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2020 Annual Meeting: Virtual Meeting FAQ

The information here is offered to help you adapt with us to a virtual platform; we will continue to update it as our planning evolves. Have additional questions? Contact us at We appreciate your support and patience as we pivot our program to a virtual environment.

Will the dates of the conference stay the same?

Probably. We’re centering our plans on the same timeframe as the in-person event, which is October 14-17. However, you can expect to see some changes to the schedule to ensure that the format of our conference works with a virtual experience.

When will presenters and attendees receive details about the program and scheduling for the virtual conference?

We aim to release a preliminary program in August.

What will my registration fee include?

Though the schedule of events is not yet determined, your registration fees will include access to all virtual sessions--including the usual panels, discussions, plenary speakers, and ceremonial and networking events--as well as any events held in Tulsa in 2020. Most proceedings will be recorded and available online for a limited period of time (to be determined), allowing registrants the option of attending live events or catching up with them later, when their schedule allows.

Additionally, meeting registration will include access to virtual programming that is planned for release throughout the year, like forums on timely topics, professional development webinars, or other networking events.

I’m currently facing financial difficulties. How do I request a refund of my registration fees or a scholarship to cover my registration fees?

AFS will offer scholarships to reduce or eliminate the cost of meeting registration fees for those who can’t afford them. To apply for funding, send an email indicating your financial need to .

Individuals who would like to be considered for a virtual presentation but who require financial assistance to cover registration fees should apply for the scholarship funds.

Meeting attendees who are not presenting in 2020 may cancel their registration (contact us at ) and receive a full refund by October 1. 

I’m not sure that I’m interested in attending the virtual conference, but I’m willing to write off my registration as a donation. How do I do that?

Thank you for your generosity! Your donation will fund scholarships that will make the meeting more accessible to others. If you submitted a proposal, we sent an email with instructions for how to submit your preferences for the virtual meeting, including the option of changing your registration to a donation. If you would like a copy of this email, contact us at

However, we encourage you to wait to decide until you see the preliminary program: we hope that you’ll agree that it offers much of what you value in our customary meeting. If you’re not listed as presenting in the program, you may cancel your registration and request a full refund by October 1. 

Until you tell us to remove you from the registration list, we will continue to send you messages about the virtual meeting as the planning progresses, including information about how to access the meeting if you change your mind. 

How do I help support registration scholarships for the AFS Annual Meeting?

Thanks for considering this! Donations to the Sustainers’ Fund will help subsidize participation in the 2020 virtual meeting by those who would otherwise not be able to attend.

I want to present in the virtual meeting. What should I know about choosing that option?

Live meeting events will take place using Zoom Online Meetings; access will be password protected and limited to meeting registrants.

Successful virtual presentations require some preparation in advance of the meeting:

  • All presenters should make sure that they have adequate bandwidth and equipment to present; specifications will be available soon. Contact if you need more information in the meantime.
  • If your presentation will include prerecorded audio or video elements, you should submit these recordings to AFS a few weeks in advance. This will ensure that your clips can be heard and seen during your live presentation. Presenters should not attempt to share recordings during live meetings from their own devices.
  • Pre-recorded papers or slideshows will ensure higher presentation quality and give us more flexibility in scheduling your presentation. These recordings will need to be submitted a few weeks in advance. AFS will provide more information and support to help you prepare.

We realize that preparing a virtual presentation may be daunting or impracticable for some participants. If this is true for you, but you need to present in order to participate in the meeting, contact us by July 15, so that we can explore other ways that you may contribute.

I want to present in the virtual meeting. What if I’m scheduled to present at a time that conflicts with my daily responsibilities? Will there be a chance to request a change?

Yes. As is our usual custom, we will release a preliminary program, then allow two weeks for presenters to make change requests. 

If my co-presenters and I choose to present virtually, will there be clear guidelines, instructions, or tutorials?

AFS will provide guidance and support throughout the process. A detailed guide of best practices and instructions for the transition to a virtual format is in process.

What should I do if I’m on a preorganized panel, but not all my fellow panelists are willing to participate in the virtual meeting? 

Ultimately, these situations may need to be handled on a case by case basis, but our goal will be to accommodate those who choose to present virtually this year. Contact Lorraine Walsh Cashman at for assistance.

If you are the organizer of a forum, feel free to reach out to other people who may step into the  gaps. Some of our customary rules will still apply: 

  • All panel participants must register for the meeting and communicate directly with AFS staff to give written permission to include their personal information in the published program. 
  • Organizers should take active steps to find panelists who are not already taking part in another virtual session.

If you are the organizer of a paper session, let us know which panelists choose to withdraw their papers. Potential solutions include:

  • Running with 2-3 remaining papers in a shorter session time slot.
  • Finding individual paper presentations that were reviewed and accepted that would be a good match for the panel.
  • Forming new panels, organized around new points of intersection, that combine the remaining papers with other papers that were accepted as individual presentations. In this case, we will take administrative steps to communicate directly with the paper presenters themselves.
  • Deferring the entire panel until 2021 or 2022.

Will presentations be given live, or do they have to be pre-recorded?

Fundamentally, we aim to support presenters in their choice of presentation mode. However, there are two things you should know:

  • Even live presentations should plan to submit any audio or video files several weeks before the meeting in order to ensure successful playback during a live session.
  • We strongly recommend that presenters pre-record their presentations whenever possible. Pre-recording will allow for closed captioning prior to the conference and protect against wi-fi and technical difficulties at the time of the live presentation. 

AFS will provide guidance and support to help presenters meet these goals.

Session organizers can decide whether to (a) stream participants’ pre-recorded presentations in real time or (b) ask participants and attendees to view recorded presentations before the scheduled session, reserving more time for discussion and Q&A. A detailed guide of best practices and instructions for transitioning your session to a virtual format is in process. 

We encourage session organizers to think creatively about how to adapt panels to make the most of a virtual platform. Contact Lorraine Walsh Cashman at if you’d like to discuss alternatives.

Will attendees be able to ask questions or participate in the session, or will the session just consist of streamed presentations? 

We prefer for sessions to be interactive when possible. All presentations will be scheduled in live sessions that will include time for questions and answers, either as live discussion or chat. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to collect feedback on asynchronous presentations, too. 

Will sessions be recorded for later viewing? 

Sessions will be recorded and available online for a limited time to those registered for the conference. Presenters may opt-out of the recording if they prefer, knowing that this decision will limit the audience to those who can attend the live presentation.

How will the virtual conference make up for some of the best parts of an in-person meeting? 1) Will the virtual meeting include social events, like university receptions, virtual dance parties, or cocktail hours? 2) Will the program provide opportunities for networking and mentoring? 3) If so, how?

We certainly hope so! And we’re optimistic that the answer is a definitive “yes.” We’re working on developing those plans now, so stay tuned for more information.

I want to be a sponsor. What steps should I take? 

We expect to release information for exhibitors and sponsors very soon; in the meantime, please contact Lorraine Walsh Cashman at


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