• Notice speakers checking into IRC or Big Blue Button
  • Get them into the correct room and help them doublecheck their audio and video quality
  • Follow up with speakers who haven't checked in yet
  • Check on speakers periodically so that they're not waiting alone
  • (optional) Do tech-checks with speakers before the conference to identify potential issues

Live Q&A is part of what makes EmacsConf better than a video playlist watch party. You can help speakers get settled in and feel at ease so that they're ready to go live as soon as their video finishes.


You'll need an account on, and we'll set you up with moderator access on the relevant BBB rooms.

We'll share a list of talks for your shift with:

  • starting time
  • talk title
  • track
  • speaker name
  • pronunciation
  • pronouns
  • BBB room URL
  • pad URL
  • email address
  • emergency contact information


Looking for speakers

We'll ask speakers to check into #emacsconf-org at least 30 minutes before their Q&A session and say something like "Hello, this is NAME checking in." You can hang out in the #emacsconf-org channel and keep an eye out for their messages.

Checking speakers in

When you notice a speaker checking in, you can use something like /msg NICK Hi, let me help you get checked in. Please join BBB_URL . to send a private message to the speaker with the Big Blue Button URL.

Join the BBB room. If you do not have moderator access, let sachac know.

The BBB rooms will be set up so that people can join without approval. When the speaker arrives, you can take a few moments to say hi to them, thank them for presenting at EmacsConf, etc.

Click on their name and choose Promote to moderator.

Click on their name again and choose Make presenter.

Checklist with notes:

  • Can you speak and be heard? Is there echo?
    • Help them doublecheck their audio quality. Using earphones or headphones can help avoid audio feedback, and using an external microphone can improve audio as well.
  • Can you hear me?
  • Can you share your screen? Will the screen be readable at 1280x720?
    • Speakers may want to share their screen during the Q&A session. They can do so using the monitor icon in the lower middle. Sharing a single window is usually more advisable than sharing the entire screen, since it allows them to resize the window so that it's easy for people to read.
    • We recommend good contrast with dark foreground on light background to make it easier for people to see things even in bright light.
  • If you plan to show your keystrokes, is that display visible?
  • If you want to share your webcam (optional), can you enable it? Is it visible? Will there likely be distractions in the background?
    • The speaker's webcam is optional but highly recommended. The speaker can turn their webcam on using the camera icon in the lower middle.
  • Can you view the collaborative pad? Will you be comfortable reviewing questions on your own (perhaps by keeping it open beside your shared window), or will you need a volunteer to relay questions to you?
    • If the speaker wants to read questions as they come in on Etherpad or IRC, help them load the pad or the track-specific IRC channel. If there is a host for the session, the host can also read questions out loud. Let the speaker know that they can answer questions in any order they want, skip questions, take a little time to think about their answers, and answer questions for as short or as long as they'd like. The room is dedicated for their use, so they don't have to worry about stepping on someone else's Q&A. The first part of their Q&A will be streamed. The host will let them know when the time for streamed Q&A is almost done, but people can continue discussing things in the Q&A room if they want.
  • If you plan to play sounds during your Q&A session, is that audible?
    • Sometimes speakers will need to set up a virtual loopback device to get their system audio to be included in BBB. This is somewhat complicated and should be tested before the conference.

Once the speaker is settled in, you can let #emacsconf-org know that the speaker has been checked in.

Let the speaker know how many minutes before their Q&A starts. They can take a break before then. Many speakers choose to watch other talks before theirs.

Heads-up before the Q&A starts

Check in on the speaker about five minutes before their Q&A session starts to give them a heads-up. Ask them to close any other tabs that they might be using to watch EmacsConf, because that will create an audio feedback loop once their Q&A session is being streamed.

Right before the Q&A starts, make sure the host has started the recording. If there is no host or the host has forgotten, you can use the Start recording button at the top.

In between checking in people, feel free to enjoy the conference!

What if a live Q&A session is starting within 30 minutes and the speaker hasn't shown up yet?

Let us know on #emacsconf-org. You or another organizer can contact them using their emergency contact info. If you prefer to not use your phone, you can ask one of the organizers in #emacsconf-org and we'll call the speaker for you.

If the speaker is still not available, we can stream any ongoing Q&A sessions or open it up for community discussion.

After the Q&A wraps up

If you notice that the Q&A in a room is all done, you can thank the speaker and click on Stop recording in the top middle.

After the conference

Checking in speakers goes a long way to reducing the technical risks and keeping the conference running smoothly. A smooth checkin can encourage both speakers and participants to come back next year for more Emacs awesomeness. Thank you!

Check out other ways to volunteer