WELocal Sessions

Increasing/improving WE Local conference offerings of interest to AGs

By the AG Conference Engagement Working Group

How can my AG get more program offerings of interest to our AG at WE Local conferences? 

The most effective way to see more topics pertinent to your AG is to proactively identify the topics your group would like to see, find speakers that can present those topics, and follow through with those speakers to ensure they respond to the Call for Presentations.  

First step:  Identify topics of interest

The first step is to identify topics of interest.  AGs can do this by appointing a conference engagement subgroup to carry out this task.  This subgroup can brainstorm topics among themselves and solicit topics at large from the AG through online meetings, social media, and newsletters.  This should ideally be done in the July-August time frame, in advance of the WE Local Call for Participation (CFP) announcement, which is usually released in mid-August.

Second step: identify speakers and align them with desired topic

Often, potential speakers will be members of the AG.  Other times, a speaker from outside the AG may be appropriate.  Members of the conference engagement subgroup can use their network within SWE or their broader networks to find appropriate speakers.  It’s a good idea to generate a spreadsheet to track topics and potential speakers and assign each topic/speaker combo to one of the members of the conference engagement subgroup.  This should ideally happen in August, coincident with the release of the CFP. 

A conference engagement subgroup member assigned to a speaker/topic needs to contact the potential speaker and ask:

  • Are they willing to present on this topic? 
  • Are they willing to attend at least one WE Local conference to present?  Which one(s)?

Do they need assistance in developing a submittal to the CFP?

Third step: Encourage and assist potential speakers with submissions to the CFP

The conference engagement subgroup members should provide information and resources to potential presenters to get them started, such as a link to CFP, the deadline to submit, and a link to WE Local page with conference locations and logistics.  If potential speakers have no experience submitting a response to a SWE conference CFP, they will likely need assistance from a subgroup member who is experienced in that process.  AG conference subgroup members can supply a link to the CFP overview course and offer to review titles, short descriptions, and proposed session format.  They can also help potential speakers decide the best choices for tracks and learning levels.  Ensure that the speaker includes a note that their session is directed at your AG.  Most importantly, MAKE SURE THEY MEET THE PUBLISHED DEADLINE for the CFP.  (A brief side note: it is important to inform potential speakers, especially those outside SWE, that submitting to the CFP does not guarantee their proposal will be accepted.  Conference programming is a complex process, and acceptance hinges on many factors beyond the desirability of a topic and quality of the submission.)

Need help?
The AG Conference Engagement Working Group is doing extensive work in WE23 to provide more advice on how to get more AG content and opportunities to interact at WE Locals, but if you need help or have questions about getting more AG content submitted for presentation at WE Local, our group can help.  Contact Jan Williams, AG conference engagement group lead, at janlwms@gmail.com.  One of our group will contact you to answer your questions.

Stay tuned for future publications on tracking submissions by speakers your AG solicits, determining which sessions are accepted, and informing your AG membership about the great programming that will be available at their next WE Local conference!