Toolkit for Virtual Sessions and Presentations

Toolkit for Virtual Sessions and Presentations

Thank you for all of your hard work to prepare for the LERA 72nd Annual Meeting and for your willingness to help LERA make the transition to a virtual conference platform. The following guidelines are the LERA’s quick collection of best practices for transitioning your session to a virtual format. Below please find information on different options for session structure, and preparation suggestions. These are suggestions, and we are open to refining and improving them. We welcome your input and feedback at [email protected].

Whatever options you and your participants choose, LERA highly recommends doing a test-run with your participants before your session to troubleshoot any audio/visual problems

For those individuals whose sessions have opted NOT to go virtual but would like to still present their research or expertise virtually, please fill out this online form. We cannot promise that every person will be placed in a new session, but we will work to set up participation opportunities for those who were accepted originally to the program in Portland, Oregon.

Virtual Session FAQs sheet

60-minute Sessions and Scheduling

One of the changes the program committee is implementing to adjust from a face-to-face to a virtual environment is that all sessions are being reduced from 90 minutes to 60 minutes each. The program committee recommends that paper and presenters have ten minutes each to make remarks, and discussants have five minutes, and that as much time be allotted to questions and answers as is possible. The final timing and format will be up to the session organizer and chair, and they will communicate this to session participants. Some sessions may have unique aspects that can only be assessed by the organizer and chair, and they do have the responsibility to make these determinations.

We will attempt to adhere as much to our currently publicized schedule as we can, but there may be changes that will be determined in the near future. We hope to have a new schedule publicized by May 1, 2020 after the program committee can assess which sessions commit to presenting their sessions in the new virtual format, and can make further determinations. We will update this information when that occurs and notify meeting participants of any changes.


Here is the expected workflow once you have decided to host a virtual session:

STEP 1: Choose a model from the options we suggest below or create your own

  • Asynchronous - “flipped session” 
    • Participants upload pre-recorded presentations
      • Audience watches these ahead of the session
      • Discussion can take place live in a virtual meeting room during your scheduled time in the program
      • Discussion can take place Asynchronously on provided discussion board
  • Synchronous - live presentations
    • Audience is present in the virtual room for the presentations and discussions
  • Create your own
    • Please let us know your plans - your great idea could inspire others!

STEP 2: Decide which model to use and let LERA know via this online form. LERA will post the format of your session in our online program.

STEP 3: Feedback. LERA will provide a forum for feedback. This undertaking is a massive impromptu experiment and we hope to use this opportunity to learn as much as we can. We will ask you to complete a virtual session survey that will be sent after the meeting.

New Virtual Functionality

To help facilitate virtual sessions, we are adding new functionality to our website. Presenters will be able to upload both documents (e.g. word processing, PowerPoint or PDF files) and video links for pre-recorded presentations. This functionality will be available for all session participants to use as needed for your virtual sessions. Keep this functionality in mind as you read through the session options discussed below as it may help to facilitate organizing and structuring your sessions.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Presentation Instructions

Session organizers should decide whether to (a) stream participants’ presentations in real time (synchronous presentations) or (b) ask participants and attendees to view recorded presentations before the scheduled session, reserving that time for discussion and Q&A (asynchronous or “flipped” sessions). In either case, all presenters could choose to pre-record their presentations

Synchronous Presentation Session Suggestions

For synchronous sessions, LERA recommends that remote presenters pre-record their presentations and send the file to session organizers. This will protect against wifi or other technical issues from multiple presenters during the virtual session, and helps ensure participants do not go over their time limit. 

Before the scheduled session:

  • Presenters pre-record their presentations of no more than ten minutes and 
    • send the file to session organizers AND/OR
    • upload the file to YouTube, Vimeo, or another video sharing platform and send the link to session organizers
    • Session organizers should tell their participants what will work best for them 
  • Session organizers view the files to make sure there are no audio, visual, or other problems, and that they conform to the time limit.
  • If desired, discussant comments (no more than 5 minutes) may also be pre-recorded.

