Overview of Review Process
Interested speakers are requested to submit their proposals directly on our proposal submission system. All proposals will be public. Registered users of the submission system will be able to comment on your proposal. You are required to reply to those comments to provide clarifications, explain revisions and respond to questions. The program team will look at how well you've responded to comments and updated your proposal to incorporate public suggestions. Ultimately the decision to accept a session resides with the program team.
Your proposal stands the best chance to be selected, if it's unique, fully fleshed out and ready-to-go. Please ensure you've read the following:
To encourage early submissions and iterative improvement of proposals, we'll start accepting proposals as soon as we find them to be a good fit. As time passes by, the competition gets tougher. So don't wait till the end to submit your proposal.
In terms of the overarching themes or values in the proposals, we look at the following criteria during selection:
- Diversity - As a conference, we want to be more inclusive (various approaches, various frameworks, gender, countries, back-ground etc.)
- Balance - We want to strike a good balance between different types of presentations (expert talks, experience reports, tutorials, workshops, etc.) and different types of experience that the speakers bring to the conference.
- Equality - We encourage more students and women speakers. We won't select a proposal just because it came from a student or a female speaker, however, if we have to pick 1 out of 2 equal proposal, we'll pick the one, which was proposed by a student or a female speaker.
- Practicality - People come to a conference to learn, network, have an experience and leave motivated. Proposals which directly help this are always preferred. While a little bit of theory is good, if the proposal lacks practical application, it doesn't really help the participants. Also people learn more by doing rather than listening. If proposals have an element of 'learn by doing' it wins over other proposals. Take people on a learning journey.
- Opportunity - While we want to ensure the conference has at least 70% rock solid speakers, we also want to give an opportunity to new speakers, who have real potential.
- Originality - Original ideas wins hands-down over copied ones. People prefer listening to an idea from its creator rather than the second or third person. However, you might have taken an idea and tweaked it to your context. You would have gained an insight by doing so. And certainly, all of us want to hear your first-hand experience, even though you were not the creator of the original idea. We are looking for Thought-Leadership.
- Radical Ideas - We really respect people, who want to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo. We have a soft-corner for unconventional ideas and will try our best to support them and bring awareness to their work.
- Demand - Votes on a proposal and buzz on social media gives us an idea of how many people are really interested in the topic. (We fully understand votes can be gamed, but we have a system that can eliminate some bogus votes and use different types of patterns to give us a decent sense of the real demand.)
Once the proposal fits into our value system, then there is some basic stuff we expect to find when we look at the proposal in the submission system:
- Does the Title match the Abstract?
- Under the Outline/Structure of the Session, will the time break-up for each sub-topic do 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 Eg: 60 mins talk might be very boring.
- Has the speaker selected the best matching Theme/Topic/Category for the proposal?
- Is the Target Audience specific and correct? Also does it match with the Session Level?
- Is the Learning Outcome clearly articulated? Ideally 3-5 points, one on each line.
- 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 good way to present it?
- 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 subject matter expertise and thought leadership on the proposed topic?
- Are the Labels/Tags meaningful?
Your Proposal stands the best chance to be selected, if it's unique, fully fleshed out and ready-to-go. Speakers, do ensure you provide us links to your:
- previous conference or user group presentations
- open source project contributions
- slides & videos of (present/past) presentations (other conferences or local user group or in-office)
- blog posts or articles on this topic
- and so on...
When selecting a proposal, we pay attention not only to the quality of the proposal, but also to the quality of the speaker, i.e. whether the speaker will be able to effectively present/share their knowledge with others. Hence, past speaking experience (videos & slides) are extremely important. If you don't have a video from a past conference presentation, that's fine. Try to setup a google hangout in one of your upcoming local user group meetings or internal office meetings, where you are presenting and share that link. This will give the committee a feel for your presentation skills and subject matter expertise.
Tips for Proposals
Make sure you've read the following guidelines carefully.
1. Summary. The summary must sell and exude excitement. Since its the only thing the attendees will see, it needs to pull them into your session instead of the 15 others they can visit at the same time. The attendees should be able to show the abstract to their manager/team and have them clearly understand the value of the session.
2. Catchy title. A catchy title may help to build a stronger mental model and focus the session's abstract better. Watch out for catchy becoming corny, though.
3. Sell yourself. The reviewers should have confidence that you are a good presenter and that you will be successful at facilitating the session. Don't assume you can cruise on your reputation, not all the reviewers will know you well enough to judge. Include a link to other material/web sites that will help you to sell yourself.
4. Prior experience with session. Share experiences giving the session. Links to slides, videos or people's blog about those sessions. If you're planning to do a test run at the local user group, mention that - it makes a big difference as far as the reviewers' confidence about the quality of delivery is concerned.
5. Co-presenters. For long presentations of 90 minutes a second presenter is a really good idea. After about 5-10 (max 20) minutes of hearing someone's voice, one becomes habituated and tunes out. Switching presenters delays that.
6. Interactivity. Even 60 minute talks need some interactive element - they need some event, exercise, or discussion to help the attendees integrate the knowledge they've acquired and make it their own. Spell out the names/short descriptions of the activities, and how the participants will engage.
7. Have a plan. At least a minimal plan is necessary so the reviewer will have an idea about how you intend to spend your limited time. The longer the session you want, the more details you need to provide.
8. Clarity. Make a clear statement of what the attendees will do or expect. Sometimes proposers can err so much on the side of selling their ideas in a catchy way that exactly what will be accomplished in the session is not clear.
9. Clear learning objective. State how the lives of the attendees will become better, more effective, more enjoyable as a result of attending.
10. Slides/Video. While the topic is important, the presenters' presentation style and past experience presenting is equally important. For the program committee to understand speaker's presentation skills, providing slides and video links is extremely important. It is possible that you don't have slides/video of the topic you are proposing. That's fine, at the very least, provide links to something you've presented in the past.
11. Enjoyment. Make the reviewer feel the attendees will enjoy themselves during the session. At best, they should learn specific concepts, skills, principles, approaches, frameworks. The amount of material taken away should not be overwhelming. As one reviewer 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.'
12. Questions. It may be appropriate to pose questions to the reviewers and give us options for adjusting the proposal.
13. Language. Use active verbs, not passive language.
- Bad: 'This session allows you to learn...'
- Good: 'Learn/experience...'
- Bad: Words like 'might', 'could', 'intent'
- Good: Words/phrases like 'master', 'learn', 'experience', 'do', 'participate'
- Not 'You can participate', but 'As you participate, you learn...'
14. For Experience Reports and Case Studies, background context is essential. Tell us what the story arc of the experience is, some lessons learned, some challenges. Tell us whether you have empirical evidence or anecdotal experience.