Writing a good proposal requires effort and concentration. Please keep in mind a few important directions, coming from the experience of proponents and reviewers:
1. Be complete
Incomplete proposals, or titles just thrown out as a “ballon d’essai”, will be most likely trashed;
2. Be short
The average time a reviewer spends on a symposium proposal is around 20 seconds: if you are not able to deliver a message in this short time, your risk of failure increases;
3. Be catchy
A catchy title can make most of the difference; catchy subtitles also help;
4. Be consequential
The proposal must have a logical flow, from the beginning to the end;
5. Avoid acronyms
These are excellent ways to generate repulsion from the average reader (the average cardiologist who will read your proposal and give the final score);
6. Don’t be narrow
Although you may be a super-specialist in your own field, the aim of the proposal will not to educate yourself and your small group of friends, but as many people as possible: therefore you should compromise between the attractiveness for super-specialists and the attractiveness for the general audience of the ESC Congress;
7. Don’t be obscure
If you cannot explain what you are talking about to your 80-years old grandmother, you are probably missing the boat!
8. Try to be translational
There is nothing wrong to let people know why you are doing this or that: you have to trigger the attention of people outside your own area! The ESC Congress is not a congress of pure scientists – the success of basic science at the Congress is in its ability to communicate.
9. Be realistic about names
Don’t throw out big names just as a way to attract the audience: put them in ONLY if they are really essential! Keep in mind that even a President cannot be more than twice in a chairing or speaking position. Much better to rely on people who did the job (provided they can be also good speakers)!
10. Be geopolitically aware
You cannot put two persons from the same country as speakers in the same symposium (or husband and wife as chair and speaker in the same session)! Be careful with selecting persons from Australia or the US (especially as chairs), since there will be high chances of non-acceptance. A good rule is to have at least 3 out of 4 speakers coming from ESC countries.
You don’t have to contact speakers and/or chairs at this point in time, the primary focus is the scientific quality of the proposals and their attraction to attendees of the ESC conference.
Raffaele De Caterina