At the scheduled session:

  • Session organizers will stream the files from their computer during the scheduled meeting time.
  • Any questions or discussion can then be streamed in real time using the virtual platform software.
    • It is up to the session organizers to determine how to allocate time for Q&A, discussant comments, and/or further discussion.

Asynchronous / “Flipped” Presentation Session Suggestions

Before the scheduled session:

  • Presenters pre-record their presentations and do the following by the deadline set by the session organizer
    • Upload the file to YouTube, Vimeo, or another video sharing platform
    • Send the link to session organizers 
    • Session organizers view the files to make sure there are no audio, visual, or other problems, and that they conform to the time limit (if applicable).
    • Presenters and audience watch the presentations, accessible through each online abstract, before the scheduled session
  • Instructions for using YouTube as a free platform to share recorded presentations:
    • If you do not have one, create a Youtube account. You can also synchronize Youtube with an existing Google account.
    • To upload a video: 
      • In the upper right hand corner of your computer screen, you will see a series of icons. 
      • Click on the icon that looks like a video camera with a plus sign in the middle.
      • Select the option “Upload video.”
      • Click “Select File,” then browse to where you have saved the pre-recorded presentation file you are uploading. 
      • On the next screen, title the video (e.g. last name of presenter and presentation title). Add a description (name of presenter, presentation title, session title, LERA 72nd Annual Meeting…)
      • Select a thumbnail, which viewers will see before playing the video.
      • Under Playlists: Select “New Playlist” at the bottom of the menu. Title the playlist with the name of your session. Set the your preferred privacy setting:
        • Public: Anyone can see your video.
        • Private: Only those you invite can view the video; they must have a Youtube account. You can only invite a maximum of 50 viewers for private videos.
        • Unlisted: Your video will not appear in search results or on your channel.
      • Click “Create,” then “Done.”
      • Under Audience, select “No, it’s not made for kids”. If needed, set an age restriction.
      • If desired, select “More options” to add tags, select video language, add subtitles, category, and comment visibility.
        • You can create a playlist of all uploaded YouTube videos for your session, using instructions here

At the scheduled session:

  • Session organizers, presenters, and audience members meet virtually using streaming software (Zoom) for discussion and Q&A.
  • Session organizers will find the link to the session in the virtual session gallery and program schedule.

Zoom Video Streaming and Meeting Platform

LERA has several ZOOM licenses that can support up to 100 users (we can increase this if there is demand).

  • Session participants and attendees can see each other and speak to each other and interact.
  • The session organizer and participants use the “share screen” function to project their presentation from their computer screen. (“Sharing your screen” Instructions available here.)
  • Breakout rooms can be created and utilized for one-on-one interaction between speakers and attendees. (Details on breakout rooms can be found here.)
  • Polls can be created and sent to meeting attendees. (Polling in-meeting details can be found here.)
  • IM/chat can take place in real time throughout the session. (Details on in-meeting chat can be found here.)

Information on pre-recording presentations and streaming

LERA strongly recommends that remote presenters pre-record their presentations and send the file to session organizers. This will protect against wifi or other technical issues among multiple presenters, and helps ensure participants do not go over their time limit. 

  • One free recording option for remote presenters is Screencast-O-Matic, which allows free screen recording for up to 15 minutes. Make sure all participants stay within the time limit for your session; presenters are encouraged to keep their remarks under 10 minutes.
  • Another option is to use PowerPoint Narration, available through Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • For more information and reviews on additional free PC screen recording options, see here.

Tips on Video

LERA highly recommends conducting a test-run with your session participants before your session to trouble-shoot any audio/visual problems prior to the session.

  • Webcams: an external webcam may provide the best video. 
  • If participants do not have a webcam, the best option is to have them submit a pre-recorded presentation (see above section on pre-recording), then join the meeting by phone. In this case they can answer questions, participate in discussions, and hear (but not see) the other participants
  • Be careful about your background, and warn other people around you that you are on a video call.

Tips on Audio

  • A headset or earbuds with a microphone will provide the best sound quality for everyone in the session
  • Laptop speakers and mic can create feedback, and the sound quality is mediocre.
  • Join the meeting from a quiet space - background noise can be jarring
  • If you are not speaking, mute your microphone. Session organizers can opt to mute all attendees. 

