Tag Archives: panels

The WisCon 41 schedule — Hot off the presses!

Programming

IT’S TIME.

The schedule for WisCon 41 is now live online for everyone to view!

(Note: The WisSched app has not yet updated. We’ll let you know when it’s ready!)

Want a more manageable view of the schedule? Did you know that if you click around on the options at the top of the schedule grid you can change the view and even filter to different programming types? To change the view, at the top look for Display — then try out the Schedule, List, and Grid options. Want to just see what all the panels are? At the top of the page, look for the (multi-colored) labels marked Gathering, Parties, and so forth. For panels, click Program — et voila!

And they aggregate, too, so if you want a List view of all the Parties and Games, you can do that! To aggregate, select your preferred view, then click on the various programming tracks buttons to add those filters.

There’s a search, too, which will search across programming titles and descriptions (but not panelists).

Are you part of a programming item and have a question for us? For the fastest response, please contact the team for your specific type of programming directly:

  • Panels: program@wiscon.net
  • Academic: academic@wiscon.net
  • The Gathering: gathering@wiscon.net
  • Gaming: gaming@wiscon.net
  • Parties: parties@wiscon.net
  • Readings: readings@wiscon.net
  • Workshops: workshop@wiscon.net

In the next few days, we’ll be having blog posts to showcase details of other aspects of WisCon, from the Art Show to Gaming to the Dealers’ Room. Stay tuned!

WisCon 41 Panel Sign-Up and Interest Survey Is Open!!! Deadline to Submit Survey — March 13

Programming

Panel Surveys are open until March 13. Now’s the chance to give YOUR feedback on what panels will run during WisCon 41. The survey is a big part on how programming is decided every year! If you want to more about how panel programming, please view this post for a quick overview.

WisCon programming is divided into separate tracks which group related concepts together in order to facilitate interesting and complex discussions. The current list of tracks are below:

  • Feminism and Other Social Change Movements
  • Power, Privilege, and Oppression
  • Spirituality, Organized Religion and Politics
  • Science and Technology
  • The Craft and Business of Writing
  • Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing Science Fiction
  • Fandom as a Way of Life
  • Gaming

You will need to a WisCon account in order to view the survey. If you don’t have an account, create one at the Create Your Account page. For those with an account already created, go to Log in to My Account page.

Once you’re logged into your account, you can choose your panel interests on the panel sign up and attendance interest form!

For your convenience, we also provide a full list of proposed panel items. You may wish to open this link in a separate tab or window for ease of reference.

Questions/Concerns/Feedback can be sent to program@wiscon.info.

Thank you for your continued attendance, feedback, and support of WisCon as we finalize programming for this year.

WisCon 41 Call for Programming Ideas!!

Tanya DePass and JP Fairfield
Programming Co-Leads

It’s that time of year again! One of many reminders to come that program ideas submissions are open!  The WisCon 41 Programming team looks forward to receiving all of the awesome ideas YOU have to offer!

We invite you to submit programming ideas for WisCon 41 through Friday, Jan 20. To submit an idea, visit our program idea submission form.  You can use the form without logging in, or you can log into your WisCon account if you’d like to receive email confirmation that your suggestion was received.

Please note that starting this year there will be a hard stop for accepting program idea submissions.  Unfortunately, the WisCon 41 Programming team will not be able to accept any program ideas after the Jan. 20 (11:59pm Central Time!) cutoff.  Make sure to submit your ideas before the deadline!

We can’t wait to see your suggestions!

Don’t forget to review your programming assignments!

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

We’ve reached the penultimate step in the process of revealing our schedule for WisCon 40 — preliminary programming assignments have been sent out!!

Did you receive an email about your preliminary assignment?  That means the crucial part of this step is now in your hands.  Please log into your WisCon account  and respond to each of your assignments.  Hit the accept/decline link and on the next page select either “This works for me.” or “I have a problem.”  There’s a box where you can leave a comment about what’s not working for you — use this box, as it will help our programming team sort things out!

If you’ve been placed on a panel, you have through Monday, April 25, at 11:59pm Central Time to respond to your preliminary assignments.

Did you NOT get an email about programming assignments?  Check your spam, and if you still don’t see it you can always just log in at account.wiscon.net to see if you’ve been assigned to anything.  Your preliminary program will show up on the main page after login.

If you are accepting ANY of your programming assignments, please take a moment to also review your program name and bio.  How do you find that?  On the main page — where it says “Hello, [name]!  You are logged in as [email address]” — you’ll find a line with your name.  Immediately to the right of your name will be the hyperlinked word “Edit.”  Click on that to be taken to the profile page.

