It’s proposal submission time for DevLearn 2017, so this seems like a fitting post. There have been some lessons learned, and I’ll try to share as much as I can with you in the next couple of posts.
1 – Preparing to Submit a Speaking Proposal
I’ve spoken at several events, and had you told me 5 years ago that I would get up, voluntarily, and speak to a room full of strangers, I would have told you to GET YOUR LIFE! I’ve always been a shy person, but as an e-learning developer, I appreciate hearing people share their expertise, and I like volunteering what expertise I have in a hope that it helps folks.
Don’t let the whole ‘I’m just me. Who the heck wants to listen to me? What authority am I to speaking on X topic?” get to you. Be confident! You got this! The next conference-related post will address some concerns related to delivering your session, you you have to get there first.
The first step in preparing to submit a speaking proposal is to have an idea as to what you’d like to talk about. Most conferences have themes or streams of topics, and you’ll want to make sure that your idea aligns with those themes, or it likely won’t be selected.
2 – Submitting a Speaking Proposal
Once you’ve determined that your idea aligns with the conference themes, you need to come up with a catchy title. Now, I’ve had success with some of the more direct, less catchy titles, but it always helps if you can jazz the title up in an effort to lure your audience in. Your attendees will have SO MANY sessions to choose from, and your goal here is to make your audience want to attend your session more than others. Not that the others won’t be great, but no one wants to speak at an empty room.
Most conferences have a submission form that includes some primary information such as:
- Session Title
- Type of Session
- How Does Your Session Address a Need
- What Will Attendees Learn?
- Speaker Biography
Ensure you have all of this information ready before submitting as then the activity is more a copy/paste situation, and less a ‘I need to come up with original information on the spot’ situation.
- Session title should be catchy – if you’re not a creative person, check out some concurrent session titles from previous conferences; these will get your creative-session-title-building juices flowing.
- You should clearly explain how the learner will be able to address a tangible need; this is part of the allure of your session – attendees want to know what they will get out of your session.
- When it comes to what your attendees will learn, you want to be direct.
- Specify your audience; if this is not a field on your conference proposal submission form, you should try to fit in a statement about who this session will benefit. I’ve attended many sessions I thought would be relevant to my role that were 150% not.
- For your speaker biography, be concise. Hit all of the relevant points, such as education, experience, current role, but don’t drone on and on about yourself. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Take your time writing out your speaking proposal! If you’re passionate about speaking about a certain topic, that passion should shine in your proposal. Don’t be hasty!
3 – Be mindful of your session type
Being mindful of the type of session you’re proposing will save you a lot of headache if your session gets picked up. Why? Because you want to ensure you can disseminate the information you said you would in your proposal within the constraints of the session duration.
If you’re proposing a 1 hour lecture type session, try and stick to 7-8 objectives for the session. If you’re proposing a 1 hour hands-on session, try and stick to 4-5 objectives for the session. You want at least 4 objectives, but you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re over-promising and under-delivering due to time constraints.
In lecture-type sessions, you can fit a lot more in because attendees are there to listen to you. In hands-on sessions, you’re multi-tasking, so you want to make sure your attendees are able to do all of the things you want to show them how to do.