I’ve spoken at a number of Learning and Development (L&D) events, and while I’ve never sat on a proposal selection committee, I have a few tips to share based on my experiences. If you’re interested in submitting a speaking proposal, DO IT! Seriously – the worst that can happen is that your session won’t get selected; no harm, no foul. Here are three quick tips for submitting your proposals to L&D events:
The first thing I do each year when it comes time to submit speaking proposals is to look at the topics from several like-conferences (e.g., DevLearn/ATD ICE/Learning Solutions) for the past few years. This helps me review popular trends in sessions that were successfully added to conference programs.
In reviewing trends, I also note who is delivering sessions that are similar in topic to the one I wish to submit. The reason I do this is to 1) differentiate my session description and outcomes to leverage it against competition, and 2) avoid wasted effort – what I mean by this is that if an industry heavy-hitter has consistently delivered a specific session each year for several years, I will avoid submitting a proposal that closely resembles elements covered within theirs as they are most likely to be chosen over me (if they submit on that topic again…which is always a risk).
2.Identify a Need
In reviewing trends you will be able to identify pockets of like-sessions. Here, you are essentially doing a mini-needs assessment by looking at the gaps in the conference program. How can you fill these gaps? Submit speaking proposals that will allow you to bridge a conference program gap as there will be a higher likelihood that your proposal will be accepted if it’s differentiated from all of the other submissions.
For example, In October I will deliver a pre-conference certificate workshop at DevLearn 18: Introduction to Instructional Design. The reason I submitted to deliver this workshop is that I had observed many sessions related to Instructional Design, but they ran the gamut and none were specifically targeted at the introductory level or at providing a comprehensive overview of the field as a whole. I identified a need, and my proposal was accepted.
3.Create a Catchy Title
This isn’t a requirement, as can be illustrated with my Introduction to Instructional Design workshop. However, it can help set your proposal apart from similar proposals submitted by people other than you. Think about pop culture and maintain some level of sanitation or appropriateness.
For example, this year at DevLearn18, I’m also delivering a Bring Your Own Device session, called “Let’s Get Variable”, which is a play on a very dated Olivia Newton John song (Physical). I don’t know if the session title got it selected or not, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.
If you’re interested in learning more about Instructional Design, head over to Sprout E-Learning to check out Essentials of Instructional Design.