Scholarly conferences allow professionals to share their ideas and research findings, creating dialogue to advance understanding and effectiveness within the field. Presenting at a conference gives you feedback about your ideas and allows you to network with colleagues. Since conferences may offer slots to relatively few presenters, creating an effective proposal will give you a better chance of a committee selecting your proposal.
Choose an Appropriate Topic
Your presentation must clearly relate to the conference topic, so use key words to connect to that point whenever possible. For instance, a proposal for a conference about creative ways to teach preschoolers might use words like “creative,” “inventive” and any current terms in vogue such as “learning environment.” Look through past years’ conference information to get an idea of what kinds of presentations the conferences offered. Follow proposal requirements for submission closely. Be certain your presentation will fit within the allotted time frame.
Create a Concise Summary
Sometimes, conferences ask that proposals be the complete conference paper, but generally, you will create only an abstract. An abstract is a brief explanation of the ideas you wish to present. If you work from your complete paper -- rather than from excerpts for your proposal -- create a summary that will connect your proposal to the point of the conference. You can touch on other research to show how your study differs from what other studies have found, but the majority of the proposal should indicate your own thinking about the topic. Explain the general point of your presentation and how it would impact other conference attendees, rather than get into specifics.
Catch the Reader’s Interest
Your presentation’s title should clearly reflect the ideas you will cover but also be interesting. For instance, titling your proposal “A Paradigm of Computerized Didactic Activities” sounds highbrow and is less likely to generate interest than “Five Easy Steps for Using Computers in Teaching.” Do your research before submitting your proposal. Your proposal should illustrate the importance of the topic, building on previous studies rather than simply repeating them. Perhaps other studies have examined the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on veterans but yours focuses not only on the effects of PTSD on veterans but also on gender differences, which sets yours apart from others. That idea should appear in your proposal to demonstrate the unique information you would present.
Involve Participants and Colleagues
Focus your proposal on what participants will gain from your presentation. Explain what skills they will pick up or information they will learn. Add a notation to explain how you will present the information to get participants engaged in the material. For instance, indicating that your presentation will be “interactive” or even just that you will encourage discussion of the topics can make the proposal more appealing. Before submitting your proposal, ask colleagues to give feedback about how to get the audience involved. Consider indicating that you will present your paper as a panel to add more credibility.
- Purdue University: Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books
- University of Washington: Presenting Your Research at Academic Conferences
- Claremont Graduate University: Conference Proposals and Abstracts
- Grand Canyon University: Writing a Conference Proposal
- Boston University: Writing a Successful Conference Paper Proposal
- Educause: Write a Proposal
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