Conference Call for Papers (CFP) Tips

So you have decided you really want to share something, and are going to do a CFP so you can share it as a speaker at a conference, that is great!

Please note, you will get rejected, maybe often, that is OK and it happens to everyone, really! You can keep applying to conferences AND/OR you can:

  • Write a Blog, or a white paper, or an article and pitch it to papers/magazines.

  • Do a YouTube (or twitch or whatever) live-stream, or just release a recording.

  • Don't feel a conference is the only way to share something.

General Advice

  • Make sure to follow all the directions, look to see if they have a sample submission.

  • Read prior years talks, is there a theme or pattern?

  • Can you tell their target audience and demographics, does that really match the people you want to talk with?

  • Look at the events mission and theme and cater to it (but not too much pandering!)

Key points to make sure that anyone can easily identify when you read your submission

  • Who is the talk for? This helps reviewers see if this talk matches their intended audience, as well as helps people reading about talks choose if this talk is for them.

    • Example: those who already know what shodan is and use it.

  • What is this talk about?

    • Example: advanced shodan utilization for blue teamers

  • Why is this topic important?

    • Why should the reviewers, or audience, care to show up?

  • What will they learn / take-away?

    • If there is no key learning(s) that the audience can bring home with them (new skill) what value are you bringing to the event?

  • Outline / Flow / Timing- if possible show you know how to weave a cohesive story within the given timeframe

    • Your topic may be important, but if you can't tell it within the given timeframe in a cohesive way it won't be a good talk.

  • If this is an existing, trodden, topic what makes your take fresh or unique?

    • This isn't required but helps selection when many talks on the same topic are proposed.

  • If it is not a blind CFP - who you are and why you are knowledgeable and or passionate about this topic.

    • Being a beginner with no formal training is ok! but you need to have something (x hours research / testing) to prove you have enough data to give the talk

Here are some example CFPs

Assorted Advice

CFP Advice from speakers:

As a reviewer here are some of my rants:

  • Damn it we can tell when you toss shit together in 5 minutes. At least try damn it. You are wasting MULTIPLE peoples time.

  • It is hard, I submit CFPs too, to balance too much information with too little. But without being in your head i need to know what you are planning to go over. is it a high level talk? detailed talk? very technical? help me!

  • Your talk seems like a proposal to talk about how great you are, and little to no benefit (make the attendees great by being able to do the thing you do!).....nah

    • No I don't need to read yet another "how I got from here to there" not saying it isn't inspiring and you aren't great but what takeaway/learning/actions are the audience going to take away, who specifically is your target audience?

  • OK yes this is a place for you to tell me about the thing you are passionate about - but you can't just write an essay. I need to know who is the audience and what will they take away from this?

  • Examples, please! Sometimes i really want to get behind your talk because i agree / feel like the community could benefit but if you don't give me examples i don't know you can actually talk about it in an informed (using facts) and useful way.

  • Consider - have to tried the SCQA (situation, complication, question, answer) pitch method?

Here are comments from other reviewers

How do I find a conference to submit to?