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How to Submit A Winning Proposal to Speak at Higher Ed Summit

By November 6, 2018

How to Submit A Winning Proposal to Speak at Higher Ed Summit
By: Corey Snow, CRM Strategist, Harvard University, and Salesforce MVP

Now that the weather is getting cooler (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s time to think about how to get some well-deserved time in the warmth of the limelight… and the sun! The 7th annual Higher Ed Summit is taking place on April 16-18, 2019 in San Diego.

If you want to present at #HESummit19, it is time to start your engines with a session proposal! The deadline is November 19, 2018 at 11:59 PM (PST).

Download the slides

Why should you submit a session proposal?

Higher Ed Advisory Council member Florence Parodi speaks at Higher Ed Summit
Higher Ed Advisory Council member Florence Parodi speaks at Higher Ed Summit

Sharing your story is a gift to our Higher Ed Community

Higher Ed Advisory Council member Florence Parodi speaks at Higher Ed Summit[/caption]There is nothing wrong with being shy, though if you want to multiply your impact, pay it forward, and help others thrive with CRM technology… take to the stage and be a storyteller at Higher Ed Summit!

Build a network around your mission

Presenting on a topic that you care about is the best way to attract other thought leaders with common purpose, and build stronger coalitions across the ecosystem to power your mission forward!

Showcase innovation at your institution

While Higher Ed Summit is clearly the best edtech conference of the year, we all need to justify the costs of attending conferences to our leadership. Placing the great work and innovation happening at your institution in the spotlight significantly improves the value proposition for sending you (and your team) to San Diego! Better still, if your proposal is accepted, you will receive a free Summit pass!

Combine what you want to say and what people want to hear into a winning speaker proposal

Small group discussion at Higher Ed Summit

How to submit a winning speaker proposal

For my very first Higher Ed Summit in 2017, I submitted two session proposals, and neither was selected. While disappointed, after attending the Summit, I realized two things:

  • My topics would not have resonated broadly with our community
  • My Title and Abstract were not written to captivate interest

Wisened, humbled, and undaunted, I submitted 8 proposals for Higher Ed Summit ‘18, and 5 were selected.

Below are some hard-won tips to get a better chance to speak!

Corey Snow and Nathalie Mainland on stage at the Higher Ed Summit 2017 Keynote
Corey Snow and Nathalie Mainland on stage at the Higher Ed Summit 2017 Keynote

Present on a topic you really care about

When a topic is important to you, your enthusiasm will materialize in both the proposal and the presentation. Think of the best presentations you have ever seen. They will all have this one factor in common: a presenter who is passionate about their topic!

Present on a topic that you believe your audience will care about

The overlapping intersection of your passion space with the value that your story will provide to the audience is the sweet spot to strive for.

Send your prospective proposal out for peer review

Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” The scarcity of words is the primary challenge of the CFP. You get 80 characters for the Title, and just 200 words for the abstract. Do your best, then consider sending it out to trusted advisors for review before you submit. Our Higher Ed community has been incredibly generous towards helping me shape proposals. Pro Tip: Consider reaching out to the good folks on the Higher Ed Advisory Council for guidance.

Consider alignment of your topic(s) to session format

How long do you want to be on stage? Higher Ed Summit has multiple session format options:

  • 10-minute HED Talk
  • 20-minute Demo
  • 20-minute Lecture
  • 40-minute Panel
  • 40-minute Lecture
  • 60-minute Workshop

Consider carefully how concisely your story can be told, since the shorter sessions are often popular with attendees who are trying to maximize their learning experience amidst a wealth of great content to choose from at all times. Goodness overflows! My personal favorite is the panel, as this presents an opportunity to bring more stories and perspectives to the stage.

Higher Ed Summit attendees

Get back to the future – with research

This homework is actually fun! One of the best ways to form a winning proposal is to benefit from the experience of others who have come before via the amazing Session Listings and Session Recordings from Higher Ed Summit ‘18 for inspiration and guidance.

Higher Ed Summit is all about propagating community sourced learning, inspiration, and empowerment across our community of Trailblazers. We are stronger, smarter, and more courageous when we innovate together. I look forward to seeing YOU on stage in San Diego in April!

Don’t wait until the November 19 deadline – submit your speaker proposal today!


About the Author
Corey SnowCorey Snow
Salesforce MVP | Higher Ed Advisory Council | Salesforce Northeast Region Community Group Leader

Corey Snow serves as CRM Strategist and Solution Architect at Harvard University. He partners with 40+ trailblazing Salesforce teams spanning 7 Schools to foster cross-campus collaboration and promote shared success with the Salesforce platform and ecosystem. Corey is grateful to have been immersed in technology for his entire career, acting as a technologist in diverse sectors including healthcare, marketing systems, data storage, pharmaceuticals, publishing, and non-profit. His current mission is to enable Higher Ed Institutions to thrive into an era of renewed relevancy by courageously embracing and leveraging the power of CRM technology.
Follow him on Twitter: @corey_snow