How to write good session abstracts?

Damir Dobric Posts

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In this post I put together most important recommendations which should be followed when creating the session.
Please note there are many different conferences like community conferences or commercial big events like TechEd, WinDays etc.
Recommendation in this document focuses profession conferences for developers like TechEd, but it should match most other conferences.
Most of the content in this post is collected from best industry conference owners.

Consider right Session Level

It is very important that you indicate the correct session level intended for your submission.
Level 300 and 400 sessions are in high demand while level 200 sessions are not in high demand.
You may want to incorporate words from the following level descriptions into your abstract.

Level 400 Advanced/Expert

To include: Custom Code, scripts, application solution development, architect, infrastructure
designs and solutions
•  Advanced coding considerations/challenges
•  Design considerations/challenges
•  Architecture considerations/challenges
•  Troubleshooting techniques at the debug level

Level 300 Experienced

To include: Product Migration, deployment, architecture, development
•  Drilling into how a Product/Technology is designed tobe deployed, migrated to, etc.
while focusing on how it is actually deployed, migratedto, etc.
•  Real world examples as appropriate.
•  Complex coding, known issues and workarounds (sample code/examples)
•  Lessons learned, both positive and negative
•  Sample migration plans including sample Project Plans
•  Deployment case studies
•  Architecture design best practices and case studies

Level 200 Intermediate

Specific Product/Technology technical drill-down
•  Drilling into architecture, integration, and configuration (what makes the feature tick?)
•  Supportability reviews
•  Code samples
•  Best practices
•  High-level troubleshooting techniques
•  Known limitations/issues


What is a good session ?

  • Include content that is new, exciting, unique or significantly refreshed (if previously presented).
  • Take a solution-oriented approach; include real-life customer adoption examples where possible.
  • Focus on currently released technologies, technologies in beta, or technologies that will be released within 12 months.
  • Eliminate marketing information. Include a brief description of one or more live demonstrations in this proposal.
  • Sessions with strong demos receive higher audience scores.
  • Funny sessions are mostly best rated, but it do not necessarily deliver most knowledge. Try to find the best combination.

Writing Good Titles

  • A title should be succinct but have necessary info to entice the target audience to attend the session.
  • Avoid using a symbol, punctuation or a number as the first word of a title.
  • Do not use hyphens in titles. Use a colon instead.
  • No quotation marks are used in a title except around code names (very rarely).
  • No speaker names should be included in the title or abstract.
  • There should not be any competitive product names in the titles. If absolutely necessary, put those in the abstract.
  • Titles are in Title Case Format.
  • Titles should not be too cute, nor too trendy, nor plagiarize.
  • Long product names should be included in the abstract to keep the title succinct.
  • Listing multiple or long product names in the title is less preferable to a succinct statement of the learner’s key take away after attending the session.

Writing Good Abstracts/Descriptions

  • A good abstract describes the content targeted and may mention the intended audience and detail the level of complexity.
  • Use correct spelling and grammar.
  • Note the best content is when it is your one. If you are interpreting product which you didn’t make, you should provide  your own strong experience.
  • Depending on conference attendees like to be informed and to learn something new. 400 level sessions usually do not have a big audience.
  • Edit abstracts so they quickly state the reader’s “take away”. For example, “In this session, you will learn…”
  • Don’t make marketing for yourself or for product. The quality of delivered session is best marketing for both.
  • Best marketing for you is when other do it. Marketing by yourself has mostly no value (Excluding you mom/daddy, wife/husband or family).
  • Remove references to speaker qualifications, like being an MVP. That is included in the speaker bio.
  • Do not include the speaker name in the abstract.

Posted Jun 24 2014, 11:48 AM by Damir Dobric
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