We all have had our ups and downs with hybrid conferences since the pandemic. How can we optimize the experience for all participants and presenters, whether virtual or in-person? We would like to share our plans on virtual vs. in-person and poster vs. oral presentation formats.

First, some anecdotal observations from recent hybrid conferences:

  • Virtual participation continues to serve the important purpose of improving access.
  • In-person poster sessions are lively. Both participants and presenters seem to enjoy the close interactions occurring beside the poster boards.
  • Virtual posters are sparsely attended, especially when they have to compete with other in-person events for attention.
  • Oral sessions (other than plenaries) have mixed attendance. Virtually presented oral sessions seem to be especially likely to have low attendance.
  • The presentation format for Findings papers is still under experimentation by the various conferences.

Based on the above as well as venue constraints, we will implement the following strategies:

  • Virtual poster sessions will be organized as a pre-conference event, right before the main conference (dates TBD). By avoiding conflict with in-person sessions, we hope all attendees (both virtual and in-person) will join. The more the merrier! A critical mass will make this a meaningful event, serving as a nice kickoff to the main conference.
  • The main conference will focus on the in-person experience. We will maximize the number of poster slots and reduce the number of oral slots. This is to take advantage of the excitement of in-person poster sessions. Note that the presentation format will not be chosen based on the quality of the paper. Virtual attendees will still be able to watch plenaries and oral presentations on Zoom and will have access to videos for all papers.
  • Findings papers will be presented at the virtual poster pre-conference event. Presenters who are allotted an in-person poster slot but cannot show up due to visa or other reasons will also be re-allocated to the virtual poster pre-conference event.

Note that plans may change as we finalize details with our venue in Mexico City, so the above is just a rough guide. We hope this gets you excited about the conference experience. Feel free to contact us if you have suggestions!