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Better Feedback for Talk Proposals

The web and tech conference scene has grown a lot and so has the amount of speakers who have something to share. This is a great development and for many people a conference isn't far away anymore.

Being a speaker myself, I know first hand that applying to speak at a conference can be quite some work. Forms and requirements vary from conference to conference. It makes sense to adjust the talk and its content for each target audience you are aiming for.

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While not getting accepted to a conference is normal and can sometimes be frustrating, rest assured that it happens to most other speakers, too. Don’t let it get to you, it’s nothing personal. Most of the time, the odds are not quite in your favour and responses like these are a part of the game:

…we’ve received over 170 proposals, … We’re positively overwhelmed by the response from the community, but that also means we can only choose 5% of talks. Unfortunately, your presentation was not selected.

…Unfortunately, due to space constraints, we were unable to save a slot in the schedule for your submission.

…We were only able to accept 49 of over 280 submissions.

Unfortunately, most of these emails don’t contain any information on why the proposal didn’t make the cut. As a speaker, it’s crucial to learn and understand why my talk wasn’t selected, so I am able to work on and improve my talk.

Understandable, it’s difficult to provide dedicated feedback to 250 applicants. From a speaker’s point of view, it is invaluable to receive a little more information than only the result.

To make providing feedback for organisers workable, and useful for speakers, sharing notes from the evaluation period can be a good remedy for the problem. To save yourself some time, it’s a good idea to write the notes in a way that can be useful to a speaker. On Colloq, we now let you add notes to each proposal. Once you decided about their application, we allow you to include these notes in the email sent to the speakers.

The feedback also doesn’t need to be extensive. But honest feedback to some of these example questions could already make a huge difference for a speaker’s future application and encourage them to try again:

  • Did the topic not fit the conference theme or target audience?
  • Was the quality of previous talks or experience not sufficient?
  • Did travel costs and accommodation budget influence the rejection?
  • Has the talk description not been clear/interesting/captivating enough?
  • Did the application miss important information?
  • Quality of the proposal?

Providing feedback will give potential speakers the ability to improve. This way speakers can learn from where they fell short. As a result, conferences will receive better submissions in the coming years. That’s why providing valuable feedback is a win for for all parties, speakers, organisers and also attendees.

Providing better speaker feedback for proposals is one of the reasons why we allow conferences to share their evaluation notes in our Call for Papers tool on Colloq. We’d be happy to hear your feedback and your thoughts on Call for Papers feedback as well as features that could help making this process easier for you. Join Colloq now and give it a try.


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