Answered: 11 questions about presenting at London Calling 2021 (and why we’d love you to take part)

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions and following on from the success of last year’s virtual London Calling conference, the upcoming London Calling 2021 is also going ahead online. Kicking off on the 19th May, the conference is open to all and free to attend. With just three weeks left to submit an abstract for LC21, here we’ll take a look at what it’s like to be a speaker in the virtual event – and why we’d like you to be one of them.

Q: What’s London Calling all about?

A: London Calling is an annual conference hosted by Oxford Nanopore in, well, London. Since 2015, it’s been a place for people across numerous fields of research to meet and share how they’re using nanopore sequencing in their work, encompassing everything from clinical research to plant genomics to bioinformatics. This year, like last year, the conference has moved online. London Calling 2021 will features loads of talks, interactive Q&A sessions, networking opportunities, and more – and we’re always looking for new voices.

Q: Who can I meet there? (And who’s presenting?)

A: International scientists from a wide range of backgrounds and applications come to London Calling, as both delegates and speakers – whether they’re in academic research (students, doctors, professors…) or applying nanopore sequencing in areas such as outbreak surveillance, agriculture, education and lots more. Our goal is to enable anyone to sequence anything, anywhere - and making sure that our conferences champion the work of people across the scientific community is central to that.

Q:  Where can I find it this year?

A: Before 2020’s online event, London Calling was held at Old Billingsgate, London (right on the River Thames) - so what better place to host the virtual edition than a virtual version of the same venue? You can register to attend London Calling 2021 here. Once that’s done, you’ll receive an email a few days before the conference starts, inviting you to take a look around the virtual venue. Here, you can browse a whole range of on-demand content, before the conference officially kicks off on 19th May.

Q: What kinds of talks are there?

A: On the (virtual) main stage, as well as the more in-depth plenary talks, there’s the Spotlight Session for early-career scientists. Meanwhile, our Breakout sessions each host three speakers on a particular theme - last year’s topics included metagenomics, cancer research, and human transcriptomics – followed by an informal discussion of the wider topic. There’s lots of on-demand content too, including the quick-fire lightning talks (just 4 minutes each), providing a great introduction to a vast range of projects. As well as talks, we are also taking applications for scientific posters, which will be available to view at any time, and can be accompanied by an optional narration talking through the research.

Q: I’m considering presenting – what would the format be?

A: It varies from session to session, but each features your presentation and, for most, some time for questions, or a longer panel discussion, afterwards. These are a great opportunity to share ideas, and maybe even start collaborations. To make sure that your audience goes beyond only those who join the virtual conference, we will make them available online after the event; we also have a live blogging team who will write up your talk to share with the Nanopore Community.

As our conferences bring together people from a wide variety of fields, we encourage our speakers to provide the background and information to ensure any attendee can follow the talk, so that every subject is accessible and informative.

Q: Got it. What’s it actually like to present, though?

A: All talks will be recorded prior to the event, ensuring the conference runs smoothly. Ahead of your recording, you’ll be sent a speaker pack with all the information you’ll need on what to expect and how to get set up.

For narrated Powerpoint presentations, we’ll provide step-by-step guidance for the full recording process. For talks which will be accompanied by a video of you presenting, we’ll be on the call throughout your recording session and on hand to help. If you are involved in a Q&A session, this part will take place live after your talk is broadcast; we’ll do our best to arrange the agenda so that your live Q&A takes place at a suitable hour for your time zone!

Q: What happens after the conference?

A: We love sharing your work with the wider scientific community. That could include your work being featured in a London Calling Review, or highlighted in case studies, white papers and more. With the video and blog of your talk also available online, the conversations started at London Calling will continue long after the conference wraps up.

Q: How do I know if my work is ready to present?

A: The ways in which nanopore sequencing are used are ever growing and changing at a very rapid pace, and we want to share the latest projects using our technology. That might mean presenting the work in your new publication, or it might mean sharing how your project has gone so far and inviting discussion of a brand new application or technique. If you have an exciting story to share using nanopore sequencing, we want to hear from you.

Q: What if I’ve never spoken at a conference?

A: That’s no problem at all – you don’t need any prior experience, and we provide as much information as we can to make sure that you feel prepared and enjoy taking part. All the talks will be recorded prior to London Calling 2021, giving you the opportunity to record your talk just the way you want it. There are also loads of videos of our talks online to give you an idea of what to expect. We see many different presenting styles and topics, together making every session engaging and informative each year.

Q: What if I’m not accepted for a talk this time?

A: Unfortunately, we do have limited space and aren’t able to accept all applications for a talk. However, there are a number of other opportunities available through which we can help spread the word about your projects – including webinars, knowledge exchanges and, of course, future conferences. You can also let us know in your application if you’d like to present your research in the form of a poster.

Q: Ok, sign me up! How do I apply for a talk?

A: You can apply to present at London Calling 2021 here; let us know which you’d be happy to present: a talk, lightning talk or poster, or a mix of these. As part of your application, you’ll be asked to submit an abstract describing what you’ll present; here, we’d love you to tell us a bit about:
- The aims of your project
- How you’re using nanopore sequencing to answer your scientific question
- The results you’ve seen, and what they have revealed
- Any conclusions you’ve been able to reach, and what this might mean for your field
- What you plan to do next (if you’re happy to share this)

New to nanopore sequencing and want to see what all the fuss is about? The virtual event is free of charge, just make sure you register to attend.

We look forward to hearing from you!