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Planning a Woman’s Conference
Planning a Conference for Women Leaders
Planning a successful women conference should address particular challenges women face in their careers, like finding work/life balance, leading in risky positions, and thriving amidst gender imbalance. When planning the conference, women should be the primary decision makers, as they’ll know best how to plan a conference that addresses the issues that women face in the workplace. The planning committee should also represent as diverse a range of women as possible, to address the issues that women face in their careers.
When planning a conference for women, choose a theme that inspires women in your industry and speaks to the issues they face. Consider whether the theme should be broad or narrow, based on the audience you are trying to attract. The theme “The Invisible Leaders” will appeal to the overlooked and underutilized, while “Career Advancement” could work for a conference geared toward women at all career levels.
Invite speakers who could serve as mentors to women in your industry. Inspiring women from Fortune 500 companies, and local women who are mentors in the community, are good choices. However, a woman leader from a completely different industry can be a powerful choice as well. Choosing a charismatic and well-known speaker as the keynote will spark strong interest in the conference. Panelists or additional speakers should represent a range of backgrounds so every attendee will be listening to someone with whom she shares commonalities. When each attendee sees someone she identifies with speaking with expertise and authority, she’ll be able to envision herself doing the same.
3. Panels and Workshops
Plan a range of conference panels and workshops that deal with themes relevant to attendees. Topics might include dealing with gender imbalance, branding yourself for success, balancing a career and home life, finding mentors and advocates, and strategizing for career advancement. Dealing with intersectional challenges related to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and other identity markers is another important topic, as people who are marginalized in more than one way typically experience greater challenges in the workplace. Make sure sessions allow for interactive discussion, so participants will all have the chance to learn from the diverse range of experience in the room and feel empowered to share their own.
As you begin planning the conference for women leaders, additional ideas for speakers and panel discussions will probably start flowing naturally. Surveying women in your industry to learn more about what they’d be interested in learning about is another way to generate ideas. Choosing the right speaker, presenters, and panel sessions will ignite passion, confidence, and purpose in attendees that will last long after the conference is over.
Copyright © 2012 Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved. Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., and the author of 7 books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Cisco, Oracle, and many more. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, "41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!"
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