Things to consider when submitting an abstract

An open notebook

Whether this is your first time or you’ve done it many times before, this article provides some guidance on what to look out for when submitting an abstract to a tech conference.

An abstract is a brief and concise description of what you are planning to talk about in your presentation. It should contain the main facts only, and shouldn’t exceed 1000 characters.

The idea is first. What to talk about and in what format?

For an initial idea, write down a list of what you are currently working on. Then pick the one you feel most comfortable speaking about and which you think is most likely to interest others.

For FOSS Backstage there is a large range of relevant topics so looking at our tracks is usually a good starting point to categorize your chosen topic.

Besides using our tracks as a guideline, people come to a conference to hear new ideas and to learn new skills. Best practices, innovative ideas, and use cases are the most wanted presentations. It is recommended to avoid an abstract beginning such as, “In this talk I'll…”, or “In this talk you'll learn…”. It is more original to use an initial sentence that connects directly with your title.

Regarding the format, you can select a talk or, if you think it is an extensive topic, you can also submit it as a workshop. Other possible formats that we are happy to accept are:

  • Lightning Talks for brief presentation of 5 minutes

  • Ask me Anything sessions that require a thorough in–depth knowledge of your topic

  • Discussion rounds as part of a panel

  • Other ideas are also possible, again, please reach out to Paul at paul@foss-backstage.de to send in your suggestions

Once you have found a topic, please bear in mind the following important tips so as not to be filtered out right away:

  • Please do not submit a product presentation. Our audience is discerning and we cannot offer commercial product presentations in the regular program. For these kinds of presentations, you can book a sponsorship booth  that we will be happy to promote. Please reach out to Nina at partner@bfoss-backstage.de to find out more about the benefits and pricing.

  • The title of your talk is the first thing people see, so in order to draw attention to it make it catchy but solid. It doesn’t have to be funny or clever, that is a bonus but don’t overdo it. Use keywords that draw attention instead and be concise. Alternatively, you can ask a thought-provoking question.

  • Ask a colleague to proof-read your abstract and help with the title.

What happens next? The review phase

Once the Call for Participation closes on October, 25th (23:59 CET) all submissions will be reviewed by our program committee. We are doing a blind review, which means that the members of the committee are unable to see any information about the submitter: Only the talk and the describing abstract is rated in order to reduce unconscious bias.

After all talks are rated, we will inform you about the status of your submission starting Mid-November.

In case you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to info@foss-backstage.de or have a look at our FAQs. We hope that this article has given you some inspiration and we can't wait to see your proposals!

Photo: cc-by 4.0 Neil Conway