Tips for Creating a Successful Program Proposal
What to think about when creating a program?
The SEAHO Conference’s success is directly related to the programs offered. The Program Committee’s goal is to provide strong, applicable programs to conference delegates at all levels (undergraduate students through CHOs). As a result, the Program Committee would like to offer a few points for program presenters think through when determining what topic to present on as well as how to complete a program proposal.
- How to determine a topic and prepare for a program? When determining what specific content to present on, consider the descriptions provided for the program topics areas. This is also a great place to start if you are struggling to brainstorm an initial idea for a presentation. The presenter should have experience and/or knowledge in the category chosen. When determining a topic to present, ensure that the information provided during the program will be transferable across the range of institutions represented at SEAHO (large vs. small, public vs. private, etc).
- Consider the format and audience of your presentation. Who is your message geared towards? New Professionals? CHOs? Hone in on the knowledge and skills needed by the particular group and then think about the best way to convey those. There are 4 session types:
- Pecha Kucha - This is a simple presentation format, commonly referred to as PechaKucha 20x20, where the presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds each. The images should advance automatically while the presenter speaks.
- Roundtable - This is an opportunity for roundtable discussion where the facilitator helps moderate conversation that revolves around a specific topic, functional area or institutional type.
- Relay - This is a partnered session where multiple presenters all share content about the same topic. The content can build upon itself or could be the same topic shared from multiple views or implementation methods. If interested in this session type, please indicate on your if you have additional presenters in mind or if you would like the Program Committee to connect you with other presenters interested in the same topic.
- Program Interest Session - This is a standard lecture-style program session.
Being intentional about selecting the right session type can make a significant difference in the amount of learning that takes place. Does the group learn best by having time to connect and dialogue? Then maybe a roundtable is appropriate. Have you done extensive research or work in a specific area? Then maybe a program interest session where you educate the membership is best. Do you have a complex issue that could be better explained with multiple, distinct presenters? Consider proposing this as a Relay session. Perhaps you’d like to share a simplistic but impactful lesson or approach? A PechaKucha may be the best format.
Think about collaboration. Do you have a colleague at another institution who can offer different perspective or challenges? Consider partnering to share your experiences. Multiple presenters help to keep presentations dynamic and offer more chances for participants to connect.
Be sure to keep your audience in mind as you create your proposal. Are your methods supporting multiple learning styles? Is the information presented in a way that it would be easy to apply or implement on a variety of campuses?
What do I need to include in my program proposal and how does it impact my program?
The program title is your opportunity to invite the reader to your program. An effective title encourages the reader to learn more about the program. Conversely, a poorly written title can cause the reader to dismiss the program all together. While a creative title might be fun, the best titles shares enough information to understand the nature of the program content and who might be the intended audience.
The program description provides the reader with an accurate picture of what the presentation will cover. It will be included in the conference schedule, as well as the conference mobile app. Well-written program descriptions are concise, organized and specific and identify the purpose and intent of the program. Additionally, effective descriptions begin with the most important information or thought. Defining unfamiliar abbreviations and acronyms may be helpful to the reader.
An effective description:
- Summarizes the content and activities of the presentation
- Distinguishes the program format (e.g. group discussion, round table, interactive activity, etc.)
- Designates the scope, sequence, and/or level of the program content (how is this session new or different, what will the audience learn and take away from your presentation, how can participants translate the knowledge gained in your session to their own campus?)
- Identifies the expected learning outcomes for the attendee
The program description provides an in-depth look at the content of the proposed presentation. Program reviewers rely on a well-written description to enhance their understanding of the content and goals of the presentation. A complete description includes background information, an overview of the presentation, and a description of the format. If the program is reporting research, a description of methods, findings and recommendations may be appropriate.
Having clearly defined goals and outcomes for your presentation will clarify your expectations, will make it easier for you to check for understanding and competency achieved by your participants, and will help the participants stay focused and engaged. It will also help participants as they carry their new skills/knowledge back to their campuses to put into practice. Learning outcomes address the goals of your presentation, specific skills and/or knowledge will the participants gain from their experience, and the tangible evidence of their time spent with you in the session.
Want to see an example of a great program proposal from last year? Click here.