Talk Instructions

To find when your talk is scheduled please visit program schedule.

Long Talks

If you are giving a long talk (just a few of you), you will provide your own laptop and can use whatever presentation software you'd like. Your talk is strictly limited to 20 mins, with a maximum of 5 additional minutes for questions and transition to the next speaker. The information below about generating an MP4 movie does not apply to you. However, you will also have an electronic poster at an interactive session, so please skip to that section below.

Short Talks

Papers with a "short talk" will present a 5 minute talk aided by a pre-prepared video, and will present an electronic poster at an interactive session.

5 Minute Talk Video

You will be given a five minute slot in which to give an overview of your paper. You must provide, in advance, a 300 second MP4 video which will play on the RSS laptop during your short talk. You will have no control over the playback of this movie; RSS organizers will hit "start" and you will be coaxed off the stage five minutes later!

You submit your video by going to this website.

Submit your video no later than July 7, 2014. At that point in time, the videos will be downloaded to the RSS laptop, and future uploads will be ignored. (We need time to verify video compatibility and to resolve any problems that might arise.)

You can prepare your 300 second MP4 file in any manner you want; for example, you can generate a conventional powerpoint or keynote talk and export (if your software supports it) directly to MP4. Or, you can use video-editing software. Target 1920x1080p at 30fps. We do not recommend relying on audio, since there will be no opportunity to check volume levels. You will also be asked if RSS can record your presentation for future distribution; we encourage you to agree!

As a convenience, we have developed a website that will convert a PDF file to an MP4 for you. This is intended to make it easy for users to generate a compliant MP4 file with little additional effort. The basic process is:

  1. Use keynote/powerpoint/beamer to generate your slides as usual.
  2. Export your slides to PDF.
  3. Upload your PDF to
  4. Adjust the timing of each slide such that total time is 300 seconds.
  5. Click "Preview" to quickly generate a low-resolution, low frame-rate version of your talk. This is suitable for practicing your talk (note: won't play in VLC due to a bug in VLC's handling of low-frame-rate videos).
  6. Click "Final" to render a high-resolution version suitable for submitting to Note that this can take a half hour or more.

Note that the PDF2MP4 website will overlay "progress bars" on each slide, allowing you to anticipate when the next slide will appear. This should address the "awkward waiting" that occurred during last year's talks. You can also insert short videos into your talk, but note that any audio data is discarded. The RSS organizers believe that the functionality offered by this site is more than adequate for producing a great talk for RSS. It is recommended that authors try the site early to understand its capabilities and decide whether they will use the site or resort to their own video editing.

"Poster/Interactive" Sessions

You will also generate a poster for the electronic poster session. Unlike the short talks, you will provide your own laptop, and you will be connected to a 42" monitor with 1920x1080 resolution with a VGA input. You are encouraged to make creative use of this electronic "poster"--- there is no need to limit yourself to a single static image. Demos, videos, etc., have been effective in previous years. Each poster station will have one electrical outlet available.

Additional Recommendations

The RSS Foundation posted a letter to the RSS community in November of 2013. One part of this letter contained helpful tips for short talks:

Presentation Tips

  1. Avoid high-density slides. The point of slides is not to remind you, the speaker, of what you wanted to say. Slides are a visual aid for you to facilitate making an argument. A simple heuristic: only put on your slides what you would write or draw on a board if you were giving the talk without slides.
  2. Practice. Almost everyone will benefit from multiple practice sessions (some of which ideally with an audience). Your goal in practicing is to be comfortable with what you plan to say on every slide without attempting to memorize a rigid script.
  3. When time is up, stop. No one wants to cut you off in mid-sentence, but the schedule does not allow for "grace periods". Be done when the timer hits zero, and remember that no one will be upset if your talk ends 30 seconds early.
  4. Let your enthusiasm come through. Help everyone understand why you are excited about your work.

Adding to the above, it is critical to remember that RSS is comprised of researchers from widely different fields. Your talk should make sense to the full audience, not only the subset in your specialized area.

If you do not use the PDF2MP4 website, consider adding some sort of visual cue that will help you anticipate when the next slide will change... e.g., a red dot that appears five seconds before the next slide. (The PDF2MP4 site that is provided will add a progress bar to the bottom of each slide automatically).

If you have a video that you'd like to use that is not in MP4 format, we recommend using the free software Handbrake to convert it. The "AppleTV3" preset should work well.

We look forward to seeing you in Berkeley!

Edwin Olson (RSS Short Talks Chair) and the RSS Organizers