Tips for submitting a proposal
13-15 September 2023
If you want to amaze our audience with your next great session then you need a great proposal to match.
We usually have more quality submissions than spaces, and some tough choices need to be made. During a programme planning session, panel reviews are considered, along with the conference themes, and logistics.
Selection is about more than just the topic. We like to help develop speakers, and provide a platform for a range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
Our review process is anonymous, so our reviewers will not know your name or reputation. They need to get a clear picture of what your session offers to the audience, and why you’re confident you can deliver that.
The first step to speaking is submitting a proposal. This is a pitch, promoting the content and the speaker.
A good title is important. It should make a great first impression and be engaging. Descriptive titles work well. Make it clear what the talk’s about - what is its focus or subject area?
Examples of the types of title are:
- descriptive - "A workshop with exercises to explain the differences between mentoring and coaching"
- engaging - "You’re invited to an Interactive Holistic Detective Workshop"
- combination - "Introducing The Holistic Detective Game - exploring the relationship between mentoring and coaching"
There are many other ways to achieve this balance. Keep it authentic and find your own style.
This is not just for the panel reviewing your submission. We’ll use your abstract as your session description on our website and in the programme booklet.
It should be a short description - around 20 to 50 words - and honest, engaging and informative, helping people decide if the session’s for them.
The programme is packed and there are difficult choices for participants to make. It's not about packing a room with false promises. It may be better to have a room of 20 people who are all happy with their decision to come, than a room of 50+ where most feel the talk is not what they expected.
This is an opportunity to give us more detail. The information is not usually shared with participants, but we may use some of your description to add to your summary. For example, we often use ‘Participant Takeaways' in your session description online.
Provide all details you feel are relevant. Descriptions with more detail are generally rated higher by the review panel.
We strongly recommend you include between 3 and 5 takeaways for participants. If the session is pitched to a specific level, such as beginner or advanced, make that clear.
Workshop descriptions often deserve more attention, as most are longer than a talk. The panel need to understand what will be delivered, and be confident it’ll be delivered well. It often helps to provide a more detailed agenda and breakdown of learning outcomes.
Do tell us if your session has been given before. Is it an iteration on one you presented at the conference previously? Is there flexibility on duration? Tell us if it’s interactive - especially if it’s listed as a talk or case study - as some participants prefer not to join interactive sessions and choose talks instead.
Make sure you’ve given us all the relevant details in a clear and concise way. We might reject a potentially great session if we do not have enough information.
Types of session
We're happy for you to present a session about your experiences or something you've done, but we encourage interactive sessions that generate conversation with the audience, group discussion or hands-on experiences.
A presentation and discussion of real-life experiences of the application (or mis-application) of relevant techniques. Case studies include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how new the work is.
A presentation and discussion of a specific topic or issue. Talks should include sharing of real-life examples and experiences.
A hands-on working session focused around a specific topic, tool, technique or issue. Led by the speaker, workshops usually include interactivity or individual/group exercises. Tell us if you need to cap numbers.
A more informal session e.g Goldfish Bowl, Library, Lean Coffee or something else that allows the participants to bring thoughts, ideas, questions and problems on a topic that you facilitate. Be sure to indicate which type of discussion you propose when submitting and if you need to cap numbers.
What we do not want
We do not want links in your summary and/or description that our reviewers need to follow and/or watch, instead of writing a description - this removes your anonymity, and our reviewers will not click on them.
The focus should be firmly on value to the audience. It's fine to mention great things about your organisation, skills or, service - that context is valuable - but do not overdo it.
We need enough information to determine if the session will be of value to the audience. Participants also need that information to decide if the session is for them.
I'm a rockstar
You may have an awesome reputation, but we need to know what you’re offering the audience at this event.
Been there, done that
We like to include introductory material, as many participants can find this useful. But most of our speakers are experienced practitioners, so do not give us detailed descriptions of otherwise easily accessible information about your career.
Do not just bring a rant. If you’re analysing methods, tell us what happened and what you learned. A reflective style works well here.
Rudeness or arrogance
We welcome alternative views and ideas, but be respectful and well informed. There is a huge difference between saying, “the holistic detective method is rubbish,” and, “we tried the method, which had these impacts, and these were our conclusions”.