What does the Program Team look in submissions?

What does it take to submit a stellar proposal? Here are some tips.

Remember that the program team may not know you personally, and they might not have seen your presentation before so they have various doubts in their mind. Your goal, as a submitter, is to try and address these potential doubts and convince the team that your proposal will add great value to the conference.

Question 1: Will our audience be interested in this topic?

This is the first question that the program team will look at. If the topic is not a good fit for the audience, they won’t select it, even if the content is really good. As a submitter, you need to look at the expected audience profile, and try to see if your topic is a value add for them. Then try to convey in your proposal as to why your topic is important and interesting.

Bad proposal: This proposal is about TDD

Better proposal: Many Indian teams work on maintenance projects and they struggle to write tests for their Legacy Software. This session shows a better way to go about it.

Question 2: Is your content good?

You may have a good topic, but does your content effectively address the topic? This is a question that the program team has in their mind, so give some more details on what exactly you are going to cover. The more details you give, the easier it will be for the program team to make up their mind. A vague submission will leave the program team with too many doubts to proceed further.

If you have delivered this session elsewhere, then provide a link to the slides , code samples and links to photos or videos.

Question 3: Have you thought about the delivery?

Having seen the content, the program team would like to know whether you can actually deliver that content within the session duration. Sometimes a broad topic is selected for a 30 minute session. Does that mean you will just touch upon a lot of topics, or will you go deep into one or two? Will there be exercises or anything else in the session? Giving the break up of the planned time for each topic will be useful for the program team to make their decision.

Here is an example for a 1 hour coding session:

  • 5 minutes: What are Code Smells?
  • 10 minutes: Walkthrough example of smells in code.
  • 30 minutes – Work with a small group of developers by letting them download code from a repository where they can learn how to clean the code.
  • 5 minutes: Wrap up & summary
  • 5 minutes: Q & A

Question 4: Are you the right person to deliver this session?

Finally, the program team would think about if you are the right person for the session. Are you an engaging speaker? Do you know how to talk about the code as you are writing it? Do you understand your topic well? Give details of other conferences you have spoken at. Even better if it was on the same (or similar) content. If any of those sessions were recorded, then give a link to the video.

Summary

Approach the submission process like a sales pitch. Just like a sales person making a sale to a customer, your goal is to convince the program team that you have something of value to offer. As long as the proposal team has open questions, they will hesitate to choose your session. Answering some of the above questions in the proposal will go a long way in improving the chances for selection.

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