Hey everyone, if you are here then you have either submitted CFPs before or a total beginner who is looking to get more information about this process. I feel like this blog will be able to help both categories of people. So let's begin and get your next CFP selected 🔥
What is CFP?
CFP stands for "Call for Papers" or "Call for proposals". These are types of announcements made by organizers to start accepting the talk ideas from people. The concept of CFP is really simple, whenever there is an open CFP, you are made to submit your idea, you write about yourself, and your topic in brief, and try to pitch your talk idea to the organizers. And then upon CFP selection, you are invited to give a talk at that particular event or conference. Now let's start with our 7 steps
➡️ Understand the audiences
It shouldn't be about you, it should be about the audience. For example "My 5 tips to ...." talks about you, instead, this should focus more on what the attendees would gain from the session. Understand who will your attendees be and try to make your description more specific for those people. Your description shouldn't be in generic terms. Understanding your audience more can help you find some amazing angles to put forward your ideas and generate curiosity for that specific segment of the attendees.
Now you should think about who is going to select the CFPs and what they want to see. One of the things they want is to have their attendees have a great experience and they will be looking for things that would help in providing that experience. Your description to your talk should demonstrate the potential to engage the audience and give them a great experience while attending your talk.
➡️ Why you?
This is one of the factors to highly consider while creating your CFP. See self-validation is very important but you should think about why should "you" be the person to give this talk. And your CFP should reflect the same things too. You should be clearly able to demonstrate why you are the most suitable person to give a talk among all the other people. You can mention all the points that you think differentiate you from others in your bio and description.
➡️ Research is important
Ofcourse you should know about the topic you are talking about. But the research I am referring to here is knowing more about the conference/event you are trying to submit your talk to. You should know what conference that is and what types of talks would be there (maybe from the past talk list). Most of the conferences will have the themes they are looking to get talks on so be on the lookout for them. If the organizers have organized the conference before then you can visit the past talks, read the descriptions and see what themes and types of talks they prefer having the most. Even if you are presenting the same topic you like, you can find different angles to present the same idea.
➡️ Let's write
The biggest thing to remember is that whatever you write is likely going to be on website, newsletter or other promotional content and there sometimes won't be easy ways to change that. Will that put pressure on you while writing? To be honest it might but don't worry that might actually help you boost your confidence. So for eg instead of writing "If this talks gets selected I will talk about ..." you can be more firm like "In this talk xyz will be talking about....". At this point you can look into yourself and your background and see if you can include it in some way. Take a look at the following description from my talk at KubeCon NA 2022
Are you a student trying to pursue cloud-native? Are you perplexed and interested in learning how to build a career in cloud-native? Attend the panel discussion to learn how hackathons can help you advance in cloud-native development. Hackathons are an excellent way to hone collaborative abilities, communication skills, and engineering skills all while keeping it fun, beginner-friendly, and a great experience over weekends. The panel will demonstrate how students can contribute to CNCF projects while participating in hackathons, specifically cloud-native hackathons. The panel is made up of students who have competed in over 145 global hackathons collectively in the past 12 months (winning a collective of 33 out of them and 5 together as a team) The panelists are also mentors, judges, and organizers at student hackathons and will share their experience as an organizer with those folks who are willing to bring the cloud-native culture via hackathons to their local community. The panelists will demonstrate how organizing CNCF hackathons could help attract more young people and students to contribute."
➡️ It all starts with a title
It's obvious that if it's a blog, youtube video, talk proposal, organisers and audience likes compelling content. While writing proposals 80% of your efforts should be expected just for title (Sounds weird but many researchers say the same). Re-iterate over and over on your title and you will start feeling that your titles are getting better and better. Some of the studies say that you should at least write 25 titles on the same topic description to start getting grip and understand what actually would work. Also while doing so you need to think about what impression will it create on the 2 types of audiences we talked before.
➡️ Get Feedbacks
This is self explanatory, feedbacks are indeed important to quickly testing if your thoughts are being conveyed properly to another person. Get feedback on your proposal from at least one person and get it as descriptive as possible so you can see what impression your writing is making and if that matches your expectations. Best ways to ask for feedbacks is to be specific what feedback you want. So rather getting your typo mistakes as a feedback the other person knows where they have to check on your thoughts. You can then work back and forth on improving the writeups.
➡️ Network with Organisers
Okay, this might be debatable based on if it's ethical or unethical to connect with organizers. But I feel networking doesn't hurt anyone, on the other hand, it helps you understand the organizers more and get to know what they really want and this supports one of the points mentioned above. You want to help organizers.
Thank you so much for reading 💖
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