Virtual RECS 2020 Speaker Guidelines

Pre-Recorded Plenary and Breakout Session Speakers

Thank you for agreeing to present at the Virtual Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) 2020. We are honored to have such a distinguished group of experts participating in this year's conference.

This year’s conference will be held virtually on October 13–15 and October 19–22. Virtual RECS 2020 will feature both pre-recorded sessions and sessions delivered live during the event. Pre-recorded and live sessions will begin with a 30-minute tech check with producers, immediately followed by the presentation of the session recording or the live session. All sessions will feature live question-and-answer (Q&A) with the audience. All pre-recorded and live sessions will be accessed by speakers via a passcode-protected Zoom meeting link. If you are unsure whether your session will be pre-recorded or live, please refer to your speaker invitation email or contact Jessica Cruttenden at

Please click on the blue button below to view a list of virtual presentation tips and best practices.

General Connection Requirements

  • You will need a strong broadband wired or wireless Internet connection.
  • You will need a computer or laptop with a camera and audio system.
  • Use Chrome (recommended), Firefox, or Internet Explorer (most up-to-date version only).
  • A passcode-protected Zoom meeting link will be used for all sessions. Please email if you have security restrictions preventing you from using Zoom.

Audio Setup

  • Choose a quiet, distraction-free location to complete your session recording.
  • While not required, using headphones will enhance audio quality, resulting in a more polished presentation.
  • Wired headsets with a microphone are preferred to limit background noise or echoing.
  • When using Bluetooth headphones, some people experience interference. If that becomes an issue, resetting the connection can help. All Bluetooth headphones should be charged prior to recording a session or participating in a live session.
  • If you experience audio connection problems using your computer, you can remain on video while calling in using your phone.

Camera/Video Setup

  • Close all browsers and unnecessary connections once logged into Zoom. This includes email, video playback sites such as YouTube, and websites that utilize a lot of bandwidth.
  • Be sure to be centered in the camera shot and place the camera at eye level. It may help to elevate your laptop on a stand or a stack of books.
  • If working with two monitors, make sure the presentation is on the laptop/monitor with the camera (so as not to look away while presenting).
  • If you have notes, try to keep them just under the camera so you are not looking down throughout the presentation.


  • Avoid having natural lighting or reflective surfaces behind you.
  • Lighting should be coming from the direction of your camera. If you are using natural light, try to avoid direct sunlight or shadow lines from blinds.
  • A desk lamp placed behind the computer is typically sufficient for additional lighting.

Presentation Background

  • Find a decluttered space as a backdrop. A well-organized bookshelf is a great option, but neutral walls also work well.
  • Try to avoid virtual backgrounds, if possible. If a virtual background must be used, please test the quality by moving around. If you experience flickering outlines or disappear into the backdrop, try adjusting your lighting for more even coverage.


  • Keep your clothing choices simple. Wear solid, bold colors, and avoid patterns, stripes, and plaids. This will keep your image sharp on camera.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry that makes noise when you move or gesture on camera.
  • Before your session begins, take a few moments to check your appearance in a mirror.

During the Presentation

  • Have water nearby.
  • Make sure all phones and computer notifications have been silenced.
  • Mute your microphone if not speaking.
  • The chat box will be the main point of communication between producers and speakers during the session. Please check the chat box throughout your session for important messages, including timing notifications.

Guidelines for Pre-Recorded Plenary and Breakout Session Speakers

Most plenary sessions and all breakout sessions at the Virtual RECS 2020 will be pre-recorded to minimize the chances of day-of technology issues. Each session will have a moderator, who will introduce the speakers, advance the PowerPoint slides, and facilitate the live Q&A portion.

Most plenary and all breakout sessions are 75 minutes in duration. During the session recording, it is recommended that each panelist limit his or her presentation to 12-15 minutes (depending on the total number of speakers), resulting in a session recording that is no more than 60 minutes in length. During the 75-minute conference time slot, the pre-recorded session will be broadcast and immediately followed by at least 15 minutes of live Q&A with the audience. Note that this structure may differ for plenaries that are more focused on discussion among the panel than on presentations; please consult with your session’s Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) track lead if you are unsure of the format of your session.

Session Recording Process Overview and Speaker Responsibilities

  • All speakers are asked to submit their biography, headshot, and the planned order in which panelists will present via email to their session’s OPRE track lead. Please refer to the email from your OPRE track lead for the deadline for submitting this information, generally in early September.
  • All speakers will be asked to submit their PowerPoint slides to three business days in advance of their scheduled session recording. Please avoid small fonts and elaborate transitions/animations in your PowerPoint slides to make them easier for attendees to read. OPRE’s logistics support contractor, IMPAQ, will combine all slides into one slide deck for each session. It is expected that the session moderator will advance all of the slides throughout the entire presentation.
  • Session recordings will be completed as live-to-tape, meaning the presentations should be executed as if they were live. The moderator, who will introduce the speakers at the beginning of the session, should be the first person to speak.
  • Other than trimming the start and end of the session and fixing transitions, the videos will not be edited following the recordings.
  • The event producer will monitor timing for the session as a whole, including time allotment for each presentation. Prior to the start of the session recording, please confirm with the event producer the breakdown of how session time will be distributed among speakers.
  • All communication during the recording of the session will take place in the Zoom chat box. This will include time notifications from the producer, so it is important to keep an eye on the chat box throughout your presentation. Presenters may also find it helpful to track time on their own while presenting.
  • If you would not like to be seen while presenting (i.e. voiceover only), please let your producer know before recording starts.

Live Q&A Process Overview

  • During your conference session time slot, your recorded presentation will be broadcast and immediately followed by at least 15 minutes of live Q&A.
  • All speakers who have confirmed their participation in Virtual RECS 2020 will receive an Outlook calendar invitation to hold the October conference session date. This invitation will be updated no later than Monday, October 5 with the passcode-protected Zoom link to access the live Q&A portion of the session during your scheduled session time.
  • On the day your presentation will be broadcast, you will be asked to access the Zoom link approximately 30 minutes into the broadcast of your recorded session. During this time before the live Q&A begins, the event producer will check your audio and video and answer any questions.
  • The event producer will provide a countdown to ensure that all speakers know when they are live.
  • All communication between speakers and producers will take place in the private Zoom chat box during live Q&A.
  • Participants will enter questions into a chat box as they view the session broadcast. The event producer will remove duplicate questions if needed and move the questions into the private Zoom chat box so that the moderator and speakers can view them. The session moderator will select questions to verbally pose to the speakers. The speakers will answer questions verbally, as they would in an in-person conference session.
  • Speakers will receive an “all clear” by the event producer at the end of the event so that they know when they are no longer live.