NAFSA 2020 Annual Conference & Expo

After careful consideration, and in deep concern for the health and safety of our attendees, the NAFSA board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020 NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo scheduled to take place on May 24-29 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Congratulations on being selected to present at the NAFSA 2020 Annual Conference & Expo! We look forward to welcoming you in St. Louis in May! To help prepare for your presentations, please review the information below.

Registration and Cancellation

I am presenting a session or poster. Do I need to register for the conference?
Yes. All presenters are required to register for the conference. Presenters do not receive a discounted registration rate, but there are opportunities for reimbursement through volunteering, and various grants and scholarships available through the regions. Find more information on volunteering at the annual conference for a reimbursement on your registration fee. If you are based within the United States, select your region to explore travel scholarships and grants.

I want to stay in one of the NAFSA 2020 official hotels. How can I make a reservation?
NAFSA’s housing block for the 2020 Annual Conference will open on March 2, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST. Visit the NAFSA 2020 housing and travel page for booking information at that time.

I am a non-U.S. citizen and will need a visa to attend the annual conference. Can I get a letter from NAFSA to support my visa application?
Yes. If you need a letter of invitation to obtain a U.S. visa, request your letter before May 1, 2020. Please check with your local U.S. Consulate to ensure there is adequate time for your visa request to process. Your request for a letter of invitation to attend the NAFSA Annual Conference does not guarantee that you will receive a visa.

Please review other resources for non-U.S.-based attendees.

I won't be able to attend the conference. What do I do?
Please inform NAFSA staff immediately of any cancellations. NAFSA needs updated presenter information to ensure that online and printed conference programs are correct.

Session presenters should also notify their session chair/organizer and any copresenters of their cancellation. Be prepared to work with the session chair/organizer to find a replacement presenter, if needed.

Poster presenters should notify their Poster Fair Organizer of any cancellations.

Detailed poster fair information is online-only; session information will be available both online and in the printed program. Changes submitted after March 20, 2020 will not be reflected in the printed program.


What do I need to know about copyright law when creating my presentation materials (including handouts)?
If your poster or presentation displays pictures, maps, graphs, tables, or other images that you or your institution/organization did not produce, NAFSA requests written permission to use the material from the organization or individual who created it. Examples of materials that would require permission to use include:

  • A world map copy and pasted from
  • A chart pulled from an Institute of International Education (IIE) publication (unless you or someone else presenting in your session works for IIE)
  • A quote from a book, magazine, or newspaper article

Exceptions to this rule include images or quotes pulled from government sources. Visit Stanford University's Copyright and Fair Use site for more information.

Does posting my handout on the NAFSA website grant NAFSA ownership of it?
No, you maintain copyright of your work.


Why did my presentation's abstract and/or title change after it was accepted?
NAFSA reserves the right to change or edit the title or abstract of your presentation, as deemed fit by NAFSA's editorial style and voice. You can always refute these points if you have specific wording that needs to be used or you feel its necessary to the point of your presentation.

Can I ship my materials to the convention center?
No. Please ship your materials and handouts to your hotel to pick up upon your arrival.

Will the press attend my session/poster fair?
Members of the press are welcome to attend sessions at the conference. Sessions are considered “on the record,” so presenters should bear in mind that their remarks may be quoted. Follow the same strategy you would use in any public speaking event.

Presentation Planning

My proposal for a general session was accepted. What should I do now?

  • Confirm with copresenters and review terms of acceptance in the acceptance letter sent via e-mail and the online agreement form.
  • Agree to present using the online form by January 10, 2020. The link to the online system was provided in your acceptance email.
  • Start outlining your presentation and consider a conference call with copresenters to divide tasks.
  • Update NAFSA of any presenter changes by March 20, 2020. Changes after that date must still be reported to NAFSA but will not be reflected in the printed conference program.
  • Register for the conference and reserve housing (available online beginning March 2, 2020).
  • Upload your handout(s) by May 15, 2020 for online posting prior to the conference.
  • Get ready and enjoy your presentation!

When is my session?
Please refer to the e-mail you received notifying you of your proposal's acceptance.

How many sessions can I present?
You may present on no more than two general sessions (including Express sessions and Career Center sessions) regardless of your role.

How many presenters can participate in my session?
The Annual Conference Committee limits the number of session presenters to four people, including the chair. In the case of an express session, your presentation is limited to two presenters, including the chair.

