I’ve been speaking at some conferences lately.  I knew I needed to get better with my submissions and hoped Alistair or Edd would write a blog post about how to improve.  Alistair did except it got out of hand and became a book.

This book became Propose, Prepare, Present.  It was exactly what I needed to improve my submissions.  He doesn’t just cover the tactics of what makes a submission good or bad.  I appreciated this well-rounded approach.

The book shows some of the cardinal sins one can commit.  These aren’t just problems with a submission that will get you rejected; there are the ones that get you on the informal black book of conferences.  Some of these are obvious and some aren’t.

He also gets into the behind the scenes of the conference industry to show why things happen.  I run our local developers group and I’ve always been curious about the inner workings of a big conference.  I experience many of the same problems, but at a much, much smaller level.  The book shows the politics and money that the big boys deal with.  It covers the review process and sheer number of submissions that conference gets.  A good conference isn’t lacking submissions and the odds are low of getting picked.  This is the time when a poorly written or a typo laden submission will get you tossed quickly.  It’s nothing personal and someone else put the effort into making theirs better.

I’d like to add a few tips from my own experience.

  • Start at the company or local level and work your way up.  Speaking at a national conference like Alistair’s means competing against a lot of other people.  Your local user group has much less competition.  Hone your craft there and move on to the national and international levels.
  • Software Developers may not be the best public speakers.  Invest some money in your Developers to give a better talk.
  • Bad stands out more than good.  I can remember the bad speakers at my group faster than the good ones.
  • Having to contact a speaker several times to nail things down sucks.  It takes time from other things and the organizers will appreciate it.
  • Say thanks!  Very easy to do, it happens rarely, and the organizers appreciate it on an otherwise thankless job.

The verdict?  Buy it.  I’m curious to see how much my submissions improve.

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