So if you need more time to decide what you would like to present, the poster submission timeline might be right for you.
  5. Caffeine. Free coffee (and tea!) will be served at all poster sessions in the Exhibit Hall. This can help you fuel up for engaging with others and is also a big draw that can increase session attendance. After all, 40% of Annual Meeting attendees are students, so if you mention the word FREE, crowds tend to follow.   

Oh, and there’s more! Poster presenter registration is $20-30 less than for paper presenters/panelists AND this year the AAG has set up printing partnerships so you can get discounts on both paper and fabric poster printing! Hmm..since these didn’t quite make it onto this list, look for them in the perks of Guided Poster presentations.


5 Reasons to Give a Lightning Paper Presentation

  1. Do you like structured oral presentations, but find that 15 minutes sounds like forever and causes you to break into sweat at the thought? Well, how about 5 minutes instead? That helps with the presentation anxiety a bit, doesn’t it? 
  2. Do you have a small amount of preliminary or pilot study results? Perhaps you are still developing your study and want to present and get feedback on your approach? Lightning papers are a great option if you don’t have as much information to cover.
  3. Would you like presentation length guidance or constraints to help you manage your content? Lightning paper presenters are limited to 10 slides. That’s all folks. 
  4. Interested in combining the structure of a paper session with the higher number of presenters of a poster session? Lightning paper sessions have 10 to 14 presentations; you can learn from and network with more authors in your topic area. These sessions also feature a 30 to 45 minute interactive roundtable discussion following all presentations (instead of brief Q&As after each one) to facilitate collective conversations about the work presented.
  5. Do you think ‘lightning’ sounds cool? Because it does. Quite the energetic ring to it, eh? And let’s be honest, at least one person is going to put a lightning bolt or thunderstorm image on their title slide, right?  Will that be you?

Also, as a type of paper session, the lightning paper offers some of the same benefits of regular paper sessions….go green, slideshow is king, and design procrastinating.

5 Reasons to Give a Guided Poster Presentation

  1. So you want to design a poster, but you also want to give a short polished talk about it, you know, to make sure people GET it. With a guided poster session, you get a set amount of time to present your poster AND then you get that unstructured time to engage with attendees and other presenters. Best of both worlds!
  2. Poster sessions can be large and you may be concerned about being lost in the crowd.  Do you want to be grouped with a smaller number of presenters with more directly related topics?  Guided poster sessions feature 8 to 12 presenters who give 3 to 5 minute presentations.
  3. Do you like saving money? No one says no to that. If you register as a poster presenter, your fee is $20 to 30 less! With a guided poster, you still get a structured time slot to present like a paper, but you keep some extra cash in your pocket. Think $20 to $30 isn’t much? Ask a grad student. :)
  4. Find the grand exhibit hall a bit intimidating and overwhelming for presenting your poster? Most guided poster sessions are held in regular session rooms (like those for paper sessions). Save your voice and avoid trying to talk over the research conversations happening en masse!
  5. Find poster printing cost-prohibitive? This year the AAG has developed printing partnerships so you can get a discount on both paper and fabric printing. And if you go the fabric printing route, you can ditch the poster tube and just fold up and toss your presentation in your suitcase!

Also, as a type of poster session, the guided poster option offers some of the same benefits of regular poster sessions….particularly long term visibility in the online gallery and a later abstract deadline.