HOW Design Live: Planning Next Year’s Program

Planning a design conference—or any event, for that matter—is like planning a dinner party: You want just the right mix of people who have interesting things to say so the conversation stays lively and everyone leaves feeling like they had a great time. HOW’s team of editors and designers spearheads conference programming, gathering potential presentation topics and prospective speakers year ’round. They dive full-on into planning in midsummer the year prior to an event.

Since today is the deadline for designers to apply to speak at the 2012 HOW Design Live events (head over to our Call for Speakers page for info and a proposal form), I asked HOW content director Megan Lane Patrick to shed some light on the planning process.

What do you look for in a HOW design conference presentation pitch? What are the characteristics of the ideal HOW session, regardless of what conference you’re planning?

We’re looking for actionable advice that attendees will be able to apply in the careers or businesses right away. Whether the presentation is about finding inspiration, becoming a freelancer or hiring creatives, we want to be sure that the speaker will offer solid tips and information that designer can use.

How does the HOW team find new speakers for the various design events?

We spend a lot of time digging around online looking for experts and watching clips from their presentations. We also get a lot of great pitches and we reach out to designers we respect to ask for recommendations.

Give us a peek inside the conference-planning process—with four events to program at the same time, how does the planning team gather and organize session ideas?

We divide the different subjects we want to cover (creativity, business, technology, etc.) among ourselves and do intensive research in these specific areas. Then everyone chooses the best 10 – 12 ideas and creates a color-coded sheet for each one. We get together for an all-day meeting and post all the sheets on the walls around the room and present the ideas to the whole planning committee. By the end of the day the wall is organized into tracks with our first and second choices grouped together.

If a designer doesn’t have a ton of speaking experience, how do you suggest they polish their skills so they’re a good fit for a HOW event?

If you’re just getting started, look into speaking to local college classes. Students are eager to hear from professionals and instructors love to bring in guest speakers. The next step would be to get involved in your local AIGA chapter and develop a presentation for them. (Note: Find out how speaker Cami Travis-Groves polished her speaking skills in advance of her first HOW Design Conference.)

When will the agendas for the 2012 HOW Design Live events be announced?

Early January 2012.

Be among the first to know about HOW’s 2012 design events by heading over to the HOW Design Live website and signing up for the e-newsletter. And if there’s a topic you’d like to see on the 2012 conference program, visit the HOW Design Live Facebook page to suggest a topic.

Interested in speaking at a HOW design event next year or beyond? Submit a proposal form TODAY!