I want to share 6 tips for creating conference talk proposals that are clear, concise, and tell a story.
These tips can help you start writing better proposals for conference CFPs and hopefully increase your chances of getting a conference talk accepted.
1- Pick topics you’re interested in
Putting together a conference talk is a lot of work. Therefore, when crafting your talk proposals, be sure to choose topics you’re interested in and actually want to talk about.
If you pick a topic you’re not that interested in, you might find it difficult and tedious to put in the time/effort required to construct your talk.
2- Don’t worry about whether or not someone else has submitted for the same topic
Your perspective is all your own. Any presentation you give will be unique to you as you bring your own experiences, thoughts, and style into the way you communicate.
I encourage you to pick topics you’re interested in without giving much thought as to whether or not others are picking the same topics.
Work on writing a proposal which highlights your experience with the topic and shows your unique take on it.
3- Tell a story
Part of your unique take could be your individual story with a topic. What problem did you face? What did you try? How did you ultimately solve the problem? What did you learn?
These questions, and the overarching story, are a great way to structure your conference talk proposal. If you can concisely outline your talk into a clear story, the reviewers, and ultimately your audience, will more easily understand what you’re trying to share.
4- Focus on the reader
When writing your proposal, keep it focused on the reader/audience. Write using “You” language.
Instead of saying “I’ll tell you what I learned” you could try saying something like “You’ll learn X, Y, Z by attending this talk”.
By focusing on the reader/audience you make it easier for others to related to the proposal and understand how the talk may benefit them personally.
5- Keep it short and to the point
Keep your proposal short. It should be easy for a reviewer to quickly discern what your talk is going to be about. If you need multiple paragraphs to convey this message, it might be an indicator that your talk is not focused enough.
A shorter proposal is also faster to read/understand which is beneficial when you consider that reviewers on a program committee might be reviewing 100s of proposals. If they can quickly read/understand your proposal, they may feel more inclined to pick it.
6- Make your takeaways clear
Be specific with your takeaways. Don’t say “we’ll talk key points…” Tell the reviewer what those key points are.
One thing I’ve found useful in the past is to use bullet points to highlight my main takeaways. This makes it easy for reviewers to see what the talk will focus on and it can help you zero in on what will be most important during your talk.