Virtual RECS 2020 Speaker Guidelines

Roundtable Facilitators

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 Roundtable Facilitators

The roundtable sessions will take place on Monday, October 19 from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. These sessions will take place live via a passcode-protected Zoom meeting link in order to facilitate group discussion.

Roundtable Session Overview and Facilitator Responsibilities

  • All roundtable facilitators are asked to submit their biography and headshot via email to the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) Roundtable Lead, Katherine McKinney, at by Monday, September 21, 2020.
  • If you plan to reference a handout or use slides, please submit these materials to by Monday, September 21, 2020. Because roundtables are intended to be an opportunity for attendees to participate in interactive conversations on topics relevant to the research highlighted at the conference, it is recommended that you keep any presentation portion short.
  • All roundtable facilitators 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 your live session 30 minutes prior to the scheduled conference time slot. The calendar invitation will include the 30 minutes preceding the start of the live session.
  • You will be asked to access the Zoom link approximately 30 minutes prior to the start of your scheduled session. During this time before the live session begins, the event producer will check your audio and video and answer any questions. Practice screen sharing if you plan to reference a handout or slides.
  • All communication between the facilitators and producers will take place in the private Zoom chat box during the session. This will include time notifications, so it is important to keep an eye on the chat box throughout your presentation.
  • It is recommended that the facilitators of each session provide housekeeping remarks prior to starting the session, including reminders to attendees to keep microphones muted whenever they are not participating in the discussion and, if you would like, to ask them to use the “hand raise” feature on Zoom. Be sure to decide what those remarks should be in advance.
  • The event producer will provide a countdown to ensure that all facilitators know when the event is live.
  • At the end of the session, please let audience members know that the conference day is over and the conference will resume at 1 PM Eastern on Tuesday.
  • Facilitators 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.