It’s time! Time to make a programming proposal, and for you to participate in programming for Sirens. Here are our top six tips for getting ready, based on some common issues that we notice in proposals.
- You should take a few minutes to look through the programming section of the Sirens website. If you’ve attended or presented before, this will refresh your memory and give you the chance to see if something you need to know has changed. If you’re a newbie, welcome, and we hope this provides you with plenty of preparation information.
- Use fantasy as your frame. This is vital. No matter what topic you’d like to present on, you have to make clear how it relates to fantasy, and you have to do that explicitly in your abstract and summary. Explicitly might mean mentioning a fantasy book—or film! Or story!—in your summary, which is posted on the website and published in the program book, as well as including fantasy-specific information and examples in your abstract. Find out why.
- Push beyond “101” on topics. There is always some room for beginner-level programming, especially if that topic hasn’t been explored at Sirens before or if it’s part of an ongoing, current conversation, because there are always new people finding out about and coming to Sirens who will appreciate the introduction. However, you will find that even new attendees can catch up quickly, and that everyone is seeking smart, savvy, thoughtful, challenging presentations to attend. Avoid repeating what has been presented before, unless it hasn’t been addressed in a long time, or unless you can update and extend the conversation. Plan to dig deep!
- Carefully match your topic to a presentation style. For example, if you want to communicate a lot of information that your audience won’t necessarily have, you probably want a paper/lecture/talk or a workshop, rather than, say, a roundtable, where you’re posing questions for the audience to answer. You can find more information in our presentation guidelines, and we love nothing more than consulting before you turn in your proposal.
- Write a strong summary and a thoughtful abstract. They are not the same thing! You can see examples of summaries in the conference archives, and an abstract is going to be a paragraph or two, or a lesson plan, or sample questions for a roundtable. We’ll be posting more help on abstracts in the coming weeks.
- This year’s theme is lovers, and we encourage you to engage with that theme in proposals, which might mean exploring relationships, examining love, or pushing back against the very idea of the theme in fantasy. (We do hope that you’ll offer proposals on fantasy outside of this year’s theme as well, of course!)
If you have any questions about programming, we’re happy to help answer them. Write to us at (programming at sirensconference.org).