5 Apr 2019

Submitting an abstract for a conference is becoming increasingly popular and speaker slots on the other hand are slim. A 2-day program with a minimum of 4 sessions, sometimes only allows for 4 short talks. How do you stand out from the crowd and get your abstract selected for a talk?

Here are some insights you might want to consider when writing your next abstract.

  1. Preparation is key. Scout for conferences that match with your research field and mark the abstract deadlines in your calendar. VIB Conferences promotes their conferences as from one year in advance. The sooner you have a conference on your radar you would like to present at, the sooner you will be able to work on your abstract and increase your chances of being selected.
     
  2. Address the conference topic. If you have found a conference that you are eager to attend, take a look at the conference sessions. Are there any sessions that are significantly more linked to your research? Are the conference areas of interest a match to yours? You might want to submit your abstract to one specific session. Session topics that are new and more unknown are also a great opportunity as less people are working on it.
     
  3. Kill your darlings. The maximum word length of an abstract is 250 words. We can imagine that you can write pages on your own research where you’re very excited about. That’s great! Start writing everything you think you want to inform the organizers about, without thinking about the maximum word length. After that, you start deleting sentences that might not be part of the essence and start compromising.
     
  4. Your text must be compelling. Even if it’s an article, a theatre review or an abstract. The organizing committee will be less triggered to keep reading your abstract if you have already lost them by the third sentence with needless details. To write a good essay, you want to keep in mind that a text is divided in three parts: the introduction, the content and the conclusion.
    • The introduction: In a three sentences limit, shortly describe the who, what, where, when and how of the research. Think of it as a compact resume.
    • The content: Get to the point. Focus on the most important details you want to address. In short, share the data, methods and findings.
    • The conclusion: Finish with a short paragraph that sums up everything that’s great about your work and why it’s important to share more details with the public in a 10-minute talk.
       
  5. Create a clear and catchy title. The title is the last but not the least part of the writing process. It has to be informative with a focus on your work. It’s the first thing that gets noticed. Make it a good one!
     
  6. Read it over. As stated in point 1, if you did some research, you’re aware of the abstract deadline and have been able to prepare your abstract in advance. Give it a rest and re-read your text the next day. You will have a clearer view on what to cut out or what to add. And, get others to review your abstract.
     
  7. Stick to the deadline. If you’re submitting your work after the abstract deadline, chances of getting considered for a short talk are small.

We would like to emphasize that putting effort into writing a good abstract not only serves as your ticket to that conference, it also opens doors for making your work known and to get connections.

We’re looking forward to your presentation at one of our conferences!