Convention Ideas: Meet the Teacher

The summary of the convention ideas series is here.

So you want to add more professional stuff to your convention or conventions.

Do you have any schools, colleges, educational facilities near you?  Then you've got a ton of potential guests right there.  In short, start inviting teachers, trainers, and so forth to your convention.

First, this is an easy way to get guests – odds are that the people in question will have some interest in your convention subject, if only tangentially.  This also means they may be willing to speak for free memberships, or just out of a chance to network.

Secondly, the teachers and educators may have great ideas.  The convention may give them a chance to make new suggestions, do unusual things they don't often speak on or lecture on, or try out new material.  You're going to the experts – who knows what they're going to come up with.

Third, the teachers and educators you invite may already have fantastic materials to use, hand out, or just plain sell (don't begrudge them a bit of cash here).  They'll likely come well-prepared, and may surprise you and your audience – there's nothing like having people attend a simple lecture on, say, writing, and walk out with handouts or a book.

Finally, the educators you invite may be grateful for the attention and publicity.  It gives  them a chance to be recognized, make connections, and try out some new things.

So next time you're asking how to make your convention more professional, go to one of the sources – teachers, trainers, and educators.

– Steven Savage

Convention Idea – Involve your attendees

The continuing series on ways to add career elements to convention is here.

Putting career oriented elements in a convention is challenging.  There's time, equipment, and of course – guests.  Finding someone to speak on voice acting, graphic arts, publishing, and more means taking time away from other activities guests can do – and possibly sinking your plans for career panels.  You can't get everyone you want to do all the career events you want.

Turn to your attendees.  I've seen this done with great success.

Of your attendees, no small amount of them are probably involved in professions and careers that the rest of the attendees would be interested in.  You've probably got a huge amount of potential "guests" right there, or at least panelists who can get a discount on their membership.

Many conventions do this, but I'd advise going one step further and actively engaging people.  Find out who's attending with particular skills and backgrounds.  Ask them at the dead dog party.  Put posts in your forums.  See what you've got.

I've found attendee-run panels like this can be great successes because the pool of potential people can be huge – you can find all sorts of interesting experiences, specialized skills, and more.  Most people will jump at the chance to help out at a convention anyway.

Over time, I'd recommend building a list of potential "attendee contributors."  Court them, keep up with them, engage them.  They can provide you great panels and events, and help out in other ways.

– Steven Savage