The Ops Community ⚙️

Cover image for How (not) to Respond to a CFP
Sarah Lean
Sarah Lean

Posted on • Originally published at

How (not) to Respond to a CFP

Over the last few years, I have submitted a lot of talk suggestions to conferences and events through their Call for Papers (CFP); I've had a lot of rejections and been accepted to speak at a lot as well.

I've also been involved in reviewing submissions for events and conferences and trying to decide which ones to pick and which to reject, which is always challenging.

In this blog post, I wanted to share some tips on filling in a Call for Papers for an event.

Too short

When writing about a talk idea, make the description or synopsis a manageable length. If the person evaluating the submissions doesn't know what the talk will be about, how can they assess it properly or trust that it will be a good talk for the audience?
Your submission extract should be long enough to give the conference organisers enough context to understand what you will be talking about and why it's worth picking your submission over the others.

Too long

Equally, your submission should not be too long. It doesn't need to be an essay; you don't need to write out an entire blog post or article in your submission. Save that level of detail for the talk itself.

Try and strike a good balance of sharing enough details to show the value of the talk but not giving everything away. 😊


Try and make sure your submission sparks interest. There is no point in having a great subject or a very relevant one, but your submission needs to convey that. Your description should share why someone would want to attend your talk.

Try and show your personality within the description. If the description doesn't excite or interest you, why would others want to attend the talk?

Sales Pitch

Some events are happy to have talks and presentations that are aimed at selling products to audiences, but you should focus on helping to teach the audience something. By all means, chat about your company's products or offerings but don't turn your talk into a sales pitch. If you aim to sell things at the event, then look to sponsoring it or getting a booth, don't submit a session.

Don't get discouraged

It can be daunting to write a submission for a conference or event, and you will undoubtedly face rejections. Believe me, I've had my fair few rejections, and it's never pleasant; however, don't get discouraged. Keep trying, keep learning, and you'll get there.

Top comments (0)