On the profile page, you can set your badge name.  You can set how your name will appear in the Pocket Program Book.  And if you’d like your name to NOT appear when we post the schedule online, there’s a ticky-box for that.

If you enter a website URL, your participant information online will link to it.

Complete the “Short bio” box with how you’d like to be biographied in our Pocket Program Book and in the WisSched app.  Complete the “Long bio” to have a longer biography on our website, where the pixels are free and we’re not constrained by the limitations of paper size and cost.

Click “Save” and you’re good!  And we’re one bit closer to releasing the kraken full WisCon 40 schedule!!

WisCon 40 panel sign-up and interest survey open!

Tanya D., Joanna Lowenstein, K Tempest Bradford, Stef Maruch
Panel Programming

YES!! The moment we’ve been eagerly awaiting is here. The WisCon 40 panel sign up and attendance interest form is now open!

(Viewing the survey does require an account.wiscon.net login, but they’re quick to get right here!)

Traditionally, WisCon programming has been divided into separate tracks to provide some visual organization in the at-Con programming pocket guide. However, they serve other purposes. By grouping like concepts together, we hope to prompt you to think of fascinating and important directions to take programs. The tracks are listed below. Click “More»” to read each full description to aid you as you fill out the survey.

Changes for WisCon 40! This year we have a Gaming Track as well as a Teen Programming track. Remember these new tracks, and when we announce that panel suggestions for WisCon 41 are open, please give us plenty of suggestions!

Please review your panel interest expressions on the panel sign up and attendance interest form!

For your convenience, we also provide a full list of proposed panel items. You may wish to open this link in a separate tab or window for ease of reference.

Thank you for your continued attendance, feedback, and support of WisCon as we finalize programming for this year.

Cheers!

Submit programming and panel ideas for WisCon 40 – Deadline is January 29th

K. Tempest Bradford, Joanna Lowenstein, Tanya DePass
Programming

2016 is upon us — and WisCon 40 is just four months away! That means it’s time to submit panel and other programming ideas. (Technically, you could have done so right after WisCon 39, but this is the time of year we start talking deadlines and such.) To send us your idea, go to wiscon.net/idea and fill out the form. Simple!

Who can submit ideas?

Anyone! Obviously, we encourage people who plan to attend WisCon to submit, but you don’t have to be registered to do so. If you think you might come to WisCon but don’t know for sure and really want there to be a panel about That Thing You Love if you do come, send us the idea. If you think there should be a conversation about a Very Important Thing even if you’re not there to have that conversation, send us the idea. If you’re coming to WisCon for sure and want a panel to happen but don’t want to be on that panel, send us the idea. And, of course, if you’re coming and you have a panel you want to happen and you want to be on it, send us the idea.

Does the panel have to be fully formed and perfect with the Best Title Ever and a description that would make the Restoration Hardware copy writers weep with envy?

Nope. You can submit sketches of ideas, half-formed thoughts, vague outlines. The programming team will do their best to interpret what you give us and turn it into a proposed panel with a title and full description.

If you would like to submit ideas with semi-polished titles and descriptions but feel like you need some input or help, you can always create a WisCon Brainstorming Thread on your blog or on social media. In fact, the comment section of this post is a free space for panel brainstorming and members of the programming team will pop in to assist up until the deadline.

Are we only accepting panel ideas, or are we up for suggestions outside of the 3 – 5 people sit behind a table and talk for an hour format?

We are very interested in any kind of programming ideas. Anything from roundtable discussions to group participation activities to performances to puppet shows and anything else. The only exceptions: Readings and Academic Talks/Presentations. Those are handled by other departments.

Please feel free to think outside the box and propose things we haven’t ever done before. We can’t promise to be able to make it possible this year. We can say that we’re open to new stuff. Just do us one favor: if you’re not registered yet, provide some way for us to contact you if we have questions in the description.

Is there a limit to how many ideas I can submit?

Nope. Well… okay, your limit is 100.

When is the deadline for submitting programming ideas?

January 29th.

What happens after I submit a programming idea?

Once the deadline hits and we gather all the submissions together, the programming team combs through them all and decides which panels will move onto the next step: the Programming Survey. The Survey is a list of all the viable panel ideas submitted, which is sent to WisCon attendees. The WisCon community votes on the panels, marking the ones they’d like to attend and which they want to be on as panelist or moderator. The panels with the most interest then move on to the final schedule.

How do you decide which panels go on the survey?

We try to err on the side of inclusiveness on that first pass. We weed out panels that are inappropriate for WisCon or that are just inappropriate period. We may also combine panels or other types of programming items that are very similar to each other. We also do some light massaging of panel titles and descriptions for clarity or, if they are simple sketches of an idea, we make them more robust. At this stage none of the descriptions and titles are final, and we welcome feedback from the community about language and appropriateness.

