How to write a talk proposal

There’s a tech conference or a meet-up coming up and you want to give a talk. Thus you will have to write a proposal with a title and a description for your talk. What should go into it?

Let’s recap the goals of your proposal. There are at least two:

  1. Convince the event organizers to pick your talk.
  2. Convince the event attendees to come to your talk.

The goals are well-aligned: the organizers want to have a line-up of talks that makes the potential attendees excited.

You will need to do some selling and I’ll leave that part up to you. That said, there’s some basic information that you should always include. When I’m reading a proposal, I’m always trying to answer these three questions:

  1. What is this talk about? This includes how you will talk about it. For example, if you’re going to talk about a technology, I want know to if you’re going to give a conceptual overview or do a deep dive into hairy details, or something else.
  2. Why should I learn about this? It’s cool to learn about new stuff, but I’m not going to be excited about your talk if I don’t have a clue about why it’d be interesting for me.
  3. Who is this talk for? If I’m completely new to the topic, can I still get something out of your talk? Or if I’m an expert, will I immediately get bored?

There’s no magical recipe for the perfect talk proposal, but addressing these questions should get you started. Keep in mind that there are plenty of “right” answers. For example, it’s fun is a legitimate answer for the second question for many events.

A lot has been written about this topic. If you want to read more, I recommend starting with these two links:

Comments or questions? Send me an e-mail.