Session Titles That Shine

An abstract’s title, description, and learning objectives are the core of every presenter’s “sales pitch” to both reviewers and attendees. However, very few presenters have an understanding of how to sell their presentation using even the most basic marketing techniques. Perhaps as a result, 95% of meeting organizers report having to rewrite speakers’ submissions1.

ProposalSpace allows admins and review chairs to edit submissions directly or return them for editing and resubmission.

While organizers may have the best intentions when adding a little shine to a session, they also run the risk of overdoing it and promising more than a presenter can deliver, which in turn can disappoint the audience. So ideally, presenters would submit proposals that need little or no editing at all.

To help accomplish that, here are some tips for presenters (and organizers) when crafting session titles. (We’ve decided to focus on the title because it serves as the “hook” for drawing in a reader’s interest and leading them to the description and objectives.)

  • Keep it short. Attendees often skim over session titles to see if anything grabs their attention. A shorter title is simply more eye-catching. To check your title length, consider how easily you could use it to invite someone in passing to attend your session. If you cannot get it all out in a few seconds, then continue editing.
  • Target it to a specific audience. When writing your title, you should have a specific audience in mind. Craft your title in such a way as to convey what that group can expect to get from the session.
  • Employ intrigue. Spark the reader’s curiosity by teasing a short list, privileged knowledge, or a personal story.

Tell us what you think! If you ‘ve had particular success with title writing/editing, then share with us in the comment section below or on twitter (@proposalspace).

1Cobb, Jeff, Jeff Hurt, Dave Lutz, Sarah Michel, and Celisa Steele. “The Speaker Report: The Use of Professional and Industry Speakers in the Meetings Market.” Velvet Chainsaw. http://velvetchainsaw.com/pdf/Velvet-Chainsaw-Tagoras-2013-Speaker-Report_v2.pdf.

Save-Changes Changes

ScreenshotWe’re rolling out a few improvements to the way call settings are saved.

  • Instead of requiring you to scroll all the way down the page to get to the "Save Changes" button, we’re displaying it as a sticky element at the bottom of the screen (right). That way, no matter where you are on the page, you’ll have direct access to it.
  • The save-changes button will only appear on the screen if you have changes that need to be saved.
  • Changes are saved in the background, avoiding the need (and time it takes) to reload the page.
  • You’ll now have an option to discard any unsaved changes and revert back to the previous settings.
  • The system will warn you if there are unsaved changes and you attempt to leave the page (either by clicking a link or reloading the page).

For now, we’ve only applied these changes to two settings pages: Dates and the Publishing Module. Once we’re comfortable everything works OK, we’ll start to apply the changes across all of the settings pages. (We’ve got some other big improvements in store for the call-management side of things, but I’ll save those juicy details for another time.)

Session Materials

Our Publishing Module now includes an option to include/exclude session materials.

Session materials have always been part of the Publishing Module, but there was no way to control their display.

Session Materials OptionsNow, call admins can enable/disable the display of session materials in both the brief and full listings by checking the boxes in the first row of the Session Materials section of the Publishing settings page (left). If the box is checked, all of the default details for each item (label, type, name, and size) will be displayed, and the option to also include the Item Description is enabled. Leaving the box unchecked will prevent session materials from being displayed at all.

As always, we welcome your feedback on this or any other feature!

Reviewer Conflicts of Interest

We’ve made a few changes to make it easier for reviewers, review chairs, and call admins to identify conflicts of interest.

Although conflicts are not very common (accounting for about 0.1% of reviews in ProposalSpace), we understand that it’s critical for reviewers to be able to flag them clearly as conflicts and for call admins and review chairs to be able to identify them easily.

Previously, the only way for a reviewer to report a conflict was to leave the review unscored and to provide an explanation in the Comments field. This would mark the review as complete, but it wasn’t clear to call admins and review chairs that a conflict had been reported unless they pulled up the review’s details.

Conflict of Interest QuestionTo make it easier for reviewers to clearly report conflicts, we’re adding a checkbox to the review form for every new call (left). Reviewers can still provide details in the Comments field, but if the checkbox is checked, the system disables the scoring option and flags the review as a conflict.

Progress IndicatorFor call admins and review chairs, we changed the way conflicts are displayed throughout the Tracker to make them easier to identify. One way we did this was by adding a progress bar to the In Review page (left) that shows at a glance how many reviewers have scored the submission (green), how many have reported a conflict (yellow), and how many have not yet reviewed it (grey). Hovering over the progress bar displays a summary of the scores, while clicking on it gives access to individual reviews.

Note: The conflict question will only be added automatically to review forms going forward. We can add it manually to any existing review form, however, so feel free to let us know if you would like to use it and we’ll be happy to include it for you!

Invitations

Here’s a quick tip for call admins when adding an admin, review chair, or reviewer:

Use a complete email address (e.g. “harry.potter@hogwarts.edu”) to search for the user’s account. That way, the user will be added immediately and won’t have to confirm the action.

