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2020 Annual Meeting: General Principles for Virtual Meetings

The virtual meeting creates an opportunity for us to continue to meet and share our work, but it also raises new considerations about how to make the most of the remote situation. AFS has tips for planning ahead to ensure successful virtual presentations.

Knowing Your Virtual Setting 

The virtual meeting will take place on a conference platform, limited to registered attendees, that will provide the program, a virtual exhibit gallery, and a portal to Zoom, the communication platform for all live sessions and events. Attendees and presenters can join all live sessions and events in Zoom at the scheduled time through the conference platform.


Pre-recorded and live paper presentations will all take place in live sessions, with Q&A.


Most sessions will be recorded to provide the opportunity for asynchronous access.


Make sure that you can meet the system requirements. See our Virtual Meeting FAQ.

Preparing Your Files

To avoid technical difficulties during your presentation, you should upload all digital files to the conference website at least a week in advance of the meeting. This is a quick and easy process; information about how to upload your files will be provided closer to the meeting. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Pre-recorded paper presentations

  • Any audio or video you plan to use in a live paper presentation

  • Slide decks

Draft instructions are available upon request. In the meantime, see our Virtual Meeting FAQ.



If you upload a pre-recorded presentation to the conference hub, you will be able to access it at your scheduled presentation time, then take questions and engage in discussion during your live session. Virtual meeting experts recommend this method as a “best practice” that minimizes technical difficulties, offers more controlled presentations, and allows presenters to concentrate on interacting with other panelists and the audience. It also allows us to prepare closed captions for greater accessibility for all attendees.


  • Pre-recorded papers do not have to be highly polished productions!  Some simple steps for creating a recording within Zoom or PowerPoint will be provided when we release the program in the coming weeks.

If pre-recording is impracticable for you, you may present live during your scheduled session. However, we still strongly recommend that you submit all of your audiovisual media files so that you can access them from the conference hub, rather than your personal device.

  • If you opt for live presenting, be mindful of your technological needs and anticipate needing to reserve some of your allotted time for handling them during the presentation. Technical problems tend to take up more time than expected, and these difficulties can throw off a carefully-planned schedule!

Chairing a Session

While many of the same rules apply to chairing a virtual session as to an in-person one, hosts and moderators of virtual meetings also have certain technical responsibilities.

  • Communicate with all presenters ahead of time to determine how to use the time; if papers are scheduled for specific start times, plan to stick to the schedule. Be aware of each of your presenters’ technical needs.

  • Zoom has a number of tools through which attendees can communicate non-verbally with each other publicly and privately, including text chat, participant list icons, and emoji reactions. Establish policies ahead of time for how you would like attendees to communicate during live discussion portions of the session. Inform all attendees of these procedures at the start of your session.

  • We recommend that all sessions have a moderator to help manage Zoom meeting functions, including managing chat and participants, in addition to the chair and panelists, who should be free to concentrate on the discussion itself. 

  • Be ready to step in when technical difficulties are disrupting your session. As Zoom host or co-host, you (or your moderator) have the ability to mute, unmute, and eject participants as needed.

We recommend you review our customary Suggestions for Session Chairs in considering the best ways to adapt the virtual platform to your session’s specific needs.

During Your Session

All panel participants should:

  • Follow the directions of your chair/moderator throughout the session.

  • Make sure your microphone is muted when you are not speaking to minimize background noise while others are speaking.

  • Turn your microphone on when it is your turn to speak.

  • Try not to speak over other attendees, both as a matter of courtesy and because computer microphones often cancel each other out when one speaker tries to talk over another.

  • Introduce yourself before speaking. Remember that not all other attendees will necessarily have access to video chat and may not recognize you from voice alone.

All participants--presenters, chairs, and other attendees--should stay tuned for forthcoming technical guidance from AFS. We look forward to as vibrant a meeting as ever in this year’s new format, and hope to make the transition to a virtual platform as smooth as possible for all who participate!

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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
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