Organizing a conference

a PORT for Modern Languages tutorial

1 Introduction

1.8 Programme

Anyone who has tried to organize a conference knows that the hardest thing to establish is the programme. This often goes through several different stages or order of speakers before being finished. One effective way of controlling this variability might be:

  • Set out the aims of the conference and its format (symposium, workshop, round-table, etc.).
  • Set out issues to be covered.
  • Identify a proper title.
  • Release the call for papers and send all personal invitations.
  • Collect abstracts from speakers (rejecting - if necessary - those extraneous to the conference subject or devoid of any academic relevance) and confirmations of availability from chairs.
  • Verify what technical devices each speaker needs.
  • Verify if and how many overseas speakers you can afford.
  • Divide speakers (and chairs) into coherent sessions on the basis of the subject of their paper, taking into account the technical devices they asked for when assigning the rooms and remembering to allow time for questions and for refreshments breaks.
  • Send speakers and chairs the draft programme and ask them for confirmation.
  • Type and release the definitive programme. At that point, your programme should not change any more, but it is possible (or rather, probable) that this will turn out to be necessary. This is the reason why you should not remain without a contingency plan.