Virtual Conferences


“Our conference organizing committee just decided to switch our physical conference to online. But the conference is supposed to start in three weeks, and none of us have ever even been to a virtual conference, much less put one on! Where do we start??”

In March 2020, an ACM Presidential Task Force was formed to provide quick advice to conference organizers suddenly facing the need to move their conference online in light of the social distancing recommendations and global restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We provide concrete advice for events of all size from small (< 200 attendees) to large (over 1000 attendees). We discuss the tasks required of organizers, specific platforms that can be used and financial considerations. We collect examples of conferences that have gone virtual and lessons learned from their experiences.

As both heavy users of these technologies and researchers responsible for developing them, the ACM community is especially well-positioned to offer advice that we hope will be helpful to other groups dealing with the same problems.


Presidential Task Force on Virtual Meetings

Crista Videira Lopes, University of California, Irvine, USA
Task Force Co-chair
Jeanna Matthews, Clarkson University, USA
Task force co-chair, member of ACM Council, Former SGB Chair
Benjamin Pierce, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Task Force Executive Editor, SIGPLAN Vice Chair,
chair of SIGPLAN ad hoc committee on climate change
Task Force Members
Blair MacIntyre, Georgia Tech, USA
Chaired IEEE VR 2020
Gary Olson, University of California, Irvine, USA
Former SIGCHI Treasurer; Chair of CSCW Steering Committee,
chaired CHI, CSCW, DIS, and many non-ACM conferences
Rob Lindeman, University of Canterbury, NZ
Chaired IEEE VR 2010
Francois Guimbretiere, Cornell University, USA
Chaired UIST 2019
Srinivasan Keshav, University of Cambridge, UK
Former SIGCOMM Chair
Vicki Hanson, (ACM CEO, Former ACM President)
Pat Ryan, ACM COO
Donna Cappo, ACM Director of SIG Services
Contact the Task Force at


Virtual Conferences: A Guide to Best Practices

In March 2020 ACM formed a Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Virtual Meetings to help conference organizers transition their events to online. The PTF is working on a guide to offer practical advice and shed light on the largely unfamiliar territory of online conferencing.

A draft of the report is available here. This preliminary version, not yet officially released, is open for comments and suggestions from the community.

Contact Us

Contact the Task Force at