Note from Beth: Whether you are planning to present at a conference or deliver a one-day workshop, the secret to success is in good design. You just lump a bunch of speakers together and hobble together some content. You need to shape it and that means thinking through some design questions. What are your session’s learning objectives and who is the audience? Who are the subject-matter experts that you’ve assembled to share their ideas with the audience? How will the audience participate? Who will facilitate? What will the audience walk away being inspired to do or know about? What top notch resource materials will accompany the session? And of course, how will translate all this into a succinct description that participants will immediately understand if it matches their needs? These are some of the best practices of planning a high quality session. Recently, Points of Light offered an instructional webinar on how to design a conference session. Lori Jean Mantooth offers a summary.
Here’s How to Create a Buzzworthy Conference Session -by Lori Jean Mantooth, Points of Light’s director of training programs
We’ve all been there. We’ve pored over the list of workshops at a conference, reading descriptions and speaker bios in an attempt to decide which sessions to attend. I mean, if you’re going to dedicate 90 minutes to a workshop, you want to make sure it’s worth your time, not to mention the money you paid to be at the conference. Right?
Maybe you’ve been on the other side of that situation. You’ve spent hours developing a workshop proposal, hoping it would be accepted and then working hard to make sure the actual session lived up to your original vision in the proposal.
Each year around this time, my colleagues and I get to figure out how to bring these two perspectives into one beautiful experience at the annual Conference on Volunteering and Service. We recently launched the Call for Presenters (CFP). Now through November 8, we invite anyone who’s interested to submit a proposal to present a workshop at the Conference.
We’re working with potential presenters to help them develop strong proposals because that will contribute to the overall quality of the workshops at the Conference. In a recent webinar for interested presenters, we talked about elements of a great proposal, an overview of the Conference, the CFP timeline and how to navigate the online CFP system. View the recording of the webinar here.
Among other things on the webinar, we discussed some best practices for developing a proposal, such as:
- Align with the tracks and impact areas. The Conference workshops will be categorized into both tracks and impact areas this year. Your proposal can fit into one of each, so be sure to review the possibilities and decide where your session aligns best.
- Use a catchy title. Many times Conference attendees don’t read past the session title. Find a creative way to catch attention, relay the topic of your session and keep people reading about your session.
- Be clear and concise in your session description. Convey the topic and what people will learn if they attend your session. Be mindful of character limit (250, including spaces).
- Follow the guidelines. Complete every step in the online system and meet the submission deadline of November 8. Pay attention to instructions or tips on different segments of the proposal form. Even if a question is optional, providing an answer can help put your proposal over the top.
- If you have a question about your proposal or the submission process, ASK! Check the CFP system and the Conference website, which contain the answers to most of your questions. If you still need assistance, contact us.
This time of year is exciting for many reasons, but for us at Points of Light it’s great because we get to read about the amazing work that’s happening in communities around the globe. We see seasoned experts and first-time presenters eager to share their knowledge with others. We have proposals from nonprofits, government agencies, companies and individuals who can inspire and teach us all.
If you have something to share with the world’s largest gathering of service leaders, submit your proposal today!
Lori Jean Mantooth, Points of Light’s director of training programs.