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Organizing a Conference
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
What is a conference?
• A conference is a gathering of people with a
common interest or background, with the purpose
of allowing them to meet one another and to learn
about and discuss issues, ideas, and work that focus
on a topic of mutual concern.
• There are different types of conferences:
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Academic.
Professional association.
Training.
Issue- or problem-related.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
Why organize a conference?
• There’s an issue that needs examining.
• The field needs a conference.
• Your organization or group wants to start an annual
gathering.
• There’s a crisis or opportunity that should be
addressed.
• You want to establish the legitimacy of the field.
• Feedback from the field or the community demands
it.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
Why organize a conference?
• A funder demands it.
• You want to enlist people to advance the field,
either through their work or through advocacy.
• It’s a matter of prestige, credibility, or credentials
for you or your organization.
• It’s part of your job.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
Who might organize a conference?
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Professional associations and organizations.
Government agencies.
Coalitions.
Individual organizations.
Educational institutions.
Advocacy or community activist groups.
A group with a stake or interest in the subject of the
conference.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
When should you organize a
conference?
• When you want to educate the field, a particular group, or
the public about an issue.
• When you want to gather people with expertise to address
an issue that needs to be addressed, or to work on a
problem.
• When new work in the field needs to be publicized.
• When you want to energize or reenergize people about their
work.
• Annually, to bring the field, profession, coalition, or interest
group together to learn, network, celebrate successes, and
work through challenges.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
How do you organize a conference?
• Create an infrastructure by:
• Choosing an organizing team or committee.
• Appointing a coordinator.
• Setting up a communication system.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
How do you organize a conference?
• Plan the conference by:
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Agreeing on the purpose of the conference.
Identifying your target audience.
Setting a length and date.
Planning the content.
Addressing logistics.
Clarifying coordination and troubleshooting.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
What to do
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Publicize the conference.
Register participants.
Recruit presenters.
Run the conference.
Evaluate the conference.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas
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