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Department of Psychology

Cambridge Memory Meeting 2020 

FAQ (by Deborah Talmi)

The Cambridge Memory Meeting ran successfully online this year. If you are considering hosting your own conference, it might be useful for you to look at our FAQ below.


Why should I read the FAQ? 

What should have been a local meeting for the Cambridge memory community, typically attended by ~80, will now take place virtually on the 20th April 2020, with attendees all signing in from home. The original programme, typical for an academic conference with spoken sessions, discussion, and keynotes, now has to be moved to an online platform.CAMM2020 may be the first virtual conference at the University of Cambridge - and therefore, is likely to face new challenges. 

The FAQ addresses the difference between these meeting formats. 



Q. What platform would be used to host the meeting?

We will use Zoom, which is the most popular platform for this purpose nowadays*, because it has a break-out room functionality that, at the moment, allow only the host to move participants to "rooms". This function has to be done manually during the meeting unless you assign people to randomly to the rooms. The process can take time, and organisers should plan what to do during that time. A suggestion is to make the breaks longer.

Such a large meeting requires a paid-for Zoom account. Luckily the Psychology Department has one, which they are happy for us to use for this purpose**.

Useful tips: A co-host is essential for hosting a conference online, and the UIS video conference service is willing to provide a co-host. Alternatively, the chairs of the session can be made co-hosts for the duration of their session.


*I also considered other platforms: 

  • Google meet - it does not offer a good scheduling functionality, e.g. people who sign in outside my organisation have to be approved by someone in the organisation. No option to request registration. The display appears more tricky to set up a presentation + a tiled view of attendees. 
  • The University is offering WEBEX and some people had a positive experience with it.
  • The University is offering Microsoft Teams but it is not straightforward to find out how to use it for this purpose. 
  • CUP are developing a platform to host conferences, but it has not launched yet - and won’t replace a video conference facility. 

**Some of the suggestions below come from a WIldlabs training I took on using Zoom (now available to watch). They offer templates (google drive) and an editable resource on holding virtual meetings (this link).


Q. How do I ensure that I get up-to-date information?

Please register for the event (all PIs were sent the registration link and asked to share it with their teams). Information will be sent to all registered attendees.

Q. Where can I find the conference programme?

An up-to-date programme is available here

Q. I’m not sure I can do a video-conference with the equipment I have at home.

Everyone, especially presenters, is encouraged to join the pre-meeting orientation in order to check their equipment. We will cover: audio and video quality; mute/unmute audio and video; screen share and screen layout; chat function; ‘raise hand’ function. 

Time: Apr 15, 2020 12:00 PM

Meeting ID: 311 985 257

Password: 020394

Q. What are the requirements in terms of hardware/software?

Everyone is encouraged to use a computer (rather than a phone).

A larger screen makes it far easier to see everyone’s faces, which helps build a sense of community (how many attendees you can see together, when you use the ‘gallery view’, depends on your computer’s graphics card - most people will be able to view 25 attendees).

If you can, please use cable rather than wifi connection. This will improve connection quality.

Wall mount power supply for your PC is recommended to avoid battery issues. 

A headset is recommended to prevent noise feedback, and for the same reason, you may need to place your phone away from the speakers. If you need to use your phone, try to remember to mute your microphone on Zoom. 

It may be difficult for two people to have meetings in the same room if their equipment interferes with each other.

Q. What should attendees do to prepare for the meeting?

  • Everyone is encouraged to find a quiet room with a neutral, static background, and diffuse lighting from the front (e.g. a window). 
  • If at all possible, please clear your diary from potential distractions, and plan to have all applications other than Zoom closed during the day. 
  • Please prepare your lunch in advance, so that you can have lunch with us during the meeting. 
  • Keep your login details somewhere you would remember on the day.

