How to Prepare an Effective Proposal

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OLC Accelerate 2019 Workshops Co-Chair Tawnya Means

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OLC Accelerate 2019 Workshops Co-Chair Tawnya Means shares how to prepare your proposal to present at the OLC Accelerate event this fall.

You have a great idea or rock star practice that you would like to share with others, and as you review this year’s conference calls for proposals, you find a conference theme and track that seem to be a good match. As you prepare your proposal submission, keep in mind that the way that you write your proposal will make a big difference in whether or not you will get the opportunity to share!

Any effective proposal will align with the goals for the conference, tell an interesting, concise, and relatable story, include plenty of details to keep the attention of the reviewer(s), and meet the requirements of the submission call. Here are a few strategies for achieving your goal of conference proposal acceptance.

First, review the submission criteria
Carefully review the Call for Proposals (CFPs). It will tell you exactly what reviewers are looking for and can give you a framework to prepare your submission. You should also read the conference theme, track details, and consider the audience for the conference. Make sure that you present your idea to fit with all these criteria to maximize your potential for acceptance.

You should write an abstract and outcomes that speak to the themes and required components of the conference. Try to consider what will make your proposal stand out from others but also connect with the right audience. Definitely talk to your peers and test the idea with others to see if your idea it is as interesting to others as it is to you. Their feedback may help you reframe or rethink your idea.

Consider the use of keywords and integrate them judiciously into your proposal. You don’t want to over-tag your proposal, but you also want to be sure that you select appropriate keywords to attract the attention of your reviewers.

Include a concrete and appropriate plan for engaging the audience. Strive for more than poll questions. Keep in mind the opportunities and limitations of each session type as well as time constraints. Please be realistic. If you are proposing a 45-minute concurrent session, you need to evaluate how much of the time should be spent in presenting and how much should be on engaging with the audience in pairs, groups, or activities.

Make sure to conduct a final check of your proposal against the submission criteria and look for typos. The reviewers will likely not know you, so this proposal may be their first introduction to you and your ideas, so make a good first impression!

Start your proposal with the takeaways
Think of your session in terms of how the conference attendees will see it… in a book of many short abstracts, all competing for their time, with multiple attractive choices. Why should an attendee select your session over another session? To help the audience know why they should attend your session, your title and abstract should accurately reflect what will happen in your session and explain what they will learn. Additionally, your outcomes should be realistic and match audience expectations.

Draft an outline
A high-level outline will help you write a strong proposal that follows submission guidelines and covers all elements of the idea in a concise and clear manner. An outline will allow you to identify opportunities for audience participation and engagement. The goal is to write a clear, detailed, and thoughtful abstract, aligned with realistic outcomes that will tell a story of your idea in a way that others can relate.

Write for your audience
Your title and abstract should accurately represent what you will cover in your presentation. Consider the phrasing and language of your information. The title and abstract are usually why someone chooses to attend your session over a competing session in the time slot. Most importantly, remember the importance of being concise, clear, and focused. You can highlight how your session matches the major themes to ensure the attendees clearly understand your focus.

In summary
Make sure that you will be able to deliver on your proposal in the actual presentation. Proofreading is essential. Be sure to catch all grammatical errors and typos. The title should pop and describe your session clearly. It may be the only information visible to attendees. Plan to engage your audience so that they leave your presentation happy that they attended.

Still need some inspiration?
View the on-demand OLC Accelerate 2019 Call for Proposal Information Session Webinar, where Program Chairs and representatives from OLC Presenter Services discuss how to submit a winning proposal to OLC Accelerate.

Submit your proposal today!

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OLC Accelerate 2020 offers a curation of conference tracks and exhibits and promises a cross-section of the prime topics in our field, offering exciting programming formats, myriad formal and informal networking opportunities, and a wealth of resources aligned to supporting quality online, digital and blended learning.

We chose the name OLC Accelerate for this annual conference because it is devoted to driving quality online learning, advancing best practice guidance and accelerating innovation in learning for academic leaders, educators, administrators, digital learning professionals and organizations around the world.

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