Have you ever wanted to write a genealogy conference speaker proposal, but didn’t know how? Here are the best tips from myself and other top genealogists in the field. Your speaker proposal is your calling card and we’ll help you make a great first impression!
How to Find Out About Genealogy Conference Speaker Proposal Needs: The Call for Papers
Genealogical societies and organizations will often put out what is called a “call for papers.” This alerts the genealogy community that a group is interested in procuring speakers for an upcoming conference, monthly meetings, or webinars.
To find out about call for papers, create a Google alert. We also highly recommend you follow Conference Keeper on Facebook and Twitter. This amazing website is my go-to when it comes to learning about all the upcoming call for papers and more! At the website, click on “Opportunities” and choose “Call for Papers” from the drop-down menu.
You can also check your favorite society’s web-page regularly to see when they are asking for proposals.
Creating a Genealogy Conference Speaker Proposal
Following instructions is a must. If you do not follow the organization’s specific instructions, your proposal may be immediately placed in the “no” pile. Typical instructions ask you to include the following:
- Class title – Titles are usually kept at 10 words or less. It doesn’t hurt to have a catchy title, but it isn’t necessary.
- Class description – The instructions may ask for one or two brief paragraphs, or maybe 50 words or less, of your class description. The length of the class description varies greatly from group to group. Be sure to follow their instructions. Be specific and engaging. An example might look like this:
- Suggested experience level for attendees – This refers to your class level being deemed beginner, intermediate, or advanced. It is sometimes difficult to gauge this. A good rule of thumb is to keep in mind that most of us are likely teaching on a beginning or intermediate level. You can also list your lecture as B/I for beginning and intermediate, I/A for intermediate and advanced, or B/I/A for all levels.
- Include an outline of your proposed lecture – Everyone writes their outlines differently. An outline by definition (according to Google’s dictionary) is: a general description or plan giving the essential features of something, but not the detail. There is a fine line in giving enough detail to do your topic justice and giving so much information that it becomes a syllabus instead of an outline. Click here for an outline I used in an accepted proposal to Ohio Genealogical Society Conference 2017.
- Include a speaker bio – This is your time to shine. Keep it simple and focused. Some groups will ask you only submit 25 words for your bio, so focus on what might be most important to the group you are hoping to speak for. You do not need to be a certified genealogist, an accredited genealogist, or have written a book to be chosen to speak at a genealogy event. Your bio might be as simple as this example:
- Include your name, physical address, email, and phone number at the top. You may wish to include your social media sites, handles, and your website if applicable. If you are submitting more than one document or proposal, be sure that each document has your contact information at the top.
- Resume of prior speaking engagements – This is an important requirement. If you have not had the opportunity to speak at many venues, we suggest you offer to speak at your local library, genealogical society, or historical society, for free. It will be great practice for you and will add to your resume. A simple example of how to compile a resume of prior speaking engagements might look like this:
A Few More Tips for Submitting a Genealogy Conference Speaker Proposal
If you find you are being rejected over and over again, keep the following things in mind:
- If you send in less than four proposals, you will be less likely to be asked to speak. Why? The committee needs choices. If your one proposal is on migration patterns in the U.S. and the committee already has five other proposals on that subject, you might be “out” before you even had a chance. Always send in as many proposals as the group will allow. If they allow only eight, then send in eight. If there is no limit, send in at least four and make sure the topics are varied.
- Be selective of the types of topics you submit. If you send in a lecture proposal about Google Earth for Genealogy and the committee already has a proposal for the same thing from the Google Guru, Lisa Louise Cooke, chances are your proposal may be overlooked. Consider who else might be speaking at the conferences or event you are submitting to. Are you trying to talk about DNA with Blaine Bettinger and CeCe Moore attending the same conference? If so, make sure you are really knowledgeable about DNA and your topic title and description is unique!
- Consider submitting to events close to your residence. Bringing in a speaker is a big cost. Typically, a group or society will cover travel expenses (airfare, gas), hotel accommodations, food, and a speaker fee. When a speaker is local or can drive to the venue, this saves the group valuable resources. For this reason, a committee may choose to have a “local” speaker rather than bringing in someone who requires airfare.
I wish you the best of luck on submitting your next genealogy conference speaker proposal. For an example of a complete genealogy conference speaker proposal, see example here.