What Topics Are We Looking For In Conference Proposals?

The call for proposals for DevLearn 2020 is open from February 10th-March 6th. Find out more and submit your proposal ideas here.


At the beginning of any call for proposals the question I get asked the most is some variation of “What topics do you need more session proposals on this year?”

And while I completely appreciate people trying to help us out by proposing on topics we need more of, the challenging fact is it’s almost impossible for us to know what we’ll need more proposals on because what we get each year varies wildly. Some years we’ll have a big gap in, say, visual design proposals only for the following year to give us substantially more than we have space for.

So instead, I thought I’d share some advice to help you narrow down what topics to submit for eLearning Guild conferences that can help make your proposals stand out no matter what the trends are in submission topics that year.

Avoid in-person classroom… instead, think digital

eLearning Guild events focus on the intersection of technology and learning. And because we can’t be all things to all audiences, that means we don’t tend to have sessions on our programs that focus strictly on in-class learning experiences. So when thinking about your proposal ideas, think about sessions that play in that primarily digital space.

Let the conference tracks guide you

Our events always have content tracks as one of a number of ways to help attendees narrow down their session choices. And that means they can be a solid clue to what kinds of session themes we’re looking for. For DevLearn 2020, for instance, we’ll be looking for sessions that can fill the following tracks: AR & VR, Data and Measurement, Emerging Tech, Games and Gamification, Instructional Design, Management and Strategy, Tools and Development, and Video and Media.

Not sure what the tracks are for a particular conference? Checking the previous year’s event website can help.

Keep it practical

eLearning Guild events are all about helping people with practical, real-world use of the technologies, techniques, or approaches they’re learning more about. If your session idea is about something people can use right now, focus your proposal narrative on how specifically you’ll help them learn to do that. If your theme is about something they might not be able to use right away (such as bleeding edge technology) frame your session proposal so it’s clear you’ll be helping people prepare themselves for real world use in the future.

Think about the average audience

Our event audiences come from both corporate L&D and higher education, but the split isn’t even. Our attendee demographics currently skew heavier towards the corporate learning side. So does this mean a session from a higher education speaker isn’t going to be as likely to be accepted? Not at all. In fact, we’re always excited to have more speakers from that part of L&D. But a session that’s framed as JUST for people in higher ed might not be as likely to be accepted.

What to do instead if you’re in a higher ed role right now? One option is to keep your topic broad, so it can apply to either corporate or higher ed situations. If your idea hinges on something set in a higher ed environment or around higher ed examples, open up your topic and be sure to also directly discuss what people in corporate situations can do with the information you’re sharing as well. Not quite sure how to frame it for that audience? Reach out and we can absolutely help you with that.

Put the attendee front and center

And no matter what your proposal topic is, make sure you frame how you talk about it in terms of how it’s going to help people who attend the session. The more a speaking proposal is clear about how it can help attendees solve real challenges they experience, the more it’s going to stand out to us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *