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Programming Committee Guide

The Programming Committee is responsible for the conference program which includes, but is not limited to: keynote speakers, workshops, and resource fair.
General Timeline
  1. Speaker/Keynote Brainstorm
  2. Develop Workshop Tracks/Program
  3. Contact/Secure Presenters
  4. Coordinate Travel/Lodging
  5. Execute Program
  6. Evaluations

Responsibilities  (Detailed Overview)

Brainstorm, select, invite, and shepherd keynote speakers
The committee is responsible for the entire keynote speaker process. The committee should ensure each keynote selected to speak at conference is taken care of from start to finish. This means ensuring keynote speakers’ needs are met from the moment we initially engage with them to the moment they leave conference.

Brainstorm, select, invite, and shepherd workshop presenters
The committee is responsible for the entire workshop presenter process. The committee should ensure each workshop presenter is taken care of from start to finish.

Create workshop blurb and description
The workshop blurb is a mini-description that is typically 100-words or less and is used in the program book. The full workshop description can be used in the website to provide people an in-depth look of the workshop.

Distribute, collect, and process workshop evaluation form and results
Feedback is important to ensure high-quality programming. The purpose of the evaluations is to give both the programming committee, and the speakers themselves, valuable feedback about the presentations. The committee will be responsible for distributing and collecting the evaluations.

Lessons Learned

Get Started Early!
Six to nine months may seem like plenty of time to confirm your presenter/workshop line-up, but in reality the Programming committee should determine who they’d like to extend speaking invitations to as soon as possible. Most speakers need at least six months notice to avoid any schedule conflicts. In addition, the committee won’t be able to secure every speaker during the first round of invitations. This means more time will spent engaged in this process.

The Reimbursement Policy Can Be Confusing
UNAVSA does not issue honorariums. However, we will highly subsidize travel expenses, and if necessary cover accommodations for the night(s) of the speaker’s presentation. Travel reimbursements are based on where the conference is, and in which timezone the speaker is traveling from. For example, when the conference was hosted in Denver, we issued reimbursements for speakers traveling from the Pacific and Central timezone of $150.00, and $200.00 from the Eastern timezone. Speakers traveling from the Mountain timezone received up to $100.00, except for local Denver speakers who would be eligible for parking reimbursements.

Sponsors and Alumni
Wal-mart and State Farm both have served as title sponsors and have hosted workshops at the conference. To the extent that the workshops fall within the scope of conference, we will give consideration to these workshops. Alumni are also good resources for workshops or connections to workshops.

Reference Material

The Programming Master Document
The Programming master document is a one-stop-shop for all things programming. Here is a sample for UNAVSA-7 (you must be signed-in to view): https://docs.google.com/a/unavsa.org/spreadsheet/pub?hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AgFh1xRYDCD4dER4dkliRjlOVDlrQ0kwVVpiVnhaeWc&output=html

Past Examples

UNAVSA-7 – a tour of capitol hill was scheduled prior to the first set of workshops. When the attendees got back to the hotel they were all tired from traveling and many people went up to their hotel rooms to rest. In the future, take into consideration activities that may detract from the attendance of workshops as well as ensure there is ample time for attendees to get from one place to the other.

UNAVSA-7 – a keynote speaker gave a speech at the gala while the dinner was being served. This was not conducive to the attendees paying attention. People were talking and eating during the speech. Consider not serving food prior to a keynote speech and ensure people are paying attention.

Former Directors
UNAVSA-8 – Annie Guo – [email protected]
uNAVSA-7 – Dan Huynh – [email protected]
uNAVSA-6 – Tuoc Truong – [email protected], Nick Ngo – [email protected]
uNAVSA-5 – Thu Cung – [email protected], Hong Vo – [email protected]
uNAVSA-4 – Kim Vu – [email protected]
uNAVSA-3 – Bao Ngoc To [email protected]
uNAVSA-2 – Thuc Nguyen – [email protected]


Shepherding Explained
A shepherd functions as a consultant, not a collaborator or helper for a speaker’s, panelist’s, or resource fair participant’s presentation.