Q. How do you recommend that presenters prepare?

  • Backup plans: Because screen share is not always straightforward to arrange, please could I ask all presenters to send their PPTs to me before the event: To address a situation where you cannot use your computer at all, please also send your phone number. Zoom allows connection through the telephone, and phone numbers will be added to the meeting invitation. 
  • Presenters should ideally join the meeting at 8:50 at the latest, in order to check the audio and video, although it is possible to join later, if necessary. 
  • You may be used to subtle cues during lectures that are not available to you in a virtual meeting. To take this into account, consider checking understanding more explicitly. For example, you can ask attendees to ‘raise their hand’ (available when the ‘participants’ window is open) or react using the ‘thumbs up’ button (available by clicking ‘reaction’ on the meeting controls). 
  • You may be used to presenting while standing up; if you would like to do that, try to position your webcam in advance. 
  • Please time yourself! It will be impossible for the chair to wave a ‘5 minute to go’ sign at you during a virtual meeting, and it may be awkward for them to speak during your presentation. Please use your phone, watch, or the power-point timing functionality.

Q. How should chairs prepare?

  • The role of chair is very important for the success of this meeting. 
  • As in any other meeting, the chair will time the talks. Because it is hard for them to wave a ‘5-minute to go’ sign at presenters, they will have to speak up when the 15 minutes allotted to each presentation are finished. They may agree otherr creative ways of timing presenters. 
  • Chairs will monitor the chat feed during their Session and note questions that people raise. They may call on individuals to bring these up either during the short Q&A after each talk, or during the general discussion at the end of the Session. 
  • Chairs have been invited to act as ‘discussants’, and provide an integrative summary of the session at the beginning of the general discussion. In that, they may draw on discussions that happened on the general chat feed. 
  • Chairs facilitate the short Q&A after each talk and the discussion at the end of the Session. In addition to inviting people to speak to their own questions, they will take questions from attendees who click the ‘raise hand’ button. 
  • Chairs will be assigned co-hosting privileges. This allows them to mute participants (useful when a participant forgets to mute themselves and munches on well-earned biscuits), or unmute them (if they forget to do this themselves). They can also ‘lower hands’ when a question had been answered, and more.  

Q. What do I do if I have an IT problem during the meeting itself?

  • This links to Zoom troubleshooting resources. 
  • During the meeting*, the Zoom host will be Rosemary Rodd, a video-conferencing IT specialist, who has kindly offered to provide IT support. She will be able to help you with technical difficulties. Please PM her (using the ‘chat’ window, which you can open using the meeting controls) in the first instance; she will also be able to move you to a break-out room to check your audio and video and to screen-share. If you are not able to access Zoom, you can email her directly:

*IT considerations were valid for meeting on April 2020.

Q. Is there an etiquette for this meeting?

  • Here’s a link to University Council’s guidance on Zoom etiquette.  
  • The temptation to multi-task: Having a meeting from home makes multi-tasking all that more tempting. Please plan in advance for this - try to ensure you can keep all other applications off, and that your diary is clear. 
  • Please join the entire day if you possibly can. We do realise that at this strange times, people may have unexpected responsibilities. It is possible to leave and rejoin if you have to - no need to let us know.  
  • Video feed: It would be very much appreciated if everyone has their video feed ‘on’. This helps presenters and attendees get a feeling that they are speaking to their community.
  • Audio feed: Please MUTE your microphone at your end during the meeting, and only unmute yourself when you would like to speak. (note: the meeting 'host' can mute all participants).This helps remove background noise, e.g. sipping tea and so on. 
  • During the session, you are very welcome to ask questions and jot comments using the general chat function. This functionality is unique to online meetings; it allows attendees to interact during presentations (e.g. to clarify points, share data and links, provoke others… in advance of the Q&A session. Please do post questions there that you would like to discuss during the discussion session. The chair will try to pick those up and call on you to bring them up. 
  • After each talk, you can alert the chair that you have a question by clicking the ‘raise hand’ button. Please remember to unmute your microphone before you speak. 
  • During the discussion at the end of each session, the chair may also call on you to ask a question to follow up on comments you made during the chat feed. Please remember to unmute your microphone before you speak. 
  • During the breaks:,please continue to engage in the meeting as you would in a face-to-face context. Each presenter will be available in a separate break-out room during at least the early part of the break that follows their spoken session. Please do try to drop into one of these after each session, to further engage with the presenters and ask any follow-up questions.The lack of interaction with presenters is one of the significant draw-backs of virtual meetings. The break-out rooms address this limitation directly, and will be much appreciated by our ECR presenters. To enter a break-out room, please PM the Zoom host, Rosemary Rodd with the surname of the presenter you’d like to speak to. 
  • In addition, during the breaks, you can continue to send text messages to the entire group using the general chat function. You can text-chat privately to anyone of the participants using the chat window and searching for the participant you would like to interact with*. If you would like to speak to one, or more, individuals using video-chat, please PM the Zoom host, Rosemary Rodd, who will move you and the other participants you name into a separate break-out room. 

