Planning a Plenary

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Designing a Plenary

Things to consider when designing a plenary program:

Plenary programs must be...

  • ...engaging and entertaining to the wider audience
  • ...on a timely topic
  • ...delivered by the right speakers

Our goal is to have for a technical plenary programs to be of excellent quality every time it happens. Our goal is explicitly not to have a technical plenary program at every IETF meeting.

We need to be able to present a diverse set of (not only technical) viewpoints to our audience, and we reflect this in part through the diversity of the speakers we put on the plenary stage.

No manels.

  • We can have one or more of a number concrete goals in putting on a plenary program:
    • To inform the community about developments within the community or outside the community, related to Internet architecture, protocol design and deployment, and standardization, of wide interest;
    • To challenge the community to think about a difficult topic, and/or facilitate a conversation within the community about that topic, for example, to inform further IAB/IETF action on the topic;
    • To highlight and promote work within or adjacent the IETF and bring it to the attention of the wider community
  • Each plenary program must have a showrunner.
    • This should be a member of the IAB.
    • This is not necessarily one of the chairs of the plenary planning program (hint, hint)
  • Think about timing. Sixty minutes for a full program including discussion should be the upper bound. The expected timing for the technical plenary program should be made explicit in the agenda for the full plenary.
    • Note that the March plenary meeting often runs long anyway, due to IAB/IESG turnover; consider scheduling shorter (or no) topics for these meetings.
    • Consider scheduling an intermission between administrative and technical parts of the plenary.
  • Consider how many speakers we want to have:
    • We've often done panels of three, but this has several drawbacks: no speaker has enough time to dive into the details, balanced panels are very hard to put together, and the program can tend to run long. We should avoid this format without compelling reasons not to.
    • A point-counterpoint (two speakers) can work nicely (case in point, Niels ten Oever and David Clark on rights).
    • A single speaker, perhaps with a longer framing introduction by an IAB member, gives more time to dive into a topic, but we need to be pretty sure about the speaker well in advance for this to work.
  • Measuring our success
    • Add a question about the tech plenary on the post-meeting survey, or a separate tech plenary survey?
    • Ask the NOC to do WiFiTPC?
    • Count questions asked?

Plenary Planning Checklist

~ D-60 days

(103 Bangkok: 7 Sep; 104 Prague: 27 Jan)

  • Go / no-go: at this point we need a pretty clear idea who the speakers are, and they need to know they're speaking at the plenary.

~ D-45 days

(103 Bangkok: 21 Sep; 104 Prague: 10 Feb)

  • Clarity on travel arrangements for intercontinental travel

~ D-30 days

(103 Bangkok: 7 Oct; 104 Prague: 27 Feb)

  • Clarity on travel arrangements for intracontinental/regional travel
  • Gather name, title, affiliation, bio information for each speaker
  • Select moderator/introducer (usually an IAB/program member)
  • Determine session title
  • Write short (150 or fewer words) description for Greg Wood and IETF Chair
  • Update IETF meeting information webpages ( and )
  • Schedule Tech Plenary Planning Program meeting during IETF

~ D-14 days

(103 Bangkok: 24 Oct; 104 Prague: 13 Mar)

  • Set time for pre-session conversation with moderator and speakers to cover run of show

~ D-7 days

(102 Montreal: 11 July; 103 Bangkok: 20 Mar)

  • Receive slides or talk outline from each speaker (as needed)
  • Review slides or outline for length
  • Hold pre-session conversation to review:
    • General topic(s) to be covered by each speaker
    • Flow and logistics (including time allocation for each speaker)
    • Confirm how Q&A will be managed
  • Moderator develops priming questions
  • Plan dinner with speaker(s) and interested IAB/other interested parties.
    • Since IRTF dinner is on Wednesday, combine?

~ D-3 days

  • Combine slides into a single deck and confirm fidelity

~ D-1 day

  • Send reminder note of time/location/expectation for pre-plenary arrival to speakers
  • Ask secretariat to reserve seating for plenary speakers towards front of the room
  • Ensure slides have been provided for presentation laptop

0 day

  • Confirm all panelists are on-site

D+10 days (or earlier)

  • Program lead sends thank you notes to speakers
  • Program evaluates success of plenary
  • Review and update this wiki page based on experience

Speaker Support Process

Plenary speakers can have their travel and hotel stay for the full meeting reimbursed, and their IETF meeting registration fee waived. The process for payment is as follows:

  • Confirm with full IAB that a speaker should be supported for travel before discussing with the speaker.
  • Ask the speaker to provide an estimate for transportation and lodging.
    • We generally do not pay for business class.
    • We generally ask internally that registration be waived, rather than reimbursing a speaker for registration.
  • Once the estimate is received, the chair compares it against the available budget and approves or asks for changes.
  • Once approved, the speaker is asked to book their own travel, to be reimbursed after the travel.
  • The speaker or plenary host submits the receipts to the IAD for reimbursement.
  • The IAD confirms approval with the chair.
  • The speaker is paid.

The IAB's budget does not have a separate line item for speaker support, so this comes out of the same pool as retreat support, catering, and other expenses. In past years the total that could be set aside for this has been between 5000 and 7500 USD. If possible, find external support for the speaker, but please coordinate that with the fundraising person to be hired by the IAOC.

Open Questions

The following questions about this process have been raised, for discussion with the IAB:

  • If we wish to occasionally book speakers who would need compensation (e.g., because speaking is part of their profession), how would this be budgeted?