Breaks – Strangely enough, outside of Story Sharing Meetings (described below), breaks are the most important aspect of Mormon Stories conferences because they allow time for attendees to develop personal relationships. Breaks should be scheduled for a full half hour and the time should be guarded jealously. If time runs short on the day of a conference, planners should be prepared to cancel community speakers, breakouts, and panels before considering cutting into the time allotted for breaks. Resisting the inclination to over-plan will help preserve breaks without hurting presenters’ feelings.
Keynote Sessions – Keynote Sessions have two primary components: 1) an introduction that includes a reading of the Mormon Stories Conferences Statement of Purpose and the Mormon Stories Shared Values Statement and 2) one or two keynote speakers. Keynote Sessions are always held first. Smaller conferences need only have one keynote speaker; larger conferences may opt for two. On rare occasions, a third keynote speaker may be added to another session.
Second Sessions – Second Sessions highlight the interesting stories of community members that relate to the chosen conference theme. Visitors from other regions are also occasionally asked to speak. Second Session speakers should be given no more than 12 to 13 minutes and should be asked to write, rehearse and time their talks in order to preserve breaks. Three speakers and a musical number tend to fit in a one-hour block of time. Second Sessions are sometimes combined with a panel or a breakout session (without a break beforehand).
Breakout Sessions – Breakout Sessions allow attendees to divide into smaller groups to discuss specific topics in more intimate environments. They are especially effective when conference planners feel attendees are likely to have strong emotions and/or desires to participate more fully in the conference experience. Panels are particularly effective in breakout sessions. Breakout sessions should be scheduled for one hour and are most successful when held as the second session of the day. They may also be added at the end of a short community session without a leaving time for a full half-hour break beforehand.
Panels – Panels are moderated discussions held on specific topics. Topics, moderators and panelists should be carefully selected. Skilled moderators are able to effectively guide discussions, resolve conflicts, and protect panelists from potentially volatile audience questions. Panelists should be interesting and have experience with the selected topic. Panels are most appropriate during breakout sessions and as informal discussions over food. Panels held during main conference sessions should generally have well-known panelists (e.g. a keynote speaker or a senator).
Story Sharing Meetings – Mormon Stories Story Sharing meetings are conducted in the tradition of Mormon testimony meetings. The microphone is open for all attendees to share their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Those who currently identify with the Mormon faith tradition, those who identified with it in the past and all others are encouraged to share regardless of level of belief or activity. All Mormon Stories conferences end with Story Sharing Meetings.
Workshops – Workshops are educational sessions designed to address specific needs of particular community members. They are generally two to three hours long and are held on a different day than a main conference. Presenters should be well-qualified, should begin with a prepared presentation, and then should be ready to answer audience questions. Other forms of audience participation and engagement are encouraged and workshop format is flexible based on presenter needs. A single workshop may also have more than one presenter.