How do you put a good conference programme together? A programme that will offer the right balance of education, entertainment, and ‘down’ time so that delegates are enticed to book and leave feeling that it was time and money well spent?
There is an established pattern for the Society of Indexers (SI) annual conference. From time to time we toy with the idea of changing it, but have followed roughly the same format in recent years. The conference is always residential, usually over two nights, and will include a gala dinner at which presentations are made. There will be a balance of full conference sessions in a lecture hall (plenary sessions) and seminar/breakaway sessions (parallels/workshops). Delegates choose their preferred parallel sessions before the conference and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The Society’s AGM is also held during the conference.
We have excellent relations with our ‘sister’ indexing societies from around the world and delegates representing those societies travel great distances to attend each other’s conferences. Our conference programme will usually include an international plenary session when the international representatives tell us about the work they’ve been doing to promote professional indexes and indexing.
Modern publishing is changing fast and the SI in the UK is fortunate to have a group of senior indexers with very varied technical experience who comprise the Publishing Technology Group. The PTG’s brief is to investigate how new technologies being applied to publishing might affect indexing, and to advise publishers, authors and indexers. For the last few years the PTG members have presented their own plenary session during the conference to bring delegates up-to-date with the latest technological developments.
So, within these parameters, how did the Wyboston Lakes conference committee go about putting together the 2013 conference programme? Firstly, they brainstormed the sorts of sessions which they thought would be useful together with names of publishing and society contacts who might provide interesting sessions. Then they hit the email, phone and snail mail. This can be a long process. Sometimes friendly reminders had to be sent and a series of ‘no, sorry’ emails required a quick meeting by Skype and a rethink.
Whilst waiting for the speakers to reply the committee agreed with the Continuing Professional Development committee which workshops should be offered at the conference. The workshops are structured, indexing-specific training sessions. This year delegates can choose from workshops about wording index entries, the correct indexing of personal names, using social media, and an introduction to copy-editing and proofreading.
Two of the plenary sessions were arranged quite quickly. A fascinating session on ‘Indexing Image Collections’ will presented on the opening afternoon by two speakers, one on indexing cartoons and the other on indexing moving images. On Sunday morning we’ll hear about ‘Marketing in the Digital Age’, an interesting tie-in with our marketing workshop.
The committee were considering other options for plenary sessions when the editor of The Indexer (the international journal of indexing http://www.theindexer.org/) got in touch from a conference in the US to say that she had heard a speaker there who would be of interest to the SI. The result was a session on Saturday afternoon ‘Adding value: the role of the publisher’.
The final strands of the conference parallel sessions were filled by a process of frequent emails and juggling of slots until a range of interesting and wide-ranging sessions were arranged, all the way from ‘Back care for home workers” to “ePubs and the future of indexes”, via bookbinding!
To see the full programme, and to book for the conference, please go to http://www.indexers.org.uk/index.php?id=233 . And remember – the workshops and parallel sessions are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis!