What is a Judge Conference?
A Judge conference is an excellent way to help you and your peers grow and advance as Judges. At a conference, you will meet old friends, make new ones, expose yourself to innovative new judging techniques, engage in fun activities, and leave even more excited about our community and judging.
History of Judge Conferences
Judges of all types and levels belong to an international community devoted to improving themselves and the quality of the events they steward. One of the central tools Judges utilize to improve themselves is attending and/or organizing a Judge conference.
Originally Judges came together to present talks on aspects of judging as an educational tool. Typically held at game stores, large events, or conventions, early conference presentations were lectures and workshops where more experienced Judges presented on topics they were passionate about. These events drew anywhere from a handful to hundreds of attendees and became a central feature of the Judge world. Over time, Judge conferences have evolved to fit the educational, research, and social needs of Judges.
Judge Academy Supported Conferences
ALL Conference Support includes 2 New Conference Promos each wave. For those conferences, eligible attendees will receive: Parallel Lives and Stranglehold. For information on Physical conference support, please see our Conference Policies page.
All conference staff (presenters, organizers, etc) will receive 1 copy of our Staff Preview Promo – No Mercy.
Explanation of Digital Conference Types
Regional Conferences are targeted to Judges from a specific region or part of a region, typically focus on addressing specific regional needs, and often bring in Regional Judges of all levels. They’re often run in the local language, although this may depend on the diversity of the Region. These can be large single or multi-track Conferences, and should have something for everyone to learn from.
Since the goal is to support Judges coming together, the digital venue for a Regional Conference should be able to hold at least 75-100 people, if not more. Regional Conferences may prioritize In-Region Judges, but should not have any other restrictions qualifications to attend outside of a cap.
Specialized Conferences are smaller, and have their own specific rules. They can be focused on L3s, L2+ Judges, those in the Level 3 Advancement Process, those going for Advanced Certifications, or any other specialized group.
Mini-Conferences are targeted at Judges from a small subset of a region, address mainly the needs of that area, and are smaller than a regional Conference. They’re often run in the local language, and typically have between 20-50 Judges in attendance.
Mini-Conferences tend to be focused on Level 1 and Level 2 development, use local Judges as presenters and help Judges meet and get to know other local Judges in their area.
Steps for Planning Your Judge Conference
If you want to host a Judge Conference the VERY first thing you should do, is read our current conference policies found HERE. After you’ve read through all the policies and requirements, you can submit a request through the Conference Support Form. Please make sure you are as detailed as possible about your plan and note that it can take up to two weeks to receive approval, so make sure that you fill out your request early, and leave enough time to ensure your conference will be successful.
Announcing the Conference
To learn how to create an event on Judge Academy checkout our walkthrough! The initial announcement about the Conference should contain as much information as possible:
- Date of conference
- Estimated start and end times. Participants need to know this in order to plan their day.
- Event link for registration, and registration deadline
- Will participants receive Promos (i.e. is this a supported Conference?)
- Information on seminars/presenters that you have already scheduled. Who is your target audience?
- Call for presenters: who to contact if you want to present a seminar, what is expected.
- Language: some Conferences are run in a language other than English. Some may even have seminars in several different languages.
Presenters and Reviewing Content
You can start recruiting presenters or Conference leaders even before announcing the Conference to the general public. Posting a general call for presenters is common practice, but you might also contact individual Judges who are specialists in a particular topic or known for being skilled presenters.
Content for Conferences should be finalized at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Presentations that lack preparation negatively affect Conference attendees and can undermine the hard work that other presenters may invest in your event. As a Conference Organizer, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are providing attendees with a positive experience.
Planning the Conference Schedule
Once you have your final list of topics and presenters, you should start planning the schedule. Each session is usually about 40-50 minutes long. A common setup is to allow 60 minutes per session: 40-45 minutes for the presentation, 10 for questions, and 5-10 for a break. That said, many organizers have found success using different set-ups, so there is always room for innovation!
You should consider a longer break for lunch in the middle of the day if the conference is going to go on for a long time. Don’t forget to allow some time at the beginning to give people a chance to work out any technology issues before the starting time.
It’s important to gather feedback, to help you plan a better Conference next time, and to help presenters improve their presentation skills. Judge Academy does not mandate the use of feedback forms for sponsored events. Many organizers have created before/after topic quizzes, virtual hand raises, or other ways to ensure their attendees stay engaged in the presentations.
You are welcome to use this Feedback Form Template, although you can feel free to use your own or find other ways to encourage and facilitate feedback. Our experience has shown that mandatory or anonymous feedback is not as constructive, and highly suggest ensuring that either the presenter (or you) have a way to reach out to the attendee if clarifications or more information is needed.