The values of the SSHM note that, ‘observing, honouring and interpreting history is a fundamental civic responsibility’. Similarly, as a Society we strongly value mutual respect and we aim to provide an inclusive environment for all our membership and those who participate in, volunteer at and attend our events. As such we expect all those attending, speaking and chairing to be respectful and civil, and to provide a place for open debate free from harassment and intimidation. To encourage inclusion and a positive conference environment we request that:
- Panel sessions are either 90 or 120 minutes, with 3 or 4 presenters per panel.
- Each presenter has a total of 30 minutes for their presentation: papers should be 15-20 minutes; allowing 10 minutes for questions and answers.
- All rooms have appropriate software support for Powerpoint presentations.
- Presenters are encouraged to submit their Slides to a designated DropBox before their panel to ensure that their presentation can be uploaded before their session. A Dropbox link will be circulated in the weeks leading up to the conference.
- Ask if speakers have specific accessibility requirements, have technology they rely on, visual impairment, etc.
- Note that there will be marked seats for less able people and that you may have to intervene to ensure disabled attendees who request seats are able to sit.
- If possible have audience members ask questions with a microphone.
- Make sure the presenters and session as a whole keeps within the time allocated. Running into lunch etc is difficult for those with invisible disabilities such as diabetes as well as those who need more time for bathroom breaks etc.
- Remember that keeping to time for presentations is important for making the conference inclusive to all delegates. It is highly discourteous to take up the time allotted to the other presenters in your session.
- Respond to conference organisers' queries about any needs for specific accessibility requirements, e.g. chairs, if you have mobility aids, technology you rely on, any visual impairment, etc.
- Aim to make your presentation accessible. Use a high contrast colour scheme, a sans-serif font, and a large enough font size that can be seen from the back of the room. We recommend no flashing or rapid GIFs in presentations, which can trigger seizures, or sudden sounds in videos.
- We recommend speakers verbally describe any images, figures and videos used in their presentation.
- Use the microphone where available for the benefit of delegates that are hard of hearing or deaf. Speak into the microphone clearly.
- Where possible prepare both digital and printed versions of conference material.
We welcome your participation and engagement with the speakers. To keep the event positive and respectful for all involved, please consider the following types of questions and comments.
The Altruistic Question
The questioner who focuses on the presenter’s research can be more helpful than one who dwells on their own.
The Helpful Question
Please offer questions that show you have listened to the presentation. Please don’t be afraid to ask the presenter for clarification or further details.
The Tough Question
Tough questions make presenters clarify and explain. But they must be fair. If evidence is insufficient, please ask the presenter to say a few words about potential solutions.
The Practical Recommendation
If you see something missing from the evidence, raise the issue with the presenter. But please phrase your point in a positive manner.
The Fresh Perspective Comment
We welcome comments that help presenters examine their work from new perspectives. However, these should not feel like an attack. Nor should they be about the questioner’s own work.
The Tell-Me-More Question
Since most presenters cut out large bits from their presentations, they enjoy demonstrating the depth of their knowledge about the topic.
The I-Disagree Question
What should you say when your disagreement with the presenter is legitimate and significant? Staying civil is important, so please keep it brief. You can always discuss your issues with the presenter after the session.
 Adapted from Joanne Begiato, Lorna Campbell, Steven Gray, and Isaac Land, ‘Don't be a conference troll: a guide to asking good questions’, The Guardian, November 11, 2015.
Thankyou for your cooperation, and have a great conference!