Organizing a panel for a conference is an excellent way to take your participation to a higher level, gain attention for your work and expand your networking alliances. Submitting for a conference is quite a bit like applying for shows, grants or jobs. You need to consider who your audience will be, do your research and be true to who you are. You’ll throw your hat into the ring, see what comes back and try again the following year if you don’t get accepted the first time. Just like with shows, just submitting gets your work or your interests in front of more eyes, which is always a good thing.
How to go about it:
• Read and research the criteria thoroughly. Usually all the information you need to get started is going to be available on the conference website.
• Any questions you have or clarifications you need, contact the conference organizers – it’s their job and they can give you the best advice.
• Get started early. If you would like to organize a panel, which is typically a group of individuals who will speak expertly on a topic, it’s not a bad idea to connect and network with peers during the current conference in anticipation of next year’s conference.
• Consider the conference theme – does it connect with your work or interests? Check with the specific conference, but it is not always necessary for your submission to connect with the theme, however it might give you an advantage.
• What kind of panel do you want to organize – educational, theoretical, work oriented?
• Keep the panel manageable. Four participants, with a maximum of 5, is a good guideline. You’ll be sharing time – find out in advance the maximum amount of time you can apply for, that will determine what your panel can support.
• Set up a calendar of deadlines – abstract, bios, images due.
• Skype is a fabulous tool – use it to chat about the preparations.
• One person should be the point person, responsible for organizing the group and making the submission.
• Don’t try to do everything! Keep it simple, direct, broad enough in theme to allow room for everyone, but simple enough to not demand the kitchen sink.
• Find a mentor who can help give you feedback on the process.