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Conference Organizing Committee

Lower Manhattan_NYC_081522A
[Lower Manhattan, New York City]


- Overview 

An active and dedicated organizing committee is the core of every successful academic conference. Every physical, virtual or hybrid academic event requires an active conference organizing committee. To host a great event, you need a team of committed individuals who have a vested interest in your meeting goals.

Committee members serve as ambassadors for the event, set the agenda and timetable, and complete the call for papers and peer review process. They also make sure the location is right and set up, coordinate with vendors, recruit attendees, pitch the meeting, and make sure everything goes according to plan. 

Recruiting and securing committee members is one of the first things you should do when planning a meeting. It is important that committee members feel empowered to make important choices about where, when and how activities are carried out. To this end, committee members should be assigned clear roles and responsibilities before any major planning decisions are made. 

The size of a conference planning committee can vary widely depending on the type of event. A small, simple academic conference can usually be organized by a small committee of 2-3 people, who can often take on the roles of multiple standards organizing committees, while larger conferences usually involve a larger team, each responsible for a Role.

It is important that your organizing committee represents the diversity that exists in your field. This means making sure your committee's demographics reflect the gender, race, and ethnicity prevalent in your area of focus.


- Steering Committee

The steering committee is usually responsible for appointing the conference's general chair and secretary-general, and may need to approve who will be appointed as programme chairs.


- General Chair

The general chair is the nominal head of the organizing committee of the conference. They represent committees with internal and external bodies and are usually appointed by the Steering Committee.

A general chair is usually responsible for approving the agenda and any requests for items to be discussed by the committee. During the meeting, the general chair shall ensure that any discussions are fair and inclusive. They should also make sure to provide a clear summary of each discussion so that decisions can be made and actions assigned.

Ultimately, it is their responsibility to provide all committee members with a comprehensive understanding of how the meeting fits strategically with the rest of the association's activities. They need to make everyone aware of budget constraints to curb excessive fantasies and ground the plan in reality.

Quick tip: It's not always necessary to reinvent the wheel. Once the general chair has been appointed (usually 12 to 18 months before the meeting), they should speak with the previous chair. Past chairs can fill in what was included in the budget, number of abstract submissions received, balance of payments, etc. While costs may vary slightly, the previous year's budget is a good starting point to work from.


- Secretary-General

The Secretary-General is primarily responsible for the administration and management of the conference. The role of the Secretary-General is that of the Conference's "Chief Administrative Officer".


- Program Chairs 

Program chairs ensure a well-balanced, high-quality technical program is organized and presented at your conference. Together with the program committee, they are responsible for determining the theme of the conference and planning the conference program. Together with the general chair, they formulate the conference call for  papers/abstracts. They are responsible for the peer review process.   



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