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Tips for Writing a Great Speaking Proposal for AIHce EXP 2020

By Rob Rottersman

One of my responsibilities as chair of the Conference Program Committee is to drive the education session selection process for our annual conference, AIHce EXP. As a committee, we are always trying to select speakers who will make the conference a better experience for everyone. The first step in achieving that goal is to get more great speaking proposals.

There are many benefits of presenting at AIHce EXP. For example, presenting provides new opportunities to network with other experts in your field and can help you gain credibility among fellow professionals, making it easier to advance in your career. I am one of the many people who can vouch for how great conference speaking has been for my professional and personal development.

At this year’s conference, I discussed tips for navigating the AIHce EXP call for proposals and shared a few stumbling blocks to avoid when preparing a proposal. Building on that message, here are some strategies for writing a great speaker proposal.

  • Always follow the rules outlined in the call for proposals.

This might sound a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many proposals submitted to the committee each year don’t follow the rules outlined in the call for proposals. This “offense” is committed by both novices and more seasoned speakers, who sometimes just skip over the guidelines. Failing to meet the criteria only leads to the rejection of what could be an interesting presentation. That’s why it’s important to read the guidelines carefully and make sure that your proposal meets them before you submit it.

  • Outline the “learning outcomes.”

Making sure that the reviewers know what you bring to the table is key. Your proposal should highlight at least three learning outcomes that the audience will take away from your presentation. Think of learning outcomes as the reasons you’d give conference attendees to encourage them to come and hear your presentation rather than attend another session. You can present your learning outcomes in either a bulleted list or a dedicated section, but make sure that they are clearly defined in your proposal. Clear learning outcomes help the Conference Program Committee understand the value of your presentation.

  • ​Be straightforward with your title.

When you select the title of your presentation, think about your target audience and how to quickly and clearly communicate your topic. Choose a title that is descriptive and clear enough to grab a reader’s attention. Sometimes an eye-catching title can be the difference between an approved proposal and a rejected one. However, be mindful of using humor in titles. Having a funny title isn’t always the best strategy, especially when your audience is international and includes different backgrounds. The message you are trying to convey with that funny one-liner might not resonate with everyone. Think for a second: would you have wanted to read this blog post if it was titled “Idiot’s Guide to a Lit Presentation”? It wouldn’t surprise me if most of you wouldn’t have read past the title in that case—especially if you don’t know what the word “lit” means. And even if you do, that title still might not sit well with you. The same goes for conference session titles. The golden rule is to keep titles short and clear.

  • Proofread your proposal.

You’ve worked so hard on your proposal that the last thing you want is to miss a great speaking opportunity because of grammatical or spelling errors. Make sure to check your proposal several times. Read it out loud so that you can hear how it will sound to your audience. Sleep on it and reread it a day or two later with a fresh set of eyes. Enlist the help of a friend to read it to make sure that the topic sounds persuasive and that your proposal is free of errors. 

These are some of the tips I use when preparing proposals for speaking opportunities. I hope they help you write a proposal that shows AIHce EXP attendees why your session shouldn’t be missed. 

If you are still undecided about what kind of session to apply for, check out this conversation that Conference Program Committee member Donald D. Elswick and I had in Minneapolis about what kind of sessions we hope to see at AIHce EXP 2020. And don’t miss Donald’s video “The Five C’s​,” which offers more great tips. 

I hope you feel inspired to start working on submitting a proposal for AIHce EXP 2020. Don’t forget: the deadline is Sept. 18, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. ET.


Rob Rottersman, MS, CIH, is chair of the AIHce EXP Conference Program Committee.


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