[UbuntuWomen] Tips on submitting proposals

Emma Jane Hogbin emmajane at xtrinsic.com
Wed Jan 30 21:38:11 UTC 2008

Many thanks to Allison Randal for her suggestions on writing a proposal.
I'm sure they will be helpful to those who are submitting proposals
(*hint*hint* Leigh, Lyz and Cathy M and whoever else is thinking about
submitting a proposal!)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Tips on submitting proposals (Ubuntu Live)
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 16:42:00 +1100
From: Allison Randal <allison at oreilly.com>
To: Ubuntu-Women <ubuntu-women at lists.ubuntu.com>

With the deadline for the Ubuntu Live CFP coming up, Emma asked me to
write a few tips for women considering submitting proposals (or women
who aren't considering it, but really should).

- Topic

I often get asked "How do I decide what to talk about? What does the
audience want to hear?" That's not really the right question to ask. The
topic you pick should come from within yourself. Forget for a moment
that there's an audience involved. Pretend that a (technically inclined)
friend you haven't seen for a year is coming over to visit. What have
you discovered or learned or worked on this year that you'd want to tell
them about? What are you passionate about? What makes you leap out of
bed in the morning with an idea? Whatever it is, that's what you should
be talking about. Your energy and enthusiasm for the topic will carry to
the audience, and will help make it a great talk.

The zen of yearly conference speaking is when you get into the groove of
picking projects or tasks that interest you to work on for the year, and
then give talks about those projects or tasks at the end of the year.

- Proposal text

When you write a proposal, you aren't writing it for the organizers who
select the talk. The description you submit for the proposal will go
straight into the printed brochure and the conference website, so you're
writing the proposal for the conference attendees. They're going to be
looking through a stack of proposals, so you want to give them enough
information about the topic to decide if it's interesting to them,
without giving away the full meat of the talk. It's like a movie
trailer. Keep it short and sweet, a paragraph or two at the most. You
want to capture the heart of the topic in the first sentence, because it
may be all they ever read.

- Bio

The speaker bio is just another way of helping conference attendees pick
 which talks to attend. Some women feel shy about "bragging" about
their achievements. Don't think of it that way. It's all about
communicating the facts. You're telling a story to the attendees about
how you got interested in the topic, the ways you've been involved, and
what gives you insight into the subject. The attendees don't just want
to know if the topic is interesting, they want an idea of whether you'll
give a good talk on it. (The President of the United States is famous,
but you wouldn't want to see him give a talk about open source community
management, software translation, running Ubuntu in schools, a
life-changing desktop widget, package maintenance, etc.)

Hope this is helpful. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any


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