AER LIFT OnlineAER Leadership Training Webinar Planning and Managing a Chapter Conference, Part 2
Opening & Comments • Welcome – Debby Holzapfel • Conference Planning Webinar Committee • Brenda Egan, Penn-Del AER • Julie Lee Kay, VA AER • Mary Nelle McLennan, Penn-Del AER • Julie Prause, TAER • Review Session Content – Brenda Egan
In Part 1: • Value of a Conference • Creating a Well-balanced Planning Committee • Conference Planning Committee Management and Mechanics • Financial Implications and Planning • Site Selection and Facility Coordination • Vendors • Special Activities
In Part 2: • Themes • Publicity • Speakers and Program Content • Registration • Continuing Education for Certification • Accessibility • AV Needs and Arrangements • Social and Hospitality • Conference Materials • Awards or Recognition • Evaluations • Volunteers
Conference Theme Your conference theme is far more than just a catchy phrase. Your theme plays a big role in setting the tone of the conference. The theme provides a foundation for your entire program and helps bind it together.
Coming up with a Theme Discuss…Brainstorm…Be creative…Pose even crazy or out-of-the- box ideas…Consider: • Famous quotes or inspirational phrases • Song titles and lyrics • TV shows or set-ups or even popular apps • Alliterations • Capitalize on a unique local situation or opportunity • Search the web for conference themes • Focus on themes that include or appeal to your chapter’s various disciplines • Identify themes and conference topics that address your chapter’s specific areas of needs or interests
2013 VA AER Julie Lee Kay Fredericksburg, VA Putting on Your Top Hat - 2013
2013 Penn-Del AER Conference Keynote: Rick Welsh, First President of AER —“Lincoln, Howe, and You” Midnote: Annette Reichman, US Dept of Education— “Equality, Accessibility, and Opportunity: One Person’s Journey” Footnote: Master Sgt. Jeffrey Mittman, Retired, US Army — “The Luckiest Man”
Carrying Out the Theme Embed the theme in conference planning • Include the theme and theme-related references in all your promotional materials • Include theme in Call for Presentations or speaker invitations • Use related graphics in conference documents, registration, conference programs, name tags, • Create table centerpieces that reflect theme • Add touches that reflect the theme throughout the conference; examples: Virginia’s hat theme… Penn-Del’s Gettysburg theme
Carrying Out the Theme, Cont’d. Keynote and general sessions are great places to focus on theme. • Emphasize the theme when making arrangements with your Keynote and general session speakers. • Request that Keynote and other general session speakers build their remarks around the theme. • Do not expect all the concurrent sessions to carry out the theme, but some may be creative enough to do so.
For Kentucky AER, the theme was MAGIC – and so was the Keynote with “KAERick”!
Never underestimate the power of a good theme well implemented.
Publicity: Before the Conference • The conference location at the end of the previous year’s conference (Save the Date!) • Decide on the theme of the conference, a logo (see photo) and create a flyer. This should be done before the formal announcement • Formally announce the conference at least 6 months prior through email blasts to current members, past attendees, your listserv and/or chapter’s website
Publicity: Before the Conference, Cont’d. • Ask other agencies, such as early intervention agencies, adult agencies, schools for the blind, to publicize • Announce again when registration opens • Announce again when registration is about close • Consider doing other random announcements to promote special events, speakers, etc.
Publicity: During the Conference Make frequent announcements about: • Silent auction • Vendors • Special events • Announce next year’s location
Publicity: After the Conference • Share publicity info and tips with next year’s conference committee • Write an article for Chapter Website and/or AER Report
Speakers and Conference Content will cover: • Formulating a plan for presenter costs • Determining conference shape and size • Designing the conference schedule • Developing the program and securing presenters • Managing presenter data and record keeping • Arranging speaker introductions and creature comforts
Formulate a Plan for Speaker Expenses Confirm Financial Resources “How much money do we have?” • Refer to conference committee budget as approved by the Chapter Board • Identify funds available for presenter costs within the approved conference budget • If necessary, prepare rationale and strategies for more funding to secure presenters
Formulate a Plan for Speaker Expenses “How do we spend it?” Decide how you will handle speaker costs and expenses. Consider separate financial practices for: • Keynote or general session presenters • Concurrent presenters • Poster presenters
Formulate a Plan for Expenses, Cont’d. Establish a policy for each category of speakers: • Will you cover travel, food, and lodging costs? • Will you cover conference expenses? • Will you provide honoraria? • Will you provide thank you gifts? • Are there other costs to consider?
