Why Presenting at NEXT 2017 is Your Ticket to Rapid Professional Growth
You should apply to speak at Schoology NEXT 2017, our annual user conference. Yeah I’m talking to you.
Ask anyone who’s been to NEXT before (I’ve been to a few), and they’ll tell you that there is so much you get from the conference professionally—innovative strategies, personal connections with some of our Community’s best and brightest, hands-on workshops with Schoology’s PD Team. The list goes on.
But I’m here to argue that you’ll get more from presenting at NEXT than you will from just attending. The fact is—you have awesome ideas to share that can have ripple effects throughout people’s lives.
Just think if Frank Herbert had never written Dune, the most influential scifi book of all time. And what if Gordon Ramsay had never taught me that I’ve been cooking eggs all wrong? (Look it up. It could change your life.)
The point is, you have the power to transform the lives and practices of others by sharing your your ideas, strategies, and stories. But while that is the noblest aspect of presenting, there’s so much more you’ll get from it too.
5 Benefits Only Presenters can Fully Understand
Presenting at NEXT, or any conference for that matter, is not just an event; it’s a journey. For example, I had the honor of leading a few small workshops during our conference last year in Miami.
This was my first ever public presentation and I can't wait to do another.
Even though it was just a small lunchtime workshop with a handful of participants in each session, it was an exhilarating, scary, and enlightening experience. My subject matter, why educators need to blog and how to build a great post, is something I work on every day. But presenting on it helped solidify my ideas and gave me many new ones as well.
Here are the benefits I received from presenting at NEXT and the reasons why you should present too:
#1 Sustained Reflection and Deliberate Deconstruction of Core Ideas
I write, edit, and read all day. Every day. So when I decided to teach a workshop on blogging and the elements of good storytelling, I thought I had a lot of it worked out. But as I designed my presentation (and even now months later) I had to really understand why I think what I think and do what I do. That has made me a better writer, editor, and presenter.
#2 Having a Conversation About My Passions
Because I was leading the conversation, it was all about something I care about. It gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts and inspire others to think differently of how they might be able to create content that solves their own challenges. At the very least, I was able to influence them with ideas that’ll cause incremental positive change in their lives.
#3 Meeting Others Who Share My Passions
Presenting enabled me to connect with awesome educators who I have continued to keep in touch with and who continue to impact my life (I know it’s been a while guys, but we’ll talk soon). Also, seeing the interest and making the connections I did has inspired me to take this a step further and turn the workshop into more of an ongoing project for aspiring content creators.
#4 Workshopping Ideas and Discovering New Ones
Presentations don’t have to be a one-way conversation. While I was rambling on about best practices for communicating ideas to a particular audience, my audience asked and shared perspectives that helped me better understand my own practices. It also was a great opportunity to see the world of content through different eyes.
#5 A Free NEXT 2017 Ticket
Did I mention that if you are chosen as a presenter, you get a free ticket to NEXT? It’s true. That includes all sessions, breakfast, lunch, swag, and more. (If you’re going to the conference either way, don’t wait to get your ticket. We’ll reimburse you if your presentation is chosen.)
Helpful Tips for When You Apply to Speak
In 2017, NEXT largely consists of sessions in two formats and four speaking tracks. It’ll help you to brush up on what these mean as you draft your presentation submission. And, after reviewing hundreds of session proposals over the years we have a few insider tips to keep in mind:
- You can apply for multiple sessions, and also apply the same session in multiple formats. If your session topic is able to be modified for a workshop and a roundtable, apply for both so our committee knows you're flexible to present in a variety of ways.
Note: It helps to draft your proposal in a separate doc for easy reference.
- Write your title first and then block out your presentation. Then go back and rewrite your title if it needs some oomf. This’ll make it easier to write a catchy, descriptive title that will be noticed by the session review committee and conference attendees.
- Draft a proposal that is applicable to a wide variety of attendees. Be sure to consider all the roles who attend NEXT. Alternatively, draft a proposal that is applicable to a very targeted role or a "deep dive" into a specific topic and submit both. Either way, if you’re thinking about your audience and the benefits they’ll get from learning what you have to share, the better your proposal and presentation will be.
- In any session proposal, be clear about the objectives that attendees can expect to learn from your session and how these can be achieved through Schoology. Knowledge gained at NEXT should transcend the conference experience to enrich attendees long after the conference ends.
- Lastly, do some recon. Check out examples of some of our session descriptions from 2016.
Apply to Speak by April 3
As mentioned before, there’s not much time to submit your proposal so apply now. You’ll thank yourself later.
And while all presenters will get a free ticket, don’t wait to secure your spot because Early Bird pricing is only available until April 15. And if your presentation is chosen, we’ll reimburse you for your ticket in full.
Questions? Email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in July!