Calls for Proposals (CFPs) always seem to give me pause. Trying to fit one’s knowledge into a short time slot, selling it to the organizers as something their users will enjoy, and packaging oneself as an expert are all daunting, if indeed I take the time to apply.
Our Speak day panel of conference organizers Rebecca Miller-Webster, Rachel Ober, Celia La, Carol Willing, and Sarah Guido confronted this issue head on. With so many tech conferences starting up every day, there’s a very good chance that your expertise can be showcased.
Important to all organizers was specificity – not vague topics, but clearly outlined subjects along with how you will address them. Full slides usually aren’t required, but knowing how you’ll answer the questions you present will give the organizers more with which to work.
Coraline stressed that passion and personality are key, and a video of your past speaking experience – even from Meetups or other informal settings – can give a better idea of your presentation style and how engaged your audience will be.
Selling is a no-no across the board: Don’t pitch at organizers with marketing speak, but share how the attendees will benefit. Focus on the audience and what they will learn as opposed to what you will show them.
And organizers love it when you spin a topic to your own perspective – as a newbie coming in, or a specific situation you overcame.
The CFP isn’t as daunting as I’d previously thought – and with practice I’m sure to build my armor and my speaker cred.
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