Submitting a (winning) proposal

With an acceptance rate of around 50% in recent years, the CES conference has become a competitive event for presenters (acceptance rates approached 95% in earlier times). So, there are no more assurances of success in preparing a proposal, but there are ways to augment your likely success rate. Here is a checklist for you:

  1. Your proposal is a sales document, not an academic précis. You must sell your topic, your choice of presentation type, and yourself! So, be interesting!
  2. Reflect on why anyone would want to hear what you have to say and focus on that in your title and abstract. (Don’t minimize the attractiveness of a well-crafted title.) Clarify the value added of your product. (Ha! My juice extractor is much faster than earlier ones!)
  3. Make sure to clearly connect your proposal to one of the sub-themes; reviewers will be more inclined to agree with you that your proposal is relevant if they can easily make the connection.
  4. Choose a presentation format that is appropriate to your message and your objectives. Also remember that physical and time constraints are such that we can cram 18 Ignite presentations or 4 short papers in the time and space of a panel; everything else being equal (which is rarely the case, but I digress), the likelihood of success is much higher for an Ignite presentation or a short paper than for a panel or an expert lecture.
  5. Be brief. Yes, the smart form will limit you to so many characters to present your topic and yourself but don’t feel like you need to use more space then needed even if there is some left.
  6. Write your summary and your bio in the third person using full sentences (no point form). If your proposal is accepted, they will be used to present you and your work in the conference program and app.
  7. Use the active form and avoid jargon and bureaucratic writing. Proposal reviewers could well not share your corporate culture or even your disciplinary leanings. Hey! Ask a family member (who is not an evaluator – surely there is one around you) to read your work; do they understand it?

Good luck!