A shepherd:

  • Is prepared
  • Should be familiar with the target audience
  • Should be well-versed with the presenter’s biography and presentation material
  • Is responsible for making sure the needs of the speaker/panelist/resource fair participant are met
    • Follow-up up to make sure flights, hotel accommodations, etc meet their needs
    • Make sure their laptop/presentation is checked during conference (we want to avoid any technical difficulties)
    • Make sure all A/V is available for presenters (projector, screen, speakers)

Speaker/Panelist Item Submission Checklist

  • Send presenter the speaker packet by the confirmation date
  • Speaker Agreement
    • Send to presenter
    • Once signed and emailed back to you, email them the speaker RSVP form
  • Flight itinerary (emailed to Programming Director)
  • Workshop Summary (1 paragraph)
  • Biography (2 paragraphs max), Photo, Cell Phone number (emailed to Program  Director)
  • Early Outline Draft (includes details, examples, stories)/ PowerPoint
  • Handouts / Equipment Request
  • Final Presentation (for us to put on website)

Resource Fair Participant Item Submission Checklist

  • Send participant the Resource Fair packet by the confirmation date
  • Resource Fair agreement for students (not applicable to organizations)
    • Send to participant
    • Once signed and emailed back to you, e-mail them the Resource Fair RSVP form
  • 1st packet draft for students / display materials for organizations
  • Final packet draft for students (for us to print and put on website)

Shepherd Item Submission
To Program Director
Forward all item submissions and / or CC into the emails
Flight itinerary
Biography (2 paragraphs max), Photo, Cell Phone number
Map of Resource Fair / Contact list / Email back rejection to organizations if anything isn’t
appropriate for Fair

To speaker/panelist/Resource Fair participant
Map of Resource Fair / Contact list / Email back rejection to organizations if anything isn’t appropriate for Fair
Complete listing of other workshop speakers and workshop summary

Speaker / Panelist / Resource Fair Student Presentation

  • Always be prompt about responding to your “sheep” (i.e. Try to get back to them within the next 2 days, think professional)
  • If a “sheep” has forgotten a deadline, kindly send a reminder email the day after and ask if there are any questions that you can answer
  • Things to consider when you’re looking over someone’s material:
    • Is it organized and structured?  Can you understand the direction of the presentation?
    • Is the message and examples clearly understandable?
    • Are there typos, grammar mistakes (Powerpoint/handouts)?
    • Is it relevant to the workshop topic?
    • Is it targeting the audience? (ie. VSAers, UVSAers, young professionals)
    • Do you understand what they’re saying?  If not, chances are, others won’t either.
    • Seek a 2nd opinion if you are uncertain about something


  • Meet with your “sheep” the day before the workshop if possible, go over your introduction / their presentation if they want to, and make sure you don’t:
  • Mispronounce something
  • Get some fact wrong
  • Fail to highlight some crucial part of the panelist’s background.
  • Begin the workshop with an introduction of topic and a bio of presenter / panelists
  • Break eye contact with the speaker / panelists
  • Look at the panel, ask a question, and then look at the audience.
  • Do not continue eye contact with the panelists because you want them to speak directly to the audience, not to you.
  • Don’t hesitate to tell panelists to speak louder
  • If the audience seems to have run out of questions or “high quality” questions, do a bit of research on your own and have at least 3 questions prepared (in addition to the ones you have for the panelists)
  • Keep track of time left in the workshop
  • Make sure that you leave enough room for attendees to ask questions: “Now we would like to open the floor up to questions”
  • End workshop with:
    • Closing statements (2-4 sentences)
    • Thank the presenter / panelists
    • Give presenter / panelists their gift
    • Let the attendees know when the next workshop starts
    • After everyone start milling about, remain behind to ask if the presenter/panelist if they need anything before you leave

Accommodating your speaker:

  • Be polite, respectful and excited to meet your speaker
  • Let them know that you will be there for them to answer any questions
  • Make them feel comfortable, so introduce them to other people such as E-Board members/programming directors when you get the chance
  • Let them know how thankful UNAVSA is for taking their time out to come to our conference
  • Make sure that you have read the bio of your speaker so that you actually know him or her!

How to introduce your speaker:

  • In the speech you will want to recognize something unique about the speaker that will make him or her stand out
  • Make sure that you introduce the speaker with his or her appropriate title, their name, and their workshop name
  • Keep the speech 2-3 minutes long and be simple (attendees will already have the program booklet where they can read the bio of the speakers)
  • Try to have your speech memorized because out of all people you should know your speaker the best
  • Stay away from making any cliché statements
  • Remember to make your speech interesting because it will give the attendees their first impression of the speaker

Sample of speech:
Good evening everyone, today, we are honored to have someone exceptional speak to us.  Our guest speaker is a man who the wall street journal called, “a visionary-someone who is motivated, a good solid thinker, and an inspiring leader that can articulate vision that other’s can’t see.”  He will share with us about his experiences of serving as an executive, an academic, and a board member for both public companies and non-profit organizations.  Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to ___________.

If you have any questions or want me to check your speeches please do not hesitate to let me know.

DRESS CODE FOR PROGRAMMING: Business casual each day.  You are working with professional speakers so you need to be in the appropriate attire and look presentable.


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