The deadline for submitting sessions for the 2019 AASLH Annual Meeting in Philadelphia is December 7. Since we just wrapped up the 2018 Annual Meeting, I thought I would share some tips from attendees on what they want from sessions at AASLH conferences.
- The session must have a takeaway. Just telling people about your amazing program or exhibit is not enough. They want to know how you did that program, what you learned from its successes (or failures), and how those lessons can benefit their work when they get home.
- Don’t forget small museums. If you are from a large organization and are putting together a panel, include someone from a small museum. They bring a different perspective that is very valuable to AASLH attendees.
- It’s okay to have fun during a conference session. We often focus on the big picture issues we are tackling in our profession at conferences, but sometimes it’s good to go to a session that is fun while provides practical takeaways. AASLH is offering some new formats this year that can help bring more creative sessions into the conference. Think experimentally about how you can present your topic.
- Not all AASLH members work at museums. Attendees want sessions that can reach across the history field to those working in parks, schools, libraries, and other organizations, too. How can your session topic make those connections?
- Leave space for audience questions and feedback. If you are submitting a panel or roundtable, think critically about the number of speakers. Do you really need three, plus a moderator? Do those three offer different perspectives on the topic, or are they all telling the same story? Make sure the proposal is structured from the beginning to leave adequate time for Q&A.
Finally, attendees wanted to see more variety in topics at the 2019 conference. Some areas traditionally not (or barely) represented in session proposals are:
- Leadership – Topics for experienced CEOs and managers
- Volunteer Management
- Career Development Topics
If you need more ideas, here is a list of suggestions for future topics from the 2018 survey. If you have suggestions for other topics that need to be included, put together a session. We want to hear from you!