Lets Talk 2023 Conferences!

I spent the weekend enjoying the beginning of Autumn, so it seems strange to already be talking about the end of the year, but I’m happy to announce that applications for 2023 judge conferences are now open! (Click here to go to the sponsorship application form.)

As we get ready for 2023, we at Judge Academy are taking some time to look closely at all the great conferences organizers around the world have been putting together. We’re still in that process, and there may be some changes announced to the conference system before the end of the year, so we’re going to hold off on approvals for just a bit longer, but if you want to plant your flag for a particular date or idea, in Q1, now is the time to do so!

While we’re not yet done with evaluation, there is so much I’ve already learned from you all about what makes for a good conference, and how we can make them even better. I want to share some of that with you as you make plans for next year. 

First, as many of you know, we made some major upgrades to our conference system over the summer, including a revamped conference page, and a new application. We’ve made the whole process simpler for you as the organizer, allowing you to spend more time planning your events. Whether you’re applying for your first, or your 15th event, please be sure to review both the new page and the new module before you apply. With so many great applications coming in, we are having to be more and more selective with our conferences, so please make sure you’ve had a chance to review that material and can make your application as strong as possible.

As part of that process, and in order to make sure we get promos to you as quickly as possible, we are strongly recommending you submit your application at least 2 months in advance, 3 months or more when possible or when shipping to your area is difficult.

One of the best parts of this year has been seeing more and more physical conferences take place. Online conferences offer things physical conferences cannot and they are and will continue to be a part of our conference plans, but wherever and whenever a physical conference is possible, that is what we will lean towards. 

I’ve loved seeing more and more innovation in conference types, topics, and formats. If your first idea for a conference is that your area hasn’t had a conference in a few months, I want to push you to go further. Talk to judges in your area about what kinds of topics and learning styles they’re most interested in, or what questions they’d love to see a panel discuss. Ask possible presenters if they can turn their topic into a game, to help people learn while having fun, and getting to better connect with fellow judges. If you’ve become known as the person who organizes conferences in your area, why not offer to be an assistant to someone else, and see what cool new ideas they can come up with. 

Lastly, with so many great organizers running conferences, I want to strongly encourage you to reach out to your peers when you have questions about conferences or ideas you want to brainstorm about. Talk to the judges in your area, post on social media, drop your question or idea in the conference channel or the channel for your region on the Judge Academy Discord. In many cases, your question has already been answered on our conference page or in the module. I would love to spend all day answering your questions, but with so many events happening, please look to one of those sources first, and contact me when you haven’t been able to get answers through other sources.

I want to close with a quick story.
Many of you may have heard of the TV Show Undercover Boss, in which the leader of a big company takes a job actually doing that company’s work for a week or two. Last week I got to have my own experience of this as I took a break from looking over everyone else’s conference to organize my own. The presentations went great, we had a number of good conversations, and of course I forgot some basic things (always prepare your feedback form in advance). More than anything, it reminded me of just how much goes into putting together these conferences, how rewarding it can be, and how grateful I am to all of you who are or are thinking of organizing a conference for your own communities!

I hope you’re getting excited for 2023, and keep watching an eye out for more conference news!