It’s Summer Conference Proposal Season

The 2015 summer conference proposal season, is upon us and it’s time to get your thoughts together and submitted. Speaking opportunities abound from deep-tech like OSCON to countless other meetups, events, and local venues. They are always looking for good speakers, who know their topic and can put on a compelling show.

You’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

  • Deadlines
    I’m submitting to SolidCon, which happens between June 23rd. and the 25th. I joined their email list last year and received a notice that the “call for papers” recently opened. The deadline for submissions is January 12, 2015. Selections will happen in February. I write the proposal deadlines on my whiteboard, so they are always visible in my office, as a reminder. And, I like to usually do two or more proposals, believing that I have a better chance of being selected to speak.
  • Keep Your Promise
    Make sure you can do what you promise in your proposal. Although it seems rather obvious, if you say you’ll give a hardware demo or walk-through of a process you certainly better deliver that during your talk. Unless the audience knows your reputation and perhaps has seen you before, the only way they have to know if they want to attend your talk is through what you write in the abstract and description. Hardware demos are tricky, so don’t make the decision to include it lightly. I always print out and use my proposal as a checklist, when I’m pulling the talk together, to make sure I cover everything. You certainly don’t want to get a reputation as someone who proposes one thing and then leaves parts out when you are on stage.
  • Know Your Audience
    Study your audience before you submit a talk, so you can present to their interests and in language they know and understand. I’ve been writing about Linux and free software for a dozen years and have attended lots of conferences. I know people in the industry and they know me. I’m one of them. That’s exactly where you want to be. It should be no surprise then that I’d submit and deliver a talk at OSCON. I’ve attended the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) for the last 10 years as a media guy. This January I’ll be pitching ways teachers, administrators, and principles can bring the super-cutting-edge world of micro-controllers, sensors, and cool physical computing projects into their classrooms.

Speaking at conferences takes research, lots of preparation and the motivation to share what you know. A great proposal that stirs the hearts of the speaker committee can lead to a great opportunity to wow a savvy, sophisticated conference audience. They expect a great show and it all starts with an awesome talk idea and a solid proposal.