I’m ready to start submitting program ideas!

Awesome. Get to it!

Tips for Mods

Thank you for volunteering to moderate at WisCon. Our members — creative, passionate, and eager to participate — really shine with the guidance of a skillful moderator.

Before the con

Guiding panel development

Read the panel description a few times. (If you’re fuzzy on what’s intended, please contact program@wiscon.net for guidance.) There have been many WisCon panels that have run aground on clashing interpretations. How do you understand the issues raised in the panel description? What would you need to know to answer the questions raised? As you moderate, you are encouraging the panelists to share their knowledge with the audience, so you need to know who on the panel knows what. This is a good time for yes/no questions. Do they agree with the underlying premise(s) of the panel description? Do they have examples to support that belief? Find out if panelists fall into one, two, or more groups. The more opinions in the group, the less time will be available to express each of them, so you may decide to narrow the panel focus a little by only exploring one or two points with the panelists.

Find out about the panelists

Contact your panelists. Introduce yourself. Describe your understanding of the panel description. Inquire about theirs: do they agree with the proposition as stated? what is their interest? Ask about relevant resources. Elicit 2-3 points crucial to each panelist. Suggest or solicit panel formats. Offer ways for panelists to contact you. Invite them to respond by your deadline.

Decide on your overall format

There are interrelated decisions here. How long should each panelist speak? If (and when) does the audience get involved? Set times for each section. Will each panelist speak on the topic for a few minutes or will you launch right into your discussion questions? If you have particular moment you’re working for, what will lead up to it and how will you wind down from it?

Physical placement

WisCon’s standard room setup is a long table draped in white with the panelists sitting behind it, facing the audience. If the room has microphones, make sure that everyone uses them. Some of us have hearing loss and even the folks on the floor in the back want to hear. If you sit on the end at right angles to the panel, it’s easy to maintain eye contact with all the panelists, but some of the audience is behind you. If you sit in the middle of the panel, you can act as a “bridge” among the panelists, and you have good audience eye contact.

If you are unable to interact with panelists pre-con

  • Use the magic message board (ask at the Registration Desk) to meet up with your panelists if you can.
  • Try to quiz each panelist in the Green Room, soliciting three points they wish to make.
  • Start the panel with 5 minutes of questions from the audience, which you jot down and crystallize. Structure the rest of the panel around the panelists answering those off the tops of their heads.

In the Green Room

  • Get name tents.
  • Ask how panelists pronounce their names, if necessary write down a rhyming phrase.
  • Go over the agenda: how much time for each part of the program.
  • Describe your approach to handling audience questions.

What to Bring

  • A time keeping tool.
  • Note taking tools.
  • Pocket Program Book (panel title and description, panelist bios).
  • Name tents (pick up these and your panelists in the Green Room).
  • Questions, a couple to start discussion and some extras in case discussion falters or wanders away from the topic.

During the Panel

Start and end the panel on time! Even if some panelists are late, go ahead and start. If discussion is still going strong at the end, urge those interested to Spontaneous Programming.

Making it flow

  • Take note of interesting comments made. You can refer back to them or ask follow-up questions.
  • Pay attention to how much each panelist is speaking. You can interrupt or check someone who is talking more than others, or ask specific questions of someone who is speaking less.
  • Use your prepared questions if things get stuck.
  • During the panel, avoid yes/no questions in favor of “wh-” questions, for example: “When… or Why … or How … did you come to that conclusion?” or “What has that meant to you as a …reader? or …viewer? or …writer?” or “That’s interesting, can you tell me more about that?”

Managing audience questions

Make your guiding philosophy and mechanics clear during startup housekeeping and follow-through. Every way of managing the speaking queue involves some arbitrary decisions; it’s rare that everyone who wants to gets the chance to speak.

Please repeat audience questions. This helps everyone, including those of us with hearing loss, particularly those who lip-read because they do not have to look away from the panel. Also, don’t put your hands or any objects in front of your mouths when speaking.

Who do you want to privilege?

