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A guide to successful FOSS conference presentations

Jul 24, 2010, 07:07 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier)


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"We just wrapped up the Ohio LinuxFest call for presentations, so pitching presentations is on my mind. Regional, volunteer-run conferences are not only a good way for people without a travel budget to see some big names in open source, they're also a way for first-time or inexperienced speakers to hone their presentation skills. Regional conferences also provide an excellent forum to educate users about your favorite project or topic.

"But competition for speaking slots can be fierce. Established conferences like SCALE, Ohio LinuxFest, and others receive many more proposals than available slots. For example, the 2010 call for presentations for Ohio LinuxFest received about 120 proposals for less than 30 speaking slots. Some of the talks for regional conferences will quickly go to experienced speakers who have presented at the show before and/or have established a name for themselves as a topic expert and competent presenter. But most presentation committees for community shows also try to select local talent who are new to presenting, and those slots will go to the speakers with the best proposals.

"Pitching your Proposal

""Submit early and often" is a good rule of thumb. Speakers should develop at least two presentation ideas, and submit them as early as possible — certainly well before the deadline. It's usually a bad idea to wait until the last minute to submit a proposal. In some cases, the committee takes note of which talks come in early. Even if that isn't the case, waiting until right before the deadline usually means that the proposal you submit will not be of the same quality as a proposal developed over the space of a few days. Submitting multiple talks boosts your chances if the committee likes you as a speaker, but doesn't like one of your topics or has to choose between you and another speaker who submitted a similar topic."

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