Proposal Writing Tips From The 2018 eLearning Guild Advisory Board

If you’re looking for advice on how to write a fantastic conference proposal, then one good place to start is with people who have done this successfully themselves. That’s why we asked the 2018 eLearning Guild Advisory Board – a group of industry experts whose insights help us make our events even better – what tips they’d share on crafting successful speaking proposals.

Photo of Melissa MillowayMelissa Milloway
Sr. Learning Experience Designer

Popular topics
So I reviewed proposals for other conferences and I noticed a lot of people submitting on the same things, which I think is good but also you don’t want a bajillion of the same sessions. So one of my tips would be that if you think your topic is going to be in demand and will have lots of people submitting on the same thing, then you may want to put your own spin on it to differentiate your proposal from others. That way it’s bringing different objectives to the table.

Not sure what topic to propose on? Try sharing your unique experience
Consider a challenge you have had at work and how you solved it. It doesn’t mean that you have to share private information about your company, but chances are if you’re having that issue and solved it then others are too. If information privacy is an issue, you can approach it without disclosing private info and instead use dummy examples and info that matches, but isn’t the same thing.

Picture of Megan TorranceMegan Torrance
CEO and Founder

Providing takeaways for your audience
When I’m reviewing proposals, one thing I like to see is that there are tips, techniques, checklists, or some sort of job aid or tool that you can go home with and use. In that way, the speaker has provided you with something you can implement yourself, rather than just telling a story about their own thing.

Getting too platform specific
If a particular solution can only be implemented with a specific platform, especially if you happen to work for the company that sells said specific platform, that’s something that is way less transferable to other people …. even if it is not a sales pitch.

Thinking about your learning objectives
I also like to see well-constructed learning objectives with higher order Bloom’s taxonomy objectives. In our industry if you struggle to create solid learning objectives, that is an indication of the overall quality of your presentation.

Picture of Hugh SeatonHugh Seaton

Finding your story
Another tack is to look through your new business presentations. How do you say your organization is different? Without pitching your business, can you go deep on what you and/or your organization has figured out how to do really well?

Picture of Jeff BattJeff Batt
Founder and head trainer
Learning Dojo

Looking outside L&D for topic ideas
One way I like to stand out is to look outside the industry for tools that can be used for eLearning. I know the Guild probably gets a lot of Storyline and Captivate session proposals, but maybe there are web or mobile development tools that nobody else is speaking on that you can speak about? I love when I see us looking outside the learning industry to find tools and trends that can then be brought into our industry to make it even better. It’s also a way for you to stand out as a new speaker.

Think about your audience
Think about what the attendees are going to get out of the session. I have a hard time going to sessions where I hear how an organization implemented some new approach but the speaker doesn’t give any meat on how they did it or tips on how it can apply to me. I don’t want to just see end results – I want to learn how it was done.

Think about the takeaways an audience member can have and how they can walk away feeling like they gained something from attending that session. I think if you have that benefit in mind when writing your proposal, the conference curators will see how it will benefit their attendees and will feel more inclined to accept the proposal. This especially applies for BYOD sessions: know what you will teach them and what the attendee will walk away with.


Your tips

Have any additional tips you’d add? Be sure to leave them in the comments.


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