Random thoughts from an unusual company

It’s Nearly That Time Again - Lotusphere Sessions

Gabriella Davis  13 September 2011 12:27:07
It’s Nearly That Time Again - Lotusphere Sessions

Mid September is here, the leaves are turning, in London the Autumn weather has arrived and the kids are back at school.  From here it’s the long run up to the next big holiday break in December (or November if you’re American).  All should be calm with the world but the emails and IM chats and whispered conversations have started, along with the associated feeling of panic

“What should I submit for Lotusphere this year”

OK - so it may not be called Lotusphere this year, who knows, but bear with me on this.

I don’t claim to have any secret method for getting a session abstract accepted into the biggest conference of the year, but what I do have is a lot of experience in submitting sessions (both accepted and rejected) and reviewing those sent by others into various tracks in the past few years as part of my role, along with Paul Mooney, of “track elf” on the Show N Tell track.  

Last year at this time Paul and I offered to provide an informal, pre-submission feedback to anyone considering sending in an abstract and we were very pleased to see some of those abstracts later appear as sessions.  We’re offering the same to anyone this year who wants some independent guidance.  We can’t guarantee we’re right or that our advice will get your session accepted, but we’ve both seen enough abstracts both good and bad to be able to provide some guidance.  

Here are some things I advise
  1. Choose something you’re excited about sharing.  The best presenters are people who are excited about the technology and want you to be too.
  2. Is the topic you’ve chosen likely to be a popular one lots of others will choose (DAOS, XPages, etc) if so what is your unique slant on it that will deliver what no-one else can  
  3. What will people learn from your session that they can walk away with.  Have a very fixed idea in your head “if they come knowing X they will leave knowing Y”
  4. If you want to talk about the latest, coolest, most exciting product your company produces then I’m happy for you but Lotusphere is not the forum for doing that. Do not attempt to slip in a marketing session and hope no-one will notice that in the abstract.  It will be noticed.  It will be rejected.  
  5. Choose something new that people wouldn’t have seen at every free LUG for the past year. Lotusphere is an event, often the only conference people have paid money for all year and they deserve the best, most unique and well thought out sessions.
  6. Don’t choose a topic so esoteric, specific and obscure only you and 2 other people could possibly understand the abstract.  It may be cool but futures are handled in the IBM tracks, the regular people tracks (Best Practice, Show and Tell, Jumpstart) are for real world, now examples
  7. Last year everyone was limited to a maximum of 3 speaking sessions, I don’t know if that’s true this year but if it is, pairing up with someone who is submitting other sessions (especially just to get 2 free tickets) may harm rather than help your chances
  8. If you are feeling resentful about the work involved in writing a decent abstract, do everyone a favour and stop now

Lotusphere is put together by a content team who really care about the conference and the quality of sessions, many of whom have been doing this for longer than any of us have been working with this technology. They want new speakers.  They want great content.  They want people who want to speak at Lotusphere solely because they want to speak at Lotusphere.  

Getting a session at Lotusphere is 90% writing a good abstract, please don’t underestimate that.  If you would like to take us up on the offer to provide feedback on your abstracts or ideas you can email directly gabriella at turtlepartnership.com and pmooney at pmooney.net.  Last year we ended up being swamped with requests in the last few days before call for abstracts closed.  This year we won't be able to help that late in the process so please contact us with your ideas asap if you would like us involved.

Thank you.


1Brenny Ganesan  04/10/2011 13:32:01  It’s Nearly That Time Again - Lotusphere Sessions

This is the kind of offer an IBM Champion would make.

So how about we help you spread the word on this via developerWorks?

We can spread the word to the incumbents that you and Paul would be willing to read (and critique) abstracts.

You might get a slew tho, if we were to pimp it?

Let me know.


2Gabriella Davis  04/10/2011 17:54:25  It’s Nearly That Time Again - Lotusphere Sessions

Hi Brenny

I'd be very pleased if you could spread the word. It's a genuine offer and so long as everyone realises it's a best effort endeavour that would be great. Especially with call for abstracts opening up soon I believe.