How to write a kickass CFP submission

Hello ChefLand! It’s almost time for the ChefConf 2020 CFP to open. While we’re busy prepping the submission system and all the other fun stuff that goes into the first stages of event logistics, hopefully you’re thinking about what you might want to speak about at ChefConf!

This will be the NINTH(!) ChefConf. We’ll be back in Seattle, at the Hyatt Regency, June 1-4. We’ll have about 60 breakout sessions that we’re looking to fill with great content for the attendees of ChefConf. That’s where YOU come in. What have you been working on that you could share with your peers in the Chef Community during a 40-minute breakout?

There’s lots of advice and suggestions on the internet for writing a great talk submission. I like this article by Amanda Sopkin; she hits all the major points to think about when responding to a CFP. For ChefConf, here’s a few things to keep in mind so you’re ready to get all your awesome ideas to us.

One key thing to keep in mind when submitting to a CFP is the audience. ChefConf is the Chef User Conference. The folks in the audience will be a lot like you – they’re looking for products and solutions that make their jobs easier, their work more efficient, and their organizations more successful. They’ll be from big companies, little companies, non-profits, government, education, healthcare, transportation, retail, financial services; just about everywhere. The folks from Chef will be there to give you an idea of what’s new and what’s coming, and the folks like you who are using the products really give everyone a look into the day-to-day.

What Kind of Topics? 

Well, Chef stuff, obviously. But also, folks like to know what worked for you and also what didn’t work for you. The Chef community is made up of folks who are brand new to Chef and maybe automation in general, and also folks who have been doing all of this for a while. Folks are looking for guidance on how you’ve been successful with Chef’s products and the other components in the ecosystem.  So think about:

  • The lessons you’ve learned on your automation journey
  • Things that worked, things that didn’t work, things that worked for a while but you outgrew them
  • How automating infrastructure, applications, or compliance has helped your organization be successful
  • How translating your workflows into coded platforms has impacted efficiency and reliability

Chef exists in an ecosystem. You’re using Chef products with lots of other tools to create effective workflows. Someone else is looking to solve similar problems and might be able to use the same tools. Maybe your talk will be about:

  • Integrating Chef’s products with your preferred CI/CD pipeline components
  • Automating your infrastructure deployments in all of your environments
  • What your overall toolkit looks like and how you use all the pieces
  • All kinds of other things

Maybe you’ll be telling us what kind of awesome things you’ve been up to with Chef’s products; or how that work has impacted your work and team. Think about what has made your journey interesting. What challenges you had to face. What surprised you the most. What do you wish you’d known when you started that you learned the hard way? 

We’ll let you know when the CFP is open, and give you some more suggestions in the next few weeks. In the meantime, be thinking about what you could share with the Chef Community. 

If you’re really stuck, take a look at last year’s talks on our ChefConf 2019 YouTube playlist. We’re happy to chat about your ideas or answer questions for you, so join the Chef Community Slack and the #chefconf2020 channel. 

And don’t forget to sign up for notifications about when registration for ChefConf 2020 opens!

Mandi Walls

Mandi is Technical Community Manager for Chef. She can be found online @LNXCHK.