If instead you search using all or part of a user’s name (e.g. “Potter”) or a partial email address (e.g. “harry.potter”), the user will have to confirm the action before actually being added.

In case you’re wondering, we added this step to strengthen privacy on the site. We figure if you don’t know someone’s full email address, we shouldn’t display it to you until they say it’s OK to do so. If, however, you already know someone’s full email address, there’s really no reason to require an additional step. In that case, we just send them an email letting them know they’ve been added.

Snapchat Pro Tips

Snapchat has changed the way we think about video content on social media but has been challenging for many associations to understand and use for their audiences, while also being worth their time, energy, and resources invested into the app. Even still, it’s an important platform for associations to utilize as more people use Snapchat than Twitter, in terms of daily use. Disappearing content and unedited video are extremely popular with millennials, and Facebook, the most popular social media platform, predicts video content is the future of online engagement.

Here are the best practices we’ve found to work for associations:

  • Make A Story. While sending individual snaps would be an excellent way to engage users, creating snaps specifically for your story is a much more effective use of your time and energy. Your Snap story could feature a keynote speaker, poster presentations, networking event, or even lunch! Just make sure your story has an attention-grabbing start, solid narrative, and concise conclusion that drives your overall content strategy. In short, create a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It is also important to note that quality is more important than quantity.
  • Let Someone Else Take Over. A Snapchat takeover is when you give your account information to someone else and they promote your brand or product in a new, unique way. Oftentimes, you are able to reach a much larger audience than you might otherwise reach by having an “influencer” involved. If you can identify a popular social media influencer, with commonality to your brand/industry, then you should consider having them promote your conference or event. Many influencers will work in exchange for free conference registration or their annual membership. Of course, they are also willing to market your function for a paycheck! If unable to identify a popular media influencer or pay one, then consider having different association staff/interns, members, or volunteers do a platform takeover. (And don’t forget to change your account password after each takeover is complete.)
  • Create Geofilters. Geofilters are an excellent way to get your business in front of people and create brand engagement on Snapchat. They allow a great opportunity for users to engage with your brand who would otherwise not do so!

Snapchatps_snapchat_asae-01To the left is an example of a Geofilter ProposalSpace created and ran during the 2016 ASAE Annual Conference in Salt Lake City.

Is your association on Snapchat? Comment with a great snap you’ve saved and any additional ideas you have!

Review-Module Improvements

We’ve just released a software update that includes some really exciting improvements to the Review Module (which comes standard with every call). Here are just some of the new features:

  • You can now add reviewers and review chairs to a review group even if they don’t have a ProposalSpace account.
  • The search function for reviewers and review chairs is built into the review-group page, making it more efficient.
  • To improve privacy, reviewers and review chairs need to confirm their addition to a review group before they are actually added to it.
  • The layout of the review-group admin page has been updated, making it easier to manage for both call admins and review chairs.

As always, let us know how the new features are working out, and if you have any ideas for additional improvements!

Open-Ended Calls

We’re happy to announce that ProposalSpace now fully supports open-ended calls!

Previously, every call had to have a submission deadline, which was OK for most calls. However, for open-ended calls, that date had to be set way in the future or updated periodically to keep it in the future. So to make things easier, we’ve made the Submission End setting optional, which means any call can now be open-ended just by leaving that setting blank!

To get this to work, we had to make a few other notable changes:

  • All Dates settings, other than Submission Start, have been made optional. We encourage everyone to provide dates for informational purposes, but now you can activate a call with just a Submission Start.
  • Previously, calls had to be archived manually and could not be unarchived. Calls may continue to be archived manually, but if not done within a year of activation, the system will do it automatically. After a call is archived, admins still have full access to its settings and data, but may not change any settings other than those for the Advanced Scheduling Module and Publishing Module, if activated. If you have a call that needs to be active for more than a year, it can be reactivated for as long as you like with additional one-year extensions.
  • The Late Submissions setting has been moved from the General Submission settings page to the Dates settings page. (This wasn’t really necessary; We just thought it made more sense there.)

We really hope these changes make it easier for admins to manage open-ended calls using ProposalSpace. As always, feedback is welcomed.

More exciting changes are in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

New Feature: Strict/Loose Text Limits

text limit screenshotFor a while now, the ProposalSpace form builder has allowed call admins to place limits on text fields. For example, you could set a 200-word limit for a bio field or a 75-character limit for a title field. Any limit, however, was purely informational, which meant an author could exceed it and still submit the proposal. (The system would highlight the answer for call admins and reviewers, though, so they could easily tell if the author went over the limit.)

Now, if you set a limit on a text field, you can tell the system what to do if the answer exceeds the limit:

  • Allow the proposal to be submitted and highlight the answer for call admins and reviewers.
  • Consider the proposal incomplete and do not allow it to be submitted.

Thanks to the call admins who suggested this improvement… Keep the great ideas coming!