A Process for Writing an Abstract

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Credit: Flickr / Matt Newfield

As part of the Technically Speaking Anniversary last week I did two mentoring calls. Both of them focused on writing abstracts. This is cool, because one of the things I discovered when Chiu-Ki and I ran our workshop is that Abstract Writing is something of a speciality for me and I actually quite enjoy writing them for other people.

General Comments About Abstracts

  • Your abstract is a pitch for your talk. It’s when you sell the topic.
  • Your bio is where you sell yourself as a good person to speak about the topic.
  • It doesn’t need to be long.
  • Be concrete, but not overly detailed. E.g. specific takeaways are good, the details of how you get to them are unnecessary.

Three Lists

Think about your topic and make three lists.

  1. Why is this topic important.
  2. What things do you want people to take away from it.
  3. What points do you plan to cover.

List #3 is the easiest, but lists #1 and #2 are most useful for writing your abstract.

A Formula

[Strong statement about why this topic is important at a macro level]. [Specific points that tie your more narrow topic to this macro point].

This talk will cover [2-3 most important points], after which you will be able to [concrete audience takeaway].

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