Tips for Submitting a Talk/Panel/Workshop Proposal
We often publish the talk/panel descriptions submitted by speakers in the final HOPE program that is handed out to all conference attendees, as well as having them displayed on the HOPE website. So be sure to come up with a catchy, descriptive, and accurate title. (Please avoid overly long titles as they are hell to format and not much fun to read.) Make sure your description is helpful to attendees in deciding whether to come and see your talk. We can help with this process, but it’s always an advantage if your proposal doesn’t need much modification.
We appreciate detail. But please don’t go overboard. We don’t need PowerPoint presentations attached to your submission, nor do we need videos, spreadsheets, and diagrams. Of course, those who submit only a sentence or two and expect us to figure out the rest will find that we can’t, won’t, and don’t. A few paragraphs ought to be fine, but if you feel that’s not enough, include what you believe is necessary to convey your ideas. Just remember that space in the printed program is limited (as is the attention span of the reader), and we’ll have to make the description as concise as possible.
Questions to Consider for a Submission
What makes my topic interesting or important? This will also help you to organize your thoughts when presenting in front of an audience. We know that you already find the subject matter interesting, but many in the audience will need to be convinced. Expect questions, dissent, and doubt and be prepared to answer those challenges.
Does my presentation have an impact that a broad audience might understand? If the answer to this is “no,” your talk can still have a place at HOPE. We have many specialized talks that only a limited number of people can appreciate. Give us a sense in your proposal of what level of audience your talk will be pitched to – or who you think might be interested in the talk. Knowing this from the start helps in our scheduling efforts.
What is new and different about my talk? We require that presentations not simply be rehashes of previous talks, either at past HOPEs or at other conferences. There is simply too much going on for us to be repeating anything. As someone who wants to make a presentation at HOPE, you’ll find a much better reception if you share information that isn’t old and familiar news. This applies not only to material you’re referencing, but also to previous talks you yourself may have given.
Can I submit more than one talk for consideration? This is permitted, however you should be sure to submit the talk you feel the strongest about and indicate that to us so we can take it into consideration should we need to limit you to a single spot. Also, remember that you need to be just as detailed on each of your submissions as you would be if you were only making one submission. We don’t take kindly to emails with six or seven one-sentence suggestions for talk ideas.
Can special time considerations be made? We do the best we can to accommodate everyone, but we are not gods and cannot bend time. Please try to be available from Friday morning to Sunday evening. If this is not possible, let us know from the beginning so we can keep that in mind. People who tell us of their scheduling restrictions after we release the schedule make our lives even more difficult than they already are. However, we will always try and make adjustments when possible.
Should I have a panel discussion instead of a solo talk? We encourage panels in many instances. Lectures have their time and place, but a group presentation, discussion, or debate is particularly great for opening some eyes and engaging the audience. These are tougher to organize, obviously, since more people have to work together, but we find it’s almost always worth the effort. We don’t encourage large panels as they dramatically cut down on each member’s time to speak. And if similar individual talk proposals are submitted by different people, we sometimes suggest that the presenters team up and organize a panel discussion instead.
Are any topics too controversial for HOPE? If you’re familiar with our past content, you would never ask such a question. Controversy is our friend. But that doesn’t mean anything goes. We have high standards, and we have no problem diving headlong into a controversial topic and getting the audience involved. If you feel your content might be too hot even for us to handle, please ask and we’ll address it directly.
Can I give a workshop at HOPE? Yes! We encourage people to give workshops on a wide variety of diverse topics. Workshops at past HOPE conferences include: electronics workshops, coding workshops, how to submit FOIA (Freedom of Information) requests, hacking wi-fi routers, making tea, and more. We have large areas for workshops, as well as small isolated rooms. Please send your workshop submissions to: email@example.com.