I already did some talks at conferences and I had already the honor to select talks for a conference. During this talk selection I found some excellent examples on how to do to a proposal, but unfortunately also some examples that could be improved. Also my own learnings from proposals will run into this post, because I know, it’s not always easy to find the right words.
Let’s have a look at the things that can be improved. Let’s assume you want to submit a talk about High Availability in PostgreSQL, maybe a comparison of different tools.
First of all you, need a title. This one should wake the interest of the audience. Be creative!
“HA in PGSQL” is maybe not the best choice to wake someone’s interest. Of course, the summary of your talk is more important. But if the Title does not catch me, I am even not really interested in the summary.
The summary is the heart of your proposal, the heart of your talk. Take some time to write it. It tooks days to prepare your talk. So please take more than two minutes to write your summary.
“I will talk about high availability in PostgreSQL”
Let’s be honest. Do you know what this talk is about now? Is it about replication in general? Is it about one tool? Is it about several tools? Is it a comparison? Will there be examples?
With any respect. This is not enough!
Publishing the Agenda in the summary maybe looks self-explaining for you. But don’t just put the agenda 1:1 into your proposal
- Explaining PostgreSQL
- Explaining Method 1
- Explaining Method 2
So now I have a better idea what you want to talk about than in the one liner. But isn’t it worth to put a bit more details into your submission? A bit more passion?
After a small introduction of PostgreSQL and its possibilities to reach high availability, we will have a look at the pros and cons of different solutions (patroni, repmanager and autofailover) to achieve even better availability of your data.
If you really want to put your agenda into the summary already (think that’s a bit taking the surprise), feel free to do. But some more sentences to give a better understanding what is the goal of this talk would be great.
Yes, this is still a topic we have to talk about. For example, if you propose to a PostgreSQL conference and write: Postgre or PostgresSQL, the talk selection committee will ask themselves, if you’re familiar with the topic. Same is valid for Orcl or Oracel.
Always ask somebody to read your proposal. Especially if you’re submitting in another language than your mother tongue. It’s not necessary to write as good as a native speaker. But it should at least be understandable.
“I talk my speach about patroni and high available is good to having” is understandable, but be sure your talk won’t be chosen. The talk committee will ask themselves if your language skills are good enough to give a talk in another language.
And if you don’t have someone to read your summary, even MS Word can help you to find typos.
The “About you” section is important because it should wake the audience’s interest. I should also give the talk selection committee an idea who you are.
So please think about a short but interesting “About You” entry.
Where are your from, how long are you working in your area? Please, don’t put your full CV into the about you section. But maybe a bit more than: “Hi my name is Julia” would be great as well.
Last, but not less important, maybe the most important part of your submission.
Make yourself familiar with the deadline for a Call for Papers (CfP). It’s usually published on the conference homepage. Further the CfP is announced on the mailing lists, e.g. for PostgreSQL ([email protected]). Feel free to subscribe to it on www.postgresql.org. There is also the possibility to follow your favourite conference on social media (Twitter / LinkedIn….)
In general, there are also reminders, that the CfP will close soon. You don’t need to submit at the first day. But please submit before the CfP closes.
Usually, the organisation teams have a timeline as well as some time pressure during the organisation period. So please understand, that the voting for the talks will start immediately after the CfP is closed and later submissions or direct messages to the talk selection committee cannot be considered.
Don’t be shy. Try it, I am sure you have something interesting to talk about. Don’t be sad if your talk is not chosen. Give it another try on another conference. There are always talk committees that will look for newcomers to give them a chance. We all started as a first-time speaker. So be brave, we look forward to meet you.
This blog reflects my personal impression of talk submissions I read during the last years. If you find any similarities to your summaries, I am sorry, I tried to invent my own examples.
Of course, it’s always your own decision how you want to propose a talk. Find your own style, it should reflect your personality. But always keep in mind: Do I think this proposal is interesting? Do I want to spend my time listening to that talk?
Have fun with your next or even first proposal!