The life cycle of writing a winning health IT speaker proposal is a process that parallels parenting a child’s growth and development. You love it. You hate it. But in the end all the trials and tribulations are worth it.
After writing hundreds of speaker abstracts for health IT conferences, forums and seminars—along with raising kids ourselves, our message here is that “winging it” is not a winning strategy. Rather, your best approach involves planning and hard work.
As children grow and change as they develop, speaker abstracts grow and change in moving from one stage of progression to the next. Our recommended five development stages cover ways to make your speaker proposal stand out and be noticed—and hopefully accepted.
We recently presented these steps at HITMC’18 Conference in New Orleans. Here are the key takeaways.
Stage One: Conception to Adolescence
Select the event. Most established conferences offer a “call for speakers” or “call for papers.” Before jumping head first into commitment, take time to properly identify which industry conferences and attendees are a best fit for your business. To do this, gather intel to make informed decisions. Review the event’s website and interview the speaker coordinator. Vet the show’s theme, tracks or categories and recent attendee demographics including job and management level. Obtain a percentage breakdown of attendees to determine influencers, buyers or both. Study last year’s exhibitors for competitors.
Select the topic and speaker candidate. Since most health IT events prefer provider speakers, take inventory of your client relationships and their success stories’ alignment with your business goals. Look for shining stars with timely real-world practical focus on optimal IT use, accomplishments or transformation, for example. Approach that selected provider to secure buy-in and offer to do all the work writing the proposal and even creating the PowerPoint presentation.
Stage Two: Teenage Times
Jumpstart abstract development. Now that you have the provider’s consent, initiate a content strategy call. With agenda in hand, review the proposal content requirements, submission deadlines and tracks specific to the agreed upon topic. Determine the presentation format—lecture, panel, workshop or roundtable. Discuss key information points and conduct an interview if necessary. Ensure the provider acknowledges the commitment of time and knowledge sharing to support the requisite writing.
Apply writing elements. Finally! It’s time to write the abstract. While keeping the audience top of mind, pen your abstract using active voice and succinct sentences interspersed with power words including action verbs. Insert attendee benefits throughout. Focus on content quality, integrity and relevance. Avoid product pitches or bias. Proposal writing fundamentals include but are not limited to:
- drivers for change;
- solution objectives and approach;
- deployment timeline;
- statistics, notable facts, current events, policies and trends;
- ROI metrics, outcomes, milestones and tangible benefits;
- anecdotal use cases and real-world examples;
- unique or innovative aspects; and
- key takeaways and lessons learned.
Obtain the client’s copy feedback and approval. Submit!
Stage Three: Young Adulthood
Monitor acceptance and determine next steps. If your proposal is accepted, create a timeline centered around the presentation submission deadline. Assemble your creative team to include the primary writer and graphic designer. If your proposal is declined, repurpose the copy in media pitches, blogs, articles and other speaker proposals.
Stage Four: You’ve Made It!
Create the PowerPoint deck. Writing the content with the provider’s input consumes a large amount of time. Conduct a series of weekly or biweekly calls with the client to review and talk through the evolving story outline composed first in Word and then transferred to slides. Strive for well-balanced and understandable content illustrated with visually appealing artwork. Successful presentations offer a good balance of clinical, business, operational and technical information; data and results; real-life examples; and best practices and practical tips. Submit the deck and celebrate!
Stage Five: Golden Years
Conducting the dry run: Help your speakers do their professional best to confidently deliver a compelling and memorable presentation. Host a face-to-face practice rehearsal ideally at the event location, provide public speaking guidelines in advance, and offer suggestions on how to respond to potential attendee questions.
At the event—be there. Bring audience questions to ask. Take photos for social media. Introduce attending journalists to speakers. Prep speakers to hand out business cards with your inscribed solution.
Extending the abstract’s life: Document speech nuggets for future PR projects and share takeaways with press, analysts and social media. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose—and refresh for year two.
Like parenting, every step of writing a proposal can be complex, challenging, transforming and ultimately rewarding. The hard work pays off in reputable brand exposure, valuable feedback, networking and potential clients.