Speaking Season - Tips and Tricks for Getting Your Proposal Accepted (Part 2)
By now I’m sure you have been anxiously awaiting the second part to my speaking tips and tricks post. Well, the wait is finally over! Below are a few tips for writing your proposal and what to do post submission.
- Get to the Point – Ok, you have done your research and are ready to write your abstract! Remember, abstracts are typically around 200 words, so you need to get the readers attention right off the bat. Make sure the abstract is the 3 C’s (clear, concise and catchy) and that it avoids marketing language. I’ve found abstracts that include instructive and replicable ideas tend to have the best success.
- Butts in Seats – The end goal of any submission is to have your company in front of an attentive audience – and the abstract can help get conference attendees to pick your session over concurrent ones. Attendees are there to learn (or at least they should be) and want to know what they will walk away with from attending your session. Since many abstracts are later used in conference guides, be sure to clearly outline what attendees will gain from spending 45 minutes of their day listening to you speak.
- The bio – This may seem like the easiest part of the submission – surely you have a bio already on hand. However, most likely, your bio outlines your job experience – not your speaking experience. Taking the time to craft a tailored bio that highlights past speaking experience and why you are an authority or expert on the proposed topic can give you an edge against the competition. Conferences want to feel confident that the speakers they choose can perform up to the task, and proving past experience or expertise can ease their minds on taking a chance on you.
- Follow up game – So you have submitted your abstract and can now relax until your letter of acceptance/rejection comes, right? Wrong. Submitting an email or online form is rarely enough, particularly if this is the first time submitting for an event. Following up with the conference to express your interest can go a long way. Smaller conferences may even be open to an introductory call where you can highlight your expertise and show the conference that you are articulate and could handle being put on their stage.
- Rejection – You’ve received a notice declining your proposal, so now the process is finally over, right? Wrong again. Rejections are a great learning experience (cliché, I know, but it’s true!) Follow up with the conference to see if they are able to provide feedback as to why you were not selected. While some conferences won’t give any info other than the canned “we had a record number of applicants for only XX sessions,” some conferences will provide a breakdown of your scoring so you can see exactly where you went wrong. Knowing how to make your submission stronger will not only help when you submit to the same conference the following year, but will help you with submissions across the board.
There you have it, all of my best advice for getting your proposal accepted. Good luck this speaking season!