Writing Better Conference Abstracts and Presentations

The conference season is coming – let’s get you a speaker slot.  Before you submit an abstract, do your research.  Here’s some of my past posts about presentations and abstracts:

How to Write a Conference Abstract – the real goals of a session abstract is to get the right people into your room and keep the wrong people out.  If you write a misleading or vague abstract, attendees will be furious, and your evaluation scores will show it.  Learn how to craft an abstract that’ll put the right butts in your seats.

How to Pick Blog & Presentation Topics – we have a tendency to write the abstracts for sessions we’d like to attend ourselves, but that’s completely wrong.

How to Get Readers to Pay Attention – hit hard with the first sentence, tell ’em something they already know, and for God’s sake, check your spelling.

And yes, a lot more people came in.
Buck Woody warming up the room before a session

Who’s Your Target Audience? – you’re not writing to impress other presenters.  You’re writing to impress your attendees.

How to Rehearse a Presentation – one of the things that shows an audience you really know your stuff is how you handle the transitions between slides.  PowerPoint Presenter View helps a lot here.

What Makes a Good Conference Session? – killer presentations don’t have a magic formula with a certain number of demos or slides.  In fact, you might not need either.

Dealing with Presentation Criticism – I’ve bombed, and you probably have too. Before you submit an abstract, reread your past conference feedback to do a better job.

How to Deliver a Killer Technical Presentation – my favorite start-to-finish post with tons of tips.

How I APPROACHED 2012’s Conference Season

Last year, I wrote my sp_Blitz® session with a few specific goals:

  1. I wanted to get into the top 10 sessions for the 3rd year in a row
  2. I wanted to give attendees a Steve Jobs “one more thing” moment
  3. I wanted everybody to leave the session eager to run a ready-to-go script

I pulled it off, and you know how it goes – it’s time to raise the bar again.  Here’s my goals for this year:

  1. Get into the top 10 again
  2. Get everybody to run a script as soon as possible
  3. Get attendees to pass on the script to as many people as possible
  4. Pack whatever room they put me in

That means I need to build a session around a script that will have really wide appeal and make a big difference in their jobs.  I need to make the session a train-the-trainer session, too – I can’t just teach them what the script is doing, but I have to equip them so they can pass this knowledge onto their friends.  It’s not enough just to give them a slide deck, because many/most attendees don’t feel comfortable presenting.  I need to make the session viral, with as low of an effort as possible on the attendees’ parts.

Sounds like a lot of work – and it is.  Not every session needs to go to that level of planning and detail – but it helps to go in with a set of goals.  What is your session trying to achieve for you, and for your attendees?  Let’s really make our mark this year!

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