Denied!

Acceptance and rejection emails have been sent out and I understand how many of you who have received rejection letters in response to your conference session abstracts for BILT NA 2017 are less than thrilled.  We always receive  quite a bit of feedback – positive and negative – and we appreciate that it’s an unpleasant experience.

There are many reasons why your proposal was not accepted but there is ONE reason why every session that didn’t make the cut didn’t make the cut:

  1. IT WAS NOT PERSONAL

We’re all a bunch of hypo-BIM-gurus and that comes with high maintenance baggage (myself included – just ask Wes). But this is not a reason – ever- to reject a proposal. The following is just a brief list of why your proposal could have been rejected. This list is in no particular order – I’m just winging this stream-of-consciousness:

  1. We have to reject ~75% of proposals. It’s not you. It’s math. Odds are against you from the start.
  2. Do you GYSD? As my brother (miss yah buddy) used to say, “Every week is Get Your Shit Done Week. Are you celebrating?” If you’ve not turned in your handout, presentation, etc. after your past year’s sessions – we remember in an easily referenced digital format. Missing handouts disappoints the delegates. We don’t like when the delegates are disappointed. Same goes for round-table discussions. And if the kind and patient ladies that work full time for RTC Events have to remind you (unanswered) that you’re not turning in your agreed upon deliverables, that’s not fun either. They have like a gazillion other things to do. Reminding you to GYSD is really not fun.
  3. You’ve been accepted in the past and then cancelled your attendance at the conference. It doesn’t matter how soon you tell us that you can’t attend – don’t make it our problem. If you can’t attend, your email should start with, “I can’t attend but I’ve arranged for (insert well known and highly reputable speaker name here) to present my session.” If registration hasn’t opened, we do have some flexibility because people haven’t started signing up for now missing class. But after registration? About the only thing that’ll get you off the hook is a 1) serious medical injury, 2) family emergency or 3) death. And you know what? In all the three previous examples the committee has received the untimely and terribly unfortunate news with a back up plan from a family member or coworker.
  4. Did you dial in a previous presentation? If you have low average speaker scores – it’s nothing personal – but you’re making it harder for us to accept your proposal. No matter how amazing your proposal sounds – it’s hard to believe that you’ll do a great job of presenting your session well. The people have spoken. Yes – I get that everyone is a special snowflake and we’ve grown up getting awards for “participation”. But when it comes to presenting to a room full of hypo-BIM-gurus with high expectations? Swing for the fences and make sure your attendees fill out their session surveys.
  5. Your proposal wasn’t interesting enough. It happens. Might make for after hours discussion but we don’t think it’d fill a lab, lecture or round-table.
  6. Your proposal was impracticable. A proposed session or lab titled, “50 Ways to….” can’t be accomplished in the allotted session time. In a few cases, we’ll accept the proposal and ask the speaker to narrow the focus.
  7. Your proposal was too broad or too narrow. Too many topics will start to blur in the mind of the listener. Too few will mean your session won’t go the distance. 10 Commandments? Top Ten Lists? Let history be your guide.
  8. Your proposal is about you. “10 Things That Made Me A Better BIM Manager” vs. “10 Things That Make You A Better BIM Manager”. When Mick Jagger asks the audience, “Are you having a good time?” it’s not even about the Rolling Stones. It’s about the audience. Learn from Mick Jagger.
  9. Your proposal wasn’t well written. If you’re not going to take a bit of time and attention to detail for a 10 minute effort, what’s going to happen when you have to spend 40 hours preparing for the real deal? Sounds risky. Next.
  10. Your proposal was actually quite interesting – but it was also proposed by a lot of other people. And what if they’ve got higher past speaker scores and more industry expertise? We put all these similar sounding proposals together and pick the one(s) from the highest rated speakers.
  11. Your proposal sounded like a lot of interesting-what-if-philosophy. But also light on the real-world details and experience of actually implementing said concepts. Better to actually attempt to implement said solution and succeed masterfully or fail miserably. Either way we want to learn from your experience – not your ideals.
  12. You proposed more than three sessions. The max is three sessions by one speaker. We want everyone to come and relax, unwind and have time to network and maybe even learn something. This can’t happen if you’re squirreled away in your hotel room preparing for multiple sessions on the following morning (Carl :).
  13. We made a mistake. We’re not perfect, by any means. I received an email this morning and the reason for rejection didn’t match the session or make enough sense given the context. Investigation underway.

The committee actually discussed holding a session on how sessions get reviewed, discussed, accepted and (in the majority of cases) rejected. Could make for an interesting end of day wrap up.

That’s all for now. So what’s the next step?

  1. Don’t take it personally.
  2. Dust off and take a deep breath.
  3. Attend BILT NA 2017 in Toronto.

You’ll be surrounded by a lot of other people that had their proposals rejected. But you won’t see Carl crying in his beer. I’ve had sessions rejected from AU and RTC (it was RTC at the time). I’ll be honest – it stings. But insisting on playing a tune the audience doesn’t want to hear isn’t fun for anyone.

Or as Mark Knopfler tells it:

“You can’t go playing poker
With a pistol in your sleeve
You can’t make somebody love you
By threatening to leave.”

Whatever you do please don’t rant, take your toys, go home and bitterly malign the committee. We’ve worked earnestly, with integrity and  in good faith to make the best decisions to put together a great event. We all hope you’ll join us in Toronto.

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