Virtual RECS 2020 Speaker Guidelines

Session Moderators

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 Session Moderators

Most plenary and all breakout sessions are 75 minutes in duration. The session moderators will introduce speakers at the beginning of the session, advance PowerPoint slides, and facilitate the live Q&A. During the session, 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 that is no more than 60 minutes in length. During the 75-minute conference time slot, the pre-recorded or live presentation will immediately be followed by at least 15 minutes of live Q&A with the audience.

Moderator Responsibilities and Session Flow

  • All moderators are asked to submit their biography and headshot via email to their session’s Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) track lead. Please refer to the email from your OPRE track lead for the deadline for submitting this information, generally in early September.
  • Pre-recorded sessions will be completed as live-to-tape, meaning the presentations should be executed as if they were live. The moderator should be the first person to speak. Moderators will introduce all speakers at the beginning of the session. Biographies of your session’s speakers will be provided by IMPAQ, OPRE’s logistics support contractor, in advance of your session recording. In addition to introducing the speakers, please also provide some brief opening remarks to set the context for the session and encourage viewers to enter questions into the chat box.
  • It is expected that the PowerPoint slides will be advanced by the moderator to ensure a cohesive presentation. All PowerPoint slides for the session will be compiled into one slide deck by IMPAQ, OPRE’s logistics contractor.
  • The event producer will track the time of the total session and each speaker’s portion of the session, and so moderators will not need to track time. Prior to the start of the session, please make sure the speakers confirm with the event producer the breakdown of how session time will be distributed among them.
  • Producers will use the private chat box to provide time cues to the speakers for their individual portion of the presentation, and the moderator should monitor the chat box and verbally cue the speakers if needed.
  • Other than trimming the start and end of the session and fixing transitions, the videos will not be edited following the recordings.

Live Q&A Process Overview

  • During your conference session time slot, the recorded presentation will be broadcast and immediately followed by at least 15 minutes of live Q&A.
  • All moderators 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.
  • You will be asked to access the Zoom link approximately 30 minutes into the broadcast of your 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 and moderators know when they are live.
  • Participants will enter questions into a chat box throughout the session. 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. As session moderator, you will select questions to verbally pose to the speakers. The speakers will answer questions verbally, as they would in an in-person conference session.
  • Please prepare two or three questions in advance in case there are none from the audience.
  • All communication between speakers, moderators, and producers will take place in the private Zoom chat box during the session.
  • At the end of the session, as applicable, please let audience members know that it is time to transition into the next session or that the conference day is over and the conference will resume at 1 PM Eastern the following day.
  • Speakers and moderators will receive an “all clear” from the event producer at the end of the event so that they know when they are no longer live.