The virtual conference format has some affordances that the physical conference format lacks. We recommend considering the following formatting ideas as ways to get the most out of the virtual format.
Consider replacing live talks with pre-recorded watch parties where the speakers can answer text chat during the talk and live Q/A after the talk. Especially for conferences with many parallel tracks, watch parties have no technical difficulties and are always in sync.
For international conferences, consider replaying the conference watch parties twice so that audiences in Europe, Asia, the Americas, etc. can tune in at a reasonable hour.
Consider running public pre-recording sessions for authors to record their talks with a live audience. Pre-recording sessions can be scheduled over several weeks to help audiences avoid online talk fatigue. Pre-recording in a live talk is easy for authors and, with Virtual Chair video processing, the resulting videos are very high quality.
Consider interspersing scheduled technical sessions with unstructured interaction time such as coffee breaks, poster sessions, or networking events. Participants will interact with each other casually during these sessions and return to the technical sessions refreshed. We recommend alternating technical sessions of 60-75 minutes and unstructured time of 45-60 minutes.
Consider running poster sessions for parallel-track talks for further Q/A and so that attendees can visit posters for talks in tracks that they did not attend.
Consider watch parties with compiled 1-minute lightning talks for all posters in a poster session. These lightning talks can air before the poster session, or on a loop throughout the poster session.
Consider running networking events such as speed networking, junior-senior lunches, and curated conversations.
Differential Registration Fees
Consider charging differently for speakers and non-speaking attendees. Charging a very low rate for non-speaking attendees will encourage large audiences and facilitate dissemination of results presented at the conference.