Running a panel in a hybrid conference - RE:22
This page helps you prepare for the hybrid conference by explaining what is expected of you and the platform, volunteers, admin support and colleagues. You may have attendees and presenters face-to-face (f2f) in the room and remotely online in Zoom.
We kindly ask convenors to bring a laptop/tablet/phone with them where possible, for use during their panel.
There will be a computer in the room (with webcam and mic) for presentations; the volunteer will bring their laptop from which they will host and support remote participants; however the convenor should bring their laptop/tablet/phone from which they can monitor the remote participant questions. Without this, it will be far harder for the convenors to ensure that online participants are not ignored. While it is possible to monitor the Zoom chat on a mobile phone, it may perhaps be easier on a laptop/tablet. (Both convenor devices and volunteer laptops should have their sound muted and their microphones muted, most of the time.)
How to chair/convene your hybrid panel
As a chair/convenor, you should:
- Enter the room and Zoom at least 20 minutes before the session starts, meet the volunteer, open the convenor's device to join and become co-host of the Zoom session, keeping sound muted and mic muted as well.
- Check all speakers are present, correct AV equipment is available and the lapel microphone is working. Inform your room/panel’s conference volunteer if there are any issues.
- Decide how questions will be taken (both f2f and online - where you might prefer text chat to raised hands, or vice versa). See advice below.
- Stick to the running order printed on the sheet on the door of your panel room. If there are good reasons to amend the order, please update the sheet and inform online participants.
- Plan panel/speaker time and how time-keeping reminders will be given to presenters (f2f and online). See advice below.
- Encourage f2f people to sit towards the front of the room, so that everyone can see/hear - all the more important in hybrid context, where spoken f2f questions will need to come to the front and use the lapel mic.
- Open the session with a few introductory remarks, remembering to address both f2f and remote participants. Do not treat remote participants as second class citizens. Greet everyone, introduce yourselves and any other significant actors in the panel (discussants, volunteer etc).
- Give participants a reminder of the conference twitter hashtag to encourage reporting on your panel.
- Remind everyone that the panel is taking place both in the room and in Zoom, and remind the audience that the panel will be recorded, ensuring they consent to this, or are given the choice to step out. The conference volunteer will take care of the recording.
- Introduce the panel topic (if necessary); introduce/invite people to present
- Keep time and alert presenters to running out of time. See advice below.
- Address questions in the audience, both f2f and in Zoom (whether by chat or raised hand) and do your best to give both domains equivalence - do not forget the online participants!
- Prompt discussion:
- Try to ensure the widest participation is achieved. Avoid using names of people you know during questions/discussion time - those whose names you do not know may feel marginalised
- If a question and answer become a dialogue that excludes the rest of the panel and make it impossible to ask other/further questions, please interrupt and suggest colleagues continue that particular line of discussion later.
- Thank the speaker(s) and try to close the panel with a conclusion that references all the papers and their contribution to the panel's theme.
- End the Zoom session or ask the volunteer to do so.
- When the session ends, the panel must leave the room during the break even if the discussion is flowing. You should very clearly end the discussion and request that you all continue outside, in a more informal setting, over refreshments.
We recommend having at least two convenors: one to focus on the f2f session, the other to focus on the online session, both supported by the panel volunteer.
How to take questions
Agree with your volunteer and co-convenors how you’ll take online questions - there being two options:
- Writing questions into Zoom chat
- Using 'raise hand' function in Zoom (people raise their hands and pose their question orally)
Once decided on which option is to be used, communicate this to the whole room. If you go for the 'raise hand' option, it’s a good idea to have in place an alternative for people unable to present questions live (writing in chat for example) and decide who will be reading these questions out. N.B. Convenors should have their laptop/tablet/phone with them so as to monitor the Zoom chat.
For the online audience to hear questions from f2f participants, they need to be spoken into the lapel mic. Decide which option you prefer:
- Instruct the questioner to come to the front, stand where the speaker is, face the camera and borrow the lapel mic to ask their question.
- Take the microphone to the delegate asking the question, albeit remote participants will not see the questioner.
- Ask the current speaker to repeat the question for the online audience before answering.
This choice will be dictated by the quality of equipment available and the level of recording consent you have from the audience.
We recommend online questions be submitted in written format, and f2f questions are spoken from the front.
Plan your panel time
You will need to keep a strict eye on the time. Calculate the X minutes each speaker has based on the number of speakers in each session of the panel. Warn the speaker when they have 5 minutes remaining and when 1 minute is left; if they have not finished after X minutes, kindly but firmly bring them to a stop.
Make your wishes clear at the start of the session to both f2f and online participants, agreeing on both X minutes per speaker and how people will be reminded of how much time they have left.
- For those online, you can open your microphone to give oral reminders or use reactions in Zoom menu, or simply write minutes into chat. Remind authors to keep their eye on whichever channel gets chosen for this.
- For f2f presenters, you might use paper/cards or oral instruction.
We recommend asking any colleagues presenting remotely to pre-record their presentation and send to you in advance, as cConnections can be unpredictable or consistently too poor to deliver a clear, audible presentation; or issues can arise on the day which can delay the panel.
Authors can still present live, but they should try to check their connection speed before the conference and decide whether live/recorded is best based on this information.
We’d also recommend ordering remotely presented papers after the f2f presentations, wherever possible, as experience suggests this makes for a smoother panel.
The volunteer will start the Zoom and make chairs co-hosts, so that they have similar functionality as the volunteer. While chairs/convenors moderate presentations, the volunteer will focus on solving technical issues - responding to any questions to do with screen sharing, cameras, mics etc. Sometimes they may need to consult the chair/convenor on what advice to give: for example, if a speaker is on a very poor connection, it may be a good idea for them to send their presentation file via the Zoom chat and have someone else share screen while they give oral directions. If you are confident in Zoom, please take such tasks (sharing screen, spotlighting etc) on yourself and leave the volunteer to other tech support (ensuring mics stay muted, responding to cries of help in chat, etc.) If anything happens that the volunteer does not know how to solve, they will call in a NomadIT administrator who will assist.
The conference aims to make panel recordings available to delegates to view at a time that suits them, giving better access for remote participants and those who missed particular panels for various reasons. If your panel does not wish to be recorded at all, you can ask the volunteer to NOT begin recording at the beginning of the session. Alternatively you can ask the conference administrators to delete the recording later. Presenters can also ask for the recording to be paused while they are presenting. (Please remind the volunteer to restart the paused recording for the next presenter!)
Recordings will appear embedded on the panel page a couple of hours after the session ends, visible only to delegates. A couple of months after the conference, we may contact you to enquire whether the recording is to be deleted, retained for delegates, or made more widely available.
Accessing the Zooms
A link to ‘Enter the virtual room’ will be shown in the header of the panel page (the panel explorer on the website) to logged-in, paid-up delegates. Click that to enter the zoom for that panel. Make sure you are clear about the time zone - use the timezone converter to avoid any confusion.
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