In case you hadn’t noticed, the
SES Chicago 2006
agenda is up. It actually went up over a week ago, but I’ve not said much to try
and stem off all the people asking about sessions openings. Yes, if you want to
remaining openings are now up
Every wonder how I pull together an agenda with over 70 sessions
logistically? I use somewhat similar technology to how Matt Cutts
suggestions, good old analog paper and pen — in particular, lots of 3M
Here’s a look at the agenda before it got turned into the nice
at-a-glance grid now online.
And a close-up of Day 1:
Most of what I do starts in Outlook. I have sessions in mind, plus I get
emailed session suggestions. Those all become subfolders within Outlook. Then
it’s decision time. All the session ideas become Post-It notes. I have sheets
with probably 200 notes for sessions that I’ve done over the years or may be
To get started, I find the sheets from the last show (SES San Jose, in this
case). I weed out sessions that may have been one-timers, a few that didn’t do
so well or others that simply lose out so I can try new stuff. The hardest part
is most sessions do well. It’s really sad to make a cull, because of this. But
the herd is stronger in the end! By the way, I refer to speakers on such
sessions to be "orphan speakers." If they’ve done a good job, I make it a
priority to try and help orphans find a new home.
That leaves me with a lot of blank spaces. Now I start sifting through my big
bank of ideas, new sessions, sessions that have taken a break and so on. Post-It
notes start flying around my desk.
See how a few sessions are multi-stacked notes? That’s when you get a variety
of sessions that are somewhat related. I can’t run them all, so I start
consolidating the ideas.
Oh, the color of notes means nothing. It’s just whatever I have. I’ve thought
about using colored notes to mean paid, organic, advanced and so on. But getting
that organized with Post-It notes scares me.
When I’ve settled on a plan, I then fire up Frontpage (yes, don’t mock me.
It’s a good program for a writer who wants inline spell checking, and curses
onto Microsoft for making me ultimate have to decide if this
Expression Web Designer program will be the right successor to it). I open
up my last at-a-glance agenda. Zap go the things not returning, then I move what
remains as appropriate and add in the new sessions.
If you look close, a few sessions now online won’t be exact matches to my
Post-It notes. Changes can happen even after the Post-It note stage.
I’m sure there might be great planning tools out there, but this method does
fine by me. I like my Post-Its. And interestingly, Chris Sherman does it the
exact same way. Neither of us realized this until we were talking planning a few
years ago. "You use Post-Its too?!!!"