Program Planning Worksheet for Coordinators

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So your program has been accepted, you’ve nailed down the speakers (and returned all your Speaker Control Forms), and you’re ready for prime time, right? Right??

In case you’re not quite there yet, we've provided a worksheet and some tips to help you craft a basic program outline, communicate the expectations for your program to your speakers, and create a great learning experience for conference attendees. You can print the worksheet here; step-by-step tips for completing it follow below.


For this question, review your program’s description and identify the key points that you think will attract people to attend your program. You can copy and paste them right into the worksheet. Example:

This program will address common questions and concerns that law librarians have when providing service to international members of the law school community in the library, the classroom, and the academy. Speakers will discuss their own experiences working with these populations and will offer best practices for dealing with language issues, different legal education cultures and perceptions of librarians and libraries, and issues arising from having patrons trained in a different type of legal system. Participants will develop an increased understanding of common issues that these unique populations present and will also receive ideas on how they can better engage this patron group in the library’s activities.


  • What are the three main points you want your audience to remember when they leave your program?
Review your program’s takeaways for this question, and again, select the phrases which summarize what the learner will gain from participating. Example:

1) Participants will be able to identify the pedagogical and research needs of international students and faculty, and explain how they differ from those of traditional JD students.
2) Participants will be able to apply techniques that address the differences, challenges, and synergies of working with an international patron base.


  • Using the above-listed points as a guide, build a breakdown of the program, indicating who is speaking and what they are covering:
When you make a list of the key points you’ve selected, your program’s outline will start to take shape. Example:
  • discuss their own experiences working with these populations and will offer best practices
  • develop an increased understanding of common issues
  • receive ideas on how they can better engage
  • identify the pedagogical and research needs of international students
  • apply techniques that address the differences, challenges, and synergies
You may decide to re-arrange these points to be more logical, present a better flow, etc. Flesh out these points with specific reference to your program topic by identifying examples to cite, definitions, case studies, etc. that will support the goals in your outline.

Incorporating Your Speakers

Once you have a solid outline of what is to be covered in your program, think about how the delivery of this content will be distributed among your speakers. You should plan a phone call between you and all your speakers to decide who is most interested and/or qualified to speak on which points.

You might want to consider creating a shareable document (using Google Docs, for instance) that includes the program’s description, takeaways, and general outline that can be edited and commented upon by all speakers so that they can include what they know about the different points.

This is especially helpful for avoiding duplicate content. The last thing you want is for your speakers to prepare their presentations independently, only to discover during the program that they are covering the same points. Conversely, you don’t want your presenters to omit key content if they mistakenly think it will be covered by another speaker.

Determine approximately how long each topic/activity is going to last, and how much time each speaker will have – this will ensure that the program moves along, covers what you intended, and finishes on time.

  • What methods will you employ in delivering your content? How will you/your speakers engage the audience using this format? (Be aware of the setup in the room to which your program is assigned.)
As you discuss your program with your speakers, you should start to feel the program taking shape. This might be a little different from what you thought your program was going to be when you first proposed it.

By reviewing our list of suggested presentation formats, you might find that a Q&A style discussion will work better than the traditional “talking heads” format. Or perhaps you and your speakers will decide to employ one of the crowd-engaging techniques to better communicate one of your key points. Also keep in mind the adult learning techniques that can be employed during your program.

Be sure to also consider the format and set-up of your assigned room. If you discover that your program’s description needs to be updated, contact Heidi Letzmann at AALL immediately.

Consider your technology needs now that you have decided on a format and timeline for your program. The movement of your speakers will determine microphone needs. Will you need a computer for PowerPoint presentations or accessing the web? Your speakers should get their equipment requests to you by April 15; use this information to complete and submit the Equipment Request Form (for Coordinators) by April 22. If you need to make any changes to your request after you’ve submitted the form, please contact Pam Reisinger.

  • Will there be handouts? If so, will you upload them electronically or bring physical copies to distribute?
Also consider providing a physical takeaway that attendees can either download or pick up in your program’s room; please be aware, however, that any handouts or other documents must be uploaded to the Educational Program Materials Collection site by the June 16.

Answering the questions on the worksheet will ensure that your program is in great shape, and will put you and your speakers at ease.  Of course, if you have any questions, the Annual Meeting Program Committee and AALL headquarters staff is happy to answer them.  Thanks for taking this extra time to make your program stellar!
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