Presenting and connecting at academic conferences

A coaching session to help you step in with greater ease

After all the work you’ve done to prepare for being here at EASST-4S, there’s just the final readiness-ritual left: getting into the right mindset to walk into the conference space, present your work (if you are a presenter), and engage with others.

That final prep is important, because the truth is that academic conferences are tricky social situations. Evaluation and comparison are lurking around every corner. People’s individual reactions to this differ, but it’s rare for anyone to come away from a conference not having felt  insecure, awkward, unseen, or otherwise ill at ease at some point.

This session exists to normalize the social stress of conferencing and to connect you to your own resourcefulness based on the awareness of how your nervous system responds in this environment. It culminates in the introduction of a ‘tricky moments’ bingo game to play with others throughout the conference. 

The aim is to help you feel more at ease as you present and connect, less thrown off when you feel yourself becoming unsettled, and more free to enjoy yourself in the days ahead.

Sessions schedule

Sessions take place via Zoom on the following dates/times:

  • Monday 15 July 17:00 – 18:00 – duration: 1 hour, Zoom link to join the event will be posted here
  • Tuesday 16 July 7:30 – 8:00 – duration: 30 minutes, Zoom link to join the event will be posted here
  • Wednesday 17 July 7-30 – 8:00 – duration: 30 minutes, Zoom link to join the event will be posted here

You may attend any session, and you’re welcome to join more than one.

All three sessions will cover similar content. The longer session on Wednesday offers additional in-session time to explore the nervous-system perspective we’ll be working with, and to prepare for the “tricky moments” bingo game.

Please Note: Capacity for this Zoom session is limited to 500 people. If the session reaches capacity and you cannot get in, a recording will be available shortly after the session ends. You can find the most recent or best recording by scrolling down on this page.

About the speaker


Catelijne Coopmans is a former Science and Technology Studies scholar who now works as an academic life coach. 

Her clients work with her on how to foster personal sustainability, how to be bold in pursuing  what they really want to do or say, how to navigate transitions, and how to reclaim their writing. She also delivers online and in-person workshops for departments and research centres in Europe, the UK, Asia, and North America. 

Two basic premises on which her coaching is based are (1) there are infinite ways to approach academic life, and the task of each person is to cultivate the ways that truly work for them, (2) academic lives aren’t only lived out of the head but out of the whole body: taking this seriously opens new possibilities for thinking, writing, speaking, decision-making, and collaborating. 

In 2019, after becoming practised in body-oriented coaching and beginning to understand freeze, fight and flight reactions through the lens of the Polyvagal Theory, Catelijne attended the 4S in New Orleans. Inspired by her observations there of bodies presenting and connecting, she began to develop the coaching segment that you can now take part in at this EASST-4S.

For more about Catelijne, see

Get more: subscribe to the mailing list

If you’re interested in further engagement during the conference, consider joining Catelijne’s EASST-4S mailing list.

Throughout the conference you will get:  

  • Daily coaching emails to guide you through playing “tricky moments” conference bingo.
  • Additional daily emails covering topics like “how to walk around the conference with greater ease”, “embracing praise and appreciation”, and “letting go”.


After the conference, this is the perfect place to leave feedback on the coaching segment, and, if you’re interested, you can stay subscribed to Catelijne’s newsletter, “Embodied Investigations”. Here, you’ll find suggested ways to keep attending to your academic life with courage and care, as well as coaching- and workshop-related offers.


We will upload session recordings here for viewing.

First recording will be uploaded on 16th July.

The game:
“tricky moments” conference bingo

Game introduction

This is a version of classic bingo that your nervous system might appreciate!

Played throughout the EASST-4S 2024 conference, it involves anticipating and then ticking off tricky moments: situations that in one way or another throw you off and thereby negatively affect your enjoyment or your confidence.  

Conference bingo is an adaptation of ‘dysfunctional family bingo’, a game invented by life coach Martha Beck for the end-of-year holidays. What do family celebrations and academic conferences have in common? Well, they both offer wonderful opportunities for being together. Yet, they can also hook us into feeling diminished or frustrated by others’ behaviour, or drawn into familiar dynamics such as competing for attention or validation.

But if you can strengthen your inner observer and bring a touch of humour to these situations, they will affect you less.

By playing conference bingo, you can bring some ease to your nervous system and make presenting and connecting at the conference more enjoyable as a result.

Benefits of playing the game

  1. You’ll feel less easily disturbed by common mishaps and awkward situations, becoming more adept at maintaining your composure and sanity.
  2. You’ll be less inclined to interpret other people’s words or behaviour as victimizing you.
  3. You’ll be less likely to react in ways that exacerbate tensions or provoke defensive reactions from others, thereby spreading more ease to others as you engage and interact.
  4. You’ll have fun by not taking tricky moments too seriously and even getting something positive out of experiencing them.


How to play 1:
Prepare your bingo card

  1. Download a blank editable conference bingo card here (link will be added soon). There are also a small number of printed copies at the conference reception if you prefer a hard copy.
  2. In each square, write a keyword or keyphrase about something that could be a tricky moment for you at this conference. Pick things that:
    • are likely or quite likely to occur;
    • will, if they occur, likely throw you off and affect you negatively, at least a little, at least for a moment;
    • are observable: you will clearly know whether the occurrence has happened or not.

    Each bingo card also comes with a ready bank of 30 descriptions of possible occurrences (with keyword/keyphrases) you can select from, to make this process easier and faster if you wish. However it is still important to make your bingo card personal to you.

  3. Take your personalised bingo card into the conference with you. When one of your predicted tricky moments actually occurs, tick off the corresponding square.
  4. When you’ve ticked off a whole row or column, you get to declare “Bingo!”


How to play 2:
Find yourself a peer group

The most fun way to play is by keeping your playing a secret to those around you, while still sharing your progress with a small group of other players.

There are three options for joining such a group:

  1. Stay till the end of any of the live sessions. At the end of each session, breakout rooms of up to 8 people (randomly assigned) will open where you will meet other people who want to play. You get to greet each other, exchange contact information, and prepare for playing the game.
  2. Make your own peer group. Do you have friends or colleagues here at EASST-4S you’d like to play this game with? Reach out to them, make sure everyone has a bingo card, decide on a channel for communication, and you’re good to go!
  3. Sign up to join a peer group (link will be added soon). Did you watch the session from the recording and would you like to play? Then use the sign-up link here. After a small wait, you’ll receive an email connecting you to a peer group.

If you want to give feedback

Any comments about what it was like for you to play the game are very welcome!

You can send them to catelijne(at)

This email address will not be closely monitored during the conference, but all messages will be gratefully received and replied to afterwards.