How to Use Call for Proposal Tech to Get Better Presentations

November 22, 2015

A call for proposals - an announcement inviting members of a community to submit written descriptions of proposed topics and presenters - is a common practice in the conference industry. The call details (among other things) criteria for acceptance, deadlines for submission and notification, conference themes and what will be required of presenters who are selected. Smart digital tools can significantly streamline the Call for Proposals process and lead to higher quality presentations.

An online portal makes it easier for more people to submit more presentation ideas. With more proposals in the funnel, the likelihood that great ideas will rise to the top increases, as does the conference committee’s ability to place good presentations in all of the content tracks.

Technology ensures that the proposals are complete. Online forms prevent presenters from submitting proposals unless all of the fields are filled out. The more complete the forms are, the easier it is for reviewers to separate strong ideas (and presenters) from weak ones.

An effective solution can also enhance the communication between the conference committee and potential presenters. It can track partial submissions, immediately confirm when a submission has been received and notify selected presenters on the notification date so that great proposals don’t fall through the cracks.

Digitizing proposal information makes it easier for conference committees to provide seamless access to authorized reviewers with subject matter expertise. With experts as reviewers, high-level or complex submissions are less likely to be overlooked. Technology also makes it easier for reviewers to approach the process more thoughtfully, follow rubrics established by the conference committee, and make comments that can ultimately improve the presentations.

A professional process can attract more high-level presenters. Really good presenters - those in high demand for their thought leadership and industry expertise - have their pick of conferences in which to present their ideas. It’s more likely they will select conferences with easy and automated submission processes.

One of the biggest grievances voiced by potential presenters is that many organizations aren’t forthcoming about the topics in which they’re particularly interested. Automation can add more transparency to the submission process so that prospective presenters - especially ones with multiple topics on which they can present - can see what tracks the organization is looking to fill and the number of presentations already received for those tracks.

Call for proposal software ultimately reduces the amount of time that conference committees have to spend on this most vital process. With that extra time, they can work with speakers to hone their presentations and materials, and introduce them to the growing list of technologies (voting and polling, smartphone microphones, second-screen apps, telepresence and more) that can make their presentations even more compelling.

A call for proposals can be a well-honed process or a total nightmare. The larger the conference, the more critical it is to use a software platform rather than spreadsheets and paper forms. In addition to the obvious gains in productivity and efficiency, proposal platforms ultimately lead to selection of superior presentations. And, that is the competitive differentiator of all conferences.

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