Lightning FAQ

Deadlines & Upcoming Dates

Deadline Activity
April 26 Deadline to correct/edit title, abstract, and author list
April 26 Deadline to alert organizers of time/date restrictions in scheduling talk
May 10 Initial scheduling assignments sent
May 17 Presenter response to scheduling assignment deadline
May 24 Talk schedule announced
June 1 Deadline to register for conference to hold speaking slot
June 14 Whova conference platform will open to all registered participants and speakers can upload Lightning talks to Whova.
June 28 Prerecorded lightning talks should be submitted by 9 am EDT (New York)
Q: How do I request a certificate of attendance or participation?

A: Please use this form to request a certificate. We will have to verify your attendance through Zoom signins, so please be patient as we process requests.

Q: How and why would I need to update my abstract, title, or author list?

A: You may update your entry here. You will need your OpenConf ID number and the password set by your corresponding author.

Many authors submitted abstracts as pdfs only, with figures and special formatting. In order to have an abstract associated with your talk in the conference platform, you will need to have a brief, text only abstract.

Your abstract may be as much as 500 words long, but we encourage you to be more succinct (200-300) and write in the form you might use in a journal article in your field. You will have an opportunity to upload a file to the Whova platform at a later date (slides, a pdf, or an image).

Please take a moment to review your author order, presenter designation, and your title for accuracy. Please recall that a presenter is limited to two talks in the main conference: one oral contribution OR lightning talk and one poster presentation. If you have a presenter who is still listed as presenter for two or more lightning talks/oral contributions, please designate another speaker to the conference or withdraw the additional submissions.

Q: What if I have a formula or an image I would like people to see in my abstract?

A: The abstract field for the Whova platform is text-only. We recommend you do not include complex formulas and images are not allowed. You will have an opportunity later to upload an additional file in the Whova platform.

Q: How will you schedule talks, given the diversity of time zones represented by speakers?

A: Good question! Our best guess is that there are at least 18 time zone represented in our presenters, and there are no times that will work for everyone. However, we have committed to working with authors in all time zones to find a speaking slot that is within waking hours for their time zone. As you may imagine this will be a challenge.

The running hours for the main conference will be between 08:00 EDT and 22:00 (New York). Listed below are the time blocks we will be using throughout the six-day main conference.

First block: 08:00-11:00 New York/14:00-17:00 Rome/20:00-23:00 Shanghai
Second block: 11:00-14:00 New York/17:00-20:00 Rome/23:00-02:00 Shanghai (next day) Third block: 19:00-22:00 New York/01:00-04:00 Rome (next day)/07:00-10:00 Shanghai (next day)

If you would like to compare time zones, please visit this website.

Q: How will the lightning sessions be organized at this conference?

A: Lightning sessions will be comprised of a series of 8-12 prerecorded talks that are strictly between 4:30 and 5:00 long. Speakers will be expected to be online during their entire assigned session to answer questions about through the Q&A function.

Q: Why are you requiring I prerecord my talk?

A: Lightning talks are strictly time limited and highly formatted. Recording allows you to precisely time your talk to fit in this format and for conference staff to make sure it it broadcast without delay following the previous presentation.

One advantage to prerecording is that you may answer Q&A directed to you through Zoom functions WHILE you are talking. In order to encourage more engagement with the lightning talks, all prerecordings will be published in the Whova conference platform and will be available for viewing and commenting before and after your lightning talk to conference attendees.

Q: May I list more than one presenting author?

A: Yes! Especially if you have prerecorded, authors sharing presenting duties is not a problem. However, each presenting author must be registered to the conference in order to be listed as a speaker. And keep in mind, at least one presenting author MUST be registered by June 1 in order for the work to remain in the program.

Q: How will I submit our prerecorded talk?

A: Your presenting author will be able to upload your video and your slides directly to Whova and should have received an email with a link giving them access. Contact us if we need to resend this link.

Q: I want to be considered for a lightning talk award! How do I apply?

A: All lightning talks that are uploaded into Whova by June 28 will be eligible for consideration. No additional application is needed. If you do not wish for your lightning talk to be considered for the Lightning Talk Award, please contact .

Q: What if I need help?

A: You can always email us at

You may talk to someone directly through posted conference office hours. Once the conference starts, we will have posted staffed info desk hours, where you can chat live with a conference staffer or jump online to a Zoom help desk and speak to a staffer directly.

Q: What do you suggest about the best ways to organize a lightning talk?

A: There are no hard and fast rules, except that you must keep it to five minutes or less.

Tips for a a good lightning talk

  1. It is not required that you appear on the screen - you may choose to use audio-only. However, consider appearing on screen at least in the beginning and the end of your presentation.
  2. It is tempting to speak quickly to fit more in a short time. However, please recall this is an international conference with many different dialects and accents, and many non-native English speakers. Enunciate as carefully as you can.
  3. Use engaging graphics whenever possible, and limit the amount of text on each slide.
  4. If you are stuck on how to organize a slide deck, consider making the classic four - Problem, Research Design, Data, and Conclusion.
  5. Plan to do at least one trial run of your recording. You will learn a lot through the experience, and it is, after all, only five minutes.

Check your video recording setup

  1. Please provide captioning if you can. While we provide live captioning during the parallel sessions, your video will be viewable by all conference participants before your live session. Recording in Zoom offers a good option for this, and Zoom allows free account users to request captioning access. There are also some other workarounds, notably YouTube.
  2. If you can, place your camera in a room with natural light. Consider having light sources in front of your camera, not directly in front of you but to your left and right. Windows are often better than lamps.
  3. Do a test recording to check your voice. Make sure you’re speaking in a consistent tone.
  4. Review your recording after it is finished.
  5. We highly recommend a mp4 format. There can be some issues with playback and embedding with mov files.