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Michelle Mannering for GitHub

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Want to speak at a conference? Top tips for getting a CFP accepted

You have been working on something cool, and now you want to talk about it? How to do you get selected to present on stage at a conference or event?

I've spoken at 253 different conferences and events 🀯 and that's at the time of writing. I have a few more next week! Whilst applying for an getting accepted for these multitude of events, I have discovered some of the best ways to make your call for papers (Call for Papers, also known as Call for Speakers, or Call for Sessions) stand out.

Whether you're submitting your first paper, or your 100th talk, hopefully these top tips will help you.


Here are some top tips on getting your paper accepted for an event. In no particular order:

  1. Make your bio personal, but informative. It should cover who you are, your position, and what credentials you have to spoke on your proposed topic.

  2. A catchy, fun talk title goes a long way to grabbing the attention of both the paper reviewers and participants if your talk is chosen.

  3. In your talk abstract, be specific about some of the tools, skills, and/or practices participants will learn from your session.

  4. Make sure your talk abstract speaks to the audience. Who is the target audience? What is the aim of the conference? If the conference is for Android developers, make sure you are making content that would be useful to them.

  5. Your talk should not be a sales pitch. If you want to give a sales pitch, you'll probably need to pay for a speaking spot!

  6. If there are "options" or "add more information" make sure you add information in here that will make sense to someone reading your abstract. Will you already be in town for another conference? Are you happy to have the talk considered for a lightning talk or a panel discussion if it's not selected as a talk? Have you given the talk before and provide links to the recording?

  7. Stick to the criteria. If there's a character limit, stick to it. If it asks you to select a talk track, topic, or theme, make a selection and ensure your talk speaks to your choice.

FINALLY: If you can't decide on what talk to submit, make multiple submissions! I would stick to submitting no more than three talks for a single conference.

Whatever you decide to submit, make sure it's relevant, timely, and interesting!

Submit now, and add your tips

Hopefully these tips help your next CFP submission. Speaking of, GitHub Universe has just opened CFPs for 2023, and we hope to see your submission.

If you have a tip to add, I'd love to see it in the comments ❀️

Top comments (3)

kasuken profile image
Emanuele Bartolesi

Great tips!

  1. Don't be discouraged if sessions are rejected. Keep sending them.


facundocorradini profile image
Facundo Corradini

So much this. It's fairly normal to have only one out of 30 proposals accepted, so consistency and persistency are the key.

dwmcallister profile image
Dave McAllister

If you do get a rejection, it can be worthwhile to contact the organizers and ask how you could improve your submission.