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FAQ - Call for proposals

2020 Ecsite Conference

Echoes from the future
Ljubljana, Slovenia 11 June 2020 - 13 June 2020

Here you will find a compilation of everything you need to know in detail about speaking and/or convening at the upcoming Ecsite Conference

When does the call open and until when can I submit session idea(s)?

The call for session proposals will open on 16 August and run until 17 October 2019. You will be notified if you're subscribed to receive news from us.


What are the Programme Committee’ selection criteria?

The Ecsite Conference Programme Committee receives numerous proposals every year and devotes a lot of time and attention to their review and selection, following a carefully orchestrated process to ensure fairness and quality.


Your proposal must…

concentrate on what participants will be getting from the session. No one likes unidirectional sales pitches or project reports. If accepted, your session will be running in parallel with another half dozen: you need to give future attendees a good reason to be there. Start by defining your audience and what they will be getting from the session: take the "outcomes" field in the proposal form very seriously, and define the session format that will best deliver them.

foster peer learning and present honest lessons learnt. The Ecsite conference is renowned for the quality of exchanges and conversations and the honesty of the stories shared in sessions. Failures are as interesting as successes. You don't need to have all the answers: you can also share ongoing questions, recurring struggles, true dilemmas or embark participants on an adventure you've not tried before… be open about it in your abstract.

include speakers and convenors from different countries and projects. Several people are needed to deliver an Ecsite conference session: you really need to work as a team, each bringing a different perspective, case study or skill. Ecsite is a truly international network and this diversity should be reflected in the composition of each session’s group of speakers. If there is a possibility to include speakers from countries which are usually underrepresented at the conference, we fully encourage you to take this opportunity.

include a complete list of speakers. Even if all speakers are not confirmed at the time of submitting the proposal, it is important to include names. Three speakers are expected for a panel session and possibly fewer than three for other types of session formats.

ensure a gender balance. The committee avoids sessions where the convenor and speakers are all male or all female.

involve a committed and skilled convenor who will advise and guide speakers from the session’s conception through to the presentation at the conference. This includes ensuring that your session’s presentations are coherent as a whole in order to produce a session with a clear vision, successfully meeting the aims set out in the abstract. It requires a good deal of communication with your session’s speakers in the months leading up to the conference. Read more about convenors & speakers roles here.

be new to the Ecsite conference. Copy-paste sessions or presentations from previous years don't stand a chance. Not everything needs to be new: a traditional format on an edgy topic will work great, and so might a new format or angle on a usual topic. Check out the session archive.


You have higher chances of success if your proposal…

is active or interactive. Sessions gather dozens of participants, including many professionals who will have insightful questions to raise on the topic at hand, examples of best practice to share, and most importantly a strong urge to take an active part. The best sessions take advantage of this collective expertise and energy, whether by allowing a good amount of time for questions, incorporating an interactive element into presentations, or using one of the interactive format suggestions listed below.

is linked to the conference theme. For a description of the theme, see the about page.

brings new, unusual or younger faces to the conference. The conference relies on fresh perspectives. Having at least one speaker who is new to the Ecsite Annual Conference or from a different professional background heightens your chances. Like in previous years, Ecsite is offering 20 free one-day registrations to speakers bringing in fresh ideas to the pre or main conferences.

is related to one of these usually underrepresented keywords:

  • Collections
  • Explainers & visitor services
  • Marketing & communication
  • Business & fundraising


When will we know whether our session proposal has been accepted or rejected?

The Programme Committee meets end of November in Brussels and will let everyone know the outcome of the selection process by mid-December.


What are the common session formats at the Ecsite conference?

Ecsite Conference participants like interactive session formats, hands-on sessions, workshops and other types of sessions where they can actively contribute and debate – but they hate poorly facilitated “and now discuss this with your neighbour” times.


