Guidelines for submitting a proposal
We want to help you create a good proposal for your session. A good proposal:
- is clear about what the session will offer participants
- sets out how you will deliver on that
- shows how the session will fit the conference themes
Our review process is anonymous, so our reviewers will not know your name or reputation. They rely on your proposal to decide if your session should be included in the programme.
This guidance will help you put together a high-quality proposal.
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Your session title should make a great first impression so that our participants can decide whether your session is right for them.
A good title is both descriptive and engaging. It should make it clear what the session is about - its focus or subject area. And it should attract the attention of participants who have to choose between sessions in a busy conference programme.
Try to avoid:
- plainly descriptive titles that don’t fire the imagination, such as "A workshop about mentoring and coaching"
- purely imaginative titles that don’t explain what the session will do, such as "An Interactive Holistic Detective Workshop"
Instead, combine the two, for example, "The Holistic Detective Game - a workshop exploring the relationship between mentoring and coaching". It has an engaging title but also describes the session.
The short summary will be included on the event website to help participants decide whether to go to your session.
It should be informative and engaging so that participants understand what they will get from the session and whether it’s suitable for them. They will have a choice of several sessions at any one time, so your summary has to sell (but not oversell) your session.
Keep it brief - around 50 to 120 words.
Our review panel will use the longer description of your session to understand:
- what participants will get by coming to your session
- whether you can deliver your session to meet participants' needs
You should clearly and concisely provide all the details you feel are relevant. Descriptions with more detail are generally rated higher by the review panel.
We do not usually share the full description with participants. We may use some of it to add to your summary on the event website, such as 'participant takeaways'.
If your session is a workshop, discussion or other very interactive format, you must include an agenda.
Key points from your session
It is essential that you include between 3 and 5 key points, or takeaways, for participants. This will help the panel and our participants judge whether the session will be of value. Think about how you would finish the sentence ‘You will leave this session with…’.
If you’re planning a workshop, your description needs to go into more detail than for other formats. The panel needs to understand what will be delivered, and be confident that it will be delivered well. You must provide a detailed agenda and breakdown of learning outcomes.
Ideally all our sessions have an element of interactivity. However some participants will want to opt out of some or all interactive elements. You should be clear about how interactive your session will be so that participants can make an informed choice.
If your session has been given before, let us know. Is it an iteration of one you presented at the conference previously? If so, how has it changed since then?
Type of session
We encourage interactive sessions that involve participants in the discussion or give them hands-on experience.
Our most common types of sessions are case studies, talks, workshops and discussions.
We also welcome novel session formats and are very supportive of experimental sessions that may never have been tried before.
A presentation and discussion of real-life experiences, showing how relevant techniques have been applied (or mis-applied). 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.
Ideally you would structure it so that people can participate and not simply sit and listen. For example, you might ask them questions during the talk, encourage discussion amongst the participants or invite them to give examples of their own relevant experiences.
A hands-on working session focused around a specific topic, tool, technique or issue. Led by the speaker, workshops are usually interactive with individual or group exercises. Tell us if you need to limit the number of participants.
A more informal session such as a Goldfish Bowl, Library or Lean Coffee. Discussions should allow 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 limit the number of participants.
What we do not want
Do not put links in your summary or description. These would remove your anonymity, and our reviewers will not click on them. Instead you should explain whatever you think is relevant in your proposal.
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.
Too little information
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 rock star
You may have an awesome reputation, but all our proposals are anonymised so our review panel will not know who you are. We need enough detail about what you’re offering the audience at this event, so that we can review the proposal on its own merits.
Been there, done that
We prefer sessions that cover new ideas or bring a fresh perspective to an old technique. Our participants generally keep up to date with new developments, through our conferences and other sources. So a session about something that emerged a few years ago is unlikely to feel relevant to them now.
Our archive of earlier conferences may be useful to see what themes and topics have been covered in the past. This doesn't mean that you can't talk about an older topic, but you will need to address it from a new point of view.
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”.
Overly technical sessions
Many of our participants work with teams that develop software, but are not developers themselves. They are more interested in approaches to software engineering than in-depth technical detail. We are unlikely to accept a session with a narrow, technical focus.