Speaker FAQs

When does the RSA Conference US Call for Speakers open?  When are submissions due?

RSA Conference 2015 Call for Speakers for regular track sessions is now closed.  It was open from September 3 through October 2, 2014.  The call for papers for the Cryptographers’ Track closed on October 20.  The call for Peer2Peer Session Facilitators closed on January 28.  This year we are offering another new content type: Crowdsourced Sessions.  The submission window for these sessions is January 29-February 27.

When will I find out if I have been accepted?

Submitters for regular sessions have been notified  as to their acceptance status.  Peer2Peer prospective facilitators will be notified in early March.  Crowdsourced sessions will be peer reviewed, with final selections made by a panel of judges and announced on April 7.

What speaking opportunities are open?  What are the different types of sessions?

There are now three types of sessions that have open speaking opportunities at RSA Conference: regular 50-minute sessions, 50-minute Peer2Peer sessions and 50-minute Crowdsourced sessions. 

Regular sessions are not strictly defined, but are usually single presenters, joint presenters, panels, mock trials, or debates.  

Peer2Peer sessions are extremely popular and are limited to 25 attendees.  These are interactive sessions where the submitter acts as a facilitator to encourage and develop conversation and involvement from the session participants around the topical area they have been submitted. 

Crowdsourced sessions are peer reviewed, with a final vetting by an expert panel of judges.  They cover topics from across the security spectrum.  Embryonic ideas and concepts are invited as the presenters are encouraged to engage with their audience to provoke discussion.

How will Crowdsourced sessions be selected?

This is a new session type this year.  From Jan. 29-Feb. 27, anyone can make a speaking submission to RSA Conference.  These will be formatted for public voting, which will open on Mar. 12.  Anyone can vote for an unlimited number of submissions.  Public votes will count as one point and votes from RSA Conference registrants will count as two points.  The top 20 submissions by number of points received will be reviewed by an expert panel of judges, who will select the winning 12 sessions.

How many speaking slots are available?

We will have more than 600 presenters at RSA Conference this year.

How are sessions selected?

Our regular tracks and Peer2Peer submissions are reviewed by a volunteer Program Committee, comprised of more than 40 security professionals, government employees, attorneys, scientists, technology experts, and researchers.

The Crowdsourced sessions are selected by a combination of public vote and final judge review.  The public votes on the top 20 submissions and the expert panel of judges selects the winning sessions for inclusion on the Conference program.

What resources does RSA Conference offer to speakers?

We take great pride in a solid educational offering.  New presenters as well as presenters who have great submissions but haven’t historically scored well in session evaluations are offered time with a speaking coach.  Rock star presenters are offered advanced training to further develop their speaking skills.  Additionally, every session is reviewed in full by the Program Committee—industry experts who offer perspective and depth to the presenters.

How do you assure you have timely material if the sessions are submitted so far in advance?

Final presentations are reviewed within a few weeks of Conference and the Program Committee helps presenters to seek and include up-to-date examples and content.  The Crowdsourced sessions are selected just weeks before Conference.  Additionally, there are some Conference sessions that are open and added at the last minute to allow for “breaking events” to be addressed at Conference.  Lastly, the Peer2Peer sessions are topical discussions that are interactive discussions among all of the attendees, allowing all participants to share perspectives based on up-to-the-minute perspectives.

It seems like the same people get selected year after year.  How do I increase my odds of getting selected?

Last year more than 200 of our speakers were brand new to RSA Conference.   With the addition of the Crowdsourced sessions, we expect to see even more new faces this year.  While there are definitely some repeat presenters, they do not have any seniority in getting accepted.  RSA Conference is a vendor-neutral event and this neutrality is extremely important to us.  Well thought out, complete, unique submissions are rewarded.  Direct experiences, breaking research, and “war stories” from practitioners tend to score highly.

What are the main reasons sessions don’t get selected?

Believe it or not the #1 reason is incomplete submissions—the session detail portion of the submission is the most important piece of the entire submission.  It is very clear on the review end when a marketing or PR person is tasked with the submission—the title is catchy and the short abstract is solid…..but the detail is sketchy and the expertise of the actual proposed presenter is lacking.  Don’t fall into this trap.  Sales pitches are also extremely easy to spot and our Program Committee quickly eliminates them from consideration.  We also get a lot of very similar submissions, and with a limited number of sessions, the Program Committee has to pick the sessions and the presenters they think best address the topic.  And remember: RSA Conference has a sophisticated audience.  Basic sessions don’t make the cut, nor do past presenters who’ve been poorly evaluated by attendees (beware the temptation to sell—it rarely makes it through the selection process or the Program Committee slide review, but if it does, the audience evaluations will make sure it never makes it back).

What are the most popular sessions at RSA Conference?

Our attendees are very seasoned, with an average of 9 years in the security industry.  They are looking for information they can apply to their jobs—not theoretical, but practical best practices and lessons learned, with real implementation experiences and detail.  Don’t make it about XYZ product (smells like a sales pitch!) but rather “business changes and benefits realized through the deployment of this sort of solution”, for example.  Content that is intermediate to advanced scores the best—this audience is well beyond entry-level definitions.  Don’t shy away from controversy—this is a forum for industry discussion, and debates and out-of-box thinking are appreciated—challenge your audience with unconventional thinking.


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