How to get into the program committee of a class conference, and why do you need it

    The program committee is the engine of any conference. It is thanks to his work that you see cool guys on stage with interesting reports. The reverse is also true - if the speakers' speeches are clearly raw, then the blame for this also lies on the PC.

    We at  AppsConf understood this from the very beginning, so we approached the issue fundamentally and started recruiting PC members back in April, six months before the conference itself. Basically, the selection method was simple - friends and friends of friends in whom we were confident. But there is a clear understanding that such a search method greatly limits us in the appearance of new people in the team with non-standard ideas - therefore, we decided in a separate article to talk about what a program committee is, how it works and how to get there .

    Important Notice: I’m talking about everything on the example of the AppsConf PC, but this is more or less true for many other conferences.

    About the goals of the program committee:

    • Recruit an interesting target audience program.
    • To polish all reports, both in content and in the level of the speaker's presentation and slide design.
    • Promote the conference by talking about it in the community.
    • Improve the conference from all sides - work on other formats, sponsorship stands, think over a souvenir and more.

    Goals are ranked in order of priority.

    About the organization of the PC

    All fast communication is done through Telegram chat . It discusses some organizational issues common to all participants in the initiative. Sometimes a decision is quickly made on some issues from the speakers. We try to maintain it in order, doing without flooding and lengthy discussions of some individual speakers. This is transferred to the cards in Trello.

    We are working with speakers at  Trello . Each potential speaker is a card that can be in one of 9 statuses:

    • Ideas for invitations (the first stage of the funnel, thoughts on what cool guys should be invited to participate).
    • Invited (sent invitation to the conference).
    • He thinks (he answered the invitation and took the time to think, or the discussion process started).
    • I agree (gave the green light to participate, the topic is already known).
    • Filed (instead of abstract consent, filed a specific application in the admin panel of the conference).
    • Work on the report (the first call with the speaker took place, a work plan was drawn up, the next call was appointed).
    • Delayed until the end of CFP (filed report, the author of which is not ready to invest in preparation until confirmation of its acceptance into the program).
    • Admitted to the program (those whom we have definitely decided to accept into the program).
    • Refused (everything is clear here).

    A card always has at least one performer - this is a curator. Sometimes there are more performers - these are PC members who have signed up to perform certain actions, for example, to view a call record.

    The curator  is the person who is responsible for the speaker from the moment he submits the application. His responsibilities include:

    • to find out in the correspondence the missing details on the report, for example, requesting a detailed plan;
    • hold an orientation call, talk about the conference and the preparation process, find out the details of the report;
    • carry out such a number of runs that will be sufficient to completely polish the report (usually more than two).

    In general, the curator for the speaker is the face of the entire program committee. In the opposite direction, it works in the same way - although other members of the PC view the runs, the curator remains the main storage medium.

    There is one important rule that we almost always adhere to: the curator should not be a colleague or friend of the person being supervised . This helps to be more objective, not to take excuses like: “everything will be fine, you know me,” and, if necessary, refuse with a calm heart.

    He himself faced such a situation when he oversaw a good friend. Each run repeated approximately the same story. I made a number of recommendations, and he consistently ignored them and continued to work in the direction that he considered necessary. And I, not wanting to spoil the relationship, could not make a tough decision and put before the fact - either follow the recommendations of the PC, or exclude from the program. As a result, the report went worse than it could, and the feedback from the audience largely repeated all the suggestions for improvements from the PC.

    Another PC tool is the schedule grid. It begins to form even in the early stages of the preparation of the conference and allows you to evaluate at any time whether there are enough reports already submitted to completely fill all the slots. The more reports submitted, the higher the quality bar rises for getting the report into the schedule.

    Drawing up the final grid is a separate big analytical work, which includes the following factors: report rating, speaker fame, similarity in neighboring slots, conference day, lunch proximity and much more. Ideally, the grid should be designed so that for representatives of all segments of the target audience at any time there is an interesting event .

    And our last tool is the calls, which are now held once every two weeks, and closer to the date of the conference will switch to a weekly mode. In these calls, we walk along Trello and discuss speakers in all statuses, Due date of which has already reached the current date. Various marketing ideas, partnership proposals, and other issues related to the goals of the program committee are also discussed there.


    This is the most important part of the work of the program committee member. The runs themselves are held in Zoom or Hangouts, recorded on video and attached to the speaker card. After some time, the curator collects feedback on the run and passes it to the speaker, after which they set the date for the next rehearsal. This feedback applies to all aspects of the report - its contents, slide design, quality of the presentation itself. In addition to experience and experience, we are guided by several important resources in our work:

    • Wiki for the speakers of all conferences Oleg Bunin.
    • Recommendations from PC members compiled in this article .
    • Zach Holman Tutorial .

    Typically, each report goes through at least two runs , after which it can change almost completely. In addition to the curator, several more members of the PC view the runs. On average, in order to accept a report in the program, estimates from three people are needed.

    Why do I need this?

    And here everyone has their own motivation. This is what AppsConf PC members say.

    • To defend the interests of the community. You involuntarily get early access to reports, personally get acquainted with the speakers, involuntarily you begin to understand topics that are of little interest to this. Yes, and attending a conference with a VIP ticket is a pleasant feeling.
      Evgeny Suvorov, Unit Development Manager Mobile Architecture, Avito
    • For me, participating in the program committee is a new experience; in Yandex, public events are arranged a little differently. It is also an opportunity to meet interesting people in person: organizers and speakers.
      Roman Busygin, iOS developer, Yandex Music
    • I like to help experts in the field fully disclose the topic to the audience.
      Stas Tsyganov, Head of Mobile,
    • Egor Head of App platform Avito, and I work in Avito. But in fact, working in a PC gives you the opportunity to get to know and work with speakers, wonderful open people.
      Dmitry Gryazin, Android developer, Avito
    • This allows you to see more reports than at the conference itself, and makes it possible to draw more interesting details from the speaker and make his report, which means the world around, is better :)
      Kirill Popov, Android developer, Odnoklassniki

    How to get to PC

    Everything is simple here. On the website of any conference there are contacts of the organizers. Write them to yourself, your experience as a speaker or organizer, or about the lack thereof. Tell us what you think is a good conference, what you usually look at in reports. Give examples of the performances that you like.

    In most cases, enthusiasts who would like to help with the selection and training of speakers are in short supply, so you will be torn off with your hands. As for AppsConf , this year the program committee has long been formed and is working. But you can write to me on Telegram (@etolstoy), and I will be happy to keep your contacts for the next season of the conference.

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