FAQs - Modalities for Hybrid IGF 2021

Frequently Asked Questions – Modalities for the "Hybrid" 2021 IGF


This FAQ answers practical questions about the hybrid approach adopted for the 2021 Internet Governance Forum Meeting.  

"Hybrid" means blended participation in the IGF so participants in all sessions will be able to contribute equally as peers whether they are online or onsite. The objective is to make participation in the IGF meaningful and inclusive for all participants. The MAG, IGF Secretariat and the host country are fully committed to the goal of having a global event that is open, inclusive and able to connect stakeholders from across regions despite current health challenges and travel restrictions given the still ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.

Sessions at the IGF will take place using the Zoom video platform. Online participants will access sessions via Zoom in the now very familiar way, similar to IGF 2020 and many other meetings and events. Participants on-site will be able to see the Zoom video feed on large screens in their meeting rooms with the audio feed through speakers in the room. All participants will use the usual Zoom chat functions; there will be the same "raise hand" function for all whether online or onsite (i.e. equal prioritization of speaking requests).  Onsite participants will need a device so they can access the online floor request system.

All sessions will use the Zoom Meeting format, with the exception of some ceremonial, parliamentary and high-level events. 

More details of the technical infrastructure and logistics will be made available over the coming weeks and months. Your questions and suggestions will help us improve the platform and the hybrid approach; please communicate these to igf [at] un [dot] org. To be involved in shaping the hybrid IGF for this year and the future, consider subscribing to the MAG Working Group on Hybrid Meetings.


For participants

I am unlikely to be able to travel to Poland for the IGF, will online participation be a meaningful and interactive way to get involved?

Absolutely. The main shift from previous IGFs (a face-to-face meeting with remote participation) is to move from remote participants rather passively observing the meeting, to a more equal participation. We are on a journey to change the dynamics and plan an event where participants can benefit from the meeting fully wherever they are. This is a journey and a process - for session organisers, host country, the Secretariat, the MAG, the participants. Session organisers have been encouraged to plan their session with this in mind on the proposal submission. Online participants will also be assured equal interactive and networking opportunities - a meeting networking space will be provided in order to use that space in an equivalent form to the informal communications produced in the physical event. Participants and session organisers are encouraged to use that space in creative ways to connect or to continue discussions with broader audiences. We understand some participants may not be following the sessions live, due to time zone issues, for example. We still want to have their inputs to the topics discussed, therefore the IGF Secretariat will provide a channel for voicing and contributing to the session summaries. We also suggest you actively participate in the preparatory phase sessions - spread across time zones - to make sure there is an input to be reflected at main sessions during the annual event in December.


I plan to travel but am worried that the limited number of participants on site will make networking and other interactions complicated.

We of course cannot yet estimate how many participants will be attending in person, but the Secretariat is trying to collect that information based on enrolled participants' statistics and we hope to provide updates closer to the event. However, as with all sessions, networking opportunities are planned as hybrid and should generate plenty of opportunities for making meaningful connections no matter how you take part in the event. If you expect to benefit from travelling, the opportunity to connect will be in a safe space with the relevant sanitary measures and, at the same time, the on-site infrastructure and wifi availability will facilitate your interaction with online participants as well.


How will you ensure that the dynamics in sessions do not favor on-site participants?

All sessions are  fully open to online participation. We expect many of the speakers in the sessions, regardless of session format or type, will be online. That will set the tone for the dynamics to ensure balance and meaningful participation from on site and online speakers whose contributions are considered equally relevant. To ensure equal treatment of session participants, for any Q & A interventions, the Zoom "raise hand" function will be used. This ensures that no preference is given in advance to on-site participants, but rather than this technical system will ensure getting the floor for on site and online participants. In other words, referring to the participation in the Q & A, think of your session as an online session with several participants joining from a hub in Katowice. On site participants are also welcomed to use interactive tools that have traditionally been used for online participants only - such as the online chat. For this purpose the use of personal laptops by on site participants is highly encouraged to take advantage of the additional channels of interaction with online participants; a chat moderator will be appointed for each session.


What meeting platform will be used?

IGF2021 will use the Zoom platform. All sessions will be held on Zoom. However, expect use of additional interactive features that session organisers will introduce and guide you through. For online networking, a Wonder platform will be used. The option to watch sessions from a recording will be directly accessible at the entry point of the registered participants and also at the landing page.


How can I network if I am not in Katowice?

Throughout the entire event, we will have a networking space open and available, through the Wonder platform. You can jump in anytime, see who is around and chat and make connections. On-site participants will be invited to use this platform too, as we want to support the online community interacting with on-site participants as well. Additional social opportunities, such as a Music Night, are being discussed and are planned to be inclusive of online audiences.


How immersive will the hybrid session experience be for online participants, for instance, will I see the audience or the speakers on a screen?

Each workshop room will be equipped with two LED TV screens or projection screens and with cameras. This equipment shall enable online participants to see the panel and the audience present in the workshop room. A technical operator will be allocated for each room to manage cameras and screens. In addition, each session will be streamed on YouTube. Participants in the room will see whatever the operator turns on to, which will be either a camera, a presentation or a Zoom view. Technical staff will be briefed accordingly before the IGF in order to ensure a balanced allocation of camera time for onsite and online interventions.


Participants on site are encouraged to use their personal devices throughout the event in order to facilitate the hybrid interaction. What is the etiquette you suggest?

