Tips for Programming Conferences

Organising events is surprisingly difficult. It’s about more than simply booking a space, setting up an Eventbrite page for ticketing and asking some people to stand on a stage. Aside from the logistics of finding your audience and getting everyone into the space to have an enjoyable time, creating the programme for an event can require a lot of thought and preparation.

We’d like to collate a list of tips that will make the experience of being a speaker better for everyone (regardless of gender). A good speaker experience means better talks, which means a better event, which means a better time for the audience and more kudos for the organiser. So it’s all win-win really. If you have any thoughts, recommendations or examples of best practice, then please add them to this Google form and we’ll try and collate them in a useful way.

Here are some of our tips:

> Look for speakers as early in advance as possible

> If you’re doing an open call, then give people an indication of the stuff you want them to think about. The EMF Camp call for proposals is practically a model of how to do that.

>  Once you’ve found your speakers, give them plenty of notice for everything. Unless you’re a professional public speaker, giving talks is all about preparation.

> If you have a brief (regarding timing, topic, technology to use) give it out as early as possible

> Go out of your way to make your speakers feel comfortable. I don’t mean Mariah Carey-style riders of kittens and pink champagne, but they’re going to be performing for you, and you want them to be good. This post from Russell Davies has a few helpful pointers.

> Make sure the person introducing the talks knows who the speakers are and what the talks are about

> Ideally, allow the speakers to have some kind of communication with each other ahead of time, so they’re aware of any overlaps and crossovers

> Make it pleasant. Writing, practising and delivering a talk is a lot of work. Make it worth the speakers’ while.

> And if it’s a paying event, then you should pay your speakers some money

Please add your thoughts and/or examples to this Google form and we’ll collate them.