What is the role of a conference committee?

Running a conference is not just about organizing a team, the speakers, presenters and the audience. It is about how the conference is planned, where support is required and how the organizing team is finding the right people. For a conference to be successful, it needs a lot of planning. Well planned conference get 50% success before the real event takes place. So, planning matters. But, how to make the best plan for conferences? Who drives the tram? Who invites the speakers? Who discusses the business with sponsors & advertisers? This is where the conference committee steps into. A conference committee is the one that places the first foot in the game.

Conference Committee example
Conference Committee example

What is a conference committee?

A Conference committee is a group formed by organizing agency, institute, or the corporation that plans and execute a conference event from the scratch. To make an event remarkable, the conference committee plans and divides overall operations into multiple groups. These groups are sub-committees of the core conference committee. The sub-committees then assign a responsible person for each task. So, irrespective of the size or nature of the conference, committees need to be set to make things work between drafted plan and execution in a flawless manner. This will bring in maximum return on Investment for the organizers and a remarkable fest for the audience.

Conference Committee Definition

A typical conference committee definition goes like this “group or team that plans, sets up activities which are required for making a grand successful conference”.

What is the Purpose of the conference committee?

The purpose of a conference committee is to plan and execute overall operations relating to a conference in a most successful form. Conference program committee responsibilities start with sketching out a rough plan on what are all is required to run the show and what are the small tasks that matter most, etc. Let’s say the core conference committee has planned and created sub-committees. Now, it’s time for each of this sub-committee to act on. The conference committee has to think about what resources the sub-committees require, what goals the sub-teams to achieve, what are the hindrances, what backup idea to be implemented if the primary plan fails, etc. Generally, committees in conferences are set based on functions and tasks that need to be taken care.

So, the main purpose of the conference committee is to define each and every single activity in a practically implementable manner.  Conference program committee responsibilities start with task listing, assigning groups to handle media, sponsors, exhibitors, presenting speakers, etc and runs till post conference souvenir distribution. 

The Conference committee members

The members of a committee are chosen by the event organizers in most case. The role of each person on the committee has to be clearly defined before you start out any activity.  All conference committees are composed of 5 key roles that manage the entire conference operations.

Let’s see, who is on a conference committee?

  • General Chair: The sponsoring organization appoints the General Chair who finalizes the conference venue and appoints the chairperson of another committee.
  • Finance: A committee is required to meet all financial, tax and audit requirements, it varies depends on the Conference. This committee covers starting a dedicated conference bank account, indirect tax, insurance and bonding, budget, expenses, financial reports, and conference closing. The chairperson of the finance committee (conference treasurer) must be capable of helping develop financial policies and a detailed budget for the conference, seeing that the conference operates within the approved budget, disbursing funds as needed, keeping detailed records of expenditures, and preparing financial reports.
  • Program: Responsible for organizing and presenting well-balanced, high-quality program in the conference. Assist in the selection and review of conference paper when the call for papers submission is done.  Also, take care of schedule the session rooms and local arrangements for the program.
  • Publications: As discussed, publication chair is responsible for coordinating conference content production (e.g., papers from special tutorial sessions, summaries of conference papers, programs, etc.) and responsible for all submission related queries in every step of the conference.
  • Advertisement & Public Relations: Organize, maintain and efficient use of Media contacts & previous potential attendees for direct effort. Apart from that, publicity chair is responsible for promoting the conference through placement in various publication calendars and advertisements in news media.

Depending on the size and scope of the conference, these chairs may set up committees to work with them.  But, these are the 5 key roles that will be required for almost any conference.

List of conference committees

Let’s look into the list of conference committees that are usually formed during conferences

A typical Conference committee exampleA typical Conference committee example

Planning committee – defines responsibilities, guides activities of the working committees, and serves as the policy making the body for the conference. Early organization of a competent planning committee by the conference chairperson is essential for the successful conduct of a conference. It is done by determining what working committees are needed and selecting appropriate chairpersons. Typically, these chairpersons, with members of the executive/advisory committee, serve as the conference planning committee.

Program committee – Next comes the program committee. The role of the program committee is to provide guidance to session chairpersons in creating successful conference sessions. The program chairperson should be an established and respected professional in the discipline who can enlist top-level experts in the various subject areas to serve as committee members and to chair technical sessions. The program chairperson should be willing to solicit suggestions and contributions. He or she should be able to evaluate proposed sessions and papers critically and should also be an innovator, willing to adopt new program formats that might improve communication in program sessions and the interaction of members in informal discussion groups.

Registration Committee – This committee plans and executes all conference registration related activities and logistics, seat allocation, ticket and badge creation, etc.

Conference Arrangements Committee- If conference arrangements (hotel accommodations, registration, audiovisual, and the like) are to be handled by a separate committee, the person in charge should be thoroughly familiar with conference management and be able to negotiate with the hotel to make the best possible arrangements for the society at the lowest equitable cost and the greatest benefit to members.

Publicity Committee (Advertisement & Branding Committee) – Next in the list of conference committee is the Publicity Committee. The publicity chairperson should have public relations expertise to facilitate selection of publicity media and mailing lists that will ensure extensive, effective coverage of the conference.

Publications Committee– The publications chairperson should have expertise in writing, editing, designing, and managing publications and, if a conference proceeding is planned, the chairperson should be an experienced scientific or technical editor. He or she must be able to work well with the staff of the printer as well as with the conference and program chairpersons and members of the conference planning- committee. The individual should also have expertise in negotiating with publishers to obtain high-quality work at a reasonable cost.

Exhibits Committee – This team takes care of things related to exhibitions that are normally a part of conferences. The person in charge should be thoroughly familiar with the breadth of the technical field from which exhibits will be solicited; able to select exhibits that clearly pertain to scientific, educational, literary, or technical aspects of the conference. The exhibit committee head should be able to attract exhibitors and manage contractual arrangements, do floor management, etc.

Local Arrangements Committee – Works with all local vendors, convention & visitors bureau, management companies and other committees in the planning of the conference space, including room set-up, the hiring of entertainment, tours, etc. The chairperson of the local arrangements committee should be a professional in the discipline, should live in the conference city, and should be thoroughly familiar with local points of interest, facilities, institutions, and laboratories. He or she must also be aware of budget constraints affecting local arrangements and costs.

This list can be extended as per your conference requirement. But, you must clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team while you plan conference committees list. I’m sure; we have covered most of the information that is required to set up a conference committee. If you need any help, please write to us and we are happy to help you out.

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