Find out from Lanette Creamer, past presenter and Best Paper Award Winner, what her experience was with writing an abstract and presenting her ideas at a conference.
Initially, I was unsure where I could get started sharing some of the testing ideas that were working well for the team I was on at Adobe. I’d been to a few conferences as an attendee and found them inspiring, yet I felt overwhelmed at the idea of speaking in front of so many peers when I didn’t yet have the experience as a speaker. But, by 2008, I had nearly seven years testing experience at that time, so I had many things to share. I just felt intimidated about the entire process, from how to submit a topic, what I needed in terms of slides, how to practice, and how to get past my fear to speak in front of others.
I asked some of the PNSQC presenters who I really respected how I might start presenting. After practicing locally a few times, I submitted an abstract for my first white paper for the 2008 conference.
I would recommend new presenters work on a few abstracts, and ask for feedback on how to revise them before you submit them. The first thing that you need is a topic you have passion for. It should be your experience, your story, and your goal is to share it. The best papers are not the logical and scientific pieces that contain only factual content. It is the best story, how it impacted the entire team, and it has enough detail to be useful without obscuring the story. Tell the story first, then point others to more details if they are interested.
The second thing that you need is persistence. When I was revising my first paper, I almost quit before I ever even presented. One reviewer was especially harsh, and being a new presenter, I took this far more seriously than it was ever intended. The reviewer was absolutely correct in the feedback, and it did make my paper and presentation much better to make the changes. I asked a woman I trusted if I should quit revising the paper. She said, “I am under 5 feet tall. English is not my first language. I am not considered beautiful, and I am too old for the industry. If I let the opinion of one man change my behavior, I would not be where I am today. If you let the opinion of one man decide what you do, you are lost.”
That night, I stayed up and revised my paper to the very best of my ability and turned it in. In the end, it was a wonderful experience. My paper was voted best paper by the attendees. The “harsh” reviewer came to the presentation and complimented me on the end result and shook my hand. Since then, I’ve written three different technical papers for PNSQC. Every reviewer was helpful.