Disclaimer: This year I’m one of the reviewers for the Agile Testing Days.
It’s proposal season again, at least for one of my favourite conferences, the Agile Testing Days; the call for papers is open until March 28th (for 2021).
There is a good number of articles and blogs available on the topic of Agile Testing Days proposals alone: I suggest to follow the advice Uwe gives with his blog post “Call for Papers Submission Pitfalls & How to Do it Better! Tales from a Conference Organizer“. There’s more info to find from that same conference over on YouTube: https://youtu.be/QxC-Ee51xmM
Mind The Context
Another important tip (especially for those thinking about a keynote) comes from Liz Keogh:
If it’s an opening keynote, I try to open people’s minds to learn and question. If it’s a closing keynote, I try to help them reflect on what they learned. Keynotes are there to frame the rest of the conference.Liz Keogh on Twitter
I believe similar thinking applies to other sessions too: Make your session fit into the frame of the conference and what you know about the attendees expectations.
Tell a Story
I personally try to at least come up with a story, either one I made up or a personal one. Both worked well for me:
For a ½-day tutorial about testing and the Internet of Things (IoT), I set up the story of Goblin King Jareth the 42nd, who wanted to control his kingdom with a set of IoT devices and tasked the participants with testings these devices. The framing story helped to provide some reason to actually participate in the exercises.
For a (read: ‘the’ 🙂) keynote I gave at Agile Testing Days 2019, I chose the most personal story I possibly could: My diagnosis of and treatment for cancer – and why I still consider myself lucky. Read about it in “Being Lucky — A Keynote at the Agile Testing Days 2019“.
If you like to know more about telling a good story, be sure to read Huib Schoots’ blog post “Storytelling“! You’ll find — no surprise — a good story (and many links to more information, too).
Things can go wrong: The notebook you planned to give the presentation with may crash. The projector may break or the sound system my fail. You may forget what you wanted to say. These things all happened to someone somewhere.
It’s better (and impressive!) to be prepared. For my keynote, I prepared index cards with notes of what I wanted to say when, when to make extra long breaks and other instructions, such as when to proceed to the next slide. At first I numbered them, so I could sort them, if I dropped them on the floor.
Later, I also put them on a thread: Now, even when I would drop them, they would still be sorted! This would have saved the talk, had I dropped those cards.
Some of the directions didn’t work out in the moment the presentation was live: The introduction was totally different from what I expected (and significantly louder!).
Mind the Last Possible Moment
One important, even obvious, aspect: Don’t miss the dead line. I did once and it’s annoying. Very annoying. — Most of the work was done for nothing, because I forgot to check the calendar. I learned it the hard way: If I’m too late to submit, it doesn’t matter how good the proposal was. Only if submitted within time, a paper has a chance to be selected.
I hope to see many great and inspiring proposals for the Agile Testing Days 2021!