By Kat Fairbanks 04-29-2020

After months of planning and monitoring the pandemic closely, we at Momentum are moving forward and opening our call for presenters beginning May 1st.

I participated in the speaker selection for Momentum 2019 and was myself a presenter at last year’s conference. I am once again looking forward to reviewing the proposals that come in this year.

I understand how challenging writing a speaker submission can be, especially if it's your first time, so I’ve drafted the following reference guide to assist you. It breaks the process up into bite-size pieces that makes it easier for rookie and seasoned speakers alike to write winning proposals. The best part is that you can use these tips to create a submission for any conference!

Step 1 - Pick a topic

The first step of writing your CFP submission is to pick your topic . If you don’t already have a clear topic in mind, consider drawing inspiration from these options:

  • Speak about what you’ve done. Maybe you are working with a cool new library or technology. Perhaps you’ve figured out a great way to write automated tests. Or maybe you’ve solved a difficult problem at work and want to share your experience with others. Drawing from your experiences can make for a great talk because you are an instant authority on your subject.
  • Speak about your passions. You might be really passionate about accessibility or diversity, and want to share how we can incorporate those things in our work. Maybe you are an automated testing wizard and are ready to tell your secrets (please, do!). It is obvious when a speaker is really passionate about what they are presenting; those talks are often the most engaging.
  • Speak about something new to you. Some presenters work best under pressure, and use a talk as a chance to learn more about something new. This is a risky approach and is often a large time commitment, but it can result in a good introductory-level talk because you just went through the experience of picking up this topic for the first time.

Step 2 - Write the abstract

Once you have nailed down a topic, you’re ready to get started writing an abstract. An abstract is your elevator pitch, and your audience is the selection committee and conference attendees. Your goal is to generate interest in your presentation while clearly explaining what they will get from it. Generally, your abstract should answer the following questions:

  • What is the talk about? Start with a sentence or two about the topic you are going to cover in your presentation.
  • Who is this talk for? Note what level of experience with certain technologies or languages attendees will need to benefit from hearing your talk. Is this an introductory talk that is applicable to anyone? Or is this talk for seasoned Spring Boot developers?
  • What will attendees take away? Explain what attendees should expect to learn from your presentation. Setting clear expectations makes it easier for the speaker selection committee to understand what your talk should be included.
  • Why should they be excited to see this talk? This can be a wide range of things. You might write about a specific experience, or discuss your new solution to a frequently experienced problem. Try to build excitement, credibility, or intrigue to draw interest into your presentation.

Step 3 - Choose a title

Once you’ve written an abstract, you need to give your talk a title. If you can make your title pop, that’s awesome! But the most important thing is to make sure the title clearly states what your topic is.

If you are looking for inspiration for a good title, look to tips and tricks for blog posts titles. There are plenty of blog posts about this including:

Step 4 - Write a short bio

Most conferences will ask for a quick speaker bio that will be published alongside your talk. This lets the speaker selection committee and attendees get to know a little more about your background and personality. Start with a sentence or two about any relevant experience, what you currently do, and what you are interested in. Sometimes, speakers will include a fun fact about themselves to showcase their personality a bit.

When you find yourself stuck

If you find yourself struggling at any point in the process, I’ve found it helpful to look at previous proposals for inspiration. Many conferences still have a list of previous abstracts and speaker bios that you can use to see what works. Looking at previous years of the conference you are submitting to can be helpful in understanding the type of content they are looking for.

There are also plenty of other resources available with great advice on how to write an abstract, as well as write the talk.

Hopefully this helps you get started. I’m excited to see what comes in for Momentum 2020!