June 16, 2022 | Episode 220

Tips For Writing Abstracts and Speaking at Conferences

  • Transcript
  • Notes

A well-written abstract is your ticket to conferences, but how do you write an excellent synopsis that will get accepted? As an experienced conference speaker, Robin Moffatt (Principal Developer Advocate, Confluent) often writes presentations that help the developer community to understand Apache Kafka® and its ecosystem. He is also the Program Committee Chair for Kafka Summit and Current 2022: The Next Generation of Kafka Summit. Having seen hundreds of conference submissions, Robin shares best practices for crafting abstracts that stand out, as well as tips for speaking at conferences. 

So you want to answer the call for papers? Before writing your abstract, Robin and Kris recommend identifying a topic that you are enthusiastic about, or a topic that can be useful to others. Oftentimes, attendees go to conferences to learn about a given technology, which they may not have extensive knowledge of yet—so a fundamental topic is a good basis for a conference talk.  

Once you’ve identified the topic you are interested in, there are key components to an effective write up:

  • Title: Come up with an enticing title that lets the conference organizers and audiences understand the content at a glance. There is a chance that a great topic could be rejected due to a poor title.
  • Abstract: Summarize the topic you plan to talk about in the proper format and length. Usually, a polished abstract has three short paragraphs consisting of approximately 200 words.

It’s essential to spend quality time writing and refining your abstract, while keeping two audience groups in mind—the program committee and the conference attendees. Robin shares that when reviewing submissions, the program committees have a few standards in mind, such as if the topic fits into the overall conference theme, and whether attendees would be interested in the talk. Then if the abstract is accepted, the attendees themselves will decide if they’ll attend a particular session based on the agenda and the brief. 

Robin and Kris also discuss why you should submit to a conference in the first place and also give tips for preparing your talk once you are accepted. If you are a new speaker or just someone interested in getting feedback on your abstract, Robin and the conference committees for Current 2022: The Next Generation of Kafka Summit will be hosting office hours to provide feedback.

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