Please be mindful of everyone connecting and wear headphones. If using your device for various interactive elements, such as polling, make sure your microphone is muted. If you are in a room with other people, ask your question in the chat or raise your hand in Zoom, rather than just speaking out loud.


How will the IGF Village work?

The onsite Village installation will be backed with an appropriate online installation, to ensure that both online and onsite participants can benefit from the IGF Village exhibition booths.


How will connecting the remote hubs work?

The IGF Secretariat will connect with all hubs in the coming days, to discuss with them the most meaningful way of participating in the event. Hubs are encouraged to be actively involved in the sessions they are following.


What about support for participants with disabilities?

To the extent possible, IGF Accessibility Guidelines will be followed. This year it is expected to cover Sign Interpretation in Opening and Closing Ceremonies.


For session organisers

Will I get support to ensure the hybrid nature of my session?

The good thing is that in your proposal you have already put quite some thought into how to make the hybrid format work in practice in your session. Otherwise, your session would not have been approved because this one was one of the relevant elements analysed by the MAG. If you have doubts about your approach being good enough to meet the hybrid standard of the event, the key is to make sure that you have both groups of participants, onsite and online, taking part in your session as equally as possible. None in the group should just passively observe. You can achieve this by clear instructions around moderation - not only in the room but also moderation of the chat itself in order to ensure those two spaces are equally participative and provide interactive opportunities for both onsite and online participants. For this purpose you should have two roles appointed: one for speakers’ moderation and other for chat moderation, and both moderators should be in direct and constant communication. The Secretariat is planning training workshops prior to the IGF to help you out. These  will help session organisers maximise participation at their sessions and ensure all IGF 2021 participants are quick in navigating the overall programme and able to participate meaningfully. We encourage you to make your session interactive and experiment with additional tools. However, please note that the IGF tech team cannot provide support for additional tools, only for Zoom.

The support for various types of sessions within the capacity of the Secretariat and the Host Country can be summarised as follows:

Workshops: Session support: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: Yes | Interpretation: No

Open Forums: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: Yes | Interpretation: No 

Town Halls: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: Yes | Interpretation: No

Launches and Awards: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: No | Interpretation: No 

Lightning Talks: Webcast: No | (Human) Transcription: No | Interpretation: No 

Networking Sessions: Webcast: No | (Human) Transcription: No | Interpretation: No 

Dynamic Coalitions: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: Yes | Interpretation: No

Day 0 Events: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: No | Interpretation: No


Opening/Closing: Webcast: Yes | (Human)Transcription: Yes | Interpretation: Yes (including Sign)

HL/Main/BPF/PN/Parliamentary: Webcast: Yes | (Human) Transcription: Yes | Interpretation: Yes


How can I achieve a hybrid session that runs smoothly?

There are a few tips and tricks:

  • Make sure you have a private channel of communication between the onsite and online moderator (Whatsapp group, Skype chat, private Zoom chat, etc.). This is essential for smooth communication. You need to be in touch.
  • Have one moderator that focuses only on the chat and invite them to summarise what is being discussed in chat several times during the session.
  • Establish a timekeeping system to control time intervention. You can find one here.
  • Have a session running scenario/timeline; know your sequence.
  • Consult resources the Diplo team has prepared for efficient online meetings, including tips for moderators and more.


What about session interactivity?

in the past months, we have all experienced that lengthy sessions with lengthy interventions are not really appreciated by online audiences. Therefore, please make sure your sessions are really interactive, experiment with the format, use other tools and techniques to get your audience involved throughout. Session organisers are encouraged to use additional features and tools that can make the session more interactive and engaging (such as Mentimeter for polling, Miro for brainstorming activities, etc.).


What if something goes wrong on the tech side during the session. Will anybody assist?

Each Zoom room will have assigned volunteers to respond to any Zoom-related technical questions. Tech operators present on-site will manage cameras, screens, mics and other tech equipment in the room.


How will the hybrid implementation work from the logistics point of view?Zoom will be plugged into the sound system. The online moderator (and online participants of course) will be able to hear people in the room and the room video feed. Technical operators present in the room can show a general floor plan in Zoom and close-ups of people asking questions.

People present in the room will be able to see those who are asking questions or taking the floor on Zoom.


All of my speakers will be participating online. How do I ensure  smooth onsite participation in Katowice?

We anticipate several sessions like this and it is totally ok. What we expect from you is to take the audience gathered in the room in Katowice into account and not forget them in the dynamics of interaction in the session. Acknowledge them through an on-site moderation role and encourage them to be involved. All participants in Katowice should expect to carry a device from which they can connect to a session from the premises (such as from a cafeteria, etc).


How flexible am I with the duration of my session?

It is absolutely essential that you respect the start and finish time of your session. Online participants have limited possibilities on what to do if a session is delayed and technical support cannot be granted beyond time allocation. Respect the planned time for your session. Your session will be ended by the tech staff if it goes over time.


Can I set up break-out groups in my session? How can I accommodate the hybrid format?

Yes, you can and should feel free to do that. You should highlight in your session description particulars about the session, including breakout work. You should encourage participants on site to bring their devices to facilitate participation and ensure interaction with online participants. However, if that is not possible or you feel otherwise, please do not mix onsite and online participants for these break-outs and inform them about this in the session description. We strongly suggest - for simplicity - to plan your breakouts for onsite participants separately.