How to participate in an online conference, or being in Lausanne while being in your dining room

Written by Giorgia TolfoApril 28, 2020Comments: 0

We are living in unprecedented times. Due to the COVID-19 emergency many of us had to rethink the way we work, the way we access our resources or simply the infrastructure needed to do so. Many libraries, universities and institutions have temporarily closed and moved their activities online, whenever and wherever possible. 

Living with Machines has been very responsive to the circumstances and like many other digital projects was able to adapt to the new way of working very quickly. Still, although the research could progress at almost the same pace as before, other activities were affected, like digitisation and the participation in conferences.

Many events were in fact postponed or cancelled for the year ahead. Still, others decided to explore new possibilities moving online as was the case of the Impresso Project’s Conference-Workshop “Digitised newspapers – a new Eldorado for historians?which took place in a virtual Lausanne on the 23rd-24th April 2020.

So, in Lausanne without being in Lausanne. How was it?

Historical photo
Courtesy of

The organisers did a terrific job: they rescheduled the various sessions, ensuring that speakers could feel as if they were physically taking part in the conference. The video calling platform Zoom made it possible to create rooms with moderators, panellists, and the public. Speakers sent a pre-recorded paper to avoid messing up with the schedule due to technical difficulties or unreliable connections, and this ensured that each session ran on perfect time. Speakers could be seen in the video while their recording was running and the audience could either “raise a hand” or type a question in the Q&A section of zoom. The session chair would ensure that these are answered and that everything runs smoothly during the session.

Very aptly the team behind the Impresso Conference provided us with some useful guidelines ahead of the conference, both on how to prepare our presentation (listing a number of tools that could be used to record it) and on how to prepare for the day of the event (which can be freely accessed at

Moving a conference online might seem an easy task, but in reality it requires great effort and coordination, not to mention the extra work to record a talk, especially when it is to be given by multiple speakers.

The Impresso Conference-Workshop was eventually a big success and we all enjoyed it.

We all hope we can meet again soon at conferences, but for the time being, should you wish to organise one online you can find some useful tools to record your talk that were shared with us by the team behind Impresso.

Some indications on how to prepare your recordings:

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