Conference Planner To-Do List

Julie Thompson Klein, a member of HASTAC's Executive Board and a past HASTAC conference planner, has shared the attached document to assist the planners of future HASTAC conferences.

Previously Attached Documents: 

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TO DO List for HASTAC Conferences



This is a generic list aimed at helping future HASTAC conference committees plan and implement their timetables. The HASTAC website also has a collection of documents from prior conferences, including final reports and sample forms from HASTAC IV (2010) (virtual conference hosted by the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and HASTAC V (2011) (hosted by the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan).


Julie Thompson Klein, Member of HASTAC Executive Board




Initial Meetings

• Form a Planning Committee with representation from all pertinent units on local                                     campus plus key external parties.     

• Designate a Project Manager responsible for coordinating with all subcommittees and                              central HASTAC office, and providing regular reports on progress and problems.

• Designate a Technology Manager responsible for the website, technology needs for all                            conference spaces, and electronic communications.

• Set up a Planning Calendar with deadlines per the TO DO list.

• Set up a timetable for meetings and designate responsibilities per TO DO list.

• Set up a Google Docs site for all planning documents and discussions.

• Determine a date for the conference (avoiding major conflicts such as sporting events                              and holidays).

• Determine a theme for the conference with subthemes/questions.

• Draft a Call for Proposals (consulting past examples).

-       Be sure to indicate whether applicants can expect feedback on proposals.

• Select then invite keynote speakers and presenters for featured events:

            e.g., special panels, artistic installations and musical performances, pre/post

            conference workshops.

• Examine prior conference budgets for costs then determine a conference fee.

• Set up billing procedures and point persons for all expenses.

• Contract with Conference Services for assistance. (See REGISTRATION, below.)         

• Assign/hire technical support for all conference events and spaces.

• Establish a schedule with the central HASTAC office to coordinate on a                                                   pre-conference meeting of HASTAC Steering Committee,involvement of                                        HASTAC Scholars, and publicity via HASTAC.

•    Order any special equipment needs beyond technology: e.g., tables and chairs.




The Conference Program

• Create a Program Subcommittee and set timeline and process for generating a program.

• Design online proposal submission form (consulting past examples).

• Generate list of proposal reviewers, review criteria, online report form, and deadline.

• Schedule meeting after the proposal deadline to determine Accept, Reject, or Revise.

            - Use/adapt sample letters from previous conferences.

• Examine programs of previous conferences to determine sections to include and design

             model for both online and print versions (e.g., InDesign in Adobe Suite? Drupal).

• Contact printers for prices and deadlines for print copy.

• Put a skeleton version of the program on conference website as soon as possible then                              update periodically along with a NEW alert on website homepage.

• Proofread a draft of final conference program with entire Planning Committee then         

                take a mockup of the program to printer in advance for double-checking.

• Recruit moderators for all sessions.



• Contract with local Conference Services for registration tasks: Other universities may not have a Conference Services group. This might entail creating another committee to handle hotel blocks & the logistics outlined here.

                e.g., handling advance online registration and phone calls, staffing             registration desk during conference, setting up free wifi access for registrants,

                generating regular and special name tags, providing updated registration lists.

• Establish ground rules for exceptions to the standard registration fee: e.g.,

            special guests, local faculty-staff-students attending sessions but not meals.

• Add hours registration will be open to the program and procedures for late registration.


Conference Bags/Other SWAG

• Determine what sort of swag you want to give to registrants. This will be determined at least in part due to budget.

·  Select vendor for swag, including printing conference title, URLs for conference and HASTAC, sponsor credits; set order and delivery deadlines.

• Compile materials: print version of program, HASTAC items, special announcements, errata sheet, pens and paper, plus maps of meeting site, hotels, restaurants, local attractions. Notify the HASTAC Central team of the deadline for them to get info to you.

• Send materials to Conference Services for bag stuffing or have volunteers help.



• Book all space needs: e.g., presentations, keynotes and overflow area, special features,    posters/demos, food set up and dining, pre-conference HASTAC SC meeting.

                - Walk through spaces to determine adequacy (size, technical capacity, noise).

• Book all food needs: receptions, breaks, meals, pre-conference HASTAC SC dinner.

                - Determine deadline for contacting caterers with final numbers.

• Reserve blocks of hotel space for participants.

• Create signage and wayfinding needs with point persons for posting and assisting.

            plus digital displays in key campus locations.

• Arrange transportation if using multiple locations not within walking distance.

• Set up book sales and vendor/handout tables.

-    Order books by keynoters and HASTAC-SC members, and determine schedule for on-site sales by vendors and volunteers.

• Book services for recordings: e.g., AV capture, streaming/podcasting, archiving.


Conference Website

• Examine previous conference websites for what sections and features to include.

• Keep everyone updated with NEW alerts on homepage, including dates

            program information and other crucial details will appear online.

• Establish and update FAQs page for common questions.

• Consider and, if doing, facilitate pre-conference posting of materials on the site.

• Have entire Planning Committee proofread the website periodically for completeness.



• Establish a Communications Subcommittee.

·   Work with HASTAC Central team to get banner, event posting and blog up on as soon as you have determined date of conference. Be sure to update these with the theme ASAP.

• Issue special invitations to sponsors and key campus figures (e.g., Provost, Deans).

• Establish timetable for pre-conference emails and alerts, coordinated with HASTAC                               newsletter and website as well as conference website and local publicity plan:

            e.g., reminders about logistics of travel and hotel,mechanism for finding      roommates and non-hotel space for graduate students (via Twitter), special             instructions for posters/demos, request that everyone bring own laptops and         MAC users their own dongles/adapters, plans for post-conference publication and     posting of presentations, final instructions early in the week of actual conference,

            hashtag for conference tweeting.

·      Coordinate with HASTAC Central team to find and publicize to other (than HASTAC) groups and individuals that might be interested in the theme of the conference.

·      Depending on the locale and the theme of the conference, outreach to local community can be very important.

• Coordinate local campus publicity: e.g., save the date, posters, flyers, email blasts.

• Formulate policy on availability of interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing.

• Confirm times, titles, topics, and travel logistics with all keynote/plenary speakers.

• Set up book sales and vendor/handout tables.

-       Order books by keynoters and HASTAC-SC members and determineon-site vendor availability and volunteers for sales, option to return unsold copies.


Other Matters to Consider

• Recruit and train volunteers to help during conference: e.g., registration, guides, go-fers

• Decide whether to have an evaluation form and, if so, design one.

• Consider designated tables at meals: e.g., themes, newcomers, HASTAC Scholars.

• Make bulletin board available for messages during conference.


Post-Conference Tasks

• Compose and send follow-up email: e.g., thank yous, list of all participants and email

addresses, information on post-conference publication if any, solicitation of                       presentations materials for conference website.

• Determine long-term location of conference website with presentation materials.

• Write a final report and include on HASTAC website in designated location.