Random thoughts on Online conferences

What’s the status?

Speaker for an online conference
“So, did you like it?” — Feedbacks

Is it all bad?!

  • Very often it is free to attend + no transportation cost/time! 💵
  • Several conferences record their talks, so you can watch them any time you wish. You can pause or replay the recording when you need to think, or skip parts which are less interesting to you.
  • It’s easier to ask a question by chat than raise your hand in a packed conference room 😏

Can we improve online conferences?

Vary talk formats as much as possible

Shorten talks, keep on schedule and vary format (again)

Insert as much interaction as possible

  • Create a speaker’s group (e.g THCon has a speaker’s server on Discord, UYHBYS had one on Signal) and have speakers use it. Speakers usually like to chat with other speakers. True, a speaker’s dinner is better 😏, but a speaker group is already something. And it gives you the feeling you are participating to a conference — globally.
  • Contact your speakers before the conference (audio, video or chat, preferably over email): to give them information, but also just to know them a little. It’s easier to prepare a talk when you’ve spoken to an organizer, than to a conference you have never been to.
  • Create a channel where the audience can react and ask questions. Many conferences use YouTube’s chat, or Discord for that or online IRC (ha, SSTIC always!). However, an empty channel is like a tomb! It’s perhaps worse than no channel at all. So? So you’ve got to ensure that people participate! If you know some participants, ask them to start conversations on the channel, especially on the day of the conference. Make it clear to them their role (or one of their roles) is to initiate conversations. Once people see the channel is active and has interesting chats, others will join. As an organizer you can also do this yourselves (I know you have many things to do). Appoint a “Community Manager” in the org? During the talk, ensure that people ask questions. If necessary, ask some yourselves.
    In the channel, why not organize a drawing contest? the attendee who sends the nicest drawing concerning the current talk? or the best slogan / keyword for the talk? or simply have attendees share a picture of their surroundings? [you might need a moderator for these actions]
During a former edition of Virus Bulletin, I drew some speakers “Pico-fashion”
  • Some online conference systems allow attendees to react live (raise a hand ✋, ask question live etc). Encourage this as much as possible! If necessary, as an organizer, do it yourself. You’ll be an example to follow.
  • Quizz. As I said earlier, I think they can be great for online conferencing.

Mobile and IoT malware researcher. The postings on this account are solely my own opinion and do not represent my employer.

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Mobile and IoT malware researcher. The postings on this account are solely my own opinion and do not represent my employer.

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