Suggestion Box Formats

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Get creative with your session format

The ONA21 Suggestion Box, open through April 15, is your opportunity to pitch session ideas and presenters.

Increasingly, research and surveys suggest that adults prefer a more interactive environment, rather than a passive one, even in a virtual learning environment. Sometimes, attendees do want the opportunity to lean back and hear some big ideas. But on the whole, most people prefer a chance to create something, or share and reflect on their own experiences. At ONA21, we’re aiming to ensure that most sessions are interactive. We’ll have a variety of sessions, but less space will be dedicated to passive lectures or panels.

For inspiration, here are a variety of session formats, organized from more interactive to more passive, including examples from recent ONA events. Feel free to experiment; you may even have your own creative format in mind.

Session Format Ideas for ONA21

Interactive Active Passive
  • Learn a skill
  • Solutions gathering
  • Template building
  • Best practices
  • Case studies / Under-the-Hood
  • Masterclass
  • Research
  • Panel

Best practices: provide takeaways for tips and tricks for improving work; 3 presenters max

Examples:  We Built a Product Team in One Year: Here’s Everything We Learned; Reporting on Networked Factions

Case Studies / Under-the-Hood: sessions that provide a deep dive into a project, illuminating both successes and challenges; 2 presenters max

Examples: Collaborating For Impact: “Case Cleared” Investigative Partnership; VR in Paradise: Behind the Scenes on a Radioactive Atoll

Learn a skill: workshops that provide a hard skill to take back to your organization; 3 facilitators max

Examples: Explaining the Explainer: How to Make Videos that Resonate; Design and Build a Voice Experience: A Workshop in Two Parts 

Masterclass: a solo talk or fireside chat with a topical expert; 2 presenters max

Examples: News Events with Margaret Low of The Atlantic; Journalism in the Climate Change Era with Gina McCarthy 

Panel: a nuanced dive into a complex topic or challenge; 5 presenters max, including a moderator

Examples: Legal Panel: Leaks and Secrets; Getting People to Pay for Local News Online

Research: new information about the latest trends in news; 2 presenters max

Examples: Locally Sourced Reporting: Are Americans Missing Out?; Getting People to Pay for Local News Online

Solutions gathering: get a group of people together in your network to dive into a current challenge and work to define a solution; 2 facilitators max

Examples: Parenting in the Digital Newsroom, Speed Dating Style; SRCCON Takeover: A Salon from OpenNews and Journalists of Color Slack to Rest and Get Support

Template building: collaborate together on a template organizations could use to start a project or initiative, or improve workflows; 2 facilitators max

Examples: Creating Guidelines for Machine Learning in the Newsroom; How to Get Sh** Done in a Remote Workplace and Beyond

Explore more resources for pitching. The deadline for Suggestion Box submissions is April 15, 2021, at 9:00 p.m. EDT.