This is a very specific type of writing exercise. It’s much like writing a summary for a resume. You want it to engage the reader’s attention immediately.

Here are the steps that I go through:

  1. You need to read the Submission Guidelines carefully & follow them to the letter. They will provide the answers to the who, what, where, when & why. Here’s the Call for Participation at Web 2.0 Expo for next spring.
  2. Review additional hints:
    • Read about the conference, who hosts it & who usually attends it
    • Take a look at the sessions that were presented at the previous one.
    • Decide on the tone for your proposal
  3. Decide on what your topic will be. You don’t need a title quite yet.
  4. Create an outline of your idea for your topic
  5. Start to craft the short description by brainstorming. Then create sentences & put them in logical order. Once you get this fairly close then the longer abstract will evolve.
  6. Go through your outline & trade out the beginning of each sentence with action verbs. Make your presentation proposal engaging.

This is the short description of a panel proposal that I recently wrote:

This panel offers practical ways & case studies of how to use social media and it’s tools to have conversations in the online space like those on the sales floor. Traditional marketing & advertising efforts are less effective than ever before. By engaging with your community online you can realize: increased brand presence, shorter product development cycle, customer loyalty & satisfaction as well as create positive word of mouth.

For the longer abstract I used the above paragraph, then I asked questions. The goal is to entice potential attendees to start thinking about your topic. Your presentation will be answering those questions.

Customers are discussing your brand online. Are you listening? How are you interacting? It’s a huge opportunity to provide the same personalized service online that you encourage on the sales floor.

I used the following action words to start sentences in the panel description. Be creative!

  • enable
  • join
  • provide
  • create
  • engage
  • celebrate
  • participate

Have someone read your proposal & provide constructive criticism. And make sure that you submit it on time!

What suggestions do you have for writing proposals for conferences?