You all know the drill. You write what you think is a great abstract, get rejected and wonder why. In another life, I worked to plan many a conference, and fielded thousands of phone calls asking: “Why didn’t I get a speaking slot?”
The answers are many, but 90 percent of the time it is because the abstract is BORING. Think about it. If conference organizers ask for submissions on certain topics, you can guarantee that yours is only one of possibly hundreds of other abstracts covering THE EXACT SAME THING. So how do you set yourself apart? Here are 5 tips to help you write a winning abstract.
1) Develop a catchy title. Many people forget the title, just typing something up as they are submitting. But, remember, when the reviewers look at it the title is the first thing they see! Come up with a clever pun--make it fun!
2) Bring a customer co-presenter. Conference organizers love it when you bring customers to speak. It’s one less thing for them to have to do on their own. So, whenever possible, offer up a joint presentation with your customer. Better yet--propose a panel with an analyst, customer and partner.
3) Don’t mention your products! Blatant or veiled sales pitches don’t fly. Your submission will be thrown out immediately if there is any type of reference to products or services. Don’t do it. Instead, present an industry problem and talk about possible solutions, or present your views on the future.
4) Offer up a high-level, non-marketing person. We all know your VP of Marketing is technical, but the truth is conference organizers would much rather hear from your CTO/CIO or VP of Engineering, than any sort of marketing person. And remember, any person’s title with “Product” in it is considered a marketing person from a conference organizer’s perspective.
5) Don’t bait and switch. Don’t overpromise. If you can’t bring the CEO, don’t submit the CEO. If you can’t bring a customer, don’t say you are going to bring one. You’ll just wind up on the organizer’s black list.
The key to landing a speaking slot is offering the organizer’s audience real, forward thinking content that will set your abstract apart.. Remember--the organizers want a successful event and that means providing attendees with interesting and relevant content. Follow the advice above and sit back while those acceptance letters start to roll in!