Anybody want to talk about abstracts?

As you know, its the run up to Call for Abstracts for IBM Connect 2013.  And as you are staring at the calendar wondering when the call will go out, let me say that the answer is ‘soon’.  But why wait?  If you plan to submit, write the abstract.  Use 75 words to say what you want to talk about.  It may take several tries to get it to short enough. And that’s 75 words.

That paragraph above is it.  All you get to work with.  A few sentences.  Practice.

Gab Davis has already posted about it very well here.  Connect Abstracts – Start Your Engines Everyone   I just want to second what she says and add this: The field is truly level.  We recommend that new speakers hone their skills in the regional user groups, the LUGs and the Connections groups.  We expect those speakers to propose sessions.  Some of the track managers and advisors watched you speak – take the leap.  Veteran speakers, send your new stuff, update hits from the past if you want.

Speak about what you know.  There is no ‘theme’, but if you’re involved enough to want to speak at Connect 2013, you know the products, you know what you can add, and you know what you’re good at presenting.  But as a Track Manager, I need a favor – don’t make it easy for me to say no.  Be original.  Don’t send the same stuff you sent last year.  Don’t copy the popular sessions from years past with another product name inserted.  Don’t add the words ‘social’ and ‘exceptional’ randomly to try to attract attention.  I promise you it won’t be the attention you want.  As original as most of you are, I know you can do it.  Seriously, surprise us.

Now, start writing.


About Susan

I am a nerd girl. I currently work for IBM as part of the support group for Connections. While some of the postings here look like work stuff, the opinions and intellect and intellectual property are mine and mine alone. I am a unique individual and my employer in no way defines me. Still, I like the pay check, so thanks for that, IBM.
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3 Responses to Anybody want to talk about abstracts?

  1. It isn’t random. This session will show you how to leverage your existing information assets to springboard your enterprise into the world of social business with an eye toward creating an exceptional customer experience, guiding both employees and customers into a new level of engagement and community that will empower both groups to become the change agents that today’s nimble enterprise demands. You’ll leave this gurufest as a certified social business ninja; don’t miss it!

    There we go – 75 words! [ducking…]

  2. notesgoddess says:

    Wow, Wes. I would make some comment about all the buzzwords, but I’m not entirely certain that abstract wasn’t a real session last year. : )

  3. Rocky says:

    When I was heavily involved with Lotusphere and the Content Team I would write a blog entry (“So You Want to Be a Lotusphere Speaker…”) that had the same theme as Susan and Gab. I am not going to regurgitate the whole thing here (so don’t run away screaming 😉 ), but the session submission recommendations reminded me of a couple of things that you should keep in mind when considering your session topic.

    1.a) The Connect/Lotusphere geek crowd runs the gamut of experience, understanding, and knowledge. Therefore the Content Team tries (and always succeeds) to make sure the tracks have a broad spectrum of session complexity – from Novice to Technical Demigod/Goddess. That means that you don’t have to submit a topic that reinforces your expertise. Instead, you could present a Novice level session that helps n00bs – err, novices – understand the tools, products, techniques, etc. so they can get the most value possible from their product choice(s).

    1.b) Make sure you write on a subject that you honestly know and understand. The audience looks to you as an expert in the area of your session. If you don’t have a good grip on the topic, it will be immediately noticeable to the crowd. And once they pick up on your lack of knowledge of the material, then they immediately discount everything you show, do, or say. This breaks the trust they have in you and they will not believe any technique you present.

    2.a) Susan suggested that you make your abstract interesting. It should be presented in such a way that it “sells itself” to the attendees. Remember, you’re not trying to target the abstract to the Track Manager (Susan) – you should be targeting the attendees. The Content Team knows this, and will evaluate your submission accordingly.

    2.b) When you begin to write your abstract in an interesting and engaging way, you should NOT – never-never-never-never EVER – try to deliberately make it “funny”. First, it feels forced – everyone will know that. Second, it is not a comedy – and none of us are comedians. If you try to be funny it always increases the filler and noise in your abstract, and decreases the actual expectation of what the attendee will get out of it.

    2.c) You know how you were taught to write in school? Factual, succinct, etc.? Well, forget all of that. Attendees do not want to read a PhD Dissertation. You should write it in your own voice, in an easygoing way. The way I’ve explained this to new speakers (and writers, for magazine articles, etc.) is that your abstract should read like you were explaining this to your best friend (but without the expletives of course 😉 ) This approach is much easier to digest and understand where you’re going with this session.

    Those are just a few things to keep in mind when writing your abstract. If you’re still unsure if it is interesting and informative, then ask one of your peers, or even one of the speakers, to take a look at it and give you some honest feedback. Think of it as a Peer Review. It’s always a good idea to get a different persective.

    Good luck!


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