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Conference Planning Resources and Services


Many SSA affiliates host large, multi-speaker events.  This page is your group's "go-to" reference for running any sort of large, multi-speaker events.  Such events might be defined as any event that runs for a day or longer and includes many speakers and activities. Recent examples include Skepticon, ReasonFest, Skeptics of Oz, Darwin Week, the North Texas Secular Student Convention and others.

Included on this page are links to what we felt were the most useful resources and services we have available for planning these large-scale events. These resources and services are specifically available to affiliated student groups of the SSA.

Planning large-scale events is a major undertaking.  Not all SSA affiliate groups are suited for hosting such an event: it takes a large amount of income, a dedicated team of officers and volunteers, and a lot of time and energy.  You should consider carefully your resources and capacity before attempting to host such an event.  You should also read JT Eberhard's article which gives you a good idea of what you should expect from hosting an event like this.

Even if your group has hosted and ran large events in the past, that does not guarantee success or higher attendance in following years or at future events. You should always treat an event as if no one has heard of your group or your events before. Promotion is always important for every event to be successful.


First Time Events
It is important to remember, if this is the first conference your group is putting on, that you will not have the same success as other, longer established, conferences and conventions around the country. Events like Skepticon have had time to develop, gain name recognition, and get popular. Never compare your own conference event to others, especially thosethat have been established for several years. JT Eberhard, the founder of Skepticon, has written a great article about this. It is a must-read for anyone interested in creating and running events like this.

Budgeting is probably one the of biggest issues when trying to set up and run large events. Because of this, we have created a pre-made excel template for your group to start with. The form is already set up to do calculations automatically after the numbers are plugged in. If you request SSA funding for your event, we require as much information as possible to be filled in on this form. But even if you do not need SSA funding, we still highly recommend using the document for your own benefit.

Multi-Speaker Event Funding
Due to the increased popularity of multi-speaker events, we now have a special process set up to make it as simple as possible to obtain funding for them.  Instead of requesting funds separately through the Speakers Bureau and Project Grants, we've created one application that allows you to request funding from both at once.  The requirements and explanations of the process can be found here. After reading through the information, you can submit a funding request at the bottom of that page.

Speakers Bureau
If you are interested in using the SSA's Speakers Bureau to bring in speakers for your event, you can find it here. Remember that you won't be using the Speakers bureau funding request form if you want to get funding support for them. That is included in our conference funding form found here. You are, of course, more than able to bring in speakers who are not on our Bureau as well. That is also inlcuded in our conference funding form.

Planning Tools & Other Resources
We have many planning tools available to affiliates for large events. Our Speaker Planning Checklist will help guide your group in the planning stages of an event. If you are thinking about hosting a debate at your event, you can click here for a sample debate format. If you are planning on recording any speakers at your event, we have a video recording waiver that you can use to make sure you have permission from all of your speakers to be recorded and then posted online.

We have many other resources and services that might be useful to you as well. Tabling Supplies are great to have on hand at the conference as well as for tabling to advertise the event. If you want to order more tabling supplies beyond what we generally give out free, you can do that at this form. You can check out flyers on our Design Exchange to see and use ideas from other student groups. If you are looking for pointers on how to advertise your group and its event, check out our media guide. We have all kinds of activity packets that your group can use for event inspiration. We also offer many other resources and services to help your group run events large and small. It's also important to ensure that all attendees feel safe at events; we encourage you to adopt a harassment policy to help out with that and you can check out the one we use at the SSA Annual Conference here to use as a model.

To go to the next page and submit a funding request form, please click here.

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