Planning a Successful National Meeting Program

We asked current and former program chairs for their advice on planning a successful program for an ACS national meeting. A summary of the most frequent and important suggestions follows (or read the full responses ).

Set deadlines for organizers ahead of the absolute deadlines; adhere to deadlines as much as possible.

  • Broaden your network to make your program stronger:
    - Enlist your program committee
    - Use division or field mailing lists to generate ideas
    - Consider co-organizers to broaden your reach within the discipline
  • Broaden your network to make your job easier:
    - Develop group of organizers who don't need handholding and keep them in the loop
    - Always be on the lookout for active division members you can enlist
  • Get an overview of national and regional meetings 1-2 years out and talk with thematic and fellow division program chairs well in advance about opportunities to collaborate.
  • Get familiar with PACS.
  • ACS staff are there to help—use them and heed their advice. Don't be shy about asking questions.
  • Document everything! Keep records, templates for emails and calls for papers. This will help you and future program chairs.
  • Limit competition for the audience when scheduling. Organize your program as a series of topic-themed tracks so the speakers of one symposium can become the audience of related symposia.
  • Be prepared for 90% of the program to come together at the last minute.
  • Don't be afraid to jettison a symposium that doesn't look like it will be successful or to (nicely) replace organizers who look like they aren't going to be successful, responsible, and engaged.