How to Get Your UX Conference Proposal Accepted

If you are interested in developing your skills and raising your profile in the UX community, you may have thought about giving talks at conferences. If you’ve already tried submitting proposals to conferences, you’re probably feeling pretty discouraged at this point. Well, I have a foolproof guide to getting your proposal accepted:

Be someone that conferences will invite to speak.

It turns out that filling out a conference proposal is, in fact, a fool’s game. UX conferences get hundreds of proposals. The only guaranteed way to speak at conferences is to be one of the handful of UX celebrities that gets invited to speak at every conference.

Unfortunately, this option is not open to most people. Fortunately, there is a second foolproof way to get your talk accepted:

Be incredibly lucky.

The foremost thing to understand about the conference review process is that it all comes down to the opinions of the reviewers. These opinions are incredibly subjective and idiosyncratic. Some conferences actually share the reviewers’ feedback with you (which is a great thing for them to do). Every time, I’ve found that reviewers will give opposite and mutually exclusive feedback. I’ve had the same proposal described as:

  • Too detailed and not detailed enough
  • Such common knowledge that no one would want to hear this talk and an important emergent topic that everyone would want to hear
  • Too basic and too advanced

So, while I appreciate getting the feedback, I don’t even know what to do with it. As it turns out, getting a talk accepted is just like playing a slot machine. You pull the lever and hope you get three cherries.