My first year submitting an agile conference abstract must have been quite an adventure for the review team. Even though there were required fields in the system, I had no clue what each of them meant. My brain was swimming with ideas, but I spent years learning how to format them. While I had friends in the profession willing to mentor me in creating a great abstract, I just didn’t know exactly what a winning submission was.
I legit pasted my blog headlines and posts into the form. It still makes me laugh to this day.
Thankfully, review teams took pity on me and provided some great feedback. I learned what exactly a learning objective was, and how to make the story personal to me. None of that would have been possible without a network of track teams willing to answer all my dumb questions.
Thankfully, I started getting acceptance letters years later. Wasn’t long before I was fortunate enough to train the new crop of review teams as a track chair.
No track chair can read every single submission with enough depth to make a decision. No matter the number of submissions, we just can’t dissect each one to build an amazing agenda of speakers. We need new people each year to support the mission of finding the best content in the world for Agile 20xx.
On behalf of my program teammates, I’d like to officially invite you to raise your hand to serve as a reviewer this year. We will take as many as we can get, and you’ll get to participate as much as you want in the process. Here are a few things to remember.
You Don’t Have To Be A “Writer”
Every year, someone will tell me they have always wanted to help but don’t consider themselves an accomplished writer. Even if English isn’t your first language, you can still be amazing.
The formatting of the submission is important, but that means more than being willing to brush up on grammar. We can help you become comfortable looking for the following items:
- Does it include a catchy headline?
- Is the abstract clearly communicating the intent of the session?
- Do the learning objectives clearly communicate what attendees will be able to do afterward?
- Does it include all the pertinent information to get a sense of how the session flows?
We always encourage newer reviewers to pair with track chairs on a few submissions. That way, you’ll feel right at home in no time.
Is This A Session You Would Attend?
Even after 20 years of agile conferences, I find myself amazed at the fresh takes our community has on long-running topics. This comes from attending a few conferences or meet-ups, so everyone reading this is qualified. Even scrolling through LinkedIn can refresh your memory of what everyone is currently talking about.
It’s important we continue pushing the conversation forward in the name of advancing our thought leadership. So what makes a good idea a worthy submission?
Think of the problems you’re seeing. Make a list of them if you want. Something to refresh your memory should be speaking to those exact problems when reading submissions. If it’s an issue you’re having, I guarantee someone else is as well.
Challenge yourself to see beyond using a framework, or how a book you read changed your perspective. Each submission should present a real problem, and how they would solve it.
A Great Idea Plus An Amazing Storyteller Equals A Winning Submission
This equation was taught to me after years of getting rejected. Respected colleague Allison Pollard pointed out that there was nothing wrong with the ideas I was submitting. They were topics many in the community were talking about, and I had attempted to tell a solid pitch for each of them.
Yet, there was something missing from the story. I wasn’t at the center of it.
This went against everything I learned in journalism school. Why would I want to put myself as the main protagonist if I’m there just to report what I saw? It ties into the equation mentioned above.
The story is the real catalyst for change in each of my winning abstracts. It’s not complete, though, unless the program team believes I am the one to tell it. Anyone can give a report on the five dysfunctions of a team, but I lived through walking a leadership team through each of them. How I experienced the results is what makes me most qualified to tell the story.
If you can help us find well-formatted submissions that use the equation for success, Agile 2024 will be even more amazing than the year before. To raise your hand, please contact us today.