ACA Guideline for Giving Oral Presentations

The ACA will be using a combination of Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars as the presentation platforms. For Zoom Meetings, all participants (session chairs, speakers, and attendees) can share audio and video, although this will be strictly controlled during presentations. For Zoom Webinars, the session chairs and the presenters have audio and video capabilities; audience questions must be typed via a Q&A window. The Zoom platform being used for the different sessions are as follows:

• Non-plenary Oral Sessions: Meeting
• Poster Sessions: Meetings with Breakout Rooms

For each session, the Session Chairs lead the program and a Facilitator will be available to help address technical issues. Assuming you leave time, live Q&A will be available at the end of each talk. We expect strict adherence to the schedule. If you experience technical issues (e.g. microphone not working or bad internet connection), these technical issues will count toward your presentation time.

Prior to the conference, each session will coordinate a practice session so that, the session chairs, and the facilitators, and the speakers can familiarize themselves with Zoom and with your different responsibilities. If you are not already a regular user of Zoom, please use the same internet connection and device(s) in the practice session as you plan to use on your presentation day.

Submission of Slide Decks and/or Pre-Recordings

We are asking that all speakers send a copy of the slide deck for their presentation to ACA HQ.  The deck will be securely stored and shared only with session chairs and ACA facilitators so that, in the event of technical difficulties during the presentation, the session chair/facilitator can share the deck.  

Speakers submitting a pre-recording must do so by Friday, July 16, 2021. Any speakers who do not upload a video by this date will default to being listed as presenting live.

Please send files and/or links to [email protected] by Friday, July 16, 2021. 

We understand that many of these recordings may be rather large and we encourage speakers to forward cloud links to the presentations/sides (i.e. google drive, dropbox, etc.). Please make sure that you clearly indicate in the enclosure email which session you are scheduled to present in so that the materials can be saved to the correct location.


Options for Presenting:

OPTION 1 (ACA Recommended): Prerecorded/uploaded video that will be played from a central location with live Q&A to follow (Webinar “Live” = typed chat; Meeting “Live” = verbal Q&A)

PROS: Most reliable to broadcast. Easiest for session chairs & facilitators to control. Can guarantee you leave time for Q&A.

CONS: Feels less personal, both in preparing the presentation and from the audience perspective.

• Recruit someone to listen while recorded to help mentally establish a more personal audience connection.
• Use a webcam and capture your image while presenting. This helps reduce the impersonal nature of virtual presentations. Both PowerPoint and Zoom can be used to embed video in your presentation. (See “Recording with a Webcam” below.)
• NOTE: During “Live talks” (Option 3), questions will only be solicited after the presentation, so there is little difference between these


OPTION 2: Uploaded slides to a central location with live audio from your device.

PROS: Avoids live video upload. Video uploads are the most unreliable aspect of live presentations. If your internet connection is flaky, the video component can be run from a more reliable internet source. Only audio upload is from your location.

CONS: Inability to advance your slides on your own. Of the 3 options, places the largest burden on the session chair(s).

RECOMMENDATIONS: If you plan to use this option, make sure your talk is prepared early enough to do a practice run with your session chair(s).


OPTION 3: Live presentation with audio and video fully under your control.

PROS: Psychological benefit of knowing you are speaking to an audience.

CONS: Highest risk. Technical difficulties generating all around frustration and could result in truncation or omission of your talk.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Have two devices available, a computer to present from and another (perhaps a phone or tablet) to monitor what viewers are seeing (mute phone/tablet to prevent feedback).


Additional Info for Non-plenary Oral Sessions

Session facilitators will give speakers a 1-minute warning before their time expires. At the end of your scheduled time, the facilitator will stop your presentation with no further warning. Should you not leave time for Q&A, a forum page will be available for follow-up questions or discussion.

Each session will be followed by 30 minutes of social time (vocal, not typed – Yay!). During this time, presenters and attendees can continue scientific conversation or just catch-up with each other.


Live Recording of Sessions

The ACA will default to record entire sessions. Making recordings of the sessions available for later viewing enable participation of attendees with unavoidable family responsibilities, living in different time zones, or experiencing technical difficulties. The sessions will be posted on the ACA website behind the secure conference firewall and available only to registered meeting attendees. If speakers do not want their presentation available, they must make a request via email to ACA headquarters by July 17. These talks will be noted as “Will Not Be Recorded” in the program to alert attendees that they cannot revisit a specific presentation. The ACA Council hopes this will not be requested, as it shows insensitivity to the diverse needs of our community. Some speakers, notably awards recipients, may be asked if they will grant permission for their recorded presentation to be added to the ACA’s crystallographic history site.


Tips for Virtual Presentations

To help ensure the best experience, we recommend presenters follow these suggestions:

  1. Include/embed a video of you giving the talk using a high-quality web camera. For laptops less than 3 years old, the built-in camera (if it has one) should be adequate.
  2. Obtain a computer headset with microphone to reduce feedback and improve voice quality. Headsets that connect via USB are the best choice.
  3. Work from a quiet room and especially not from outside. Wind and background noise make your device’s microphone adjust and your voice may sound muffled to your listeners.
  4. Pay attention to your background. Solid is best and try to avoid having anything too distracting.
  5. To counteract back lighting, make sure you have a good source of light behind the camera and minimal lighting directly behind you.
  6. Do not wear stripes or anything too bright. Solid colors are best.
  7. Avoid moving your head too much or “talking with your hands.” Too much movement can cause the video to pixelate and degrade.

In addition, for live presentations:

• If possible, connect to the Internet with an ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi. This gives greater speed and more reliable service.

• A laptop or desktop is preferred over a smartphone or tablet.

• Close all unnecessary programs while using Zoom. This will maximize the call processing power and the quality of your Zoom session.

Embedding a Webcam Video In a Prerecorded Talk

If you have never embedded a webcam video in a presentation, we recommend using either PowerPoint or Zoom. PowerPoint has the advantage of more customizability but is more complex to setup. Zoom is more straightforward but what you see is what you get. Many how-to videos are available on YouTube, with sample links posted below. (If you find better videos, please send us the link so we can share it with the broader ACA community!)


Additional Tips for Recording with Zoom

  • When preparing PowerPoint slides, leave the upper right corner blank as Zoom defaults to placing the webcam video in this spot.
  • If given an option, Record to Computer and not Cloud. The default recording location is Documents/Zoom.
  • If using a video clip with sound in your PowerPoint, in the bottom of the “Share computer” window, check the boxes for “Share computer sound” and “Optimize screen share for video clip”.
  • Share only the PowerPoint window (not the entire desktop).