7 Steps to a Great MozFest Proposal

So you want to know the secret sauce to a good MozFest proposal?

Thinking of submitting a session to MozFest 2018? We have seven tips, curated by MozFest veterans, that will help you write a great proposal.

1 — Get to know MozFest

  • MozFest is different from your typical conference — it’s designed to welcome people of all skill levels, disciplines and backgrounds. MozFest is for anyone who’s passionate about the internet. Our attendees and the varied perspective, insight and creativity they bring to the event are as valuable as our session facilitators. The MozFest experience is a result of thousands of vibrant, active collaborations, in and out of sessions
  • Watch this MozFest 2017 video to get a sense of the festival
  • Scroll through the Mozilla blog which will give you an idea of the festival events and different attendee perspectives. Read these first-hand narratives by Patrick, Vincent and Kim to see the festival from different perspectives

A scene from MozFest 2017

2 — Understand the not-so-secret formula for MozFest success: PIP- Participatory, Inclusive, Productive

  • Participatory — participants’ active experience with the topic is the core of the session. Make sure to design a session with participation at the center and describe how people will participate, move and collaborate throughout the session
  • Inclusive — the session is welcoming to participants from many different backgrounds, skill sets, perspectives; all can find a way to join. An inclusive session is one is designed to consider and adapt for a diverse set of people
  • Productive — participants leave the session with new knowledge, ideas and connections. A productive session lets participants gain knowledge and experience that can help them develop their own skills. They might even make something to take home with them

3 — Understand the session categories

  • Learning Forum: Sessions under this format develop and implement ideas for improvement, exchange or review. An example session that could live in the learning forum is a session that works with participants to prototype a game to help users protect their privacy
  • Gallery: This format hosts interactive exhibits, installations, games, stalls- designed for 1:1 self driven experiences or small group activities. Often these experiences or activities are not scheduled time blocks but take place over the day or weekend allowing access and interaction at any time. An example session that could live here is a selfie installation that shows the distortion of selfies over the years
  • Shed: Sessions under this format require hands-on making, hacking and prototyping. These sessions will ask participants to create and build code, objects or crafts. An example session that could live here is one that allows participants to build robots through circuits (such as littlebits) that can make sounds and actions

4 — Brainstorm a list of four to six great verbs to use in your proposal

  • When you imagine your MozFest session, what are participants doing? If you imagine them sitting quietly and listening to a presentation, your session needs better verbs! MozFest is not a passive experience. In good sessions, participants do things like questioning, sharing, building, playing, prototyping and much more. And the best sessions get participants doing these things with together, in groups, teams or pairs. Use your list of verbs when answering the CFP question: “What will happen in your session?” Example, participants in our session will break off into small groups to brainstorm ideas of a digital privacy game and then they will develop a prototype of what an app might be to illustrate their game

5 — Set a goal for your session

  • When participants leave your session, what will have changed for them? What will you have created together? When you, as session facilitator, leave the session, what do you hope you will have learned from your participants? What do you hope they will do next? How will this experience change or grow your project? Close your eyes and imagine your ideal outcomes for your MozFest session. We want to make sure the session leaves people with new skills, knowledge or ideas that they can take forward and applies to their areas of work or interest. Use this vision when answering the CFP question: “What is the goal or outcome for this session?”

6 — Think beyond MozFest!

  • Your MozFest experience should be part of a larger story of your project or work as it evolves. Depending on where you are in your project’s story, you might use your MozFest session to test an idea, process, or feature, set a new direction, reflect on or reevaluate an initiative, kickstart a new community or re-energize an existing one. Imagine the right next steps for you project, after your successful session (see #3) — how you can continue collaboration and connection with those awesome session participants in future chapters of your story? Think about how they, and your presence at MozFest, will contribute to your story!

7 — Think flexibly

  • Things at MozFest are always changing. It’s important to be aware that things might not go according to plan and for you to plan for anything. Particularly as it relates to the:
  • Participants. You are going to get a diverse group of people in your session. People of different perspectives, backgrounds, skill-level, age, geography and more! We need to know that your session will be able to accommodate a variety of different people and will work to include them
  • Size. Participants in your session might vary, from 3–20 people. We want to know that you session will be a success if you have a few or many people and how you will plan accordingly
  • Materials. Resources at MozFest are limited and while we try to adhere to all the request, sometimes materials can be misplaced or forgotten or unreliable. We want to know if you have the materials to do your session, or how you will adapt with limited materials

When all else fails, ask for help! Have a question? Need advice? Looking for someone who’s done something like this before? Check out the #MozFest hashtag on Twitter or join the public MozFest Gitter channel to find people who can help you improve your proposal.

Need more tips?

Here is a list of resources for session design that we thought would be helpful!

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