  • If you call on the person who makes the most noisy handwaves and “ooh! ooh!” then you’re privileging the folks who feel comfortable drawing attention to themselves.
  • You can decide to always call on members of one group first: make it clear at the beginning and offer to discuss it after the program item is over.
  • You can randomize speaking by asking those with their hands raised to self-select: e.g., “If you were born after April, put your hands down” or “People who live West of the Mississippi, put your hands down” or “If your middle name contains the letter “e,” put your hands down.”
  • You can keep a continuous queue throughout the panel, taking notes of people by name (if you can read the tags) or clothing/hair color/room location. The drawback is at least half the questions are out of sync with the discussion.
  • You can solicit comments/questions on a particular topic, then direct closure of that topic’s discussion — “Anyone have something to add on this topic” — and move on. The advantage to this is it makes space for deliberate thinkers to formulate their questions.
  • Reflecting the themes in the panelists’ comments, you can seek out audience members who have complementary or contrasting experiences. If the panelist mentions marine biology and its influence on poetic forms, for example, you can ask, “Has anyone here lived at sea for a substantial time? How did that affect your reading style?”

When you signal one person to begin speaking, decide who the next speaker (audience or panel) is right away, so you have someone to point to if you need to deflect attention. Don’t signal the second person to start until it’s time!

“This is more of a comment than a question.”

There will always be members who say this; it’s up to you whether you allow them to continue. If not, announce your policy at startup housekeeping. When someone starts with “More of a comment than a question” interrupt, look them steadily in the eye, and say “Thank you, we’re focusing on questions today,” then rapidly move to the next person in the queue.

Moderating Challenging Situations

The insistent hand waver/seagull “me me me!”

  • Use non-verbals to communicate — “I see you, I recognize your desire to speak” — regardless of whether you intend to call on them.
  • Look directly in their eyes.
  • Nod, mouth “got you,” jot down their name, or mime jotting down their name.
  • Mime “I see you,” use first two fingers to point at your eyes, then move the back of your pointing hand out towards them (don’t point at their face, as it’s insulting in some cultures).

Outrage and fury directed at another member

  • Acknowledge strong emotions neutrally without judging their propriety or truth. Deflect emotion from the person to their ideas or choice of language. (Separate someone’s behavior from their essence.)
  • Give the outraged person your undivided attention for 5 seconds but do not react in any way, that is, no nodding, no “uh huh.”
  • Say, “I understand this (or “X,” if you can name it) is very important to you. What about that idea (or statement or viewpoint) would you like to comment on?”

“Passing the baton” from discursive talkers to a new speaker

  • There are always people who don’t want to relinquish the floor.
  • If you hear them winding down, jump in quickly with “Thank you for that. Now, moving on…”
  • If they don’t wind down, or don’t take that hint, when you call on the next speaker, in addition to pointing (or using name) use your eye gaze and body position (point your heart at the next speaker). If the current speaker doesn’t pick up on this signal, put your attention back on the talkative person and match their output. Nod your head and say “uh huh uh huh” slightly louder each time, and then speak over them, “That’s very interesting. Yes, yes. Time to move on.” Pause, then point out the next speaker. This works with panelists and audience members.

Wrapping it Up

When the Green Room’s “10 minutes left” volunteer pops in, immediately focus on wrapping up (because it really does take 10 minutes!). Say, “It looks like it’s time to bring our discussion to a close.” Let the current question resolve itself. Ask the panelists if they have any closing comments. If the conversation is not over, suggest members move to Spontaneous Programming. If members are rushing the panelists for signing, remind them that the time and place for that is the SignOut on Monday morning.

If the panel is running out of steam, one excellent way to wrap up the discussion is to solicit “what I learned” from audience members. This provides panelists with valuable feedback while reinforcing the points made.

Above all, have fun. It’s a challenging job, but we hope you enjoy yourself while you moderate!

A Sample Housekeeping/Startup Script

  • Let’s get started!
  • I’m Sandy Beach, your moderator for today.
  • Welcome to [read the title and description from the program book — some folks will leave because they’re in the wrong panel].
  • Housekeeping: If you need to be close to understand the panelists, please come on up and sit in the blue stripe seats.
  • If you have trouble hearing anyone, please make a “time out” sign.
  • If anyone is sitting in the fire aisles: “Please don’t stop in the blue stripe fire aisles — there are seats and wall space (point to where appropriate).
  • Here’s the schedule for today:
    • We’ll be [program format] for minutes, until 00:00 (give clock time as well as duration).
    • Then we’ll open it up for discussion for 00 minutes, until 00:00.
    • I will be taking your questions, [briefly mention who you’re privileging; explain how members join the question/comment queue].
    • We’ll wrap things up in around 70 minutes, at 00:00
  • Now it’s time to introduce the panel and get rolling!

Introduce each participant and read their bio from your Pocket Program Book. If you don’t know how to say their names, ask each in turn: “Tell us who you are.” and “What intrigued you about this topic?” (Beware: some chatty panelists can take this conversational ball and run 20 minutes with it. If they go beyond 2 minutes, break in “We have plenty of time to explore this in detail.  For now, I’d like to get back to introductions (or, if those are done) the first question.”) One way to kick the panel off: state the strong/extreme formulation of the basic question, and then make it clear that, since we all know the answer is somewhere in the middle, all of us are in search of those nuances.

