Session and Speaker Guide

We recognize that everyone who attends the Natural Hazards Workshop has important information to share. As such, Workshop sessions are organized to encourage maximum interaction.

Speakers address topics by responding to questions prepared by moderators rather than by presenting papers. The audience also plays an important role. Initial remarks are limited to 10 minutes each, leaving plenty of time during every session for audience participation and the sharing of ideas and resources. We also don’t allow PowerPoint in most concurrent sessions because we hope people will talk to one another, rather than at each other.

Program Structure

The Workshop program includes keynote and plenary sessions; concurrent sessions; listening sessions; training sessions; roundtables; new research, practice, and policy sessions; poster sessions; and much more. Plenty of time is reserved for additional networking during the 30-minute breaks and 90-minute lunches.

Poster Sessions

Poster sessions are held on Sunday and Monday, with different presentations offered each evening. During these sessions, attendees have the opportunity to speak with the poster presenters. Participants are invited to present posters on new programs, projects, or recent research. Posters can be viewed throughout the Workshop or downloaded as a PDF on the Natural Hazards Center website.

Listening Sessions

Sunday afternoon listening sessions will provide a brief overview of federal policy updates or ongoing research efforts. Facilitators will then use the bulk of the time to gather feedback from attendees, allowing participants to have a voice in shaping policies, tools, and other outcomes.

Training Sessions

Sunday afternoon training Sessions focus on creating awareness about specific topics and increasing professional skills. The session format is driven by the content matter and session length may vary. Training sessions are included in the Workshop registration cost and eligible for Continuing Education Credits.

Welcome and Self-Introductions

On Monday morning, Natural Hazards Center Director Lori Peek will formally open the 49th Annual Natural Hazards Workshop with a brief orientation to the meeting. We will then turn to the long-standing tradition of self-introductions. Everyone who is able should be ready to stand and say their name and affiliation to get the Workshop going. Please don’t forget, this Workshop is an AFZ – Acronym Free Zone!

Keynote Address

After the Monday morning self-introductions, the keynote speaker delivers a 45-minute presentation that focuses on this year’s theme and provides the larger context for the Workshop.

Plenary Sessions

Plenary sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings synthesize various topics related to the theme of the Workshop. Each plenary session includes a diverse group of panelists who represent different sectors of the hazards community including policy, practice, and research.

Concurrent Sessions

Monday and Tuesday afternoons will feature a variety of 90-minute concurrent sessions organized around the Workshop theme, as well as recent developments in the hazards and disaster field. Moderators in each session will engage the panelists in discussions related to recent disasters and ongoing research, practice, and policy applications. Panelists have about 10 minutes each to respond and to provoke further conversation.

Approximately thirty minutes of each concurrent session is reserved for open discussion between the audience and the panelists. To maximize dialogue and interaction PowerPoint presentations are not used in concurrent sessions.

Networking Roundtables

Networking roundtables provide an opportunity for Workshop attendees to have informal conversations on distinct topics of importance in the field. These sessions, which take place on Tuesday morning, are guided by conveners but largely driven by the interests, experiences, and curiosity of the attendees.

Networking roundtables do NOT involve presentations by panelists, but instead encourage open dialogue and offer networking opportunities for everyone who attends.

New Research, Policy, and Practice Sessions

On Wednesday morning, panelists will participate in a series of 60-minute sessions designed to share information on recently completed or ongoing research, programs, projects, and initiatives. These sessions are designed for groups to present their work, exchange ideas, and get feedback from audience members. Presenters are welcome to use PowerPoint slides in these sessions.

Wrap Up and Call to Action

As is tradition, Natural Hazards Center director, Lori Peek, will close the Workshop on Wednesday with a summary of the highlights of the event and a discussion of opportunities for the future.

Participation Guidelines

Those participating in the Workshop as a moderator, panelist, presenter, facilitator, convener, or audience member should review our Participation Guidelines to make your Workshop a success.



The Workshop audience includes about 650 academics, practitioners, and policymakers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Because of this diversity, it is helpful to define any discipline-specific terms and avoid the use of jargon and acronyms.


Moderators, panelists, presenters, facilitators, conveners, and all audience members are encouraged to submit a brief summary of their current work for the Research and Practice Highlights section of the Workshop website. Although these Highlights are not for presentation, they are an excellent way to network with others that share your interests.


PowerPoint presentations are NOT available during Monday and Tuesday afternoon concurrent sessions or during the networking roundtables—this is a long-standing Workshop tradition meant to encourage conversation and exchange between panelists and participants. PowerPoint slides are generally allowed in other session types.

Moderator Role

Moderators help create an atmosphere where panelists from wide-ranging backgrounds can exchange ideas in a positive, constructive environment.

Moderators have three critical responsibilities:

  1. Planning: Formulate panel questions based on the session topic and the expertise of the panelists. Moderators should coordinate with session panelists at least six weeks before the Workshop so they understand the best way to guide the discussion. Please give careful thought to designing the questions and prompts used in the session to make the most of the perspectives and experiences of panel members.
  2. Moderation: Introduce the panel topic and panelists, facilitate discussion, and ensure the question and comment period runs smoothly. Be sure to allow for responses from participants and for as many questions to be asked and addressed as possible.
  3. Time Management: Keep the session on time and on track. Student volunteers will help with timekeeping, but moderators should be prepared to politely encourage panelists and audience members to keep their remarks brief and focused to allow maximum participation from the widest range of people possible. All Workshop sessions start and end on time.

In addition to the above responsibilities, New Research, Policy, and Practice session moderators are also responsible for collecting PowerPoint slides from presenters before the Workshop.

Facilitator Role

Facilitators guide the activities of Workshop listening and training sessions. Before the Workshop, listening session facilitators should plan to present new policy guidance, tools, and research findings and create questions to solicit the feedback they desire on these topics. Training session facilitators should determine what skills they want attendees to acquire and prepare materials and activities accordingly. Facilitators of both sessions should strive to engage and inform the audience.

Convener Role

The conveners’ role is to help facilitate interaction during the networking roundtables so attendees can get to know one another and exchange ideas about pressing topics in the hazards and disaster field.

Before the Workshop, conveners should craft guiding questions to pose to the roundtable attendees and/or develop fun and engaging activities. At the beginning of the roundtable discussion, conveners should take 10 minutes or less to introduce themselves, provide a bit of background on the roundtable topic, and briefly discuss how the session will unfold. They should then invite audience members to introduce themselves and move into a facilitated discussion with an emphasis on including as many voices and ideas as possible.

Panelist Role

Panelists are invited to participate in Workshop sessions because of their experience and knowledge. They play an integral role in the success of the Workshop. A panelist’s duty is twofold: (1) share their expertise and experience, and (2) engage the audience. Panelists serve as provocateurs for creating conversations with those in the audience, who are often experts in their own right with important stories and information to share.

Panelists will each be given about 10 minutes to either respond to moderator questions or interact with each other as a panel—depending on the format the panel decides on before the Workshop—before the moderator opens the floor to audience questions.

Moderators will organize coordination meetings before the Workshop. We strongly encourage panelists to attend all such meetings to ensure their individual knowledge is well incorporated into the session.

Presenter Role

New Research, Policy, and Practice Sessions are dedicated to program or project updates of broad interest to the hazards and disaster community. In these one-hour sessions, presenters must succinctly share their work. We also ask that at least 15 minutes is reserved for audience questions and feedback. The moderator and panelists will need to meet in advance to plan the approach and format of the session.