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5 Tips for Submitting a Successful Safety Conference Speaker Proposal

Aug 08, 2022
Safety professional woman with blue blouse presenting at a conference

Our Safety Conference and Exposition is the premier showcase for safety professionals who want to share their expertise with their peers. To get on the program, you must first submit a proposal and be accepted by our Conference Planning Committee. 

Do you have a topic you’d like to present in the coming year? Here are five tips from Conference Planning Committee members to help you craft a successful speaker proposal.  

1. Understand the Issues Safety Professionals Face

Safety professionals come to the conference to expand their knowledge and stay current on trends and best practices in the industry. Keeping up with issues and challenges relevant to occupational safety and health is the first step toward submitting a successful proposal.

Given that the conference covers a wide variety of subjects, Planning Committee Chair Stephanie Gurnari, CSP, says to think about what makes your perspective unique and how it will add value to the education program.

“Before submitting your proposal, consider where your presentation idea resides within our vast offering of topics,” she says. “Think about what’s going to be meaningful in what you’re communicating.”

Look at programs from previous conferences to see where you may be able to build on existing topics or share new ideas. For instance, you may have experience applying an industry consensus standard and want to share a case study with your audience.

“We are looking for proposals that will most benefit the program,” she says. “Think about what’s been presented before and how you can increase the dialogue within the safety profession.”

2. Gather Feedback

One of the best ways to build a strong speaker proposal is to gather insights from other safety professionals. Reach out to peers in the field — including members of chapter, practice specialty and common interest group communities — who can offer their perspectives.

Gathering feedback from friends and peers can offer valuable insight into the quality of your presentation, Gurnari says, and where you may be able to strengthen your proposal.

3. Highlight Your Experience

One way to show the Planning Committee you would be a valuable addition to the conference program is to share what you’re already done. If you’ve presented at a chapter meeting, regional conference, or other safety and health event, be sure to include that experience in your proposal. Include a video of your presentation if you have one or some positive feedback you received.

If you’ve never presented at a meeting or conference before, consider finding a mentor or co-presenter. You may even choose to partner with colleagues to develop a proposal for a panel discussion rather than an individual presentation.

4. Have a Strong Title and Clear Learning Outcomes

If you want to grab the attention of Safety Conference attendees with your session, you must first get the attention of the Planning Committee.

The title and the learning outcomes are critical,” says 2021-2022 Planning Committee member John Crawmer, CSP, CHST, STS, CIT. “If you don’t have our attention from the title and the three learning outcomes, it’s a hard sell beyond that.”

Crawmer adds that a successful proposal will clearly communicate what specific knowledge attendees will gain by attending. For instance, don’t say, “attendees will learn about leadership.” Be specific about what attendees will learn about leadership by attending your session.

“Learning outcomes should be specific, succinct and clear, not vague or ambiguous,” he says. “It’s important that not only are you passionate about your topic, but you can articulate those details and learning outcomes succinctly.”

5. Know Your Audience

Along with clearly articulating your topic and learning outcomes, no successful speaker proposal is complete without demonstrating that you understand your audience.

“Consider the level at which you will be speaking with your audience,” says Planning Committee member Alex Ruiz, M.S., CSP, CIH, CIT, CHMM, SMS, CHST. “Make sure your topic is relevant to that audience and your proposal is reflective of the level you are trying to promote.”

When submitting your proposal, you must identify the topic area as beginner (0-4 years’ experience), intermediate (5-10 years), advanced (10+ years) or executive (senior safety management). It’s important to remember that the conference hosts a large, dynamic, global audience and people attending your session will have different levels of experience.

“A beginner topic to one person could be an advanced topic for another, so take into context if your topic is advanced for the subject area or if it would be advanced for a general safety professional,” Gurnari says. “Know your audience and who you are trying to attract to your session.”


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