GUIDELINES FOR SESSION CONVENORS
An online conference is different to an in-person conference, but here are some things that we encourage you to do to ensure that your session runs smoothly, your speakers feel happy, and you get the most out your Annual Conference experience as a session convenor.
Don’t leave things to the last minute
Book your conference ticket by 15 March so that we can link you to your session in the virtual event platform well ahead of time. This will mean that we will be set-up and ready to go swiftly on the day of your session.
Getting to know the Virtual Environment
The conference will take place on a virtual event platform called Aventri, which is an established, secure platform used to supporting large online events. All sessions will take place using a webinar presentation set-up, which is similar to that of Zoom webinar; convenors and speakers will be able to see each and speak onscreen, and session attendees will be able to use the live Q&A and chatbox functions during the papers. As with an in-person event, paper presentations will be delivered in pairs, i.e papers 1&2 will be presented then a break, papers 3&4, then a break etc. This is to reduce demand on bandwidth (lessen the chance of connectivity fails) and to reduce screen fatigue.
Convenors and speakers will have a chance to login to the virtual event lobby one week before the conference and familiarise themselves with the programme and options available. Convenors and speakers will also log-in half an hour before their session and before each ‘pair’ of papers. We would encourage convenors to introduce sessions with their cameras on, turn their cameras off when they hand over to the speakers, and then come back on screen for Q&As at the end of each paper before introducing the next speaker. And repeat this process for each paper in the session. Convenors may want to hold a ‘round-up’ with all speakers and themselves onscreen at the end of the session. Each session will have a dedicated conference assistant who will be there, online, in the session throughout, and who will be trained to facilitate the session. We’ll also have specialist Aventri tech support person on hand throughout the event.
What we can and can’t do, and why
We will make every effort to make your 2021 Annual Conference experience as easy and valuable as possible. We will strive to make as much as possible live, but live presentations do come with more tech risks, and if these occur we’ll do our best to deal with them as swiftly as possible. Because of the size and nature of this event, and with multiple sessions taking place simultaneously we have to prioritise online stability and connectivity, this means that Sessions will be presented in Webinar mode, so only the speaker and convenors will be visible on screen, the audience will not. For smaller workshops and meet-ups we can make everyone visible and audio present. We are aware that people will want to ‘meet up’ and connect, and chat about sessions and papers online and it will be possible for delegates to set up online conversations (chat groups) with other delegates on the virtual event platform. We will try our best to make this online event as conducive to delegates needs as possible, with what is permissible.
Communicate with your session speakers
Please keep in regular communication with your session speakers, it’s really important that you pass on info and keep them all up to date so that they know what to do and what to expect.
Meet your speakers
We would highly recommend setting up a brief zoom/teams/skype meeting with all your speakers before the Annual Conference so that you can meet each other ahead of the day that they are due to present their paper. You might chose to do this as a session group or individually. Similarly, you might want to arrange an informa, post-session online meet-up for all of your speakers too.
How to keep your sessions engaging
On screen presentations and events are very different to in-person, and they require a different approach. When convening your session keep your introductions short, clear and friendly. Maybe converse with the speaker too – ask how they are doing, where they currently are – bring a bit of ‘humanness’ into the session. Have questions prepared in the event that the audience don’t ask any questions. Invite colleagues you know to attend your session and ask questions or respond.
Tech, Tech, Tech
Online conferences depend on tech, so well before your session is due to start please ensure that your computer is working, check your battery power, plug your computer in, test your audio and if needs use an external mic and headphones to help ensure that you can been seen and heard clearly on screen. If you loose connectivity maybe use your mobile as a hotspot (try this out) or use a dongle.
Here are some top tops from the platform provider Aventri: Convenors Tech Support Pack
Test your Tech
When you enter the virtual event platform you will be prompted to ‘test your machine’ this will do an automatic connectvity, audio and mic check. PLEASE DO THE TECH TEST.
A pre-recorded back-up version
We are aiming to ensure that most papers can be presented live as that is preferable for most speakers and attendees. However, with over 350 live presentations to deliver we also want to deliver quality as well as quantity. We will be encouraging ALL speakers to create and upload a pre-recorded version of their paper so that the tech-team can access this pre-recording on the day if needs. We want to ensure that if a speaker’s connection fails, or there is a power cut, or they feel unwell, we have a pre-recorded back-up version that we can use in place of the live presentation. This is a best-practice approach for all online events and one that we use for other online Association events too. Please encourage your speakers to make a pre-recorded version and upload it to the dedicated Dropbox folder for your session. Please note that pre-recorded papers will ONLY be used in place of the live paper in the dedicated presentation slot during the conference, pre-recordings will not be used for any other purpose, they will not be stored beyond the conference period, online paper presentations (live or pre-recorded) will not be recorded by the Association for Art History, speakers retain all intellectual property rights to their papers, as is our usual and ongoing policy for Annual Conferences. We ask all delegates to respect these rights too.
Dedicated Dropbox folders
We will make available private, dedicated Dropbox folders for all sessions so that speakers in that session will receive a link and can upload their pre-recorded presentation. We will guide you through this process don’t worry!
You tell us that one of the best things about the Association’s Annual Conference is networking and meeting old and new colleagues who share common interests and with whom you can exchange ideas and interests. Networking online is different, but still possible. There will be opportunities online, over the four days to ‘chat’ in the sessions and also form private chat groups outside of the sessions to carry on conversations or start new ones. With all online chat we kindly ask that 2021 Annual Conference attendees keep conversations polite, collegiate and appropriate. And keep questions clear and concise. Please note that we won’t be recording sessions and papers (they are the intellectual property of the speaker) so please respect this fact. We may record keynotes and make these available with the speakers permission – no bootlegging please!