Random thoughts from an unusual company

Thinking of Submitting An Abstract To Lotusphere This Year ? An Offer

Gabriella Davis  19 August 2010 13:57:42
It's nearly that time again - some of us have started booking travel arrangements for Lotusphere 2011 next January (30th Jan - 3rd Feb) and mentally drafting ideas for speaker abstracts.  This year I will again be helping structure the SNT track along with Christian Holsing and Paul Mooney and after the great sessions we had entered last year I'm really looking forward to seeing what 2011 brings.

Since last year I've also had a lot of people ask me how, as a new speaker, they can get a session at Lotusphere and here's the top secret, inside track, answer




Write a good abstract, on a great topic and send it in to the right track




Last year in the SNT track alone we had over 140 submissions for 17 sessions.  Working separately, Paul, Christian and I went through the 140 submissions and then sent our 'first cut' to each other to compare.  In 90% of cases we agreed on choices so I thought it would be useful to highlight for anyone thinking of submitting who hasn't had a session before, the reasons why an abstract might not have made my shortlist
  • Not a clear description of what the audience will take away from spending 2 hrs watching your presentation.  This is a training track so given the choice between 2 similar sounding sessions, I'll choose the one that has clearly stated deliverables for the audience
  • A vague abstract saying something like "We use Connections a lot, people need to see how that works".  The amount of thought / effort you put into your abstract suggests to me the amount of thought / effort you'll put into your presentation.  A hastily written abstract doesn't fill me with confidence that you can commit to the huge volume of work a SNT takes
  • Think of your abstract like a CV, you want to stand out and most attendees will only read the first few words of it before deciding whether to attend or not.
  • An abstract that promotes your company and its great case study (not in this track) or your product (not in any track) no matter how useful you think those stories are
  • Similar to the above, nothing that smacks of marketing (and that includes IBM). This is a paid for conference with a lot of options for people's time.  They don't take kindly having 2hrs used up in being sold to
  • Clearly written, spelt and grammatically correct English.  Sorry and I know this is an international conference but the sessions are conducted in English and this is a teaching track - if we can't understand your abstract then will people be able to understand 2 hours of your session
  • Enthusiasm about the subject conveyed in your abstract, but dial back the laboured humour.  Some people can get away with it but I'd rather see you spent more time thinking about the content than thinking how to make your abstract funny
  • A topic that's too broad.  Everyone wants to present on "XPages"and there is only room for one session per topic - if you want your session picked then you need your own unique and interesting slant on it
  • A topic that's too niche / geeky.  This is 2hrs in a room with lots of people of varying skill levels.  You can geek out in a 1hr session and just about expect people to keep up, but at 2hrs it's simply too much information too detailed and too fast.  We want to appeal to as many people as possible
  • A topic that would be uniquely suited to SNT and not one that has been submitted scattershot to every single track in the hope of hitting a bullseye
So having said that and based on having had a few abstracts myself accepted in the past, I'd like to extend an offer that Paul also has on his blog.  Send me your LS abstract via email before you submit it and we will do our best to provide you feedback on it.  We can't guarantee you'll get a session or even that our feedback will increase you chances, but if you genuinely want to speak at LS and want some input in putting together an abstract we'd be very happy to help out.  Email gabriella@turtlepartnership.com.

To clarify, In no way can we influence whether or not you get a session, even if we think your submission is great we won't know what your competition is until all submissions are in so your great session may still not get through.  I know i'm busy drafting my own ideas for abstracts already and as always I wont' know until November if I managed to get even a single session so we're all in the same boat - but nothing beats the career high of standing on stage at LS speaking to your peers.  Good luck!