EMEA Conference: Programmes Breakout Sessions

Step 1. Solicit Program Proposals

  • Review evaluations from previous conferences and MBA CSEA member surveys to learn about program topics the membership would like to see. The ED will provide this information to the committee. 
  • The Board Liaison will provide additional feedback regarding topics that fit with the board's strategic plan.
  • MBA CSEA utilizes online software program to collect and review submissions for program proposals. The ED creates the form within the software and sends the Call for Proposals to the membership.
  • A deadline is used for program submissions.
  • The Board Liaison will provide the committee with a list of the ideal number of sessions for each target audience based on the board's strategic goals. 
  • Once the deadline for proposal submissions passes, the Executive Director provides the committee with a list of proposals submitted. If there aren't enough sessions to meet the needs of the target audiences, the committee may invite speakers to present sessions, upon approval from the Executive Director and Board Liaison. In some cases, complimentary conference registrations may be provided to invited speakers (upon approval). 


Step 2. Review Program Proposals

  • Sessions are reviewed by the committee based on the following criteria. Note: it's preferred that most of the breakout sessions do not fit within the conference theme (if the theme is programming-oriented), in order to ensure diversity of programming is provided. 
    • Proposal quality - how well is the proposal organized? Is it complete? Are there grammatical errors or other concerns? This provides an idea of how organized the session will be. 
    • Newness/Diversity of topic -  the committee should make sure there is a wide range of topics presented, including those that are new, innovative, thought-provoking, and have never been presented at a European Conference before.
    • Relevancy/fit within the organization’s mission and strategic goals, as communicated to the committee by the Board Liaison and Executive Director. 
    • Level of interaction with conference participants. Attendees like to share information and interact, rather than listen to a lecture.
    • Appeal of topic - how practical and actionable is the topic? Will it appeal to our membership?
    • Presenter qualifications - what credentials does the presenter have that make them an expert on this topic?
  • Speakers should be vetted based on the Conference Policies. The Executive Director can assist with this. Note the vendor policy in particular. This should be communicated with any vendor who presents a proposal to speak, before accepting their proposal.
  • Obtain information from the Executive Director regarding how many sessions can be accepted, based on the space provided at the conference hotel. 


Step 3. Select Breakout Sessions

  • The committee makes recommendations for which proposals to accept, reject, or edit based on the criteria above and general appeal of the topic/speaker. The final list of recommendations for sessions is sent to the Executive Director for approval. 

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Step 4. Communicate with Speakers

  • Once the reviews are complete and sessions are selected (and approved by the ED), communications will be made with the presenters as follows:
    • The Executive Assistant will communicate with all accepted and rejected sessions.
    • If tweaks are requested by the committee (including a chance in audience, clarification needed, or significant change in session details), a committee member will be assigned to follow up. Templates are provided for each communication. Use discretion and sensitivity when asking a presenter to potentially make a change to their program (as a request, not a requirement). For example, if it isn’t clear in the write-up why a session is applicable to a specific audience, first gather more information about the session and then suggest a tweak to the session write-up, explaining that the tweak could increase session attendance and chance of being accepted. Avoid implying that the session will be accepted even if changes are not made. See the sample communications for more details.
    • The Board Liaison will communicate with speakers for sessions that involve vendors to make sure the Conference Policies are understood and maintained. 


Other Responsibilities/Details

  • Once all of the sessions are confirmed, the committee determines where to place each session within the conference schedule. The committee will make a prediction about the audience size for each session (high, medium, low), which will assist with the room allocation. The committee also helps ensure that there is at least one session for each target audience during each breakout session timeslot (see target audiences above). Note: we do not accept individual requests for timeslots from speakers. 
  • Make sure all selected speakers register for the conference (including those who are provided with complimentary passes). The Administrative Assistant will audit the speaker roster on a regular basis and let the committee know about any speakers who are not registered.
  • If changes are needed to the speaking roster for any sessions, the new speakers must be vetted using the conference policies before they are approved. The committee member or Admin Assistant should also make sure the session presenters are aware that the new speakers must register for the conference.
  • The Executive Assistant will enter speaker details and information into the Conference Schedule in Smartsheet for use on the web site and in the printed program. 
  • Room hosts will be selected for each program, first from committee members and then from other conference registrants. Rooms hosts packets will be created by the Executive Assistant and Executive Director.