Blue Sky Sessions aim to provide an open forum for “outside the box” group discussion about a topic or issue that is emerging, has potentially important implications for research and/or practice in the field of SBCC, but for which evidence may not yet be available.
Similar to a Preformed Panel, Blue Sky sessions bring together 4-5 people who have been thinking about/struggling with/trying to develop approaches to a specific topic or issue. Unlike a Preformed Panel, each speaker will provide only a brief, provocative, 2-3 minute statement about their thinking and unanswered questions related to the topic or issue, then engage each other (and the audience) in discussion/debate about those questions. No slide presentations or materials will be shared, only ideas and questions expressed orally.
Each Blue Sky session has been allocated 75 minutes. They are intended to consist largely of interactive discussion rather than formal presentations.
The group that proposed the Blue Sky session should identify one person in that group to serve as a moderator during the session. That person may or may not also be a presenter. The designated moderator should familiarize themselves with the helpful Guidelines for Moderators.
At the beginning of the session, the moderator should welcome the audience and provide a brief 2-3 minute overview of the topic the Blue Sky discussion will address and the breakthroughs it hopes to achieve. The moderator will then introduce each speaker in turn to provide their short (2-3 minute) statement about their thinking with regard to the issue at hand. Keep the introductions brief (name, title, institutional affiliation). When each speaker has finished, the moderator should thank them and introduce the next speaker.
Prior to the Session
The moderator should prepare a few provocative questions for the speakers to catalyze discussion among them about each others’ opening statements. These questions may challenge one or more assertions that are made and request elaboration or clarification, or they may direct the speakers to respond to what the others have said in order to draw out connections, contradictions, or new insights. The moderator and other Blue Sky panelists may wish to share information about their opening statements and the discussion questions with each other prior to the conference so that each can be prepared to respond to and complement what the others say.
The introduction and opening statements should take no more than 20-30 minutes of the total session time, leaving 40-45 minutes for discussion among the panelists and audience members.
When all speakers have made their opening statement, the moderator should initiate discussion by asking his/her prepared stimulus questions to the panelists and encouraging them to react to what the others have said. After one or two rounds of questions and responses, the moderator may open the floor to the audience to ask their own questions and respond to what the panelists have offered. Again, the moderator may wish to consult the Guidelines for Moderators document for helpful tips on how to handle audience interaction.
At the end of the session, the moderator may wish to make a short statement summarizing main ideas, insights, opportunities, and breakthroughs that emerged from the discussion.
Be sure to thank the panelists and the audience before ending the session.
Tips for Preparing your Presentation
- Show up to the room venue at least 15 minutes early to be in place so the session can begin on time
- No audiovisual aids or slide presentations are allowed in Blue Sky sessions, so presenters should rehearse their statements to ensure that ideas can be clearly expressed verbally.
- In your statement, try to indicate how your work relates to the main conference themes as well as to key ideas the other panelists mention. Consultation among panelists prior to the session can help ensure that this happens.
- As a courtesy to your fellow presenters, practice your presentation to ensure that you can finish within the allotted time.
November 4: If your talk will be presented in a language other than English (French, Spanish or Arabic), please indicate that by November 4, so that translation can be arranged.