This type of session is structured to enable in-depth exploration of one topic. The session should be practical, interactive and actively involve all participants. For instance, a workshop can be a science demonstration, a game, a show or a short training course. Participants are encouraged to submit additional formats such as world cafés, PechaKuchas, roundtable sessions, “speed-dating” sessions …
Browse all workshops in the sessions archive


In a panel session, the convenor introduces the speakers who then each present their views to the audience. The session can have a maximum of four speakers and one convenor (the convenor should not be a speaker) to provide enough time for discussion (at least 20 minutes at the end of the session). We encourage proposals that offer different perspectives on a topic to promote more constructive critique and debate.
Browse all panel sessions in the sessions archive


In this session type, the speakers each provide a very short introduction on the topic at hand. With the help of the convenor, they then will guide an open discussion. Most of the session’s time is dedicated to an active discussion between the audience and the speakers.
Browse all reverse sessions in the sessions archive


Whole-day session (1 or 2 days), only on Tuesday and Wednesday. These trainings or workshops allow participants to dig deeper into specific topics. At proposal stage, concentrate on the "why" and the "who" of your pre-conference workshop and give a broad outline of the "how" (the different steps or stages of the workshop: highlights are enough at this stage). If your proposal is accepted you'll have more time to put together a detailed schedule. If you've not organised a pre-conference workshop before, we recommend you have a quick chat with the team at the Ecsite office before putting a proposal together: we'll tell you more about this in-depth format. Get in touch with Raquel at rdacunha@ecsite.eu.
Browse all pre-conference workshops in the sessions archive


Can we suggest new session formats?

Yes! In fact, the programme committee will give priority to new and interactive session formats.
Don’t hesitate to suggest a format which is not listed above (when filling the proposal form, select “other” in the “session format” field, and describe it with a short text). Let your imagination run wild!
Browse all "other" formats in the sessions archive


How can I submit a touring exhibition or showcase a project?

Both calls will open beginning next year, stay tuned!


How long are the session slots?

All session slots are 75 minutes long. Exceptionally, Friday's last slot is shorter - 45 minutes. The programme committee is responsible for building the programme and assigning about 8 of the selected sessions to this shorter slot.


What is the role of the convenor?

The convenor of a session is the person who makes sure that the session actually takes place on the given time and day and that all speakers are well briefed, show up on time, etc.

Before the conference, the convenor is responsible for

  • Keeping all session-related details updated in the online programme (abstract, speakers, contributions, outcomes, etc)
  • Making sure there will be no repetition or overlap between presentations
  • Ensuring coherence between the speakers - each speaker should have an idea of what the others are going to talk about
  • Defining in which order speakers are lined up
  • Gathering all session's presentations and uploading them in time onto the conference system at the convention centre. The technicians here will need to know in which order they come.

During the session, the convenor will

  • Act as a presenter or moderator, making sure the audience have a great experience in the session
  • Take charge of everything that will make the session flow smoothly: checking that everything is in place before the session, reminding participants of social media hashtags, keeping an eye on the time, making sure evaluation forms are filled in…

After the conference, the convenor will

  • Collect and upload the session's legacy (= striking ideas, conclusions, surprises or happenings to be recorded for the future. Include links to resources or presentations stored on external platforms, if applicable).


What is the role of the speaker?

Before the conference, speakers will

  • Ask the convenor for all needed information, if not provided well on time
  • Update their profile information (name, job title, organisation) via the online session form
  • Deliver a detailed description of their individual contribution to the session. This detailed information will not be published in the printed programme but will be available on the website.

After the conference, speakers will

  • Send to the session's convenor all info relevant to build the session's legacy


Do speakers and convenors pay the conference fee?

Yes, speakers and convenors pay the conference fee like all conference participants. However, speakers who will contribute novel topics, angles or session formats to the conference are eligible to apply for the 20 free day passes granted by Ecsite. Read more about the "fresh ideas" scheme.


I didn't find my question in this FAQ section…

Don’t worry! Please contact Raquel at rdacunha@ecsite.eu (+32 2 649 73 83) with your question. She will happily answer your question (and perhaps add it as a FAQ!)



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