Formulate a Plan for Expenses, Cont’d. Speaker payment practices vary widely: Texas AER gives the keynote speaker free hotel stay. Virginia AER pays the keynote speaker’s expenses and an honorarium. Penn-Del AER has a hybrid practice: • $100 honorarium for each concurrent presentation • $50 honorarium for each poster presentation or roundtable presentation • $500 honorarium and all expenses for each “Note” speaker or general session presenter
Implement Your Plan for Speaker Costs • Formalize your plan and garner approval of Board • Carry out your plan consistently • Publicize your plan – State it clearly in your Call for Presentations or speaker invitations • Include it in your follow-up speaker materials and communications • Provide reimbursement forms and clear instructions for appropriate parties
Determine Shape and Size of Your Conference Factors to consider: • Length of conference; number of days • Number of attendees anticipated • Number of time slots in conference schedule • Number of sessions offered in each time slot • Are you repeating any sessions? • Number and sizes of meeting rooms available • Number of general sessions to be scheduled
Design Your Conference Schedule • Review the decisions about the “shape and size” of your conference • Consider number of minutes/hours you will offer for continuing education • Consider other session types in addition to the usual concurrent and poster presentations • Roundtables • Vendor presentations • Dedicated time slot for attendees to visit vendor exhibits • Hands-on “make and take” activities • Consider special events • Video screening or student showcase • Preconference workshop
Design Your Conference Schedule, Cont’d. • Create a template of your conference schedule so you can see what you need. Include: • General sessions • Concurrent sessions • Poster sessions • Vendor hours • Breaks and meals • Other events and meetings
Design Your Conference Schedule, Cont’d. • Consider variations in your general sessions: • Entertainment • Group activities or ice breakers • Door prizes or recognitions for various reasons • Offer more than one “Note” session as does the Penn-Del Chapter: • Open with a “Keynote” address • Center your conference with a “Midnote” address • Close your conference with a “Footnote” address
Building Conference Content Presentations should be designed to educate participants about successful practices, innovations, research, or expanded perspectives that improve services to students and clients who are blind or visually impaired. You may want to discourage presentations that are solely product demonstrations.
Building Conference Content, Cont’d. Criteria for Evaluating Presentation Proposals • Is the topic important and relevant to the work of professionals in the field of visual impairment? • Does the topic provide significant or innovative ideas or research findings that bring fresh insight or approaches? • Does the topic present a new or expanded perspective, practice, program, or innovation? • Does the topic fit into the content strands of the conference and add balance to the overall program? • Has this topic been presented at a recent conference held by your chapter?
Securing Speakers Determine your method for securing speakers Two basic methods for securing speakers: 1) Identify and invite speakers 2) Issue a Call for Presentations
Securing Speakers, Cont’d. Method 1: Identify and invite speakers • Committee brainstorms and invites speakers OR • Following committee brainstorming, lead persons or teams are responsible for identifying and inviting presenters that address topics related to specific disciplines or strands
Securing Speakers, Cont’d. “Strand captain” strategy used by Virginia AER • The chapter uses four strands—VRT, TVI, O&M and Technology—and a “captain” for each. • Strand captains are responsible for concurrent session speakers. • Strand captains are charged with contacting members to see what topics they are interested in and to get recommendations of speakers. They fill in the slots for their strand and serve as the contact point for the speakers. • The conference chair takes care of the overall agenda/room placement and keynotes.
Securing Speakers, Cont’d. Method 2: Implement a Call for Presentations • Follows a widely respected professional approach to building conference content • Extends your options beyond the reach and awareness of the conference committee • Is feasible even for small chapters • Yields surprising results! • Recommended for concurrents and posters – not for Keynotes or general session speakers
Securing Speakers, Cont’d. Basic Steps in Implementing a Call for Presentations • Design and distribute a “call” that includes detailed conference information and an accessible submission form. • Accession all submissions and circulate to the review committee. • Review each submission according to specific criteria; accept the proposals that are most appropriate for your audience; augment the program with other presentations if needed to provide balance and variety. • Communicate with submitters all along the way.
Securing Speakers, Cont’d. • How to locate Keynote speakers? • Identify thought leaders • Review recent literature • Look at other conference programs • Talk to your contacts and colleagues in other chapters • Ask schools for the blind and/or other agencies • Consult with AER Central office • Call in favors! • Do not be bashful
Collecting and Managing Speaker Data Set up charts and systems to collect, process, and communicate the information needed about each speaker and presentation. Design presenter submission forms to collect the information you need for: • your conference program • for your chapter’s application to ACVREP:
Information to Collect on Speaker Forms Presentation title and type of presentation Speakers’ contact information: name; title or position; school or agency; mailing address; email address; phone numbers Abstract of presentation Primary learning objective Brief session description for conference program Speaker bio or profile AV and room setup requirements
Communicate Like Crazy! • Communicate with your speakers at every step in the process • Send comprehensive letter outlining details of the conference • Send reminders of such as registration and handouts • Provide contact information so speakers can reach conference personnel with questions
Develop the Conference Agenda • Communicate with accepted presenters to determine the days and times of availability. Give them a deadline! • Work to provide balance and avoid conflicts within each time slot. • It’s a SHELL GAME! Use the schedule template you created. And “yellow stickies” are the ticket!
Building a Balanced Program Regardless of the method used for securing speakers, special care must be paid to assuring balance among session topics. Strategies: • Create a matrix showing strands or topic areas that need to be included. Use this to assist in assuring balance in your content. • Enter sessions into the conference schedule template your created earlier and color code to indicate strands or disciplines addressed.