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5 Ways to Update Your Session Development Process

Improve how your program committee picks speakers and session topics

Education differentiation is a major pillar for advancing your conference’s competitive advantage. Most meetings enlist the guidance of a program planning committee, whose members often resemble the target audience. They have the herculean task of assessing and slotting dozens or even hundreds of speakers, sessions, and poster submissions.

We’re seeing an uptick in associations that are revisiting the charge of these committees. Mostly, associations are looking for ways to ease the work, but make it more impactful on the quality of the conference program. Here are some of the program development process improvements we recommend:

1. Adjust the term limit for committee members to two years. Rotate half off every year, making way for fresh minds yet retaining previous-year knowledge.

2. Instead of doing a broad call for presentations, get front-end advice from your committee on the topics that are most relevant now. Ask for proposals that map to those topics.

3. Curate 25 percent or more of the conference program.

4. Instead of asking for abstracts for completed research, allow research in progress so that your conference can better influence the future.

5. Update your scoring rubric to grade a) originality b) relevance c) engagement plan d) ability to inspire action.

What changes are you making to upgrade your content development process?

Reprinted with permission from Velvet Chainsaw’s Sticky Conference Newsletter.

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