This should be a must-read before ever submitting a session abstract...
Jul 28, 2013
I've been a speaker at conferences over the last decade, and I've also helped organize various gatherings. I've been both on the submitting and the receiving end of session abstracts. As I read Propose, Prepare, Present: How to become a successful, effective, and popular speaker at industry conferences by Alistair Croll, the one word that kept going through my mind was "YES!" If you are at all interested in learning how to be a conference speaker, you owe it to yourself to get this book and take it to heart.
Contents: The Conference Industry; From Idea to Stage - A Conference Timeline; What Organizers Are Looking For; Some Thoughts on Superb Presentations; But How Do I Make Money?; Further Reading
Most books on "public speaking" (is there such a thing as "private speaking"?) focus on the mechanics and techniques of standing on stage in front of an audience and delivering a presentation. Where this book differs (and shines) is that it covers the "how do I get up on stage" process. If you want to speak at a conference, it's likely you'll have to submit a session abstract. There are right and wrong ways to do that, and there are things that you can do that will either endear you to the conference organizers or blacklist you from ever getting a speakers slot. You have to make a serious effort in preparing and "presenting" your session abstract, just as you do in preparing your material (especially if you are not a known commodity to the conference organizers). Just because you're convinced that your material *has* to be included doesn't mean that the organizers will. You have to sell your session as well as yourself. Croll presents a behind-the-scenes (and accurate) look at what goes on prior to the point of you getting your acceptance or rejection email.
Propose, Prepare, Present is not a very big book. Amazon says 80 pages but it's actually closer to 60. It won't take very long to read, but everything in here is dead-on in terms of what you need to do and not do. I've been in the position of looking at 100+ abstracts for ten session slots. I've done the exact same things as Alistair when it comes to weeding out 80% of the submissions. And I can also tell you that his "Eleven Things That Will Get You Rejected" should be required reading before anyone submits an abstract. Conference organizers *do* have very long memories, and they *do* talk to other organizers. You don't want to end up on their blacklist, and it's easier to do than you might think.
If you're serious about speaking at a conference, include Propose, Prepare, Present on your list of reading material. It will up your odds in getting selected, and it will definitely lower your odds of making a mistake that could put a stop to your speaking career before it ever gets started.
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more