There is no shortage of conferences. In the marketing space, there seems to be at least one every week. What makes a conference great, what makes it worth the trip, is the content. That content is provided by presenters and speakers.
As marketing professionals and industry experts, it’s on us to create presentations that tell a story, inspire the audience and make sure what we say on stage is equal parts compelling and useful to the attendees. It’s a tall order and requires experience, balance, and finesse. This process starts with the abstract … and the abstract starts with a lot of questions. Here are some tips for writing a compelling abstract.
Strong Abstracts Start with Strong Headlines
Your headline can be your first impression. It sets the tone for your entire abstract and it also often serves as the title for your presentation. How do you get your session selected? How do you make it stand out without being overly provocative? Headline writing is a skill all in itself. You need to make sure the topic is highlighted obviously but also draws the reader in … in no more than 12 words max.
Marketo is no stranger to marketing events. They suggest you ask yourself the following questions about your headline: “Does it grab the audience’s attention? Does it use compelling words and phrases? Are you intrigued when you read it?”
Tailor Your Abstract to the Audience
When writing your abstract, think about who you’re speaking to, who will be in the room when you present. How do they speak? Do they prefer stories or facts? Are they C-suite and above? Or is this more of a learning conference filled with digital marketers and IT professionals on the front lines? Do they want to know about business benefits or are they interested in solving a specific challenge?
Ask the organizers for persona information if possible. Who are they inviting? Who do they have in mind when they are creating the programming schedule? This also gives you a chance to align with any predefined tracks.
Stay Focused on the Topic
Your abstract is the first opportunity you have to share your story. As you introduce your topic, talk about challenges, successes, and lessons learned – use real data if you have it. Explain the challenges you faced and how you solved them. And always feel free to write as you speak so that the conference team and attendees get a feel for what your presentation style will be like.
Once you have draft, read it outloud to yourself:
- Does this sound like something you’d attend yourself?
- Does the abstract have a clear tone and flow?
- Does it sound like you?
- Is the main topic highlighted properly?
The last thing you want is for attendees to say that your presentation had nothing to do with the abstract or that they thought they were attending to hear about X and got Y or Z instead.
What do you want your audience to take away from your presentation? It’s smart to provide a bulleted list of key takeaways before concluding your abstract. Who doesn’t love bullet points, right? Marketers are always busy so a clear and concise list of what they will learn in your session can go a long way. This can also serve as the story arch for your presentation
Oh, and keep in mind that you’ll typically only have about 300-350 words, that’s the limit set by most conference organizers.
As a speaker or even as an attendee, what about a session abstract draws you in and makes you want to attend? Hit us up on Twitter @acquia.