10 Easy Ways to Promote Your Call For Papers

The most pivotal moment of a conference takes place long before the first speaker takes the podium. A successful event starts with a successful call for papers.

The Best Conferences Start With the Best Submissions

Running a call for papers, posters, or presentations is how meeting planners source the high-quality session content that attracts attendees, advances professions, and transforms industries. To be successful, you need to have a large enough pool of topics and content to choose from. It’s not enough to just hold a call for abstracts, you need to actively promote it within you industry.

Here are 10 things that you can do to create a larger pool of potential contributors for your next event.

How do I promote my call for papers infographic

Your Website

Place eye-catching buttons, images or banners in multiple places on your website that explain the opportunities you have for presenters at your upcoming event. The homepage, previous and/or current event pages and upcoming event page are excellent locations to place these buttons. Be sure to include a link that takes visitors directly to the abstract submission website.

Email Campaigns

Send emails to your mailing lists announcing your call for papers and include a link to the submission website. While it’s a good idea to send out at least one email entirely devoted to your call for papers, you should also mention it and include a link to the submission page in other email communications. One great mailing list to target is contributors from previous years who did not make the cut.

Email Signatures

Ask your coworkers to include a brief description of the event and the submission URL in their employee email signatures. This information can also be shared in a P.S. line, which typically grabs the reader’s attention.

Social Media

Share information and a link to your call for papers submission page on Twitter, Facebook, and your association’s LinkedIn Profile and Events pages. Vary your posts and use different images to avoid being too repetitive and annoying your followers.

Share this information with specific LinkedIn industry groups.

It’s also a good idea to ask your followers to share or retweet your messages to get the word out. Encourage your team and industry advocates to participate by using their personal social media accounts to pass the info along.


Write an article about your call for papers for your association’s blog and include a link to your paper submission site. Creating a quick, 60-second YouTube video encouraging authors to participate can also help promote your call for papers.

Conference Directory Sites

Add information about your event and call for papers to multiple conference directory sites. These sites compile open calls for papers and make it easy for industry professionals to discover presentation opportunities.

Here are some popular conference directories:

  • WikiCFP – a listing for calls for papers (and workshops and journals) that is completely free to use. This site is quite popular with the IT and Engineering specialties.
  • PapersInvited – the world’s largest database of calls for papers
  • Conference Alerts – another good place to add your event

Direct Mail

Due to the amount of clutter online, direct mail pieces are a great way to get the attention of potential presenters. Send out postcards with the event information and invite the recipient to participate in your call for papers.


Your newsletter subscribers are industry professionals. Tap into their expertise by including information about your call for papers and a direct link to the submission page. This doesn’t have to take up a lot of space—a sentence or two, or a small advertisement will suffice.

At Your Event

If your submission site for next year’s event is ready during your current conference, advertise your future event information and direct your audience to the new submission website. While on-site, use handouts, signage, and announcements to generate interest among a captive audience.

In Your Program or Proceedings Booklet and Other Conference Materials

Include information for your next call for papers in your print or digital program or proceedings booklet, within the mobile event app, and on your virtual event platform (or wherever you will direct attendees to access on-demand session content after the event).

Following just a few of these tips should increase awareness of your call for papers and create a pool of talented professionals for your selection committee. And, if you’re short on qualified reviewers, most of these tips can work for enticing them to assist you, as well!

Additional Content on This Topic

Now that you’ve created interest in your call for papers and presenters, follow these tips to make sure those submissions are as complete and high-quality as possible. Download the Best Practices Guide for High-Quality Content.

Help Your Conference Speakers Give a Killer Presentation

As someone who coordinates annual meetings or midyear conferences for your association, you understand that the value of your conference lies in your educational content. Attendees love conference learning journals, final programs, session handouts and, of course, speaker presentations.

But what happens when your keynote speaker plasters their entire presentation word-for-word on their poorly assembled PowerPoint and stands in one spot (heaven forbid, behind a podium) using their best Ben Stein voice? Most speakers are the elite professionals in their field, but let’s face it, they may not be the most engaging or the smoothest of talkers.

