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NHS APA 2021 Virtual Conference Guide for Delegates

After the success of last year’s conference, we’re looking forward to hosting our second virtual conference on Wednesday 13th October and ensuring it runs smoothly for all of our speakers and delegates.

Just like last year, our 2021 conference, which is set to focus on ‘The Impact of Stigma on People with Addiction: The Effect on Policy & Practice’, is free for all delegates and will be streamed online and accessible from your computer and/or smartphone.

Since we are anticipating an even bigger turnout this year, we’re working extremely hard to make sure that everybody joining us can seamlessly access all the sessions throughout the day, and that the running order includes ample breaks between sessions for the best experience we can deliver.

Here is a useful guide that includes everything you need to know to make the most out of the day's events:


How do I join the conference?

To join the conference, you will first need to register here.

Once you have successfully registered, you will receive an automated confirmation email and a calendar invite to the event. You will also be added to our conference mailing list so that we can keep you up to date with relevant information and speaker announcements ahead of the big day.

To enable you to join the conference on the 13th, we will email you a link to access our 2021 conference web page by midnight on Tuesday 12th October, so that it is ready and waiting for you on the morning of Wednesday 13th October. With this link, you can navigate to all of the day's sessions.


What software will I need?

We will be using the same webinar system as we used to deliver the conference last year (Big Marker). Accessing the conference via Big Marker requires no 3rd party downloads or installation; and it is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. This system is supported on most devices and operating systems, and on all modern browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera, as well as the mobile platforms IOS and Android, so you should have no problem accessing the event.

Systems check

To ensure the best quality picture and audio experience, we will be streaming all of the content in HD. So that you can make the most of this, please make sure your settings and internet speed meet the following requirements:

  • You will need high internet speed: the minimum download and upload speeds needed to join a session without interruption are 2Mbps. If you don’t meet the minimum speed requirements, you may experience technical problems such as losing connection and poor audio and video quality. If your internet speed does fall below the minimum requirements, you can access guidance on how to improve your connection speed here.

  • You must have the latest browser versions: Please note that older browser versions of Internet Explorer are not supported. You can find out which browsers are supported, and access downloads of the latest versions here.

  • Make sure your network firewall allows access to the required web pages and ports: You can find this out in the systems check. Any problems with your internet speed, network firewall, operating system or browser version will be flagged so that you can adjust them accordingly. Please note that if Big Marker is blocked by your firewall, you may need to ask your IT department to white list the URL:

Please perform a systems check here. We recommend doing this in good time ahead of the conference, to avoid any disruptions to your experience on the day.

If you have any issues or questions related to this section, please contact our support team, alternatively, you will be able to utilise our Live Chat feature once the conference begins to speak directly with a member of our support team.


How will I know which session to attend and when?

This year’s conference will be starting at 09:00 and finishing at 17:00. The event will be made up of various sessions and webinar formats, with breaks in between where you're able to join various breakout sessions.

There will be an online programme detailing which session is happening live and which sessions can be watched on-demand so that you can plan your day accordingly. The main speaker talks will be split into approximately 12 sessions throughout the day, and you can access each webinar by simply clicking the ‘join the session’ button displayed beneath each one.

Watch this short video clip to see an example of what the online programme will look like on the day:

The above video clip is an animation based on last year's conference. Please note that the styling and interface of the 2021 conference pages may vary slightly from what is shown above.

If you are joining a session that is due to start, you will be directed to a webinar landing page and waiting room area. When the session begins you will be taken to the webinar, where the talk will commence. Alternatively, if you wish to join a session that has already started, you will be directed straight through to it when you click 'join the session'.

Watch this short video clip to see an example of how joining a session will look on the day:

The above video clip is an animation based on last year's conference. Please note that the styling and interface of the 2021 conference pages may vary slightly from what is shown above.

In the breaks between the speaker sessions, there will also be several breakout sessions running throughout the day. You will be able to choose which of the breakout sessions you would like to join.


What will my view of the webinar room look like?

Your view of the webinar room will include a main presentation window where the speaker will be delivering their talk. The talks may include video streams, slideshows, short video clips, or a combination of all 3.

The image below shows an example of your view of the webinar room during a panel talk:

The above image is based on last year's conference. Please note that the speakers shown in this image may not be speaking at this year's conference. View our up to date confirmed speaker line-up for 2021.

You will have the ability to download any handouts provided by the speaker and engage with the chat function and polling feature displayed on the right-hand side of the screen if this is enabled. This is explained in further detail in the next section of this guide.

As a delegate, your mic and camera will be automatically switched off throughout the presentations so that only the speakers and event organisers will be presenting with their webcams and mics.

You can leave a webinar at any point during the session by simply closing your browser, or, at the end of the webinar, you will be automatically redirected back to the 2021 conference landing page where you can then navigate to the next session.


New for the 2021 conference

Digital exhibition:

This year we are running a digital exhibition page showcasing current research papers and posters to all of our delegates. Once we have published our digital exhibition hall, you will be able to browse through a gallery of exhibitors, view their work and have the opportunity to contact them with any follow-up enquiries.

For potential exhibitors:

This is an excellent opportunity to disseminate your research with an audience of 500-800 delegates working within the drug and alcohol treatment sector - you will also be able to provide a summary of your research and contact details for any follow-up enquiries which are generated from the conference.

The exhibition page will remain open after the day of the conference and NHS APA communications will continue to promote the digital exhibition to all of our engaged followers and subscribers.

If you are interested in submitting a piece of work to our digital exhibition please visit our exhibitor sign up page. The deadline to apply is Friday 3rd September 2021.


Will there be further opportunities to engage with the conference themes and topics?

Polls & surveys

We will be posting polls and surveys for all delegates to engage with throughout the day on the conference landing page and we are very much looking forward to receiving your responses.

Social media

We would like to encourage all delegates to connect with us on social media:

Twitter: @NHS_APA

Throughout the day of the conference, we will be live-tweeting all of the key statements, findings, opinions and poll results to enable ongoing discussion of all of the day’s topics. To keep up to date please follow #APAconf2021 on Twitter where a stream of the conference # engagement will be displayed for everyone to see during the event.


What should I do if I need technical assistance on the day?

On the day of the conference, there will be a handy Live Chat feature on the 2021 conference landing page so you can speak with our support team directly. Additionally, our conference support team members will attend each webinar and monitor the live chat features contained within each webinar room for any technical support issues that are raised.

Please remember in the run-up to the conference you can contact our conference team if you require any technical assistance or have any questions and we will be happy to provide you with the best possible support.


What happens after the event?

Digital delegates pack:

After the conference, we will be sending all of our delegates a digital delegates pack containing:

  • downloadable resources from the day and our sponsors such as papers and presentation slides

  • links to watch all of the sessions on demand so you can catch up on anything you missed or re-watch your favourite sessions

  • a conference attendance certificate.

This will be provided via a secure web link and available to download.

Our team is working extremely hard to make sure the day runs smoothly for all those involved. If you have any questions or queries please contact a member of our conference team at

If you would like to sign up to be an exhibitor or sponsor please visit our conference page.

Thank you for being an NHS APA 2021 conference delegate. We are looking forward to seeing you on the day.



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