Try again this year

On revising web conference presentation proposals

You should submit a talk proposal to CSSConf Australia.

In 2015, I resolved to work on my public speaking and give more presentations at specific conferences that I truly wanted to be involved with. I’m very happy with how that went: I spoke about Efficient Web Type, circa 1556 at CSSConf Australia, and CascadiaJS in Washington State, and alongside my friends at Lost Type in Chicago. I also just got back from a trip that started with my talk at Front Trends in Warsaw in May—I’ll be emailing out the full transcript and video soon.

This is not at all to brag, because for me, these events had one thing common: none were my first attempt to be involved.

I submitted a talk proposal for CSSConf Australia 2014, and was told I had just missed the cut. When the Call for Speakers opened again for 2015, I considered submitting a new talk entirely: it had been an entire year, wouldn’t everyone be tired of my topic by the time I presented? Nevermind that, tired to see a proposal for a topic they had already read about last year?

I decided to submit my revised talk anyway, and I’m very glad I did:

Giving my talk Efficient Web Type, c. 1556 at CSSConf Australia in March, 2015.

I spoke at CSSConf Australia, and had an incredible week in Melbourne. I met new friends, learned from more experienced presenters, and found the typographically obsessed in the audience.

Not long after, using essentially the same proposal approach that was accepted to CSSConf Australia and CascadiaJS, talk proposal to Front Trends 2015 was also rejected; there are no definitive answers. I decided to submit something different one year later, and…

My talk transcript for Syntax Highlight Everything is coming soon.

In retrospect, a year later was a much better time to give both of these presentations. In the first, the web technology I was talking about was becoming more known, and it had been adopted by more browsers. With time, the subject became more relevant, not less. Technology moves quickly, but your audience’s familiarity doesn’t move at the same speed. Don’t avoid submitting a talk proposal because you know a subject so well that you assume everyone else does, too.

To say speaking at CSSConf Australia was rewarding is an understatement.

In the second talk that I ultimately gave at Front-Trends 2016, I used the year gap to speak at more local meetups where I refined the framing of the presentation. This allowed me to send Front-Trends a much more detailed proposal when their Call for Speakers opened again (something they specifically asked for).

I’m very grateful to the organisers of Front-Trends for having me this year in Warsaw. It had an impressively wide but relevant range of subjects covered and I was proud to be a small part of that.

To say speaking at CSSConf Australia was rewarding is an understatement. It established many friendships and collaborations since the conference, and I have gone out of my way to hang out with nine fellow speakers and organisers in five different countries since last year because I met so many great people.

Submit a proposal

If you have a talk proposal in progress that might just be relevant to the CSSConf or JSConf audience, I encourage you to submit a proposal before the July 31st deadline. Even if—especially if—a version of your proposal has been turned down before.


I’m currently available for new projects, and present on typography as common ground for designers, developers, writers, and other people working on the web. Follow me on Twitter for more on web typography and type design.

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