Donna Kastner, Director of Education & Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, recently wrote a refreshing article: “5 Presentation Sins Committed by Conference Speakers.” She outlines some of the biggest mistakes speakers make at conferences and events–mistakes that can send attendees running for the door (or into a deep sleep).

What can you do to ensure presenters keep attendees engaged?

Presentation Tips for Your Conference Speakers

So, your call for abstracts has closed, you’ve reviewed the submissions in your online collection system and chosen the speakers for your annual conference. How about sending presenters some public speaking tips?

Times have changed, and public speaking is no longer a one-way objective lecture taking place behind a podium. Speaking at your association’s annual meeting is about two-way communication, engaging attendees with social gaming and fun presentation styles like PechaKucha. That is how attendees learn, retain and implement the content at your conference.

What are you doing to ensure your speakers aren’t committing Donna Kastner’s 5 deadly speaking sins?

Is Your Call for Papers Process Causing Outdated Conference Sessions?

The best part of the meeting planning experience is watching it all come together the day of the annual conference.

Attendees are flocking around the registration table to pick up their conference schedules. They’re eagerly picking out their sessions for the day, excited to learn about the newest trends in the industry (if they haven’t already done so on the conference website, that is).

But are your conference sessions featuring the most up-to-date educational content if you’ve chosen the accepted contributed sessions six months in advance?

Is Your Collection Process Preventing Innovative Conference Materials?

Velvet Chainsaw and Tagoras recently surveyed 245 association professionals to learn more about coaching professional speakers for events and found:

75% of associations use a call for papers process that closes 9-10 months before the annual conference.

The Problem: Attendees and members don’t want to learn about the industry trends from 10 months ago, they want to learn about the industry trends that will occur 10 months from now. So how do you provide timely conference education to attendees?

Invite Key Note Speakers Later

I talked briefly with John Eisele, one of our resident Online Collection Experts who said many of his clients invite new speakers into the system once the collection and review processes are nearly finished.

Once you’ve completed your call for papers, review and call for final presentations, consider inviting new speakers into your system to provide specific, timely content for your conference.

These speakers are usually well-known, innovative leaders in the industry who have the knowledge and experience to keep your conference timely.

Offer a Late-Breaking Call for Papers

Another way his clients have maintained current topics is to open a “late-breaking call for papers” just a few months before the event. Have a few session placeholders where there would be a limited number of submissions and the review is expedited.

Perhaps you have wanted to do this before, but technology is preventing you from working with one system to do so. Technology should not be a barrier. If you have a flexible system for your call for papers process, your system should facilitate this process and strengthen your conference session. It comes down to making sure your speakers are submitting their presentations on time and reviewers are reviewing on time.

How do you make sure your conference isn’t outdated before it even begins?

Online Abstract Management Systems That Work

Remember the story about the super-smart association IT guy who created an in-house online abstract management system for the super-overwhelmed education director and program coordinators? (If not, that’s ok, it’s been a while.)

In short, it’s the one where this super-smart IT guy developed the “super-perfect” (yet rather costly) in-house system that only he understood… which was all fun and fantastic until he got a better job two years later. Then the education director became even more overwhelmed and was left with an outdated system no one could figure out.

Whatever happened to this poor association?

An Online Abstract Management System That Works

From the “clumsy excel spreadsheets, post-it notes/index cards system” to the “custom-developed, not-so-user-friendly system,” the super-overwhelmed education director and program coordinators finally had enough.

It was time for an online abstract management system that worked.

This is the story for many of our customers who once had an in-house system or have been using another older system developed by “abstract” companies.

To address some of these super-frustrating components of in-house collection systems, here’s a list of what our customers love about our online abstract management system.

