At least 6 months prior to your conference:
1. Organize a conference planning committee and choose one person to be the lead conference planner
Projects are most successful when they are overseen by a project manager. One person from your planning committee should be designated as the lead conference planner. This person will be in charge of creating and admining a conference planning Facebook group, organizing and leading con calls, empowering committee members, and organizing the task delegation process.
2. Establish a Facebook conference planning group
If your region has over 100 members, the lead conference planner should create a Facebook conference planning group and add all members of the planning committee. The lead conference planner, John Dehlin and Anne Peffer should be admins of the group. If your region has less than 100 members, consider using your regional Facebook support community group to plan your conference.
3. Reserve a date
Mormon Stories would like to continue hosting at least one conference a month. As Mormon Stories conferences are in high demand, please contact Anne at MormonStories@gmail.com to reserve your month at least six months before you would like to hold your conference; many regions reserve their conference months over a year prior to their planned date. While John Dehlin would love to attend all Mormon Stories conferences, the demands of his Ph.D. program make this impossible. Regions that feel they can plan a conference without John will likely have an easier time scheduling a month.
4. Hold an initial conference call to discuss venue, theme and potential keynote speakers
Assign committee members to investigate the availability of appropriate venues. If you expect to have 50 or fewer attendees, look for a large home. Many regions have held conferences in churches of other denominations (we are not able to use LDS facilities). Planners can also look for rooms in libraries, community centers and private businesses. Hotels are generally too expensive.
Begin discussing a theme. While choosing a theme sounds simple, it is possibly the most time-consuming of aspect of conference planning. For the sake of protecting planners’ time, it is recommended that you use the initial conference call to begin a general theme brainstorm and that you continue your brainstorm in writing on Facebook. Resist the inclination to spend too much time debating possible themes; everyone is busy. In the end, the lead conference planner and Mormon Stories will make a final decision for the purpose of reducing the amount of time it can take for a large group to reach consensus on a few words. While you are free to write your own theme, there is nothing wrong with copying the theme of a previous conference.
Past themes have included:
- Re(creating) Community
- Pioneering Mixed-Belief Communities
- Common Ground
- Developing Healthy Personal Identities within Diverse Communities
- Genuine Mormon Relationships: Maintaining Positive Relationships Through Empathy and Dialogue
- Big Tent Mormonism: We Love You, We Support You, We Claim You
- Mormon Crossroads: Traversing New Paths
Brainstorm potential keynote speakers. Smaller regions should plan on having a single keynote speaker. Larger regions can support two or possibly even three keynotes. Please email Anne at MormonStories@gmail.com for an incomplete list of possible keynotes.
5. Solidify your venue, theme and keynotes. Prepare an initial budget. Get approval from Mormon Stories.
Income: Conservative projected number of attendees times the cost of your conference (standard registration price is $37.00 or $25.00).
Expenditures: venue rental, speaker airfare, speaker housing (if applicable), food, administrative costs
At least 4 months prior to your conference:
1. Finalize your venue rental and pay your deposit.
Mormon Stories can provide venues with proof of insurance, proof of nonprofit status. Once a contract is received, our accountant can mail a check directly to the venue.
2. Hold a conference call to:
- Finalize your theme and keynotes
- Plan a Friday night social event and an informal Sunday activity
- Choose community speakers, women or LGBT community members to conduct, people to pray and musical numbers
- Copy this conference planning template to your Facebook group and fill in all of the details
3. Make sure Anne has everything she needs to advertise your conference on MormonStories.org.
At least 1 month prior to your conference:
Hold a conference call with your committee members to divide the following tasks:
- Community advertising, when appropriate and necessary
- Finding housing for keynotes, if necessary
- Finding transportation for keynotes, if necessary
- Taking care of special keynote needs, if any
- Communicating with keynotes
- Purchasing or preparing food for Saturday conference breaks
- Reserving a restaurant for Saturday evening after the conference
- Logistics of Friday night event
- Communicating with the venue about sound equipment and podcast recording
- Communicating with the venue about gaining access to the facility on the day of the conference
- Setting up on the day of the conference
- Confirming community speakers, musical numbers, and prayers
- Preparing the program (templates available)
- Printing the program
1 week prior to your conference:
Hold a conference call to:
- Confirm which committee members are responsible for which tasks
- Take care of any outstanding details