Programming Head - Job Description

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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.

See Also

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
  • 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.
  1. Slot guest of honor programming into the grid first
  2. Generate initial layouts of the grid
  3. Keep participants' requirements in mind
  4. 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?

Interaction with Other Departments