Top 10 Features of Online Abstract Management Systems

  1. Easy Submission Management. Filter and find submissions by nearly any field: last submitted/modified date, submission type, author name and more. Easy submission management allows those in charge to stay on top of incoming and updated submissions in a dashboard/report format.
  2. Managing Reviewers. Assign abstracts to reviewers, reviewers to abstracts, or groups of either based on topic or track. Additional reviewers can easily be added later. A dashboard and custom reporting allow you to see who’s done what, who hasn’t reviewed at all and the input from each reviewer.
  3. Personalized Communication. You can send rich-text emails (to individuals or groups of submitting authors) from any email address, so replies go directly to the person in charge. Each email can be personalized, merging in the appropriate data fields to make the message meaningful.
  4. Field Heaven. The system can pretty much collect the kitchen sink! (On top of author information) you can collect data on a/v, releases, disclosures, bios, etc. You can even conditionally collect more or less information based on a response of a field… and that field can be any type: drop down, radio, multi-select, open text, file upload, etc.
  5. No System Manual Needed. Regardless of how computer illiterate you are, you can use this intuitive system with minimal help. Enough said.
  6. Batch Updating. When you need to make a mass update to various fields across all submissions, just export the data, make changes in MS-Excel, and we’ll reload it into the system. No more going into each individual abstract one at a time… It’s a huge time saver!
  7. Drag and Drop Scheduling. If you can click, drag and drop, you can schedule accepted submissions to create your program. Schedule one session or multiple sessions at once. Set session dates, breaks, presentations, lunches, etc. to complete the program.
  8. Seamless Workflow. Use the same system from “call for abstracts/papers/presentations”–whatever you call it–to collect final submissions. And when you just need to collect final files from another system, it’s a batch upload of initial information and an email blast away from speakers uploading their files. Then, here’s the kicker: The information in the Omnipress system flows nicely into print, online and other digital outputs (and you only need to work with one company)!
  9. Custom Reports without Custom Charges. When you need something more than that stock report, just create your own custom report and get the data you need. No waiting for three days and getting charged hundreds of dollars for customer work.
  10. No One-Shoe-Fits Service. Sometimes you need us, and sometimes you’re in self-serve mode. Either way, our team is a call or click away with years of experience serving hundreds of customers.

And so the super-happy education director and the super-cool online abstract management system FINALLY lived happily ever after…The End!

Does your Call for Abstracts Process Need Couples’ Counseling?

Are you one of the associations that use multiple systems and databases to take their abstract management system through the initial call for presentations, the review process, the final collection, scheduling and finally the output of the abstracts or presentations in either digital or print form?

Unfortunately, we see all too often that an association’s system has been cobbled together over the years with different vendors, in-house Excel spreadsheets and other systems. As Cool Hand Luke might say, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” The result of the hodgepodge of technology increases the risks of having different data in different places and struggling with determining which place has the most current data.

Even if you “freeze” all additional systems before you move the data and try to make sure that no changes are being made on any other systems, you’ll discover (painfully) that as soon as unsynchronized changes happen, you again run into version control issues. This can be particularly troublesome when you have multiple administrative users in different systems.

So the best solution is having all of your collection process in a self-contained system that automatically keeps everything synchronized and up to date. Even better is if the system is optimized to work with your final outputs, whether that’s print, CD, flash drive or online.

We’ve seen these types of communication issues cause delays, frustration and even event-day crises because the parts of the abstract collection system didn’t talk to each other. What’s your worst Cool Hand Luke story about using multiple systems, and how did you fix it?

4 Resources for Anyone Who Collects Abstracts or Final Presentations

Working with presenters to get their materials submitted on time and in the format you want is challenging. Perhaps you are “doing it old school”… using email as your system for collecting information and files from speakers. Or maybe your current abstract/call for papers and online review instructions are so complex you need a PhD to decipher them.

If you’re in charge of your call for papers/abstracts process, online reviewing or collecting final presentations from speakers, you might find these articles helpful:

Communicating with your Authors and Contributing Presenters

Arguments for Collecting Content Online

Promoting your Call for (Abstracts | Papers)


Is there a challenge not being addressed here?

We help hundreds of associations and meeting professionals collect abstracts, papers and other content from their contributing authors and presenters. Share your thoughts below and we’ll be glad to provide you with insights.

Skip to content Top