Sophia Parafina

How to Submit a Great CFP for DockerCon

The DockerCon 2016 Call for Proposals is in full swing. We want to hear about all of the interesting ways you’re using Docker’s products and we are looking for a variety of talks such as cool and unique use cases and Docker hack projects, advanced technical talks, or maybe you have a great talk on tech culture.

To get you started, we’ve created a template for submitting proposals for the different tracks at DockerCon 2016.

Tips for getting a proposal accepted

What does it take to get a proposal accepted at DockerCon? Here are characteristics that we’re looking for when reviewing a proposal:

Define your audience and the takeaways

A good proposal clearly defines who should attend. Listing the positions (e.g. developer, system administrator) or their professional backgrounds (e.g. ruby, security, networking) of attendees helps the selection committee decide where to place your talk. It’s also important to emphasize what attendees will learn from your talk. Be specific about takeaways, instead of saying “the talk covers orchestration”, say “the talk will go through a step-by-step process for setting up swarm.”

The proposal should be in line with the theme of the conference

Conferences are organized around a narrative and DockerCon is a user conference. That means we’re looking for proposals that will inform and delight attendee. Topics of interest are listed in the DockerCon CFP FAQ.

Be the expert

Docker is only three years old; that means you are a pioneer. Proposing a talk that’s filled with data and your experience is an attention getter that will be well received. Your experience is valuable to attendees because it is knowledge that they can take away from the conference and apply.

Frame the subject in a larger context

Containers are the next big thing; or so the tech media tells us, but what does that really mean? Framing your topic within a larger discussion provides attendees with a frame of reference of why your talk is important and why they should pay attention.

Be novel, talk about something else

Sometimes the direct approach isn’t as engaging as a unique use case. A perfect example is the DockerCon 2015 presentation by Nerdalize, a Dutch company that uses Docker to heat homes in Amsterdam. These type of talks expand the conversation beyond technical details and inspire attendees to explore new uses.

Be open

Has your company built tools used in production and/or testing? Remember the buzz around Netflix’s Chaos Monkey and the excitement around it when it was released? If you have such a tool, revealing the recipe for your secret sauce is a great way to get your talk on the radar of DockerCon attendees.

Underrepresented in the tech community

DockerCon is a user conference and we want it to reflect the entire community of Docker users. Your talk can be about anything Docker related, but let us know if you are a member of an underrepresented group.

Show that you are engaging

Having a great topic and talk is important, but equally important is execution and delivery. Provide as much information as you can about presentations you have give; videos, reviews, and slide decks will add to your credibility as an entertaining speaker. Also provide contact info, a current biography and any social media that you wish to include.

Proposal don’ts

These items are surefire ways of not getting past the initial review.

Sales pitches

No, just don’t. It’s acceptable to mention your company’s product during a presentation but it should never be the focus of your talk

Bulk submissions

If your proposal reads as generic talk that has been submitted to a number of conferences, it will not pass the initial review. Granted that a talk can be a polished version of earlier talk, but the proposal should tailored for DockerCon.


If the proposal contains jargon, it’s very likely that the presentation will also contain jargon. Although DockerCon is a technology conference, we value the ability to explain and make your points with clear and easy to follow language.


We appreciate pride in your work and company but the use of too many or too strong of a superlative can be irritating. Don’t be Slap Chop.

Too narrow of a topic

Make sure that your proposal topic is broad enough to cover a range of interests. Too narrow of a topic won’t appeal to many attendees.

Spelling, punctuation and formatting matters

Not taking the time to check the basics before submitting indicates carelessness that can translate to a poor presentation. Don’t worry if you are a first time presenter or if English is not your first language, Docker staff will work with you to ensure that your talk is polished and professional.

So, what happens next?

After a proposal is submitted, it will be reviewed initially for content and format. Once past the initial review, a committee of reviewers from Docker and the industry will read the proposals and select the best ones. There are a limited number of speaking slots and we work to achieve a balance of presentations (technical, use case, and wild card) that will interest the Docker community.

The deadline for proposal submission is March 18th, 2016. If you have more questions, please see the DockerCon Call for Proposals FAQ. We’re looking forward to reading your proposals!

Join us at DockerCon 2016

unnamedWe strongly recommend that you register now to secure your pass with Early Bird pricing before this special rate ends on Feb. 19th! Each previous edition of DockerCon has sold out in advance.

Click here to get your conference pass to DockerCon 2016 now.

If your talk proposal gets accepted for DockerCon, we’re more than happy to provide a refund on your purchased ticket.



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Sophia Parafina

How to Submit a Great CFP for DockerCon

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