Tips for Panelists

WisCon programming items are inclusive. You don’t have to be a published expert to be a great WisCon presenter or panelist. If you are new to panels or need a refresher, this list will help you be a great panelist.

Preparing for the convention

  • Your moderator will contact you before the convention. Respond to your moderator’s email. This is your chance to define the format, structure, and scope of the panel.
  • Re-read the panel description and raise questions about anything that’s not clear.
  • Let the other panelists know what your interpretation of the panel description is. Everyone doesn’t have to agree to the same take on a panel, but it is helpful to let each other know where you’re coming from before hand. If you are going to discuss specific books, mention them in your email to the other panelists. You don’t all need to have read the same books to have an interesting discussion.
  • Formulate the things you’d like to convey during the allotted time Keep this list simple. You may want to keep the sub-topics to no more than three.
  • Different people have different styles and different panels have different structures. Decide beforehand how structured your panel will be and how much time will be devoted to panelist participation and audience participation.
  • Do your homework. Gather the names of the books and authors you want to discuss. People in the audience will ask for specifics. Read, view, listen to relevant materials. Prepare notes and/or spend time thinking about the topic. You may do this on your own and in emails with the other panelists, depending on how the group decides to interact before the convention.

At the Con

  • Meet up in the 2nd floor Green Room 10 minutes before the panel start time. This gives you an opportunity to meet fellow panelists and finalize details.
  • Start on time! If unavoidably late, quietly enter the room, take a place at the table and wait for your mod to fold you into the panel-already-in-progress. Don’t apologize for being late. The audience is paying attention to the ongoing discussion, not to you.
  • Share the time with other panelists and the audience. Respect the other panelists views. If you disagree don’t make it personal.

Be aware that the other panelists may have as much to say as you do. Let the moderator manage the panelists’ time. In an hour-and-fifteen minute panel for five panelists there are roughly 15 minutes apiece not counting audience input. WisCon audiences want to get into the discussion as soon as possible. Prepare to answer lots of audience questions. The moderator will let the audience know how soon they will start taking questions, while setting up the panel. Defer to the moderator as they directs the conversation.

Bring a notepad. Discussion moves very quickly and it can help to take notes of what you want to cover when the moderator gets back to you.

Look at the audience. Resist the temptation to address your comments solely to a fellow panelist, even when responding to a specific point.

Speak one at a time. Refrain from whispering with other panelists.

Use the microphone, when available. Make sure it is turned on. If using a microphone is new to you ask the moderator for instructions.

Panel Programming

  • contact:  program@wiscon.net
  • WisCon 41 deadline to accept/decline your panels: April 22, 2017

WisCon is famous for panel programming that’s full of great conversation, that covers a spectrum including the hilarious and the intensely political — and that’s far more than you’ll be able to fit in during one weekend (sorry!).  Our panels celebrate our Guests of Honor, delve into discussions of gender, race, disability, and class, and explore every aspect of science fiction from current books and film to transformative works to fandom itself.

Who’s on our panels?  Members of the convention themselves, including professional authors, detail-loving academics, and attentive fans.

Programming Timeline

WisCon programming is developed in stages, all heavily influenced by our participants and attendees.

Idea Collection: We collect ideas throughout the year and generally close idea submission in mid- to late-January. We receive several hundred ideas and we’re forced to cut or postpone some because we simply don’t have the capacity to run them all.

Participant Signup: In February we open up programming for participants to let us know their interest in a programming idea and to volunteer to serve as panelists or moderators.

Scheduling and Program Assignments: Using the participant sign-up information, we determine which items will be scheduled, who will be assigned to them and when, and in what room they will happen. Participants receive an email confirming the details of their assignments A first cut at the schedule generally goes out to program participants in early April.

Program Assignments: By late April we’re able to publicly reveal the full program schedule.  Minor adjustments will continue to be made even into the convention itself (e.g., a panelist may need to leave a panel), but the schedule we reveal in late April is 99% final!

How Long Do These Programs Last?

The standard program time slot is one hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes), followed by a 15-minute break until the next program. No one is going to actually kick anyone out of a program room during the 15-minute break, but remember that break is your chance to use the restroom or run up to the Con Suite! Continuing our tradition of supporting our convention attendees’ need to eat meals without missing programming, lunch and dinner breaks are scheduled at 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m. Hardly anything gets scheduled during these periods. But the Con Suite will remain open for your refreshment. Relax, get a bite to eat and hang out!