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Event format and guidelines

Participants in the Conference Room

Event format

  • All events are conducted in English
  • Events are intended to be interactive
  • Participants are encouraged to contribute in their own personal capacity

Discussion protocol

Our events are designed to be as interactive and frank as possible. All speakers and participants are encouraged to participate in their own personal capacity, rather than as representatives of their governments or organisations. Discussion in all Wilton Park sessions is ‘off the record’ and no individual speaker or participant should be quoted (nor their identity or institutional affiliation revealed) without that individual’s express permission. Should a speaker wish or agree to talk ‘on the record’, the Chair will make this clear at the beginning of the session. In such cases, the speaker may be identified and quoted. All subsequent collective discussion reverts to the standard ‘off the record’ format.

Individuals attending Wilton Park events may be video recorded or photographed during the course of a meeting. These media may be used for promotional purposes through broadcast, webcast or publication by other means. If you do not consent to your comments or likeness being used, please notify a member of staff.

Journalists, and other participants, are welcome to seek individuals’ agreement to conduct ‘on the record’ interviews with speakers or participants for which we shall provide space and facilities.

Participant lists will not be circulated beyond those individuals who attend this event.

Social media

The protocol also applies to all uses of digital and social media, both before, during and after the event.

Photographs are not to be published on social media without the permission of those photographed.


Photographs are not to be taken in the conference room without the prior consent of the Chair. This includes images taken on phones or tablets.

Conference Room

All plenary sessions take place in the main Conference Room. Participants and speakers are seated around a rectangular table which has space for 38-40 people, with additional seating around the edge of the room. Speakers usually stay seated for their presentations. All speakers and participants are provided with name plates. There is sound equipment for amplification; the sessions are not recorded.

Speaker guidelines

Speakers are asked to focus on key policy issues rather than giving extensive factual background; participants will already have a sound knowledge of the basic facts. Speakers are asked not to give a reiteration of official policy nor an extended academic lecture, but rather a brief well organised and provocative introduction in order to stimulate a lively discussion in the remainder of the session. In preparing for their sessions, speakers should note that participants are drawn from many countries and from different professional backgrounds. Participants can be assumed to have a good standard of English.

Length and structure of session

Speakers are asked to keep their presentations brief in order to allow maximum time for roundtable discussion in the session. Each session usually lasts one and a half hours and the aim is to allow about an hour of participatory discussion. Thus in a session of two speakers, speak for a limited time as indicated in your invitation. During the ensuing discussion the speaker panel will have opportunities to contribute further and to respond to any specific points raised. In addition to focused sessions on key aspects of each theme, time is deliberately set aside for informal dialogue with fellow participants.


Wilton Park does not require speakers to prepare a formal written paper if they prefer to work from notes. However, each speaker is asked to provide the Wilton Park event team, preferably in advance, with a short synopsis of their presentation. Speakers are free to adapt their presentation to the actual circumstances in the event. Wilton Park’s policy is not to distribute photocopies of presentations.

We usually publish all presentations made during an event onto our Secure Portal, which only participants can access. Speakers are asked to notify the Programme Director or a member of the conference team if they do NOT want their paper to be made available our Secure Portal.

PowerPoint and audio/visual presentations

The use of visual material to support presentations is discouraged, as many participants find it distracts from the main body of the speaker’s presentation. However, a projector and screens are available if speakers want to share audio/visual presentations.

It is important that you let us know at least 3 weeks before the event if you are planning to use audio/visual presentations and send us an electronic copy at least 3 days before the event so that our Conference Team can make sure that our tech supports your audio/visual presentation.

If you plan to create presentation slides, please limit them to 10 slides; these must be sent in a PowerPoint format.

If audio/visual presentations are used, we recommend the following:

  • be clear and written in plain English
  • avoid unnecessary text and replace it with graphics and images
  • support your presentation, not lead it
  • enhance and illustrate what you are saying, rather than repeat it
  • use fonts such as Sans serif, Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri
  • use a font size of 20 or above
  • contrast background and text colours (dark text on light background or light on dark)
  • align text left or right (centred text is harder to read).

Session chair guidelines

Session chairs may wish to make some brief remarks on the theme of the session before introducing the speakers and chairing the subsequent discussion. In order to ensure the maximum time for roundtable discussion, the session chair’s introductory remarks should not exceed five minutes. In particular, session chairs are asked to ensure that speakers keep to time and that there is ample opportunity for other participants to contribute to the discussion. Short biographies of all speakers will be included in the conference pack. The Wilton Park Programme Director will provide support throughout the sessions.

Please see Speaker guidelines above which applies to session chairs.


Participants are requested to provide a short biography before the event (maximum 200 words) for inclusion in conference documentation.


A report will be distributed to all participants after the event. In keeping with the Wilton Park protocol, it will summarise the key conclusions and policy recommendations, but will not attribute views to any individual.

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