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Making the most of your virtual conference experience

With only a few days left until our first two-day virtual scientific conference, ‘Connecting immunology in the time of COVID-19’, we want to make sure that everyone can make the most of the fantastic programme and virtual networking opportunities we have planned. Here’s all the information you need to help make your conference experience as seamless as possible.

Preparation is key

The day before

Head to the conference website to view the full programme. Take a close look at each of the talks, networking sessions and scheduled breaks and prioritise attending those sessions which are most relevant and interesting to you. 

For the best user experience, download the latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as your browser.

An hour before kick-off

The conference is being held on a virtual platform called Hopin, which will be open at 8am GMT, an hour before the conference starts at 9am GMT on Tuesday 1 December to allow you to explore all the different areas and functions and get ready for an exciting day. We encourage you to log in early and add your photo and details to your profile to maximise your online networking experience. 

Finding your way around the platform

When you enter the event, the first page you’ll see is the reception area. Here, you’ll find a welcome message from us with useful links to help you navigate quickly to the different areas. You’ll also find the conference programme and links to take you directly to the sessions that are happening live. The conference programme gives you the option to add individual items to your personal calendar. Use this feature to save all your favourite sessions so you can make sure you don’t miss watching them live!

The other areas in the venue are on the left navigation: stages, chat rooms, speed networking and posters and exhibitions.

In the stages area you’ll find two virtual stages. Check the online programme to see the stage in which the sessions are taking place.

In the chat rooms area, you’ll find a number of themed chat rooms from the BSI, plus showcases from some of our amazing sponsors. Scroll down to find out more about the chat rooms. 

In the speed networking area, you can opt to be paired randomly with another attendee for a quick informal chat, just as you’d run into someone at a face-to-face conference. You’ll have the chance to meet someone new every few minutes! If you’d like to connect further with someone after the time runs out, there’s an option to easily exchange contact information so you can continue your conversation later.

Finally, in the exhibitions and posters area, you’ll find virtual booths from the BSI and from our wonderful sponsors. Pop into the booths to meet our sponsors, who along with our brilliant speakers make this event possible. You can also explore the BSI membership benefits, learn more about our three high-quality journals and discover public engagement resources and support from the BSI. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom to find the posters booth. We’ve scheduled two dedicated poster viewing sessions for you to explore the excellent research that has been selected and connect directly with the poster presenters, but you’re welcome to visit the poster area at any time. 

Get talking in the chat rooms

In addition to two sponsored chat rooms with scheduled presentations, there will be an additional five themed rooms on a range of topics such as public engagement and diversity in science.

The designated networking and break times will be the ideal time to pop into one of these rooms and meet others with similar questions and interests, plus you can always leave a message on the chat during the sessions and pick up the conversation later on. You can also chat about anything at any point throughout the day – get yourself a tea or coffee and head to the virtual coffee lounge.

Each chat room has space for 16 people to meet via video chat but hundreds more can join the chat. You’ll have the option to enable audio and video functions or simply view the chat from behind the scenes. All are welcome to contribute by asking questions or commenting though the text chat function within the chat room. 

You can move in and out of rooms just like an in-person event, and view who else is in the room via the ‘people’ tab. If someone you want to talk to is online, you’ll have the option to direct message them or invite them for a one-on-one video call. 

If something goes wrong…

A helpdesk run by platform experts will be open throughout the conference to ask any troubleshooting questions you might have. You can find the helpdesk within the chat rooms area.

Looking forward to connecting online!

We're really looking forward to welcoming you next week! With lots going on, remember you can get in touch with us at any time if you have questions. We’ll also be in the platform attending sessions and in the BSI booths and chat rooms, so please do say hello! Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #BSIvirtual to let us know how it’s going. We hope you enjoy the conference!

Jasmine Catmull
Marketing & Communications Officer, British Society for Immunology