Tag: Proposals

Reviewing Submissions for the Agile Testing Days

Other reviewers have also blogged about this topic:

The other day a discussion about the review process of the Agile Testing Days developed:

Since I contributed to this thread and was a reviewer for this years programme, here’s my take. It’s my personal view and other reviewers may well have other aspects they focus on.

  1. On the conference page there are blog posts covering how to write a good proposal. I suggest to read them. This blog contains some tips as well:
  2. The conference offers a list of ‘hot topics’ which changes each year. If a proposal fits to this list it’s a plus, since this is a step towards a consistent conference programme.
  3. I prefer proposals that catch my interest, without telling too much about the topic. – If a proposal already expels everything well, time may be better spent in another session.
  4. A well written abstract text, that is easy to understand (for me) is a plus, too. This includes avoiding typos and grammatical mistakes. We all make them, and even the best spell checkers can’t catch all issues. But still, some proposals are really hard to understand due to language problems. Don’t let that get in your way of getting accepted. My tip: Get feedback by a native English speaker before (!) submitting. Many well known testers and speakers offer help and it is worthwhile accepting this help.
  5. Understand what the fields in the proposal form are meant for. Fill them to provided the information that is asked for,
    Avoid repeating the same text in different parts for the form. Change the wording at least a bit. In some cases the title, sub headline, main statement and key learning(s) contained exactly the same or very similar text. To me as the reviewer this is a little bit boring, and doesn’t help me understand what the session is about.
  6. Sometimes, repeating is worthwhile: It helps to understand what is important. Use this tool carefully.

Some questions may guide to writing a good proposal:

  • Will this help the reviewer to give me a high rating?
  • Am I giving enough information to inform a potential attendees decision to come to my session?
  • Am I giving too much information?
  • Is this a good fit for the conference this year?

A leaving personal note: It took me years to get accepted at the Agile Testing Days, even for what was then called a ‘consensus talk’. In the very early years the proposals weren’t very well written, in some years I failed to match the overall conference theme. And then it clicked, I asked for help, gave workshops, a tutorial and, in 2019 even a keynote. For me it was worth the effort.

Good luck and may your proposals be accepted!

Tips for Conference Proposals & Sessions

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 Β½-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’ πŸ™‚) 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 β€” 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 β€” no surprise β€” a good story (and many links to more information, too).

Be Prepared

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.

Numbered index cards

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.

Index cards on a thread, to prevent shuffling

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. β€” 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!

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