Creating our agenda: the selection process

Creating our agenda: the selection process

With this article we want to give you some more insights on how we do our session selection process and how we inform our speakers if they are selected.

CFP Phase

We always start with our open CFP, that starts early in the year and this year ended end of March. This year we had over 1000 submissions. That is really awesome but also provides us with a huge challenge. We want to create a very diverse and attractive agenda for our 2-day conference, but we only have about 120 sessions we can fit in our agenda.

This poses a big responsibility to us. Luckily, we have a great team of community leaders that help us make the selection.



The Selection process

On Saturday April 13th, we had our session selection day. Before this day we have asked our community leaders to go through the long list of sessions and put the sessions they would like to see at the conference and mark them as “accept queue”. This is then the list of sessions where we can go through collectively at the selection day. At selection day we have gone through all sessions in the “accept queue”. We have many watched videos of people we haven’t seen speaking yet, we have had debates about the amount of sessions in categories, what topics are a must have for our conference and which speakers are also a must have to invite because they have a proven track record to attract a lot of attendees and have high evaluation scores.


All in all, this is a very tiresome day but with a great result. We were down to an initial pick of 140 sessions from which we needed to make a final selection. This selection is done the past few days in call that we have had and with additional voting by our community leaders.


With this process we strive for a very well-balanced agenda that is attractive to everyone and does right to all the people that submitted their sessions. We of course would have liked to give everyone that we could not fit in the schedule a detailed explanation why they did not make the cut, but this is just not possible, and I hope that those who will receive the reject email in the coming days will understand this.


How we send out our invitations and declines in two waves


For the accept and decline process we operate in 2 waves. The first wave will come the next few days. This will mean that we will send a Reject email to most of the people that submitted sessions. For the people that get a Reject email, please look at your Sessionize profile and check if we rejected all your sessions or only a few. This is important because the tool we use (Sessionize) requires us to send two emails:  One with the declines and one with the accept emails. So very confusing, but it can be that you receive both emails!


We will send the declines to everyone that is a definite decline of the session. Please view this in the light of the amount of sessions that got submitted and please do not take it personal! We did not decline you as a person, we declined your session because in our selection process it was weighted against all other submissions and just did not make the cut.


We will send an accept email to everyone that has a definite accept, except for a few sessions that we still have not a full 100% confirmation on. We make our agenda available in 2 waves and we do a first wave with about 70% of the agenda and a second wave of another 30 %. So you might have received an confirm email, but will not find your session on the website yet, we will reveal that a bit later in one of the next waves. Because in the accept process we will receive emails from speakers that have now other engagements they committed to, we always reserve more sessions that we would like to accept, but if we will pick those will be the result of other speakers that might not be able to make it. That is the reason we need to do this in multiple waves and closing the agenda in a few steps.


What does this mean for you if you submitted?


So bottom line, you either got a decline or an accept email, or both.

  • Declined means definite declined.
  • Accepted means definite accepted, we need you to confirm so we know we can count on you.
  • Then there is a set of sessions that did not get an accept nor an reject. These are the sessions we might confirm or decline in a later stage. Cut off date for this will be May 15, so by then everyone should know if your sessions got accepted or declined.

We hope this shines some more light on our process and helps you with your questions about the way we build our agenda.