May 6, 2019

SOCAP Open is Now Live for 2019: Advice On How to Write a Winning Session Pitch

SOCAP Post Author

How can you bring your session idea to SOCAP19? Pitch it to us! SOCAP Open has officially launched for the 2019 SOCAP Conference.
SOCAP is the largest and most diverse conference dedicated to impact investing and social entrepreneurship in the world. Our annual flagship attracts investors, entrepreneurs, foundation and nonprofit leaders, government officials, business leaders, academics and others who are passionate about unlocking the power of global markets to solve social and environmental challenges.
If you have a great idea for a panel, workshop, or other type of session and are prepared to bring that idea to life this fall in San Francisco, the time to share your idea is now.Pitch Your SOCAP Open Idea

What is SOCAP Open?

SOCAP Open is our platform for sourcing conference content ideas directly from our community and the wider impact space. This is our seventh year of sourcing content through SOCAP Open. Last year we received 427 pitches and of those we selected a record breaking 78 sessions for production at SOCAP18!

How to Write Your Session Proposal (Our Most Important Advice)

We are often asked to offer advice on how to craft SOCAP Open proposal with the highest possible chance of being chosen for production at the conference. Here are our top three tips:

Focus on your best idea

Grab our attention

Activate your network

Compelling ideas are ones that you are uniquely qualified to bring to the table, that share a timely insight, conversation, or challenge with a broader audience. Use this as an opportunity to reach out to potential collaborators and panelists in your network and focus your energy on submitting one excellent idea. Put yourself in the position of someone browsing session ideas and make sure that your description stands out for the value that it will provide to attendees if selected.These are the sessions that will get the attention and support of SOCAP Open voters.
Here are a few other tips for how to plan for and write a successful SOCAP Open proposal.

Write for your audience.

Write your description directly to the people you think will be most interested in your topic – is it directed at entrepreneurs, investors, all stakeholders in a particular geography or issue area? Although there are 3100+ people at SOCAP, average session attendance is about 70 people so think about who you are trying to attract and design for.
Assume at least a basic level of familiarity with impact investing, social entrepreneurship and social capital markets. Most of our audience are active practitioners in the social capital markets so they are unlikely to need a session explaining how to do well by doing good, for example. Describe what they will learn or take away from your session. Session proposals that are too broad or general are less successful than sessions that have a clear topic or headline.
You can share bleeding edge ideas or research, offer a unique insight, explore a new solution to a complex problem, reveal a new opportunity, issue a call to action, or dissect failures and systemic challenges. Just make sure the audience will understand the appeal of your session from your pitch.

Diversity is a requirement, not an option.

All panels MUST be inclusive in terms of gender and race or ethnicity. No exceptions.
The social capital market is diverse and your panel should be as well. As you consider who to pitch for your panel idea, please consider the voices you are featuring in your session. Aim for diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, culture, expertise, age, and opinion.

Your title is the most important part of your pitch.

Your title may be the only thing some SOCAP Open voters will read. Catch readers’ interest immediately with a great title. Consider how to make your session title both concise and compelling.

Don’t use jargon or assume voters will be familiar with your topic.

Many of the people you want to vote for your SOCAP Open session will not have the same level of understanding of your topic as you. Avoid industry jargon and use clear language that describes your session’s content and value. Be only as detailed as you need to be.

Avoid Overly Self Promotional Content

We strongly advise against purely advertorial content. If your panel or workshop idea features a product or service, ask yourself if the purpose of your session is only to promote that product or service. Panels around the launch of a recent study or report, and workshops that give participants a sample framework or tools that may be part of a broader service.

Suggest a moderator for your panel.

If you are pitching a panel, we urge you to name a moderator. The moderator should be someone with an in-depth understanding of the topic and its relationship to each panelist. Moderators are the anchor of any successful panel session. Choose someone who can keep the conversation focused and interesting. Who in your network would be able to fulfill that role and attract attendees to your session? Propose moderators that you already have a relationship with and you know are very likely to accept your invitation to participate.

Promote your session idea online.

Create campaigns (email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media channels) to promote your SOCAP Open session. Getting out the vote from your networks demonstrates you have the motivation and organizational ability to help produce a successful session.
Note: votes are not the only metric we use to determine which sessions will be chosen for presentation at SOCAP, and a high vote count does not guarantee you’ll be invited to produce your session.

Turn comments into conversations.

You will receive an email notification when voters comment on your idea. We highly encourage you to monitor these and engage with the people who leave responses to your session idea. Voters may ask follow up questions or make valuable suggestions. The conversation you want to stimulate at the conference can start right away.

Watch sessions from past SOCAP conferences or listen to our podcast.

Visit our SOCAPmarkets YouTube Channel or listen to our Money + Meaning podcast to get a better idea of our conference content and the interests of our community. Especially if you have never attended SOCAP before, it can be a good idea to watch past sessions (and read the descriptions) before drafting your proposal.

Please Share Your Idea!

If you are a member of the community that is interested in leading a conversation at SOCAP19, we encourage you to send in a proposal. If you have submitted in the past, please consider submitting a new idea this year. We are excited to read your SOCAP19 session proposals!
The deadline to submit your SOCAP Open proposal is June 14, 2019!

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