Programming Head - Job Description
Starting this on April 6, 2015. The goal is to have a comprehensive description of what is involved in running the Programming Department for Minicon, a mid-size regional science fiction convention.
Programming Head is a big job, arguably the biggest of all the department heads besides the chair. Hospitality (bar/consuite) is huge at the con and in the month or so preceding, but not too much of a burden the rest of the year. But Programming keeps demanding time and energy all year long. The busiest time for Programming is the last 6 weeks before the con, where it can easily become a 40-hour work week. There are significant job responsibilities at the con itself, although the more thorough the preparation before hand the fewer the at-con emergencies will be.
- The seasons of programming - a suggested Programming Timeline
Pre Convention Responsibilities
- Assemble a Programming Committee
- Start a list of programming ideas (as soon as possible after the previous con)
- Add to idea list with formal and informal brainstorming sessions
- Research the Guests of Honor
- Publish an online list of programming ideas (often referred to as the "Programming Online Brainstorm")
- Solicit interest in panels
- Ways to do this:
- Emailing everyone who's expressed interest in being involved with programming (by checking the appropriate box on their registration form)
- Sending out notifications that programming sign-up has begun (notifications should go on the Minicon/Mnstf Livejournal and Dreamwidth accounts; Facebook; Twitter; the Minicon website; etc.)
- Targeted email to people you know could be good for particular panels
- Personal email with Guests of Honor -- make sure to ask clearly what sorts of panels they'd like to be on, if they have any additional suggestions, etc.
- Some combination of the above
- Ways to do this:
- Ask interested participants to tell you their conflicts and scheduling preferences, such as people they don't want to be on panels with, times they're not available, etc.
- Create the final programming schedule. This is a complex process, involving a lot of cascading scheduling conflicts, etc. etc.
- Slot guest of honor programming into the grid first
- Generate initial layouts of the grid
- Keep participants' requirements in mind
- Have your programming assistants look at the grid and help you spot conflicts
- Notify all programming participants of their final schedules, including:
- All panels they're on, who they're on the panels with, who the moderators are, where the panels are
- Existence of the Green Room, and its purpose, hours and location
- How to let you know if they discover any errors/conflicts
- Coordinate last-minute updates
- Pick moderators for panels
- Notify moderators that they are moderators
- Give panelists contact information for other people on their panels, so they can pre-discuss things if wanted
- Give final copy of the full programming schedule, with panel names, times, locations, panelists, moderators, etc. etc. to the Program Book creator
- Give final copy of the programming schedule, including panel times, time & locations to the Pocket Program designer
- Print badge labels (little stick-on labels for programming participants' badges, so they have ready reference to what programming they're on)
- More to come...
At Con Responsibilities
- Test A/V setup for room(s) with A/V -- make sure projector is ready and working before any panel needing a projector
- Monitor panels and see how popular each programming item is
- Note which panels work well, which panelists work well, and which moderators work well
- Put out table tents (the folding cards that give panelists' names, giving audience members a visual reference to who is who)
- Generally monitor programming and see how things are going: are panels too loud? Any panels that panelists didn't show up for?