Wednesday, October 8, 2014

11 Tips To Get Your Conference Abstract Accepted

11 Ways To Get Your Conference Abstract Accepted


This is what happens when your abstract is selected!
Ready for some fun!? It's that time of year again and the competition will be intense. The "call for abstracts" for a number of Oracle Database conferences are about to close.

The focus of this posting is how you can get a conference abstract accepted.

As a mentor, Track Manager and active conference speaker I've been helping DBAs get their abstracts accepted for many years. If you follow my 11 tips below, I'm willing to bet you will get a free pass to any conference you wish in any part of the world.

1. No Surprises! 


Track Manager After A Surprise
The Track Manager wants no surprises, great content and a great presentation. Believe me when I say, they are looking for ways to reduce the risk of a botched presentation, a cancelation or a no show. Your abstract submissions is your first way to show you are serious and will help make the track incredibly awesome.

Tip: In all your conference communications, demonstrate a commitment to follow through.

2. Creative Title.


The first thing everyone sees is the title. I can personally tell you, if the title does not peak my curiosity without sounding stupid, then unless I know the speaker is popular I will not read the abstract. Why do I do this? Because as a Track Manager, I know conference attendees will do the same thing! And as a Track Manager, I want attendees to want to attend sessions in my track.

Tip: Find two people, read the title to them and ask what they think. If they say something like, "What are you going to talk about?" that's bad. Rework the title.

3. Tell A Story


The abstract must tell a compelling story. Oracle conferences are not academic conferences! There needs to be some problem along with a solution complete with drama woven into the story.

Tip: People forget bullet points, but they never forget a good story.

4. Easy To Read


The abstract must be easy to review. The abstract reviewers may have over a hundred abstracts to review. Make it a good quick read for the reviewers and your chances increase.

Tip: Have your computer read your abstract back to you. If you don't say, "Wow!" rework the abstract. 

5. Be A Grown-Up


You can increase the perception you will physically show up and put on a great show at the conference by NOT putting into your abstract emoji, bullet points, your name and title or pushing a product or service. NEVER copy/paste from a powerpoint outline into the abstract or outline. (I've seen people do this!)

Tip: Track Managers do not want to baby sit you. They want an adult who will help make their track great.

6. Submit Introductory Level Abstracts


I finally figured this out a couple years ago. Not everyone is ready for a detailed understanding of cache buffer chain architecture, diagnosis, and solution development. Think of it from a business perspective. Your market (audience) will be larger if your presentation is less technical. If this bothers you, read my next point.

Tip: Submit both an introductory level version and advanced level version of your topic.

7. Topics Must Be Filled


Not even the Track Manager knows what people will submit. And you do not know what the Track Manager is looking for. And you do not know what other people are submitting. Mash this together and it means you must submit more than one abstract. I know you really, really want to present on topic X. But would you rather not have an abstract accepted?

Tip: Submit abstracts on multiple topics. It increases your chances of being accepted.

8. Submit Abstract To Multiple Tracks


This is similar to submitting both an introductory version of your abstract. Here's an example: If there is a DBA Bootcamp track and a Performance & Internals Track, craft your abstract to Bootcamp version has a more foundational/core feel to it. And craft your Performance & Internals version to feel more technical and advanced.

Do not simply change the title and the abstract can not be the same.  If the conference managers or the Track Manager feels you are trying to game the conference, you present a risk to the conference and their track and your abstracts will be rejected. So be careful and thoughtful.

Tip: Look for ways to adjust your topic to fit into multiple tracks.

9. Great Outline Shows Commitment


If the reviewers have read your title and abstract, they are taking your abstract seriously. Now is the time to close the deal by demonstrating you will put on a great show. And this means you already have in mind an organized and well thought out delivery. You convey this with a fantastic outline. I know it is difficult to create an outline BUT the reviewers also know this AND having a solid outline demonstrates to them you are serious, you will show up, and put on a great show.

Tip: Develop your abstract and outline together. This strengthens both and develops a kind of package the reviewers like to see.

10. Learning Objectives Show Value


You show the obvious value of your topic through the learning objectives. Personally, I use these to help keep me focused on my listener, just not what I'm interested in at the moment. Because I love my work, I tend to think everyone also does... not so. I must force myself to answer the question, "Why would a DBA care about this topic?"

Tip: Develop your learning objectives by asking yourself, "When my presentation is over, what do I want the attendees to remember?"

11. Submit About Problems You Solved


Submit on the topics you have personally explored and found fascinating. Every year, every DBA has had to drill deep into at least one problem. This concentrated effort means you know the topic very well. And this means you are qualified to tell others about it! People love to hear from people who are fascinated about something. Spread the good news resulting from a "bad" experience.

Tip: Submit on topics you have explored and are fascinated with.

How Many Abstracts Should I Submit?


It depends on the conference, but for a big North America conference like ODTUG, RMOUG and IOUG I suggest at least four.

Based on what I wrote above, pick three topics, perhaps create both an introductory and advanced version and look to see if it makes sense to submit to multiple tracks. That means you'll probably submit at least four abstracts. It's not as bad as it sounds, because you will only have perhaps three core abstracts. All the others are modifications to fit a specific need. Believe when you receive the acceptance email, it will all be worth it!

See you at the conference!

Craig.