Helpful hints to make your workshop, session, or poster proposal shine.
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The Annual Conference Committee (ACC) is looking for engaging proposals for the NAFSA 2021 Annual Conference & Expo around the theme of “Designing Our Shared Future.” As we plan for the sustainable future of international education, we have an opportunity to “dream big,” write a new story together, imagine new possibilities, and advocate for change.

As you work on your poster, session, or workshop proposal, I wanted to share with you some of the best tips I can think of that will make your proposal stand out from the crowd. Remember, the deadline for session and workshop proposals is just around the corner: August 26 at 5:00 p.m. (EDT). You have a bit more time to work on your poster submission/proposal—the poster proposal deadline is December 9 at 5:00 p.m. (EST).

1. Read your Knowledge Community’s (KC) call for proposals.

The ACC has KC representatives from each of NAFSA’s KCs—Education Abroad; International Student and Scholar Services; International Enrollment Management; International Education Leadership; and Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship—and they have all chosen up to five priorities important for their KC. Read up on these priorities to enhance your proposal’s prospects and connect it to this year’s theme!

2. Your proposal’s outline is just as important in your submission as it is for the actual presentation.

Incorporate strong learning objectives in your outline, including a clear breakdown of how each minute would be used in your presentation. We love to read proposals that use unique tools for audience engagement, like case studies or polling, and both are great ways for your audience to get more out of your topic. We know that you’ll have creative ideas of your own! How are you going to keep your audience’s attention?

3. Your panel is just as important as your topic.

A surefire way to stand out from the crowd is to ensure that your panel includes a diverse set of voices—a range professional experience, type of institution, U.S. and international voices…maybe all! Or more! Panels should represent your topic in a dynamic way that so  that attendees of all backgrounds take away a new idea, updated knowledge, or maybe an expanded professional network.

4. Get feedback from others in the field.

It’s always a good idea to get a second set of eyes on your proposal. Sometimes when you’re too close to your work, it’s hard to see how something might not make sense to someone else, or perhaps it could benefit from some rethinking. Reach out to your network, KC member-leaders, or even someone outside the field to get their feedback on your proposal before you click “submit.”

5. Plan ahead—don’t wait until the deadline!

This is an important one! Give yourself time to prepare your materials so that you have the most robust proposal possible. We want to read fully fleshed-out proposals that show us what what you hope to present and how you intend to do it. Note also that each of your co-presenters will need to log into the proposal system before the deadline to complete their own set of tasks.

Are you ready to submit? Learn more about the different types of proposals and deadlines:

We can’t wait to see what you’ve developed up for Orlando!


Jenny Bowen is the director of international student advising at Indiana University. She is Content Chair for the NAFSA 2021 Annual Conference Committee.