Phew, what can I say. Three days at #altc with a Gasta each day in one of the most stunning venues I have even been in, the University of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall.

McEwan hall

27 Presenters over the three days or should I say Gastateers all of who entered into the spirit of things, providing engaging and lively presentations and in the majority of cases (to the disappointment of the crowd) kept perfectly to time. It certainly isn’t easy being counted in and counted to STOP if you run over your allotted 5 minutes.

Talking about the crowd, I want to say a huge thank you to all the people who actively engaged in the stomping, counting and swaying and more importantly, this years’ addition to the mayhem: singing!!! Gasta only really works if everyone comes with a positive attitude and makes a commitment to get involved. It’s all to easy for presenters at the end of the day to feel that they are part of the ‘graveyard’ shift 😦

Gasta (hopefully) encourages presenters to feel that they are part of something bigger and provide the audience with something to buoy them up at the end of the day. As MC (I don’t think the term Chair really does it in this case) I am genuinely impressed with the way that the presenters condense their work into a manageable and interesting chunk as they know that unlike other conferences five minutes means five minutes. Lightening talks take great skill; it reminds me of the phrase: I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter, I didn’t have the time to write a short one.

For me that is the most important thing about Gasta – it provides people a chance to give a shout out about their work and invite people to engage in a further conversation. How many times have you made a decision to go or not to a presentation on the basis of a title or an abstract? By sitting through a series of presentations that you know will finish on time, I believe that you are more likely to sit and be exposed to ideas, concepts and areas of work that may be new or novel that you otherwise might not have considered going to hear about.  And if nothing else it should get the blood flowing and the lungs exercised, surely not a bad thing at the end of the day?

I just want to say a huge thanks to, Maren Deepwell and ALT for their kind invitation,  Martin Hawksy who ran everything so beautifully in the background and my good pal and timekeeper Lawrie Phipps who kept us all honest!


Judging by the Tweet from Margaret Adamson we certainly got people talking.


Finally, here is a series of links from the ALT YouTube Channel with videos of the the 2019 Gasta sessions.

Gasta Sessions A-145, A-175, A-036, A-042, A-070, A-072, A-103, A-150

#altc – Gasta Sessions A-049, A-060, A-127, A-156, A-023, A-046, A-058, A-082, A-029

#altc – Gasta Sessions A-103, A-078, A-009, A-054, A-061, A-091, A-046, A-120, A-123


3 thoughts on “Gasta at #altc in Edinburgh

  1. Thanks Tom,
    The first gasta on Tuesday was so much fun I had to go back for more on subsequent days! A wonderful format that should be part of every conference’s ‘graveyard’ shift 👏
    Well done on your MC role and to all the ‘gasta-teers’ for their bravery!

    1. Hi Sandra
      Many thanks for your kind words, believe it or not I do be nearly sick with nerves before a Gasta Session, hoping that people will join in.

  2. Again thanks to you Tom. It was my first ever ALT-C and the gasta sessions were definitely a highlight. Your expert MC-ing certainly helped lift flagging delegates.

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