VMWorld Session Submission Tips

I have seen some inquiries on twitter and message boards asking for tips on submitting a paper for VMWorld 2010. As a presenter at the last few VMworld conferences, and a former contributor to the content selection committee, I came up with these tips.

Disclaimer: Several of my presentations were spawned through beta participation, with me providing the user perspective. In that sense, I did not have to submit proposals for my presentations in 2007 and 2008. In other words, I am sure that there are others with more experience than me at submitting a paper for a conference session, to VMWorld or any other public conference, so please take this as a starting point for the conversation. I hope others will contribute more tips so this list will grow in value. I have already incorporated one or two points from Chris Harney and Joachim Heppner that were offered in another discussion thread.

  • Most important – PICK A TOPIC THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT.
  • Review VMware’s “Call for Papers Guide
  • Don’t hit them with 30 slides, but 2-4 that cover your main points in bullets. It is expected that you will “beef up” the slide deck later if accepted.
  • Be sure to address the benefits some one would walk away with after attending your session
  • Plan out your submission, don’t just log in and fill out bios and descriptions.
  • Put in a very good description, trying to be brief and to the point. You may want to work on a few drafts of your description to get it right.
  • If you are a vendor, find a user to partner with. If you are a user, find another user or a vendor to partner with. This adds value and can potentially combine two sessions into one that will draw more people.
  • Have a catchy title (a little cheese can be tolerated here, just make sure it helps catch attention and does not turn people off). Reviewers are looking through hundreds of submissions, you may lose them if your title does not catch their attention.
  • Highlight any previous speaking experience in your bio, give them some assurance that you will be able to present well.
  • If you have never presented before, team with someone else that has. Best way to get experience without getting thrown to the wolves…it also lends experience to help get approved if you don’t have that on you own.
  • Don’t just say you want to discuss a topic (i.e. “virtualization”), show how you will add value and bring something new to the conversation
  • Look to Gartner/Forrester/other analyst top 10 market priorities and try to hit some of those topics. No guarantees, but that is an indicator of what people are looking for. DO NOT LET THIS LIMIT YOU – some of these topics are overhyped and talked to death.

There you go, my short list of submission tips. Please leave comments, I know there is more/better advice out there to be given.

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