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April 16, 2024

AU 2024 Call for Proposals: Tips from Award-Winning AU Speakers

We’re halfway through Call for Proposals for AU 2024 (it closes April 30) and the submissions continue to roll in. On the Call for Proposals page, you’ll find links to the Call for Proposal Guide, the Proposal Worksheet, and sample proposals to help you craft the best proposal.  


Looking for more guidance? We asked award-winning AU speakers from previous years what advice they’d have for people working on a proposal—whether it’s their first, fourth, or their fourteenth. Whether you’re new to the AU community or a seasoned speaker with a dozen badges on the wall, here are some great tips to keep in mind. And remember that you can edit your proposal up until the end of the Call for Proposals period.    


Read the CFP Guide 

“Selecting the right class format is extremely important. Please read the CFP Guide to understand the difference between various class formats, especially the case study and the industry talk. That should be the first step before you even start putting any ideas down.” –Deepak Maini, Principal Business Consultant, Autodesk 


“Stay current with the AU trends for topics, presentation formats, and most importantly, technology.” –Ravi Ray Wood, BIM Manager, Samsung Semiconductors 


Choosing a topic 

“Pick a subject that you are really passionate about and don't be afraid to show your passion in your proposal. Just because its technical doesn't mean it can't be fun.” –Shir Rustici, Global Product Manager, Symetri 


“Know your audience. Who are they and what do they want to know? Design and write your proposal with that audience in mind.” –Lydia Cline, Drafting Professor, Johnson County Community College 


“If you're trying to find your topic, pay attention to what your clients frequently ask or where your colleagues struggle. Rest assured that many others will likely be grappling with the same challenges, guaranteeing that your presentation will attract a significant audience.” –Nick Chanakoulas, Head of Customer Success, Plex-Earth 


“Pick a topic that you are passionate about and know the workflow very well. One that has helped you solve a problem and you would like to share with everyone. Knowing the subject well will allow you to create a quality document and feel more comfortable delivering to a group of people.” –Todd Schmoock, Senior Application Specialist, Applied Software 


“For technical presentations, pick a topic that can be narrowed enough to fit into 45 minutes to one hour of speaking. Keeping the topic narrow lets you go into greater specifics and details.” –Stephen Gabriel, Design Technology Specialist, Team D3 


“Be unique! Choose a topic to propose that is new, fresh, fun, and uncommon to the past several years of AU presentations. Make the topic relevant to today, impactful for tomorrow, and thought-provoking for time to come.” –Dustin Ridley, Regional VDC Manager, DPR Construction 


“Check out the sessions from previous Autodesk Universities, you can get motivation and ideas that you can add to from the sessions that have been presented.” –Prateek Chitnis, Strategic Implementation Manager, Symetri USA 


Choosing a Title 

“A catchy title is important—but make sure it is clear for the topic. Successful presentations are determined by how well you can connect to your audience. If the wrong audience attends, the presentation will not go well no matter how good your content is.” –Andrew Pangallo, Construction Digital Delivery Lead Engineer, Indiana Department of Transportation 


“Selecting a title that includes keywords relevant to the subject of your presentation will enhance discoverability and attract the intended audience. By considering the interests and needs of your target audience, you can ensure that your talk is easily searchable and accessible to those seeking information on the topic.” –Natasha Renwick, Group Document Controller, Mercury  


“For the title, try to take a keyword approach. Keep in mind that when people search for a class, they will probably use keywords related to their topics of interest, so your titles should not be abstract. They should catch people's attention instantly and describe your presentation clearly. Don't rely on the class description to explain your topic, as they usually are read only after a title seems interesting.” –Nick Chanakoulas, Head of Customer Success, Plex-Earth 


Class descriptions 

“The description is the most critical part of your proposal. Make sure it clearly captures the essence of what you want to present. It is important to use the Proposal Worksheet from the CFP page to ensure you stay within the word limit.” – Deepak Maini, Principal Business Consultant, Autodesk 


“In your description, don't just state what they are going to learn, tell them what they are going to be able to do with it when they return. They need something to do when they get back to the office.” –Irvin Hayes, Senior Product Manager, Autodesk 


“Mention ROI. Audience members are likely interested in procuring new tools and technology. Mentioning ROI in detail may connect with many.” –Andrew Pangallo, Construction Digital Delivery Lead Engineer, Indiana Department of Transportation 


“Proofread and edit! Before submitting your proposal, carefully proofread it for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors (try Grammarly). Also, ensure that the structure and flow of your abstract are logical and coherent. I usually get at least three people to proofread mine before I submit.” –Thesla Collier, Design Technology Manager, HNTB 


Learning objectives 

“Dedicate time to develop robust learning objectives, as these are very important in addition to class descriptions. Learning objectives are crucial components and serve as a roadmap for you and attendees.” –Argelia Barcena, Regional Design Technology Manager, Gensler 


“Provide evidence of impact: Demonstrate the relevance of your presentation to the audience. Explain why your topic matters and how it contributes to the field.” –Thesla Collier, Design Technology Manager, HNTB 


Final thoughts 

“Quality is better than quantity. It is better to submit one or two proposals that are well thought out and well written then try to submit 20 proposals that have little substance.” –Shir Rustici, Global Product Manager, Symetri 


“Remember, every perspective adds value. When preparing your proposal, bring experiences and insights from your coworkers and external partners (clients, sub-contractors, account executives, etc.). This helps you showcase how your topic impacted the industry as a whole.” –Ariel Castillo, Innovation Director, Miller-Davis Company 


“’It is better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit.’ - Les Brown! Go ahead and submit your idea, take a shot! Don't worry if it will be selected or not, you must try it and if you fail you will have learned a lesson and you can try again.” –Prateek Chitnis, Strategic Implementation Manager, Symetri USA 


Remember—Call for Proposals ends on April 30, and you can edit your proposals up until that time, so don’t hit “submit” till you know it’s ready.  We can’t wait to see what you’re working on!