Suppose you’re looking to submit a proposal for a conference talk. In that case, knowing what to avoid is essential to increase your chances of acceptance. Here are nine common pitfalls to watch out for:

Sales pitches

Remember that the conference is a community of creators and users of open-source scientific computing tools. While you can reference your closed-source product or platform, the audience will find the talk more interesting if they can try your techniques with the open-source PyData stack. Avoid making a hard sell, and focus on problem definition, proposed strategies, and business domain instead.

Repeated talks

Conferences prefer new talks and new speakers. If your talk is already available online, it will unlikely be accepted for the conference. Try to bring new insights, techniques, or perspectives on a topic that hasn’t been covered before.

Lack of clarity

Your proposal should clearly communicate what your talk is about and what attendees can expect to learn. Suppose your proposal is unclear, rambling, or difficult to follow. In that case, reviewers may be unable to determine if your talk aligns with the conference’s goals or is suitable for the intended audience.

Lack of originality

Reviewers seek unique, insightful, and innovative talks that offer fresh perspectives or new solutions to common problems. If your proposal covers a topic that has already been covered multiple times or doesn’t provide any new insights or techniques, reviewers may pass on it. That doesn’t mean a case study or new spin on an issue won’t be accepted, but it’s worth considering that added perspective.

Overly long proposals

Keep your proposal simple and clear. Good proposals typically provide all the vital information within 250 words. This is not a strict limit and varies per conference. This is a suggestion to help you stay focused and avoid losing the attention of the reviewers.

Lack of relevance

Make sure your talk aligns with the conference’s theme or focus. Suppose your proposal is only tangentially related to the conference’s goals. In that case, reviewers may not see how it fits into the larger picture or how it would benefit attendees.

Future work

While discussing future work is exciting and could be mentioned in your talk, the core content of the talk should already be shaped, and you should be able to describe it in your proposal. Don’t rely too heavily on future data collection or future prototyping because things often don’t go as expected. Be sure to provide concrete examples and use cases.

Inappropriate or offensive content

Keep your language and tone professional and respectful, and avoid controversial or sensitive topics that could offend or alienate attendees. Proposals containing inappropriate, offensive, or discriminatory content will likely be rejected.

Poor fit with the conference format

Conferences have different formats, from lightning talks to workshops to keynote speeches. Ensure your proposal aligns with the format and duration of the conference and can be delivered effectively in that format. Consider any equipment, materials, or resources required for your talk.

By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can increase your chances of submitting a successful proposal for a conference talk that aligns with the conference’s goals, is relevant to attendees, and delivers fresh insights or techniques.