An abstract is a written, organized outline text of the content and scope of a proposed presentation for a technical event.
Abstracts are typically used when a potential speaker wants to submit their proposal or topic for consideration.
But first, let’s clarify a few terms commonly used during this process of submitting an abstract.
- Call for Speakers — This is a formal invitation sent out by a tech-related event to request proposals from speakers who have experience, knowledge, or competence in certain technological fields that they would like to present at the event.
- Call for Papers — Sometimes this is used interchangeably with CFSs, but the main difference is that the event organizers encourage proposals/topics that are more tailored to enabling the introduction of new research, insights, and advancements within the technology field.
- Tech Conference, Tech Summit, Tech Congress, Tech Festival— Depending on the size,scope, duration, etc., these are gatherings that bring together students, professionals, experts, enthusiasts, researchers, and businesses from the technology sector to share knowledge, and ideas about many facets of technology. Why? Because the networking, education, and cooperation opportunities provided by these events enable the attendees to stay current with emerging trends, technological advancements, and industry best practices.
There are various kinds of sessions in these tech events and most of them would fall into either one of these categories:
- Lightning Talk — Usually a brief and succinct presentation style used at tech events. In this format, presenters typically take around 10 minutes to present on a particular subject linked to technology, innovation, or a particular area of the tech industry.
- General Talk — In contrast to lightning talks, general talks last between 30 to 45 minutes. The presentation provides in-depth insights, knowledge, and information on a specific topic related to the technology industry.
- Code Lab — The purpose of a code lab at a tech event is to give attendees real experience, direction, and step-by-step instructions for finishing coding exercises or projects linked to certain technologies, programming languages, frameworks, or tools. Usually lasts an average of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Workshop — Compared to general talks, workshops provide a more thorough and interactive learning environment for the attendees. The participants will have hands-on learning opportunities, useful skills, and in-depth knowledge about certain technologies, tools, techniques, or concepts in tech. The time duration would be 2 hours at most for setup and walkthrough during the session.
In my few years of experience as a tech speaker and engaging in various discussions around applying to speak at technical events. I’ve encountered a few common myths that seem to circulate within the tech community. These misconceptions often arise due to misunderstandings or incomplete information.
My talk wasn’t selected because...
- It’s my first time applying to speak
- I submitted too late or too early
- I should spend hours writing my abstract
- I should apply for only one session per event
To debunk these myths, let’s go through an easy 3-step plan to write an abstract for your next speaking engagement.
1. Have a title
Finding a topic to speak about can seem daunting. One tip I carry with me is to always pick a lesson from my day-to-day challenges, it can be a bug I faced and resolved or maybe a new tool I’m figuring out how to use. You’ll find that there’s always someone else who’s in the same boat or experiencing the same challenge.
Plus, there can never be too many similar topics. Different perspectives are always welcome :-)
Your title can be long or short. Whether it’s a concise phrase or a more detailed statement, the important thing is to make it both engaging and catchy.
2. Build your Story
a) Pain points — What problems do you want to address?
b) Solution — How will you address the items listed as your pain points?
c) Key takeaways — What will the attendees learn by attending your session?
d) Prerequisites for Attendees — (Optional) Do the participants require any prior knowledge on the topic for your session?
Just before you hit the submit button to upload your proposal, make it a habit to share your draft with a mentor, a community lead or a peer to help you review it, as they would give you valuable insights and recommendations to make your abstract stand out.
Let’s follow the steps above to apply as a speaker for a tech event - Droidcon all intentional bias aside—of course I would lean towards an Android-focused event.
For this example, we will apply to speak at Droidcon Berlin. Read more details from the organizers of the event. S/O to Danny Preussler for his consistency in helping to organize for this every year.
Title: I use this generator tool to help me phrase my title/topic using keywords, as shown in this image. I want to speak about Android Navigation components, so I’ll pick “The Future of Android Navigation Components.”
Body/Description: Using the tips to build my story, we draft our text in brief paragraphs.
Intro & Pain point
Recently, Google introduced Android Navigation Components, a library designed to simplify navigation and streamline navigation-related functionality within Android applications. A common challenge encountered by Android developers is the difficulty of managing large navigation graphs.
Solution & Takeaways
In my session, I will show you how to split large navigation graphs into smaller ones, focusing on specific sections of your app. As well as using nested navigation graphs to organize complex navigation hierarchies.
Pre-requisites: This is optional but a good thing to have for the participants to understand the session in detail. So, some prior knowledge of how to develop an Android application.
Session category: General talk
Participants Level: Beginner or Intermediate
As we wrap this up, here are some additional resources to help you prepare in light of your future talk. They include links to make your slide decks more compelling and effective, as well as links to various websites where you can find ongoing (CFS) Call For Speakers.
If you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to reach out — I’m here to support you in securing speaking engagements that will showcase your expertise.
All the best as you apply for speaking engagements! Remember to share your success stories here too.