Tips for Submitting a Talk/Panel/Workshop Proposal

The first thing to consider for HOPE 2020 is that your proposed session will work in an entirely online format. Most speaker sessions will consist of a 40-minute presentation that speakers pre-record themselves, in advance. The sessions will then be followed by around 10 minutes of live Q&A via teleconference.

Workshops and other content can be a mixture of pre-recorded and live content. They can span multiple sessions, or even multiple days, if that will be helpful to participants.

Make sure your proposal confirms your ability to make the online format work for you. HOPE will be sending guidance to all confirmed presenters, and staffers are available to help everything go smoothly. Presenters will need to spend extra time preparing, though, and it will take time to consider how you can best make use of the online format.

The Basics of a Good Proposal

We publish the talk/panel/workshop/exhibits (etc) descriptions submitted by speakers in the final HOPE program that is made available 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 attend 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. A plain text description of your proposal is ideal. 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 program cannot be excessive for any one session, and we’ll have to make the description as concise as possible.

Submissions for talks and panels can be emailed to: speakers@hope.net.

Submissions for workshops and other things that can happen in an all-online format can be emailed to: workshops@hope.net.

If you're planning a Talk or Panel, please also consider submitting a proposal for a related follow-up workshop. This will let people who enjoyed it learn more with others who share your interests.

Questions to Consider for a Submission

What makes my topic interesting or important? This will also help you to organize your thoughts when planning your talk. We know that you already find the subject matter interesting, but many who will see your talk will need to be convinced. Your prepared talk should make it clear why your topic is interesting or important, and during your live Q&A session you can expect further questions and discussion.

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/workshop/demo/etc for consideration? This is permitted, however you should be sure to submit the talk/workshop/etc. 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/workshop/etc. 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 during any of the conference dates, from approximately 10am-midnight (US Eastern time). Some sessions may even be scheduled for overnights, with concurrence of the presenter. Most talks will be pre-recorded by the speakers, and so only the live Q&A sessions should be a factor in any constraints on availability.

If some days or times are not possible for you, 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.

The main thing to keep in mind is that panels, like other speaker sessions, will be recorded in advance by the panelists. Give some thought to how you will do this, because obviously there will be some additional requirements for the logistics of recording a panel with multiple people who are not in the same location. This also applies to the live Q&A afterwards.

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 online 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, wellness, and more. Please send your workshop submissions to: workshops@hope.net.

Online workshops are obviously different than in-person workshops. Workshop leaders need to be able to guide participants to success, without being in the same physical space. Make sure you address how you plan to achieve this.

Is it appropriate to give a follow-up workshop or something else for my talk? Yes! If you feel participants at HOPE will benefit from a workshop or something else please submit your proposal to us. We are very open to what you have to offer. It needs to be clear that you have given some thought to how your proposal will work well in an all-online format. Please send your workshop submissions to: workshops@hope.net.