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Top Tips for Writing a Great Conference Proposal

10 May 2021 11:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

It sounds intimidating... submitting a proposal to present at a conference. We’re here to demystify the process and encourage you to submit a proposal for VATESOL’s first virtual conference this fall.

First, let's break down the submission form. If it’s your first time considering a presentation at a conference, the submission form may seem overwhelming. Don’t worry… it’s really just three main sections of information:

  • Presenter Information: Share your contact information with us so that we can notify you if your proposal is accepted and credit you in our program! However, our proposal review process is fully anonymous - board members won’t be able to see your name on your submission until after all proposals have been reviewed and accepted or denied.
  • Presentation Type & Target Audience: Help us see where your presentation will fit within the organization of the conference. The Target Audience and Topic Emphasis fields are included in our program as a way for participants to easily locate sessions that may be most relevant to their current field or area of interest.
  • Presentation Details: Share with us the title, summary, and abstract of your proposed presentation. The title and summary will be printed in the conference program for participants, while the abstract is for our proposal reviewers to learn more about what you are proposing to present. Don’t stress… You aren’t expected to write a doctoral dissertation here! Just give us a clear and descriptive overview of your presentation: What information will you share? What will a participant walk away with after hearing your presentation? Be sure not to include any identifying information (like your school division, university, or hometown) in the abstract.

Top Tips for Writing Your Proposal:

1. Start with the theme. Past VATESOL board member Marie Rose-McCully shared:

“Think about the conference as a conversation. How will your presentation fit into the conversation? What are you adding to the conversation? The reason we have a conference theme is so that people can engage in that shared conversation, examining a theme from multiple angles with even more perspectives. Proposals that do not add to that conversation feel out of place.”

Our fall 2020 virtual conference theme is: “Next Steps for Multilingual Learners.” What great conversation pieces do you have to share with us?

2. Follow the rubric. Current VATESOL teacher education SIG leader, Katya Koubek, highlights the importance of studying the rubric and ensuring that your proposal clearly meets the criteria. Clarity is key, so be sure to revise your writing before submitting!

This year’s proposals will be evaluated for selection on the basis of the following criteria:

  • clear statement of objective
  • clear summary

  • current importance of topic in the field
  • focus and organization of abstract
  • relevance to conference theme and target audience
  • appropriateness of content for session duration

3. Consider the audience. Current VATESOL president, Jana Moore, wrote:

“What makes a great proposal is what the listener will get out of it. I don't want to go and listen to a speaker talk because they believe they are fabulous. I want to hear people talk about research or things they are doing in the classroom, and how it can be tweaked for my own purposes, or how that impacts what I'm doing. You can read a certain level of enthusiasm in proposals, and outstanding ones are those that ‘pop.’”

That's it! Remember, what makes a great conference is a diverse group of presenters and presentations. We are looking for proposals from all stakeholders: K-12 teachers, administrators, adult educators, teacher educators, professors and university-level instructors, students... anyone who has something to contribute to our conversation!

You can submit a proposal for the Fall 2020 Virtual VATESOL Conference "Next Steps for Multilingual Learners" through June 1:

Click Here

If you have any questions regarding our conference or submitting proposals, please email


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