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GopherCon 2019 CFP OMG!

arschles profile image Aaron Schlesinger Originally published at arschles.com on ・4 min read

Hey Gophers!

I want you to submit a proposal to talk at GopherCon 2019.

... and I want you to start now because the Call for Proposals is only open until January 31st!

Submit a proposal, you say? Let's talk a little bit about that.

GopherCon San Diego Gopher
Credit Ashley McNamara for the surfing gopher illustration, and the gopher is attributed to Renee French

But I Could Never Speak At GopherCon!

Yes, you could. All those "superstars" you see up on the stage? They submitted talks through the same form as you do. You can submit, and you can get accepted.

In fact, we love new speakers. All things being equal, we tend to prefer new-to-GopherCon speakers over speakers who have already spoken.

But I Might Not Get Accepted :(

We really want to see your proposal, but it's true, you could get rejected. We get many more than spaces available in the program, and we unfortunately have to turn down some awesome proposals. Not all is lost if you don't get accepted to this conference, though!

A proposal isn't a one-and-done, and if it's not accepted to GopherCon 2019, it's far from wasted. I would encourage you to use it as inspiration for other conferences. There are tons of others just for Go alone!

Personally, I submit my rejected proposals - and there are a lot of them! - to other conferences, or use them as inspiration for new proposals.

Ok, How Can I Make My Proposal Better?

There are a lot of articles with tips and tricks for writing a great proposal.

@carolynvs - who is on this year's program committee with me - has some great tips tailored for this year's conference in her post.

There are also tons of other posts on how to write great proposals.

There's no single foolproof formula for writing the "perfect" proposal, but the selection criteria on the CFP page lay out generally what we're looking for. I'll add a little bit of detail for each item.

"Relevance"

We look for talks that are related to Go. People come to GopherCon to learn about new stuff in the Go ecosystem, pick up new skills, and generally learn about Go and the community.

If you're writing a proposal that you couldn't write about any other language, technology or community, you're on the right track.

Other the other hand, if you're writing a proposal where you could swap out Go for another language, it probably won't be accepted. If you're writing a proposal that's not related to programming or technology, it almost certainly won't be accepted.

"Clarity"

Show us you've thought through what you want to say in your talk. We want to see it in clear, detailed writing. I want to really stress this part. Write down everything you plan to talk about.

As long as it's clear writing, we want to read it. I personally love it when folks write a rough outline of their talk in the proposal. You can do this in the "notes" section of the CFP.

As it says in the CFP page, no proposal has ever been rejected because it was too long.

"Correctness"

In order for us to accept your proposal, we have to know that you know what you're talking about. So tell us why!

It's easy to talk yourself out of submitting because you don't feel like you're an expert. I do it all the time.

Here's what helps me get over that feeling every time:

We're not looking for experts, we're looking for experience. Experience can mean a lot of things. Here are two experiences that are equally valid and valuable for GopherCon:

  • "Writing a scalable system to handle 1,000,000 requests per second at a large company"
  • "How I learned Go as a Javascript developer"

So tell us clearly what your experience is and how it applies to your talk. Sometimes your experience will be easy to write about in your talk description, but if it doesn't fit there, make sure to tell us about it in the notes and/or bio section of the CFP.

"Achievability"

Sometimes I want to talk about everything in my talk. I get so excited about some technology that I want to go into 3 or 4 big things in one talk. But those proposals never get accepted.

I said above that we're looking for clarity and detail, and that means your proposal needs to be focused on a specific topic. The elevator pitch section on the CFP requires that you tell us what you're going to talk about in 300 characters or less, so if you can't clearly summarize in that space, the talk is too long.

If your proposal is too broad, it's great opportunity to split it up into multiple different talks!

"Impact"

This is the absolute most important part for me. Tell us what the audience will get out of your talk. A good proposal will usually have something like the following at the end of the description: "the audience will walk away knowing ..."

Also, remember that you're not just telling the reviewers what the audience will get, you're telling the audience why they should come to your talk. You're selling both us and the audience in your talk description.

That's It!

If you feel like you have something to talk about, I really hope you submit a proposal.

I can't personally help folks with their proposals this year, but if you'd like help, please ask folks in the Gophers Slack for help.

Good luck!!

Discussion (4)

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shindakun profile image
Steve Layton

Heh. I imagine one day I could maybe actually submit for a talk but I think I'm way to new at this stage. And while I do have a ticket for the con, sadly I'll probably have to get a refund since getting down there and staying there are more than a bit outside my price range.

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arschles profile image
Aaron Schlesinger Author

We really do love new speakers, so here are a few things I'd love for you to keep in mind before you decide not to submit a talk:

  • You'll never feel like you can submit a talk. As of right now, I've submitted 44 proposals since 2016, less than 50% were accepted, and I feel iffy at best about submitting a proposal every single time. Even if I've spoken at the conference before. I think engineers suffer from impostor syndrome because we're all smart and know what we don't know
  • Following up on that, you're better than you think. Especially if you're a new Gopher, new to writing proposals / speaking, or both
  • If you want help brainstorming or getting edits on your proposal(s), there are a few channels in the Gophers Slack that can help. #writing is my favorite one. Twitter's also a great place to ask for help. Tag with #gophercon and #gopherconorbust to get the word out. I've personally helped folks in past years and I know a lot of other folks in the community who do it too
  • Just to repeat what I said in the post: even if you don't get accepted, it's a great exercise and you can use it to submit to other conferences as well. I do this all the time, and it's mostly a numbers game. For example, I've been rejected before because I chose a topic that the conference had too many proposals for. I've also been rejected before because the conference reviewers just didn't want to have any talks about the very thing I submitted on. Those times, my proposals were totally at the wrong place at the right time. No harm in submitting to another conference
    • I've also submitted crap proposals :P
  • If you get accepted, the conference can cover travel and accommodation if you need it
  • If we accept your proposal, you'll get a mentor who will help you prepare your talk, practice your talk, and so on
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shindakun profile image
Steve Layton

🤔 Hmmm. "How I used blogging about Golang on Dev.to to land room and board at Gophercon". Has a nice ring to it but probably isn't exciting enough. ;) Maybe I'll pop by #writing though...

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arschles profile image