Overview of Review Process
Interested speakers are requested to submit their proposals directly on our Proposal Submission System.
Kindly note that all proposals are public. Registered users of the Submission System can view and comment on your proposal. Please reply to the comments to provide clarifications, explain revisions and respond to questions. The Program team will assess how well you respond to comments and update your proposal to incorporate public suggestions. The ultimate decision to accept a session resides with the Program team.
Your proposal stands the best chance for selection if it is unique, fully flushed, and ready-to-go. Please ensure you have read:
To encourage early submissions and iterative improvement of proposals, we start accepting proposals as soon as we find them a good fit. Since competition gets tougher with progressing time, it is advisable to avoid waiting till the last minute for proposal submission.
In terms of the overarching themes or values in proposals, we look at the following criteria during selection:
- Diversity - As a conference, we wish to be more inclusive (Different approaches, frameworks, gender, countries, background etc.).
- Balance - We strive to strike a great balance between different types of presentations (Expert talks, experience reports, tutorials, workshops, etc.) and experiences that speakers bring to the conference.
- Equality - We truly encourage students and women speakers. However, this does not mean that we are biased and we select just about any proposal based only on the fact that it came from a student or female speaker. Nevertheless, if we have to make a choice between one out of two equal proposals, we will pick the one proposed by a student or female speaker.
- Practicality - People come to a conference to learn, network, have an experience and leave the conference feeling motivated. Proposals that facilitate this are therefore always preferred. Though some theory is good, if the proposal lacks practical application, it does not really help participants.
- Learning - People learn more by doing rather than listening. Therefore, the winning proposals are those that take people on a learning journey and incorporate an element of "learning by doing".
- Opportunity - We strive to ensure that the conference has a minimum of 70% rock solid speakers. Nonetheless, we give equal opportunities to new and promising speakers having real potential.
- Originality - It is true that people usually prefer hearing about an idea from its original creator rather than someone else. However, you may take an idea, tweak it in your context, and gain some insight(s) while doing so - People also like to hear first-hand experiences from those who are not creators of the original idea. Ultimately, we are looking for thought leadership.
- Radical ideas - We have great respect for people who want to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. Given that we lean towards unconventional ideas, we try our best to support such people and bring greater awareness to their work.
- Demand - Votes on a proposal and the buzz on social media give us an idea about how many people are really interested in a certain topic. Understanding that votes can be gamed, we have a system in place that can eliminate some bogus votes and use different types of patterns to give us a decent sense of the real demand.
Here are some basic/obvious pointers we expect when we look at a proposal (that fits into our value system) in the submission system:
- Is the Title matching the Abstract?
- Under the Outline/Structure of the session, will the time break-up for each sub-topic do full justice to the topic?
- Is there a logical sequencing/progression of the topics?
- Has the speaker selected the right session type and duration for the topic? For instance, an hour long talk may sometimes get boring
- Has the speaker selected the best matching Theme/Topic/Category for the proposal?
- Is the target audience specific and correct, does it match with the session level?
- Are the learning outcomes clearly articulated? 3-5 points, one per line, is ideal
- Based on the Outline/Structure, will the speaker be able to achieve the learning outcomes?
- Based on the presentation link, does the speaker have good quality content and a great manner of presentation?
- Based on the video link, does the speaker have good presentation (edutainment) skills? Will the speaker be able to hold the attention of a large audience?
- Based on the additional links, does the speaker have excellent subject matter expertise and thought leadership on the proposed topic?
- Are the Labels/Tags meaningful?
A proposal stands the best chance for selection if it is unique, fully flushed and ready-to-go.
If you are a speaker, please provide links to your:
- Previous conferences or user group presentations
- Open source project contributions
- Slides and videos of (past and present) presentations; other conferences; local user group or internal office meetings
- Blog posts/articles on relevant topics
- Any other relevant material
During selection, we not only pay attention to the proposal's quality, but also to the quality of the speaker. We assess if the speaker will be able to effectively present and share his/her knowledge with others. Therefore, past speaking experience (Shared via videos and slides) is crucial.
In case you do not have a video from any past conference presentation, try setting up Google Hangouts in one of the upcoming local user group/internal office meetings where you are presenting and share the link with us. This will give the committee a feel of your presentation skills and subject matter expertise.
Tips and Guidelines
- Summary: The summary must exude excitement, be convincing, and sell. Since it is the only thing attendees see, it should be created in a way to draw them into your session instead of the numerous others that they can visit at the same time. Attendees should also be able to show the abstract to their manager/team and easily make them understand the value of the session.
- Catchy title: A catchy title helps build a stronger mental model and focus the session's abstract better. It is however important to recognize the thin line between catchy and corny.
- Sell yourself: Reviewers should be confident that you are a good presenter and that you will successfully facilitate the session. It is best not to assume that you can cruise on your reputation, since all reviewers will not know you well enough to judge. Remember to include links to other material/websites that may be instrumental in validating yourself as a great presenter.
- Prior experience with sessions: Share your prior experiences giving sessions - Include links to slides, videos or people's blogs about those sessions. If you plan to do a test run at the local user group, mention the same - It makes a huge difference to the reviewers' confidence about the quality of delivery.
- Co-presenters: After about 5-10 minutes, maximum 20, of continuously hearing someone's voice, people become habituated and tune out. Therefore, for long presentations, after 90 minutes, having a second presenter is a good idea. Switching presenters prevents the audience from tuning out.
- Interactivity: Even a 60-minute talk requires some interactive elements - An event, exercise, or discussion to help attendees integrate the acquired knowledge and make it their own. Spell out the names/short descriptions of the activities and discuss how the participation will pan out.
- Have a plan: Having a minimal plan is necessary so that the reviewer gets an idea about how productively you will spend your limited time budget. The length of a desired session is directly proportional to the amount of details you need to provide.
- Clarity: Create a clear statement of what the attendees will do or expect, and what will be done in the session. Proposers sometimes err by focusing so much on selling their ideas in a catchy way, that it remains unclear on what exactly will be done in the session.
- Clear learning objective: Clearly state how the lives of attendees will become better, more effective, and more enjoyable as a result of attending the session.
- Slides/videos: The presenter's presentation style and past experience in presenting is as important as the topic itself. For the Program committee to correctly gauge the speaker's presentation skills, providing slides and video links is extremely important. If you do not have slides/video of the topic you are proposing, try providing links to something you have presented in the past.
- Enjoyment: Make the reviewer feel that the attendees will really enjoy themselves during the session. At best, they should learn specific concepts, skills, principles, approaches, and frameworks.
Also, the amount of material taken away should not be overwhelming. As one reviewer rightly said, "At the end of the day, what I'm looking for is something that gets my juices flowing and makes me want to fight for a place in the session."
- Questions: It would be appropriate to pose questions to reviewers and give us options for adjusting the proposal.
Do's Don'ts Active language Passive language "Learn/experience..." "This session allows you to learn..." Words/phrases like "Master", "Learn", "Experience", "Do", "Participate" Words like "Might", "Could", "Intend" "As you participate, you learn..." "You can participate"
- For experience reports and case studies: Background context is essential. Tell us the story arc of the experience, lessons learned, challenges, whether you have empirical evidence or anecdotal experience, etc.