Clark Sell
6 min read

Turning Your Awesome Into Submissions

THAT Conference 2020

Call For Counselors NOW OPEN

In just over 3 short weeks THAT Conference 2020 Call for Counselors will be closing and we want to help you tap into your awesome and turn it into submissions before time runs out! Here is THAT Submission Worksheet to help get your ideas and creative juices flowing.


  1. Grab a coffee + 15 minutes. We all constantly move forward, taking what we know and on to the next item. Not easy to see all of your awesome without taking time to recognize it. So grab a coffee, headphones, and unplug if you have to. Whatever helps unlock all your awesome!
  2. Take notes. As you go through these questions write down, or type up, all that comes to mind. This is for you, and you alone, to get your ideas out. There’s no right or wrong way to work through this. Whatever comes to mind, get it out!
  3. Be 100% YOU. Maybe some items you don’t feel you have answers to, we all do. But we bet the exercises make you think of what you would like to learn. That is still a great answer.


  1. Write down all those “I’m The Smartest Person Alive” moments you’ve had this past year. We all know the feeling, you hit something that you spun your wheels on: Tech, business problems, design, burning time trying to figure it out, and then it happened… you got all the pieces aligned and it worked! Arms up in the air, high fives, the feeling at that moment you are the smartest person on earth… think back, they are there. Write them out.
  2. Write down the things people always seem to be asking you. We don’t always know about our awesome, but other people do, and they ask us about it all the time. What are the things you get asked a lot about? What are the conversations you get pulled into?
  3. What would your past self love to know? Think back to you a year ago… 2 years ago… 5 years… what do you know now that you wish your past self knew. Career, technology, best practices, write down whatever comes to mind.
  4. List out all your soapbox passions. You know, those topics that get you fired up like when someone mentions they use tabs instead of spaces, or tells you they removed the unit tests because they don’t help. Maybe not even related to a tech stack or practice; maybe you are passionate about bringing computer science to underprivileged areas. Write down each of those passions.
  5. Hobbies, write ‘em down. Yes, hobbies. All you do influences your perspective on all areas of your life, including your career. Think about interests and hobbies you have and how each crosses into your career.

Turning Answers Into Submission Topics

Take a look at your notes… what ideas or topics do you see repeating? What item(s) did you write out that got you the most excited to think more on? From your notes, write down 3-5 items or thoughts that rise to the top for you. For each of those items, expand them by answering these questions:

  1. What is it about this topic that gets you fired up?
  2. Why is this important to you?
  3. Why would this be important to others?
  4. What are 2-3 points you’d like to share with others on that topic?

You now have a list of just a portion of your awesomeness! And you’ve distilled that down into a few topics and notes that you can turn into a submission!

Next Steps

Now that you have a better idea of your awesome, take your ideas and notes and start to write the description for a submission. This will help you determine exactly where you’d like to focus. The more you write, edit, think and iterate through writing this, the more you will see your session submission(s) come to life. Be creative and genuine to yourself. No one else shares your unique awesome. Don’t hesitate to express and embrace that.

Once you have a good idea on description, start to think about the key takeaways. What is it that you want attendees of your session to learn? What will draw people to come to your session? Now, take all that and give it a title that expresses what you will be presenting, as well as catch the attention of potential attendees.

THAT Is Here to Help

From feedback, more info, additional resources, we’ve got you covered…

  • THAT Crew and THAT Community are here to help. Join #sessions in THAT Slack to share your submission with THAT Community, making sure to note if you are submitting your talk for consideration for professional, workshop, family, or keynote talks. Ask for comments and ideas to make sure your abstract is as awesome as you are.
  • Check out Your Abstract Sucks by THAT Founder Clark Sell. Where you can review some of the finer points of what is needed to make a good abstract.
  • Thinking about a family session, read Sharon Cichelli’s (THAT Community member) tips on Hosting an Awesome Kids Session
  • Looking for more private feedback? You can always email us at [email protected] if you need assistance with your abstract or feel like just saying hi! We’re here to help you!

Benefits of Being a Counselor

If selected to speak, you will receive a ticket to attend all 4 days of THAT Conference; meals during the event, including the THAT Pig Roast; 2 night stay at the Kalahari per accepted talk (3 nights max per family); opportunity for professional recording of your session (does not apply to geekling/family track sessions); and countless networking opportunities.

Call for Partners!

Not only is Call for Counselors open, but so is Call for Partners! We are looking for great organizations that share our mission to bring positive impact to the tech community. Know of an organization that might be interested in helping make our vision a reality? Then let us know at [email protected] or share our link to THAT Conference Become A Partner.

THAT Contributor

Feel like getting involved in a THAT community project? We’d love it if you would! We’re looking for community members to get involved in helping make a new website. We’ve been working the past few months, and while the new design is live, we’re not done yet. If you’d like to help out, head to The entire project is open source and waiting for you to jump in!

Also, head to THAT Slack in the #that_contributor channel to join in the conversation with THAT Staff and THAT Contributors. Feel free to ask questions and to share your ideas and thoughts about this ongoing project. We are truly thankful for all who have assisted us on this project.

Hope you are having a fantastic weekend and we can’t wait to see all your submissions roll in! Remember, you have until March 1, 2020 to get your abstract together and get it submitted. Now what are you waiting for, get started sharing your awesome TODAY!

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