How (not) to Respond to a CFP

Content Creation Sep 14, 2021

Over the last few years I have submitted a lot of talk suggestions to conferences and events through their Call for Papers (CFP), I've had a lot of rejections and been accepted to speak at a lot as well.  

I've also been involved in looking through submissions for events and conferences and trying to decide which ones to pick and which ones to reject, which is always a hard task.  

In this blog post I wanted to share some tips on filling in a Call for Papers for a event.

Too short

When writing about a talk idea try and not make the description or synopsis too short.  If the person who is evaluating the submissions doesn't have a good idea of what the talk will be about, how can they evaluate it properly or trust that it will be a good talk for the audience.  

Your submission extract should be long enough to give the conference organisers enough context to understand what you will be talking about and why it's worth picking your submission over the others.

Too long

Equally your submission should not be too long.  It doesn't need to be an essay, you don't need to write out an entire blog post or essay in your submission.   Save that level of detail for the talk itself.  

Try and strike a good balance of sharing enough details to show the value of the talk but not giving everything away. 😊

Boring

Try and make sure your submission sparks interest.  There is no point having a great subject or a very relevant but your submission doesn't convey that.  Your description should try and convey why someone would want to attend your talk.

Try and show your personality within the description. If the description doesn't excite or interest you then why would others want to attend the talk?

Sales Pitch

Some events are happy to have talks and presentations that are aimed at selling products to audiences, but you should focus on helping to teach the audience something.   By all means chat about your companies products or offerings but don't turn your talk into a sales pitch.   If you are aiming to sell things at the event then look to sponsoring it or getting a booth etc, don't submit a session. 😉

Don't get discouraged

It can be daunting trying to write a submission for a conference or event, and you will no doubt face rejections. Believe me I've had my fair few rejections and it's never nice, however, don't get discouraged.  Keep trying, keep learning and you'll get there.

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