Tips for Creating an Inspirational, Must-Have bbcon Session Proposal 

–Nikki Baldwin, Blackbaud senior product marketing manager and five-time leader of the Financial Management track at bbcon, shares details on what makes an inspiring session.

When I attended bbcon for the first time in the fall of 2016, I had no idea that I would eventually be responsible for collaborating with so many inspiring speakers to curate the content experience for the entire Financial Management track the following year and every year since. I was immediately taken in by the excitement, fast pace, and rich experiences I had with Blackbaud customers and partners. What especially resonated with me was the immediate impact that attendees felt from powerful sessions. To hear that people were excited to go back to work and start implementing what they had just learned about their solutions and their practice was beyond gratifying.  

bbcon serves a lot of purposes, and the sessions cover a wide range of topics. But, at the end of the day, the sessions with the greatest impact are those that ignite inspiration. Inspiration to make tangible changes that create more efficient and successful processes. Inspiration to make cultural changes within an organization that empower and evoke passion from employees, donors, supporters, and more. Inspiration to use technology and innovative approaches to making the world a better place through a myriad of missions.  

Even if you’ve never spoken at a conference before, if you have an idea, experience, or unique perspective on Blackbaud products, general best practices, sector trends, or anything that inspires you in the social good community, it’s likely that others will find it inspiring as well. Speaking at bbcon is an amazing experience and we’d love to include you on our team! 


Tips on Writing an Inspiring Virtual Session Proposal  

  • Catchy titles are great, but clear descriptions avoid confusion and ensure people are in the right place when your session starts. Ensure your passion for the topic shines through so attendees will know exactly what they’re getting into. 
  • Work out your proposal separately before you submit the form. You can review the submission form first to understand what you will need to prepare but it’s best practice to draft your proposal outside the form. This will help ensure your title and description are both well thought out, succinct, easily understood, and grammatically correct. (And no swear words—it happens!). 
  • List the top 2-3 things you expect attendees to take away from your session and be able to apply to their work in the “Learning Objectives” field. This provides more context for attendees so they know what to expect. Based on attendee feedback, sessions that add value and provide best practices that the audience can take back to their office and apply immediately, score high. Real-world scenarios with relevant examples are very well-received. 
  • Limit the scope of your session. You may not be able to cover everything you’re passionate about in your session time (typically 30-minutes). Instead, pick a useful aspect or a specific best practice, or walk through a simple program. 
  • Remember, what is familiar to you may be new to someone else. We recommend spelling out acronyms and not using too much industry jargon.  
  • Make sure you have your bio and a headshot ready for when you submit your proposal. It’s vital to take the time to write your bio so we can understand who you are and what your experience is as we evaluate your session proposal.  
  • On the proposal submission form, there are steps that allow you to select multiple tracks, experience level, roles, and audiences that your session will target. Be thoughtful about what you select and do not simply select all of them as you want to ensure the session content will be relevant to the audience.  
  • Feel free to use the “Special Notes” field on the form to pitch us your session! Tell us why you think your session should be at bbcon Virtual 2021! Share who you are, why you’re excited about your topic, and why we should get excited about hearing you speak. 
  • Keep proposals free of marketing, sales, and vendor pitches—we can’t stress this enough. Please be sure final presentations uphold the integrity of the original descriptions. Pure sales pitches will be rejected.  
  • Make sure not to leave any fields blank or put “TBD” as it will not be accepted as a completed submission.  
  • Have fun with your topic ideas! Again, we’re looking to evoke passionate responses from attendees, and if you’re passionate about it, it’ll be apparent in your proposal!

Ready to submit your proposal? Click here


About Nikki Baldwin

Nikki Baldwin is a senior product marketing manager for Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT® and the 5-time leader of bbcon's Financial Management track. Nikki has been at Blackbaud for nearly eight years, primarily working with financial solutions. Originally starting out in Financial Edge® support in 2013, she trained on Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT, installation for on-premise applications, and Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT® before moving into a marketing role in 2017. She works closely with product management on development and growth for Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT with a focus on customer and market needs and expectations.