Speaker FAQ

When does the RSA Conference 2018 Call for Speakers open?  When are submissions due?
Call for Speakers is now closed. The call for Peer2Peer session facilitators opened November 28 and closed at midnight Pacific Time January 30. 

When will I find out if I have been accepted?
Submitters for regular sessions will be notified late-January as to their acceptance status.  Peer2Peer prospective facilitators will be notified late-February.

What speaking opportunities are open?  What are the different types of sessions?
There are two types of sessions that have open speaking/facilitation opportunities at RSA Conference: regular 45-minute sessions and 45-minute Peer2Peer facilitated discussions. Regular sessions are not strictly defined, but are usually single presenters, joint presenters, panels, mock trials, or debates with a presentation followed by audience Q&A. Peer2Peer sessions are small group interactive sessions where the submitter acts as a facilitator to encourage and develop conversation amongst all of the session participants around the published topic.

How many speaking slots are available?
We anticipate more than 600 awesome 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 almost 100 hard-working security professionals, technology experts, researchers, government employees, attorneys, and scientists.

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. All presenters are offered advanced training to further develop their speaking skills and hone their presentations. Additionally, every session is reviewed in full by the Program Committee—industry experts who offer perspective and depth to the presenters. We also have in person rehearsal opportunities with a professional coach available at RSA Conference.

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 RSA Conference and the Program Committee helps presenters to seek and include up-to-date examples and content. Additionally, there are some RSA 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 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 350 of our speakers and facilitators were brand new to RSA Conference. While there are definitely 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. All of the resources we’ve provided here, particularly the examples of selected submissions and their resulting presentations, should equip you well to put together a stand out proposal. Invest the time to craft a stand out proposal—don’t wait until the last minute and don’t skimp on detail.

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 must pick the sessions and the presenters they think best address the topic. Take time to really submit specific detail and examples to differentiate yourself from the other proposals. 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 almost 10 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 and make sure your bio communicates the expertise you offer to slay your proposed topic.

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