How I Write Conference Abstracts Rikard Edgren

I guess some of you are writing, or thinking about writing, abstracts for EuroSTAR 2013, deadline is at 13 February.
You should do this, not just because Alan said so.
You should do it because you want to tell stories, enhance your own understanding of something that is important to you.

This is my process for writing session abstracts:

1. Think

I consider the theme, to see if it inspires me, but I don’t feel limited by it.
I know that a great abstract can get accepted, regardless of any link to the theme.
I follow my energy, and usually there are some topics I would like to talk about.
Sometimes I re-write an abstract from last year (twice this has given me conference spots!)

2. Research

Has this been addressed by other people?
What did they say?
What’s unique about my abstract?
What should I read or do to understand more?

3. Do a full outline

I think the thing through, all the way, because I want to write an abstract, not a trailer.
I want a lot of material, so I have the luxury of discarding the less useful/appealing stuff.
I try to include the most important things in the abstract; I can’t afford secrets, and it should be clear why this is a good session.
I often forget Weinberg’s Rule of Three: if you can’t think of three things that can make this a bad idea, you haven’t thought it through.

4. Let it rest

If an idea still is promising after one week, it is probably a good idea.
My sub consciousness does some work, for free, and I usually make some twists and turns in order to learn what would be a good session for me, and for attendants.

5. Polish

Proof-reading is important, one spelling error hurts the confidence of many that will review the abstract.
I also let another tester review the abstract, it is so easy to take things for granted, and if the abstract isn’t understood, it isn’t good.
The title is very important, and with a flow in the reading, it will feel polished, and readers believe it will also be a good talk.

This process has worked well for me (it has been implicit up until now), it won’t work for you; but I hope it can help in some way.

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