Bloggo back to the blog
How to Submit To A Software Testing Conference
Each year during the submission process for EuroSTAR we get asked a number of questions about what type of submission we want? Common questions include what should be included in the submission, how do I relate to the theme, what advice would you give. As we have to remain impartial we cant offer any guidance ourselves but we can point you in the direction of some sound advice from those in the field who have either spoken at EuroSTAR or other major software testing Conference.
So what is the best approach to take to submit to speak. Well let’s take a look at what some testers in the field recommend to do.
First off this is probably the most important question to ask yourself before submitting. What are your reasons for submitting? You have to decide why you want to submit to this Conference. It may be because of its reputation as having the highest calibre speakers. It may be because the theme of the Conference appeals to you. It may be because you want a free ticket. It is hard to write any submission unless you have a good reason for writing it.
Rob Lambet has a great post on Submitting to Conferences. He suggests the reasons for submitting should include all of the above and ideas like personal branding, promote your own company or service or career advancement.
Being able to present means you can do pitches, sales, marketing presentations, influential talks and group events. A whole host of opportunities present themselves to those prepared to stand up and talk. And being good at the presenting will set you apart from many in your industry. Even if you’re not actively seeking career advancement speaking at conferences can open up doors you never knew existed.
Come Up with A Submission Idea
This can be the hardest part of the process. Once you have the idea, it is usually straight-forward to develop your submission and then your presentation. There is plenty of places you can look for ideas. Think about challenges you face in your workplace. It may be about a particular automation tool or even how your team adjusted to a new methodology. It may not be a challenge at all but can be about your experience. If you are a new tester, what you learned on your first year of the job. If you are an experienced tester, what advice would you give to your younger self. Again Rob Lambert has numerous suggestions for you to work with. This could include ideas based on:
- How did you get to where you are now – tell the story of the journey?
- How awesome is your work place – and why is it awesome?
- What have you learned recently?
- What process or methodology do you work in and is it good for you right now?
- What are you most frustrated about in the industry?
- What do the experts discount? And are they right?
- What failed and how did you learn from this?
There are loads more ideas out there. You just have to find the one that you think other people should know about and will appreciate your sharing your story.
Understanding the Conference Theme and Shaping Your Talk
The Conference theme influences how your submission is assessed. The theme can often vary depending on the Conference, the Conference Chair and the type of Conference it is. Sometimes it is a practical theme but often it will be abstract so that the reviewers can assess how you have chosen to take on the theme in your submission.
Last year we featured a discussion with two EuroSTAR Chairs, Shmuel Gershon and Ruud Teunissen on Submitting to Software Testing Conferences. Both of the guys spoke of how to incorporate the theme into your submission. One suggestion by Shmuel is not just adapt the words but think about adapting your idea.
It’s not enough to mention the theme in the submission, you really have to adjust it to the theme. But it has to be obvious that it is not something you do by wording but by adapting to the theme. And in general if you have a story to tell and last year [the theme], it was more practise and this year it’s more learning, you have to put the emphasis on that part from your story.
So be aware of the theme, don’t just change words but think about how it all fits into the theme.
Writing Your Submission
You have an idea, now you have to write it down. Often Submissions limit your word count. Usually it is to 300-500 words so you have to use every word carefully. You are telling a story with your submission so as the old adage goes, make sure it has a beginning, middle and an end. In a thread on Huddle last year, testers were asked for their suggestions on submitting and writing a proposal. There are some great suggestions:
In all the talks I’ve given (the princely total of about 9 or 10) I tend to leave out the theory and go straight to the practice. The biggest grumble I hear from attendees coming out from talks if that they can’t tie the talk to anything practical. It’s common that Managers ask the attendees to give presentations on what they learned at the conference when they go back to work so always try to have at least one ‘take home’ item that the attendees (and, by proxy, the proposal reviewers) can latch onto.
– Colm Harrington
Try writing the presentation before the proposal. Some people have made the point that you don’t have to write the presentation before you submit your proposal. This is true, but it doesn’t work for me. Write the presentation first. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get the main points, and put some slides in with the “bones” of what you will want to say. Then write your abstract and proposal after you know what you think will be in the presentation.
– Dorothy Graham
Try to also phrase your title to be a little catchy. For instance, if your topic is around, how exciting software testing is as a career, it could be something like, “Why I still love what I do, after xyz years”, as opposed to “Software Testing is an Exciting Career”. Feel free to get your proposal reviewed internally in your team by someone who can give you candid / constructive feedback.
– Rajini Padmanaban
What I mostly do it think carefully what is my main message, what is it the attendees should remember after the presentation. My submissions mostly start with this main message. Then I explain the trend or underlying problem why this is important, then I explain shortly the content of the presentation and I end with the main message. Does this always work? No, but it works for me quite often.
– Jan-Jaap Cannegieter
Submitting More than One Proposal
Often you might be tempted to submit more than one idea to increase your changes of getting accepted to speak. Does submitting more than once help? It depends on the event but many will tell you that no, it will not help.
If you submit more than once, please make sure they are different stories you want to tell. The same story in different variations will work against you.
If you have more than one good idea, then it might be worth submitting. If you have one good idea but are trying to style it a number of different ways, then it might be worth considering using the one idea and see if that is accepted.
So there are some tips. Digest them all and if you think you have the right idea for a proposal, there is no time like the present to submit. Time is running out to submit to the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference 2017. Submission close on 5th February 2017. Best of luck.