PROPOSAL WRITING TIPS

Proposal Title

Titles are used in the review process and also in materials attendees will use to choose sessions to attend. A good title should be compelling, and have a hook that grabs attention and draws the audience in.

Tips for creating a session title:

  • Should be under 75 characters (including spaces)
  • States the main subject, technique or research to be presented
  • Builds a case for the session content
  • Introduces the main concept of the session and attracts the reader

Proposal Narrative

The narrative is the primary proposal element used by reviewers to rate a proposal. Therefore, it is important to have a strong narrative that covers all the elements described below. The narrative states the purpose and central theme of the session, the importance to the field, and the details of how the information will be presented. If the program is reporting research, a description of methods, findings, and recommendations may be appropriate. The narrative is strictly for the review process. Attendees will not see the narrative. Maximum of 4,000 characters.

Tips for creating a good proposal narrative.

  • Identifies the central theme of the presentation
  • Explains the research, topic, or technique to be presented
  • Explains why the topic is valuable to the field or to AIR members
  • Explains how the presentation will be structured including a timeline (Note: speaker sessions and discussion groups are 45 minutes. Panels and posters are 60 minutes. Your proposed timeline should include a few minutes at the end for Q&A.)
  • Should be succinct, yet thoroughly explain the details of the presentation

Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes are clearly defined goals and outcomes for your presentation. Clearly defined learning outcomes will define audience expectations and keep them engaged. Effective learning outcomes are measurable goals which specify what you will deliver and what the audience will receive from the presentation (i.e. what they will know, understand, master, or be able to do as an outcome of attending the session).

Tips for creating effective learning outcomes:

  • Define the goals of your presentation
  • Refer to Bloom's Taxonomy (use action words)
  • Clearly explain the specific skills and/or knowledge the participants will gain
  • Identify how the participants will attain the goal noting that learning outcomes are not the same as the activities the participants will perform; they are the desired result of the experience.

Presenter Experience

Describe how each presenter’s experience/knowledge contributes to the presentation.

Tips for describing presenter experience:

  • Define what makes each presenter uniquely qualified to present on the topic
  • Be specific about expertise (i.e. do not simply list years of experience or degrees)
  • List examples of other presentations (e.g., papers, panels) the presenter has completed on the topic

Proposal Abstract

The abstract is the description that will be used to describe your session in the program book and on web and mobile apps. Attendees utilize the abstract to determine which sessions are of interest and in selecting sessions to attend.

Effective abstracts define the purpose and intent of the session; are concise, organized, and specific. Additionally, effective abstracts begin with the most important information or thought. Defining unfamiliar abbreviations and acronyms is helpful. Abstracts are limited to 700 characters including spaces.

Tips for creating a strong abstract:

  • Capture the attention of the reader; state why the session is important
  • List instruments or other research or technology tools utilized or explained in the session
  • State the takeaways the audience can expect
  • Clearly state the contribution of the topic to the field

Target audience

It’s important to specify your target audience to help reviewers evaluate the proposal. This includes experience level and setting (e.g. community college, system office, private college). This information is only used in the review process to pair reviewers with appropriate proposals.

Keywords

At the end of the proposal process, presenters are asked to identify three to five key words or phrases participants might use when searching for sessions on the topic, skills, or issues addressed. Key words can also include intended audience, experience level, or specific software or nomenclature related to the topic.

Examples of strong key words:

  • Community College, stop-outs, retention
  • Business Intelligence, (BI), IT collaboration, data warehouse
  • Common Data Set, (CDS), external reporting
  • Data Visualization, dashboards, charts
  • IPEDS, keyholders, reporting

Additional Elements

Posters, panels, and discussion groups have additional elements that must be addressed in the proposal process. These include discussion questions, explanation of how the research will be conveyed in a visual display, and how a panel represents differing points of view, etc. Please see the specific instructions in the proposal overview for more detailed information on these elements.

You may also attach resources to support your submission such as papers, presentation slides, or other supporting evidence important for understanding your proposal.

Sample Proposal Submissions

Review Samples of 2017 Accepted Proposals: