Tips For a Good CAST 2015 Proposal

By Justin Rohrman

The CFP for CAST 2015 is in full swing now. We’ve been getting proposals, but as the end gets closer that trickle will turn into a flood. Below are a few thoughts for you to consider before you submit your proposal. These are some of the things we look for when reviewing and making decisions about conference proposals.

Clarity in The Abstract

The abstract is the meat of what you’ll be sending to us. Most of our understanding of your potential talk will come from this couple of paragraphs of text. Metaphors and funny asides will make the abstract memorable, but how much will they help us understand what you will be talking about? A short (twitter length is a reasonable goal) description and an abstract that clearly states the problem paired your experiences and ideas may improve your odds.

Flow of Your Talk

CAST talks usually last about 40 minutes. After the talk there are 20 minutes remaining for Q&A with the attendees. For some of, 40 minutes is a long time to speak without interruption and without the help and guidance we normally get in conversation. Sometimes describing the flow of your talk, and maybe even a ‘finger in the air’ estimate on how long you think the sections will last can help us understand, and help you create a better talk.

What is The Benefit

People will attend your talk or workshop because they think there is some value in it. Ideally there is practical value that they can use in their daily testing work. What benefit will attendees take away from your talk? What kind of value are you delivering to what person, and why does it matter?

Your Speaking Experience

Mentioning your speaking experience tells us something about how you present. I’ve listed this point last on purpose. Out of everything mentioned above, this is the least important. Sometimes what we like to see is a progression from speaking at smaller local meet-ups and user groups to conferences like CAST with a more international group of attendees.
Other times what we like to see is passion and initiative.
Passion and initiative are strengths with any level of speaking experiences. To that, you can write a paper along with your proposal. This may help speakers at any level formulate ideas and can give us a clearer idea of what your talk will address.
These things are heuristic, just some guides that may help you out. You don’t have to check each box when writing your proposal, but reviewing it with a critical eye toward the information you are trying to present certainly won’t hurt.