Thank you very much for completing the NBN Conference feedback questionnaire.

Your comments are always really helpful in assessing the format of the annual conference and in helping us to plan subsequent events.  Perhaps more than ever, as the 2020 Conference was held entirely online, it has been great to read all of your comments, which have been helpful, constructive and supportive.

Whilst it’s difficult to compare the online experience with face to face, most people felt that in terms of the presentations, content and delivery the online Conference compared very favourably, which is great to know. However, the overriding feeling was that people really missed seeing colleagues and friends for physical networking, which, try as we might, just couldn’t be replicated online.

At this stage, none of us know what format the 2021 Conference will take, but it does feel that we now have a successful template for future events if they do have to be held online.  We’ll bring you more information in Spring, so until then please watch this space!

Extracts from the 79 responses received in the questionnaire are shown below.

General comments received

These cover the format of the conference and timings, suggestions for future conferences and general feedback:

  • The timings were generally just right – lots of opportunities to have a stretch and rest the eyes between sessions.
  • I thought that all of the speakers fitted into their time allocations well and they were able to give us a good overview of their work, fitting their brief in the allotted time.
  • The timings were all quite good and spaced out. Appreciated the chair keeping everyone to time – even though it’s online, it’s nice to be able to stick to a schedule and be able to plan the rest of the work day around it!
  • All excellent. Well suited to the online nature of the conference.
  • Keeping the presentations short and sweet made the whole day flow nicely.
  • Excellent – somehow seemed less rushed than physical conferences
  • I thought the OU team organising remote access by Teams did a great job. Apart from the problem with access to the NBN Trust AGM I had no problems at all with getting to the rooms. I was slightly frustrated at the inability of the free Teams app to allow comments and questions at question time, but I presume that was not under your control. As the first completely remote conference that I have attended I thought it went very well, it was convenient as well as “low carbon”.
  • Good format overall, sufficient time for breaks away from the screen and overall duration about right. I couldn’t initially find where to ask questions and suspect others couldn’t either because there was a bit of a delay before questions started coming through, perhaps people were a bit shy! Could signpost route to asking questions more clearly at the start of the day?
  • Length of presentations and sessions was just right. Networking not quite as easy as at an in-person conference. Smaller team rooms and chat areas may have made this easier.
  • Given the online nature of the conference I felt that the breaks were a little long and the presentations in some cases were a little short
  • Generally good, possibly more time for questions and discussions
  • Timings OK but multiple teams, rooms etc very confusing
  • I felt that transposing the regular agenda timings into an online format didn’t really work. The length of the refreshment and lunch breaks were way too long. I would have preferred the talks to be packed in, with shorter breaks and an earlier finish.
  • A great day, well coped with and informative as ever! Talks were just the right length, any longer and its hard to concentrate on a tiny laptop screen!
  • Wonderfully organised and chaired
  • The format was well thought out and the timekeeping of everyone involved was impressive!
  • Generally, the format worked well – not quite as good in terms of overall experience as attending in person, but the presentations worked equally well really.
  • It was my first online conference and I thought it was excellently organised. The meeting/chat room was especially useful to compensate for not being there.
  • Talk sometimes felt a bit short/rushed, I wondered if perhaps fewer talks at 15mins+ might be even better? I thought the chat feature worked pretty well for Q&A
  • Enjoyed the lobby chat function.
  • The timetable was good, although longer breaks would be welcome.
  • I thought it was very good timing wise, I didn’t feel as though we went too long without a break, as I have done with other online conferences this year.
  • Need more chat rooms to talk on different subjects
  • Don’t feel that MS Teams is as intuitive as other platforms (e.g. zoom) but the additional rooms were helpful. It is a shame not to be able to engage in discussion during the Q&A sections, but nice to know someone isn’t going to accidentally unmute their mics!
  • Would have liked to be able to use chat function for questions – Google docs OK, but not so streamlined.
  • The 10 pages of instructions were quite intimidating and made it look more complicated than it actually was!

Thoughts on future events

  • Often conferences are very long, tiring and expensive days – therefore, I thought it was great that this conference was online. It not only opens up the NBN conference to a wider range of people (without the costs of travel), but it also showed how easy it was to make the conference environmentally friendly by not having large numbers of attendees travelling – given the current climate and ecological crisis, I think more environmental/conservation organisations should do this in order to lead by example for other sectors!
  • I hope that even if physical conferences resume in future years, they’ll at least retain an online element to make participation easier. Normally don’t attend due to need for travel & accommodation – a one-day conference often involves an additional 2 days travelling time, so difficult to justify, quite apart from the cost.
  • For me the On line format was great and I would like to see more of these. If the next conference is held as a conventional event, please consider allowing delegates that are unable to be present in person to attend on-line as well. You will have a lot more attendees.
  • I would love to see an ongoing online element to the event, even if this is coupled with an ‘in person’ conference. The reach of the conference can only be increased by providing access to more people.
  • On future locations, distance isn’t a limitation, it is more available funds for travel, and accommodation is needed
  • It would really help people like me, in far-flung places, if future ‘real’ conferences could be live-streamed as well. It is mainly the cost and time (and environmental impact) of travelling which would prevent me from attending.
  • I think at least some aspect of the conference (or a separate event) should be held on-line each year for those with limited budgets, time or travelling difficulties.

Main reason for attending the NBN Conference

  • Meet the wider recorder community
  • It was online & cheap. Only one member of our team would have attended a physical conference
  • Hear from other people in my sector and get ideas on how to improve my ERC.
  • To expand my knowledge of how species data is collected, processed and used by NBN at partners.
  • Been meaning to come for years and this was easy to do
  • To keep updated on developments in recording and how to encourage recording. An interest in the subjects discussed.
  • As a major contributor (of funds + data) it’s important for our organisation to show a presence. Also, no travel/subsistence involved this year.
  • To learn more about the NBN and about current work the NBN is doing on biodiversity
  • To see what others have been doing around conservation data, and ways to make this more accessible and powerful
  • I was able to attend this year as part of my job, due to the online nature of the event
  • Loyalty and keeping up to date
  • Great talks, good networking
  • To learn about recent developments within the NBN
  • To stay in touch and up to date with developments in the world of recording.
  • Relevant to LERCs. To support the importance of the NBN and recorders in general and learn current trends and tools
  • As a recording scheme organiser I think it’s important to be an active member of the network – though I’m lucky enough to be able to attend through work.
  • Usually to meet up with people, this time to hear the talks
  • Get involved with the national recording community