Poster Session Options

We recognize that posters are a unique challenge to shift to virtual format, so we welcome your input and creativity in handling poster sessions. Below we suggest some options, but we encourage you to consider and develop additional approaches. Feel free to share them with us at [email protected]

  • Online Gallery: Poster presenters can upload an image of their poster (we will create additional details here soon). Poster images are maintained long-term in this gallery.

  • Asynchronous “Flipped” Session: One option is similar to the Asynchronous “Flipped” Session described above. Instead of participants and audience watching pre-recorded paper presentations ahead of time, they would view the uploaded online poster images ahead of time. These could be accessed individually by hyperlink or the session organizer could produce a single slide deck with all participating posters. At the scheduled session, organizers, presenters, and audience members meet virtually using streaming software for discussion and Q&A. The session organizer/chair can determine how best to moderate depending on the number of posters.

  • Synchronous Session: Again, similar to the option described above in this toolkit, presenters would pre-record their presentation. For posters, we envision this could involve presenters recording their screen as they verbally guide viewers through the sections of their poster (navigating to and zooming in on each). Please see the section above on “Information on pre-recording presentations and streaming” for tool options.

  • Poster Galleries with Audience Discussion Boards: You may also consider non-video options. Session organizers could develop a slideshow of participating posters hosted online. Setup options could include allowing commenting/discussion on each image/slide or having a discussion board open to questions, comments, and discussions for any of the posters included. Session organizers and chairs can determine how best to moderate and organize their particular session.

Panel Session Options

As with all of the other session types, we welcome your input and creativity in setting up and hosting your online panel sessions. ZOOM allows more than one person to speak so they can work for the multiple speakers of a panel session. Below are some ideas on how you may wish to structure your panel session, but we encourage organizers to do what works best for them:

  • Panelists could pre-record an introduction of themselves and some initial thoughts on the panel topic. Organizers could collect these recordings and play them at the start of the session so attendees get to “meet” and see the panelists. A live Q&A discussion can take place following this. 
  • Organizers/chairs could write a set of questions for each panelist (or all panelists) to respond to for the first half of the session. During that time, attendees could be asked to pose their own questions in the online session chat for the session organizer/chair to pull panel questions from for the second half of the chat.

Some specific tips for online panel sessions:

  • Encourage panelists to mute themselves when not speaking to reduce background noise 
  • Encourage the audience to submit questions and comments through the session chat window
  • Designate a Host for your session so we can name them in the program. This individual will be in charge of moderating chat/IM during your scheduled session, opening up breakout rooms, pushing out Zoom attendee polls, etc.
  • Let the audience know at the start of the session how and when you plan to address their questions to set expectations for session structure.


By participating as a presenter or audience member in this digital environment, you agree to be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded, please let us know and we can accommodate that.

Your participation in LERA virtual sessions indicates consent to the following terms regarding aspects of the virtual session: 

LERA session organizers may record the presentations by video and audio. Recordings may be made available after the meeting to LERA meeting attendees and to LERA members. LERA will record speakers presentations and formal remarks, but we will explicitly NOT record or publish any questions and answers or interaction between the speakers and attendees that follows the formal presentation remarks made by speakers.

Presenters must have rights to the content in their presentation and thus give LERA copyright permission to promote the materials and/or recording to LERA websites and to LERA accounts on third-party websites (including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn). Presenters retain all ownership rights, including copyright, patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property of content uploaded to these sites. 

Presenters have no right of approval, no claim for compensation, and no claim (including, without limitation, claims based upon invasion of privacy, defamation, or right of publicity) arising out of or in connection with, any use, alteration, or use in any composite form. Presenters agree and acknowledge that in the event any claims of action arise with respect to their materials or any other actions related to participation in the conference, they act in sole and individual capacity and that LERA does not assume liability for presenters and audience member actions hereunder. See the LERA Code of Conduct.

ZOOM Resources

Additional Resources

The following are additional resources that have been suggested. If you have other resources you suggest adding here, please share them with us at [email protected] with a brief description. We appreciate your help!

Thanks and Acknowledgements to the following volunteers who donated their time to help us transition to a mobile platform.