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FAQ - Call for proposals

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

Submitting a session proposal


Speakers & Convenors



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

The call for session proposals will open from Wednesday 19 August 2020 and run until Friday 23 October. You will be notified about the call if you're subscribed to receive news from us.


What are the Programme Committee’s 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 Conference or from a different professional background heightens your chances. Just as with previous years, Ecsite is offering 20 free one-day registrations to speakers bringing in fresh ideas to the pre-Conference workshops or main Conference.

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 will meet at the end of November and will let everyone know the outcome of the selection process by mid-December.


What are some of the most 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 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


What is an in depth session?

In double the time of a regular slot these sessions aim at exploring “bigger than us” issues: major trends or topics that have a strong impact on our professional field. These can be new issues (e.g. emerging technologies), but also long-lasting challenges that our community needs to keep addressing over the years (e.g. climate change communication).

Participants will collectively make progress on their understanding of these issues, how they relate to us and how our community can move on with them. We are hoping that the session will provide them with a prism / analytical grid that they’ll be able to use both in the short term to structure their learning during the rest of the Conference; and in the longer term when back in their professional everyday life. Ideas from the in depth session will feed into other session and the slot will also be an opportunity for thematic networking (as peers will be gathered around a common interest) and potentially the springboard for further collaborations, projects etc.

These sessions are carefully curated by members of the Ecsite community and often involve outside experts too. In terms of format, the slot is subdivided into 2 x 75 minutes with a break in the middle. The flow and pacing of the session need to be orchestrated in order to offer a rich experience. No universal format will fit all sessions and we think that they will all need to combine different moments that might range from panels to group exercise to workshop.


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?

Touring exhibition calls will be open from 31 January 2021 - 27 February 2021 for Ecsite members only, with a second round opening on 12 March and closing on 5 April for the entire network. Project showcase also opens on 31 January 2021 and availability for this is on a first-come, first-served basis. 


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, if needed, assigning about eight of the selected sessions to this shorter slot.


How to use the online session proposal form?

To post ideas on the Forum, submit a session proposal or be included in a session as a speaker, you will need an Ecsite user account. Create one here if you're a newcomer. If you were a speaker or a convenor in the past, you already have an account - please make sure to use this same one in order not to create confusing double identity situations! Can't remember your login or password? Reset your information by entering your email address here.


  1. Log in
  2. Go to the online form
  3. Fill in the different fields – see a few points for your attention below
  4. Save – your proposal is submitted. All speakers and convenors linked to your proposal will receive a notification email. They can then all still edit the proposal until the closing of the call. To avoid cluttering your inbox, we will not be sending notifications of potential further changes to your proposal - make sure you keep each other informed as needed.


  • Title
  • Session format (need more info & inspiration? Learn all about conference session formats in this FAQ section)
  • Room requirements (for main Conference sessions only. You'll be able to indicate the type of room setup you would prefer. The Programme Committee will allocate a space to your session based on these indications).
  • Session abstract (maximum 1000 characters, including spaces, to describe your proposed session. Your abstract will be used in the selection process by the Programme Committee)
  • Keywords (select the keyword that represents the theme of your session. If applicable,  you can also select a secondary keyword)
  • Session legacy (to fill in after the conference. It's a space for the striking ideas, conclusions, surprises or happenings would you like to record for the future)
  • Label: n/a or back to basics. (If applicable, you can let participants know if your session is particularly suited for newcomers and beginners)
  • Outcomes: what will participants get from this session? Skills, knowledge, experience etc (obligatory for pre-Conference workshops' proposals)
  • Session convenor(s) (convenors need to be registered users. Ask for their username or advise them to register)
  • Session speaker(s) (speakers need to be registered users. Ask for their username or advise them to register. Even if all speakers are not confirmed at the time of submitting the proposal, it is important to include them at this phase)
  • Contribution to the session (each speaker must add a short description of their personal contribution to the session)


  • Once a session proposal has been created and speakers and convenors linked to it, everyone involved in the session can edit the abstract, add speakers etc.
  • Everyone involved in a session proposal is automatically notified via email when the proposal is first submitted. It is still possible to edit the proposal until the end of the call (for instance to add speakers). Note that to avoid cluttering inboxes, no further notifications will be sent in case of changes to the proposal – please make sure you keep each other informed as needed.
  • Once a session is accepted, everyone involved can revise its general abstract until it gets edited and "locked" by Ecsite. It is however possible to update speakers information as well as individual contributions until the session’s very day.
  • Everybody involved in the session is responsible for ensuring that their personal information such as name, job title and organisation is correct – this information is taken directly from each user’s personal Ecsite profile. That information will be used in the Conference Programme. Since all information relating to a session is directly exported from the website to the programme, speakers and convenor hold sole responsibility for this content.
  • All correspondence regarding a specific session is sent to all participants involved, allowing a better flow of information – however the convenor is responsible by default and should make sure coordinated action is taken. Detailed information on the roles of convenors and speakers can be found below.


Can I re-submit a session that was accepted for the 2020 Ecsite Conference?

Yes, the Programme Committee is accepting re-submissions of sessions proposed for the Ecsite Conference that couldn't be held in Ljubljana in June 2020. There is no guarantee the sessions will get accepted again - past and new proposals will go through one and the same selection process.


How does the current Covid-19 pandemic affect the call for proposals for the 2021 Ecsite Conference?

The call remains similar to previous Conference editions. Whether the same number of sessions will be accepted (about 100) is yet to be determined. The Programme Committee is meeting early October to design possible scenarios for the upcoming Conference and brainstorm on how those will impact the number of sessions in 2021.


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.


How can I reach out to potential new speakers?

Use our online forum, start a conversation and select “I’m looking for speakers”. Alternatively, feel free to use social media platforms (don’t forget the hashtag #Ecsite2021, so others can find your call). In our experience, we have seen others using Twitter to find session collaborators. You can also use the Ecsite App to reach out to the network; currently over 1,200 science engagement professionals are signed up, meaning that you're instantly connected to potential collaborators. You can even arrange Meetups on the app to discuss potential session proposal ideas.

I don’t want to propose a session idea, but I would like to be a speaker at the conference. How can I find sessions looking for speakers?

Browse our online forum. You can filter the conversations by “call for speakers”.

Help! I cannot add a speaker (and/or convenor) to my session proposal form.

You can find speakers and convenors by typing their first or last name in the dedicated search field of the session form. If the person you’re trying to add doesn't appers in the drop-down list, it can be one of two possibilities. Either that person isn't registered as a user on our website (see next question) or that person used a different first or last name that you aren't aware of. Contact them and ask for more details.

How to add a speaker (or convenor) who isn’t registered yet?

Speakers and convenors need to be registered to be added to session proposals. Please urge them to sign in.

Can I create an account for another user?

An account is personal and subject to privacy policies. If you cannot get a hold of your speaker, worry not - add their name, job title and organisation to the proposal abstract, together with their contribution to the session. If your session gets accepted, contact the Ecsite Office for help with this speakers' account.


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

Don’t worry! Please email communications@ecsite.eu with your question and the communications team will happily answer your question (and perhaps add it as a FAQ!)



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