Where will my session be held?
All sessions will take place in the conference convention center. In May, you will be notified of your session’s room number prior to the conference. This will be listed in the conference program provided at the registration desk on site, as well as in the online program and conference app.

What tips can you provide to help me improve the presentation of my session?
Session chairs will receive periodic e-mails in the months leading up to the conference with tips and suggestions for strengthening their sessions.

Presentation Setup

What audiovisual equipment is available in my room?
A podium, LCD projector and screen, and microphones are available in every room. NAFSA does not provide laptop computers for PowerPoint presentations. Rooms in the circle set format will not have any audiovisual equipment.

What type of connection will the LCD Projector have?
The audiovisual company provides an HDMI connection to the LCD projector. Please note that Macbooks do not have HDMI ports, and many Windows laptop do not have full-sized HDMI ports. Please bring the proper adapter, if needed. Rooms in the circle set format will not have any audiovisual equipment.

Will there be internet access in my presentation room?
Presenters should not include any content requiring internet access in their presentation. Wireless internet access and cellular data connections may be weak or nonexistent in the session rooms. Please ensure your presentation is fully functional offline. If you requested wired internet access in your proposal, you will be notified if your room has a wired internet connection when you receive your room assignment in May.

How will the room be set up?
Most rooms are set up in a theater format, with chairs facing the front of the room towards the head table, podium, and screen.

Some rooms will be set with banquet round tables with 10 chairs each.

Rooms in the circle set format will have 50 chairs arranged in a circle. View examples of different room layouts.

How many people should I expect to attend my session?
Concurrent sessions at the annual conference range from 100 to 1,000 attendees. Though we cannot know exactly how many people will attend your session, most sessions will take place in a room large enough for at least 100 people. Most regulatory sessions will be in rooms large enough for 400 people or more. Rooms in the circle set will have a maximum capacity of 50 attendees.

What publicity will my session receive?
Each session is listed in the printed conference program available on-site. Additionally, sessions are listed and searchable in the online planner (launched in February) and the mobile conference app (available in late April) prior to the conference to help attendees plan their conference schedules.

Preparation and Design

When do I find out if my poster proposal was accepted?
The Annual Conference Committee notifies poster proposal submitters in mid-February via email.

When will general instructions be sent to me?
Throughout the spring, your poster fair organizer and NAFSA staff will send information with general instructions about designing your poster and on site setup.

What if I have a question about the content of my poster?
The organizer will answer any outstanding questions you may have. Please feel free to contact your poster fair organizer should you have any questions about your poster content.

How many people can present a single poster?
The Annual Conference Committee limits poster presentations to two presenters per poster.

How should I design my poster?
Posters should be visually appealing and readable from a distance. Avoid large blocks of text and small fonts. Visual representations of information (such as graphs, charts, pictures, and objects) are generally more effective than text in the poster format. Remember that you will be standing next to your poster during the fair to explain its content to attendees verbally. You may provide textual explanations in a handout that attendees can take home. Please print on both sides of the paper. Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator, or Adobe InDesign can all be used to create a professional quality display. Take a look at last year’s Best Poster winners to get some poster design ideas.

When will my fair take place?
View the acceptance email that you received.

Where do the poster fairs take place?
All of the fairs will be held in the Poster Fair Area of the Expo Hall. Be sure to look out for our email in May with your table assignment.

Poster Fair Setup

How will the Poster Fair area be set up?
The area will contain several rows of tables with bulletin boards standing behind them. Each poster is allotted one table and one bulletin board.

Note: The technology fair will be set with high tables and will not have bulletin boards.

How big should the poster be?
The bulletin board to which you will pin your poster is 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide by 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall. You should try to use as much of that space as possible.

What do I need to bring with me? What will NAFSA provide?
NAFSA will provide you with a standing bulletin board behind a rectangular-draped table. You should bring your poster, pushpins or tape to secure it to the bulletin board, a table covering or drape if you choose, and any materials you plan to hand out. Other than pushpins, NAFSA does not provide additional materials to help you hang your poster.

Can I plug in a computer or other electrical device for my poster?
No, electrical outlets will not be available for use for poster fairs. If your poster requires a computer or other electronic device, be sure to bring your own battery power source.

Note: If you are presenting in the technology fair, you will have access to electrical outlets.

Will Internet access be available during the fairs?
Wireless internet access will not be available in the Expo Hall. NAFSA will provide free wireless access only during the technology fair to those presenters who require it.