Programming - Things to Consider

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There are many things to consider while planning your program. Different aspects of your program plan can interact to aide or to hinder its success. A lot of Programming is coming up with cool ideas, with good people to make them shine, figuring out a schedule with no conflicts (moments where a program participant is expected to be in two places at once), and fitting everything into your available spaces. Here are some specific things to think about while you're doing that.

Separation of disciplines

Programming is a curiously non specific word that is actually a multifaceted endeavor. The sub disciplines are very distinct from each other, and not everyone who is good in one is necessarily good in another.

  • Content creation
    • Imagining new ideas for the ideas.
    • Writing a compelling description of the idea.
  • Execution
    • The on site moderator
    • the dynamic speaker
  • Planning
    • Scheduling
    • conflict resoloution
  • equipment specifications

Pick the right person for the right job based upon the know capabilities.


For each program item, think about the probable audience for that item. What type of people are they? What is it about this item that will draw them to it? How should that affect how you design the program item regarding who to put on it, how to organize it, where and when to hold it, and what furniture and other equipment, supplies, etc. to provide?


Is this going to be a popular program item? How popular? The general rule is that it's better to put an item in a room that's slightly too small for it than in a room that's way too big for it, but generally you want there to be space for people to join an event when its already under way.

If one of your Guests of Honor is a big draw, you need to keep this in mind when scheduling his or her programming.


Is this item directed toward Children? Or Adults only? Make sure that's clear in the Panel Blurb and also consider how that should affect how and when to hold the event.

Circadian Rhythms

Does your audience stay up all night? Will they wake up in the morning on the day in question? Or not until noon? If the target audience will not be awake when the item is held, it doesn't matter much how lovely the concept might have been - you will not draw anyone to it. Now, there are going to be a veriety of people at your con, with a variety of personal schedules. Some may have come from other time zones, or just naturally be DERFs. Do schedules something in the morning for these people to do.

Building Layout


Noise Pollution


If you can help it, do not put Children's Programming or Babysitting someplace where people will have to walk the kids all the way down a long hall to go to the bathroom. I'm just sayin' is all.

Equipment and Furniture

I could have put this anywhere, but I put it under building layout because I encourage you to think of your Program Ops staff (and hotel staff) when planning the program. If you have multiple program items that require a projector for a presentation, or a particular workshop-style layout, consider scheduling them back-to-back in the same room to reduce the number of room changeovers. If you must switch equipment from room to room, try to make such switches fairly local and small in number, instead of having your staff run themselves ragged from a distant annex and back.


Time Blocks

Passing Time

Meal Breaks

Panelist Breaks

Panelist Preferences

Topic Tracks


Individualized itineraries should be sent out the the participants ahead of time.