*You are also welcome to meet other attendees using other platforms of our choice if you find it easier.

Q. Don’t presenters get so much more from presenting in face-to-face meetings?

  • There are a number of recommended ways that presenters can deploy to increase the quality of interactions they have with attendees and with other presenters. 
  • As usual, each talk is followed by a couple of minutes for questions, and each session by an open discussion. These will be managed by the chair, who will be active in seeking to promote interactions. 
  • The chair will encourage attendees to ask questions and comment on your talk during the talk itself (!), using the general chat function. This functionality is unique to online meetings; it allows attendees to clarify points and share opinions,in advance of the Q&A session. Presenters may well find it distracting to look at the chat feed while presenting. Therefore, we asked the chairs to review the chat feed and bring in some of the questions and comments by inviting the person to speak during the discussion section. 
  • Consider including an interactive aspect in your talk, that people could respond to in the general chat or by clicking the ‘raise hand’ or ‘thumbs up’ button. 
  • In the break following your session, you will be offered an opportunity to join a break-out room of our own. Others can join that room if they would like to follow up on your presentation (you may leave that room whenever you like). They can join the room by PM’ing Rosemary Rodd and asking to join the room titled with your surname. 
  • People may send you private chat messages during the breaks, so do monitor your chat feed. You are welcome to invite them to join you in your break-out room, which will remain open during the break after your Session. During other breaks, you can PM Rosemary Rodd and ask her to open a breakout room for you and the people you would like to speak to. 
  • Secret ‘champions’ among you will try to increase the number and quality of interactions during the day.

Q. Will the session be recorded?

While some Zoom meetings are recorded, this one is not - to enable more spontaneous interactions. 

Please also note that private chats are really… private! You can say anything on a private chat and no one can see that other than the person you chat with - one of the benefits of a virtual meeting. Try out a private message and a public message to check that you can easily switch between them.

Q. What is the best way to take an active role at the meeting?

It’s sometimes harder to talk to people on Zoom because everyone seems to looks like this:  

Summarising some of the points made above, here are the main ones: 

  • If you can, try to devote all of your attention to the meeting. Refraining from dual-tasking by closing all unrelated apps. 
  • Please post questions on the general chat feed during the talks and breaks - this is encouraged, and enhances the meeting in a way that is not possible in face-to-face set-ups. This will help others feel more confident to contribute in this way as well and create a ‘virtuous circle’. In addition to organic interactions created in this way, the chair will take note of these comments, and bring people on to ask these questions during the discussion session. 
  • If you have a specific question about the talk, ‘raise your hand’ using the hand raise button to ask the question at the end of the talk, and during the discussion. 
  • Join socially during the breaks, either through engagement with the general chat in the main meeting room; a chat in one of the pre-arranged break-out rooms; or a private chat (on text or video, in a private break-out room) with other attendees.

Q. PS - some thoughts after CNS


Cognitive Neuroscience Society 2020 was held virtually in May. This is a large international conference so their pressures and needs were very different to ours. Attending it was incredibly stimulating - here I would summarise some lessons I learned from attending it after CAMM: 

  • Pre-recorded talks allowed people to participate regardless of time-zone differences. Making them available offline allowed people to attend at their convenience, so something to think about in future. However, the fact they were available later took away some of the point of making the effort to attend the meeting in real-time. It was interesting to see that many talks ‘cut off’ when their allotted time was over - something to look out for if using a commercial company at any point. 
  • The most important improvement on my wish-list would have been Q&A after talks - this could be added to pre-recorded talks for those speakers able to accommodate. 
  • A ‘chat’ function was available, which made it possible to ‘find’ participants. It was good that participants could create ‘rooms’ to chat. But the platform was slightly ancient, e.g. it didn’t ping when someone responded to you and it was hard to scroll back. It made me realise how important it is to be able to ‘scroll back’ on the chat so as not to come ‘cold’ to an ongoing conversation. 
  • One of the best things was the online poster session. Presenters recorded their poster presentation on youtube, but many were also available on Zoom for small-group discussion.