In an earlier posting on Lotusphere, someone asked about what makes a good abstract submission for the conference.  Over the years, fellow track manager/track consultant Rocky Oliver has posted and updated advice on "what makes a good abstract" (a few times).  Even though I won't be managing the infrastructure track for 2009, I'm still involved, and want to help you help us make this another great Lotusphere.

Here are six tips I'd offer when you consider submitting an abstract:

  • If you don't work for IBM, you're going to have a harder time getting into the infrastructure, strategy, or application development tracks.  I am not trying to discourage you, but it's important to understand that your submissions for those tracks are competing with session proposals from the core product teams.  80% or more of the slots in the infrastructure track the last few years have been IBMers, and 90% or more in the strategy track.  I'm sure that Mac and Rocky would love to see your submissions in the Best Practices, or the new Show-n-Tell track, if you are a customer, ISV, or business partner.
  • We really, really mean it when we say that the abstract should be 750 characters or less.  Also, there are so many submissions, the track manager is not likely to come back to you and suggest you rewrite it.  Consider what you submit carefully.
  • If you are a subject matter expert in a particular area, but you are employed by an organization which sells a product or service in said area, write carefully to ensure it does not appear you are proposing a session simply to pimp your product/services.  This is also true for birds-of-a-feather sessions, by the way, which is an area where we seem to see a lot of those proposals.
  • Quality, not quantity, matters.  If it looks like you're just submitting a bunch o' stuff in the hopes that something will hit the probably won't.
  • Find a unique, interesting, or timely topic.  This might sound obvious, but over the years, I have rejected countless abstracts for topics covered in years past.  It doesn't mean that you can't revisit a concept covered at Lotusphere before, but be sure that there's a specific reason to do so.  Otherwise, be creative and you'll get attention.
  • Last, and I really do have to say this, stick to Lotus-related (or WebSphere Portal-related) topics.  The strategy track especially seems to attract its share of "industry trends" submissions...sorry, nobody comes to Lotusphere to learn generally about archiving and compliance.  We had a great session a couple of years ago on blogging, but it was relevant because the discussion was tied into how to blog using Lotus solutions and technologies.

OK, with all those caveats, asterisks, and suggestions, I do really want you to consider submitting an awesome abstract!  New or returning, great speakers are always on tap at Lotusphere.  And as I'll continue to play an advisory role in the content team, I'm looking forward to reading the great 2009 submissions.  Good luck and have a little fun, too!

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