5 Secrets for Submitting a Successful Session Proposal

By Josh Yavelberg | Posted on October 28, 2019

Call for Proposals blog 410

NRPA is now accepting proposals for the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, October 27-29, 2020. The NRPA Annual Conference is a great opportunity for speakers who want to share their knowledge and experience with a network of more than 8,000 park and recreation advocates from across the country. For 2020, we are encouraging new, interactive and innovative session formats, solution-based session topics, and original content. 

Becoming a speaker is a wonderful way to give back to the profession, build your resume, and become a part of the growing park and recreation community. To help you with your proposal, here are five secrets for submitting a successful education session proposal:

1. Know Your Audience

Keep the target audience in mind when putting together your education session proposal. The NRPA Annual Conference brings together people across several different fields including parks and recreation, conservation, health, landscape architecture and city planning. The audience may be diverse, but they are united in their passion to make communities great places to live. We are looking for speakers who can build upon that passion and inspire even greater impact in communities nationwide.

2. Give Your Proposal TLC

Put in the time and effort to draft your proposal before you begin filling out the online proposal form. The more thought you put into the proposal up front, the smoother the process of pulling your session together will be. Be sure to visit the growing NRPA Speaker Concierge for speaking resources, including a Call for Education Proposals Guide, and review your proposal — carefully consider the language that you use, make sure your session description and learning objectives are concise and clear, and don’t forget to proofread! It may be helpful to have someone else look over your final proposal to ensure your ideas are expressed clearly.

3. Include a Variety of Perspectives

Add dimension to your proposal and presentation by including a variety of perspectives. Provide comparisons from community to community, from different parts of the country, or from differing points of view. Or consider co-presenting and inviting collaborators to participate with you — whether it be allied organizations, community partners or even elected officials.

4. Make It Relevant

Think of the audience’s needs and consider the issues they are facing today and will be facing in the future. NRPA seeks sessions that clearly reflect the growing needs of the park and recreation field and beyond, and encourages subjects that support our Three Pillars: Health and Wellness, Conservation, and Social Equity.

5. Try Something New!

Think beyond the traditional lecture-style session proposal. Mixed media allows you to reach people with different learning styles while adding an energy to your presentation. Think about how you will use slides, video, props, polling and interactivity to engage the audience and share it in your proposal. NRPA encourages well-designed, out-of-the-box session proposals.

Learn more about the NRPA Annual Conference.


Josh Yavelberg is NRPA's Director of Professional Development.