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As the build up to the Oracle Applications User Group conference (Collaborate) progresses the presenters have been informed of whether there submissions have been accepted.  Among many I made several submissions.

Before I share what I think I should have learnt from making submissions let me give some background to how we got to where we are. So my boss is keen that we have a member of the Enterprise Architecture team who has a strong Oracle recognition. As we are a customer rather than partner the only opportunity really is through the Ace programme as an Associate. Well I have been as active as the demands of the day job allows With the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG). We agreed presenting at something as big as OAUG’s annual conference Collaborate would be the next step to making a case.

So whilst at Oracle  Open World we finally agreed that step and joined OAUG and found we only had a couple of weeks to get our submissions together – during which time I had to get internal sign off for my submissions plus deal with a family emergency.

So with the scene set, perhaps lesson one, don’t work in haste. OAUG run webinars about how to create submissions – a worthwhile exercise to attend although it does focus on what OAUG provides in the form of submission information (any themes for the conference identified and the amount of information needed) and the process & mechanics of selection. The important message is to temper your expectations as selection success rate is about 1 in 6 submissions. I looked at their themes and identified what I had in mind more or less fitted (big tick for me).

All of this meant I could assemble my submissions including details for my employer of what internal work and sources likely to be drawn from. Mistake here is perhaps I should have done this as soon as we had agreed to try as it would have meant I could give focus on getting my submission together sooner.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity, was having joined OAUG was to immediately look through previous conference papers and presentations, and most critically the ‘abstracts’ with these to get a feel of the messages, language and themes of presentations that had been accepted.  Understanding how the presentation submission might resonate with those voting on which presentations to accept could have made a big difference.  In hindsight I suspect my submission wording was a little to academic rather than informed by battle worn insights and how we’ve beaten some challenges.

All of this would help by having actually attended a previous Collaborate conference and got a feel for the ‘character’ of the conference and the people attending. I do know from Oracle Open World and Oracle’s one day sessions have some commonality in character and attendance but feel different and have some slight differences in attendance (Oracle sessions are slightly more abstract except customer presentations) and attendance can be a bit more decision maker in attendance. Where as UKOUG attendance is more orientated to those who execute delivery or drive the delivery aspects.  Then open source events differ a bit again.

To help inform thinking and learning how to progress I have been reading the excellent book Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun (amusing and insightful book on public speaking and full of useful practical simple advise). Some may say a little masochistic given my submissions weren’t selected. But, certainly helped thinking about the approach for example really focusing down on the key message, and then how to prepare if a submission is selected.

To conclude, what now?  Well we will be applying these observations going forward, and will have done the reading of previous submissions and got together my submission ideas by the time submission opportunities open for next year – so no haste.  With a little luck will have attended Collaborate as just a delegate.  Then of course there is perhaps Open World as an opportunity.