Some Lotusphere 2010 thoughts

September 17 2009

In the next few days, the "call for abstracts" will go live for Lotusphere 2010.  Registration will open in the next two weeks.  [Yes, I know that there is a live registration form available if you know the URL -- what I can tell you is that it is not wired on the back end yet.  I am not sure how that link was discovered, but it's not a live link on the Lotusphere website.  So no need to get anxious -- we'll get there soon enough.]

For 2010, I've decided to continue in my role as content team emeritus advisor.  The Lotusphere content team is very strong and know exactly what they are doing; but working on Lotusphere is very much a Hotel California -- you can check out, but you can never leave.  I'm looking forward to seeing the breadth and depth of proposals we receive in the next few weeks.  Besides, I do have my own track to manage this year.

Some format changes are in store for 2010.  First, speedgeeking and Lotusphere Idol! will become official "tracks" in terms of the call for abstracts.  This will elevate each of them to visibility beyond the blogs and those "in the know".  Another change for 2010 is that there will be the return of a "mini" customer presentations track; these will be more focused on the "how" than the "why" aspects of customer use of Lotus solutions.  Watch for details when the site goes live.

An overall objective for the content team for 2010 is to pull back on the throttle.  One common soundbite from LS2009 feedback was that there was too much great content.  We passed the point of "I love having all of this available" to "I am pissed off that I didn't get to see the two other great sessions that were running in this time slot".  This is a very careful and delicate walk, but at least we are stating it as an objective up front.

All the regular tracks will be back.  External speakers tend to end up primarily in the best practices, show&tell, and jumpstart tracks (along with the new Idol, Speedgeeking, and customer tracks).  If you are thinking of submitting an abstract, here is my US 2ยข on how to get your abstract seriously considered:

  • For me personally, nothing turns me off more from considering a session than a sense of entitlement.  Blogging/tweeting/posting about why your submissions should have been accepted in years' past -- the content team has a collectively very long memory.  Blogging now about why you have a great idea and are sure you'll be there -- well, the same.  I am not suggesting that Lotusphere is all a back room, who-you-know kind of deal -- see my next point on this -- but for sure, the content team does not like to see their decisions or perspectives challenged in public.
  • Build your resume.  I am constantly amazed at the number of submissions we receive for Lotusphere speakers who have never spoken at another Lotus-focused conference.  We have had at least a dozen conferences over the last few months around the world -- and more coming -- the speaking opportunities are out there.  You should be able to demonstrate that you are a proven speaker or, at a minimum, proven subject-matter expert in order to be seriously considered.  The best practices track managers are always looking for new talent, but some name recognition will really help set you apart.  This is, by the way, why we do Lotusphere Idol! -- to discover yet more new talent.
  • Pick a topic that is relevant and appropriate.  Every year, I see submissions like "All about Lotus Notes Traveler" or "What's new in Notes 8.5.1".  If you read the title of your abstract from the perspective of someone scanning the conference guide, you'll quickly get a sense as to whether the topic is one that Lotusphere attendees would expect to be delivered by IBM or by an external speaker.  As for appropriate, your topic should relate to Lotus solutions directly.  We always get abstracts from someone who wants to talk about another technology or solution, not connected to Lotus software.  That's a quick way to get hit with the reject button.
  • Be creative.  While there are some sessions that have a long Lotusphere heritage, and we do deliberately repeat and update year on year, a lot of what the track managers are looking for is fresh ideas.  

By the way, none of this is meant to discourage or dampen the enthusiasm in the community.  I am trying to help you with the best ways to increase your chances for consideration.  There are a lot of factors, and a lot of track managers and consultants, so there is no one simple and perfect formula.

Looking forward to Orlando -- for so many reasons -- for Lotusphere 2010!

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