Call for speakers
08-09 June 2022
Virtual, at home
Is now closed for June 2022
Our 2022 Call for Speakers (CfS) is now closed - thank you to everyone who submitted a session. The following information is for reference only.
Please read all our "Information for Submitters" below, before making a submission
- The CfS closed on Friday 4 March 2022
- Our review process takes approximately 3 weeks
(if you are a new speaker and would like an extension and/or mentorship please contact us as soon as possible to discuss further)
Information for submitters
We recommend all submitters read the guidance below, especially if this is your first time submitting a session to one of our conferences. The Submitter Information is full of helpful details to get you started. It contains advice on the kind of sessions we look for, as well as information on our review process and speaker terms. If you need to contact us about your session proposal, you are welcome to do so via the details on our contact page
UCD Gathering is a virtual event for user-centred design and research practitioners. Our event creates a space for participants to inspire, connect and learn from their peers, and leaders in the industry in a welcoming and safe environment concentrated on their professional passions.
Our conference is for people who are involved in designing digital products and services. The topics cover aspects of user centred design from research to delivery; from software skills to team dynamics; and from the practical to the thought provoking.
We are looking for...
A mixture of inspiring speakers, engaging talks, case studies, experience reports, interactive group sessions, speaker discussions with Q&A - participants should be encouraged to tackle new, challenging ideas, and share their knowledge with others.
Themes - Sustainable design; design ethics; culture and collaboration; inclusive design and workplaces; behavioural economics; mental health; career pathways.
Practical approaches - our participants love takeaways that can be applied to their own work whether it is participating in workshops to learn new techniques or case studies of projects demonstrating how you approached a problem.
Authenticity & inspiration - we welcome submissions from anyone who has skills, experience or knowledge to share with an audience of designers, researchers and other UCD practitioners of all levels. We are a welcoming space for first time speakers.
Fresh perspectives - new lenses on long-term challenges, we're looking for practical, inspiring, novel sessions that our participants can learn from and engage with. Be bold, teach us something new, make us think, make us smile, be yourself - authenticity is important.
We are committed to improving participant and speaker inclusivity and creating a safe space for everyone to enjoy. All participants must adhere to our Code of Conduct. We endeavour to ensure participants can connect, network and learn from their industry peers in a positive environment.
UCD Gathering previously attracted people with the following roles:
- Accessibility Consultant/Lead
- C-Level/Director/ Founder
- Designer/Developer/ Analyst (includes senior/lead)
- Manager/Head of
- Product Manager
- Project Manager
- Researcher (includes senior/lead)
We're happy for you to present a session about your experiences or something you've done, but we also strongly encourage interactive sessions that generate conversation with the audience, group discussion or hands-on experiences.
A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of relevant techniques. Case studies include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is
A presentation & discussion of a specific topic or issue. Talks should include sharing of real-life examples and experiences.
A (virtual) hands-on working session focused around a specific topic, tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, workshops usually include some elements of interactivity or individual/group exercises. These are usually best suited to a “Zoom meeting” format. Please indicate if you need to cap numbers.
A more informal session e.g goldfish bowl, lean coffee or something else that allows the participants to bring thoughts, ideas, questions and problems on a topic that you facilitate. Be sure to indicate which type of discussion you propose when submitting and if you need to cap numbers.
Live or pre-recorded
Delivery of your session can be made in one of the following ways:
Live: Livestream on the day (via Zoom Webinar or Meeting) - please note you’ll need to be available at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of your session.
Pre-recorded: You will need to pre-record your session and be present to stream the recording on the day (via Zoom). This will enable you to welcome the participants and take live questions throughout the session. If you choose this option and wish to take questions please allow enough time in your session duration for the live parts of your session. Please note you’ll need to be available at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of your session - if you want to provide a pre-recorded session without the live element please include that in "anything else" during your submission.
We encourage all speakers to participate for the full conference but understand if this is not possible.
All sessions will be run via, and (if permitted) recorded in, zoom. You do not need to be an expert in running zoom, we schedule all sessions from our account with a 30 minute practice ahead of your programme start time, and we provide an event team host from the start of your practice time to the end of your session.
Zoom Meeting or Webinar?
- We generally schedule Keynotes/Case Study/talks in Zoom Webinar
- Workshops/Discussions and interactive sessions in Zoom Meeting
- However, this is flexible so just let us know your preference
- Are more like giving a lecture in a lecture hall - you will be a "panelist" and can see participant names and they can post questions to you - you will not be able to see or hear them on camera unless they are promoted to being a panelist
- Are more like giving a tutorial in a classroom
- You can see the video/sound of all participants if they are unmuted
- Meetings give you greater flexibility to include interactive content
- You can use breakout rooms in zoom meetings - please note breakout rooms cannot be recorded and captions cannot (currently) be enabled
We have a limited number of free speaker tickets available for our events - as we have to cover speaker costs with the income from tickets. We allocate these tickets in relation to session duration as below.
- For 30 minute sessions, only the first named speaker pays no conference fees. Additional speakers must purchase a special low cost ticket.
- For 45 or 60 minute sessions, only the first two named speaker pays no conference fees. Additional speakers must purchase a special low cost ticket.
- For 90 or 120 minute sessions, only the first three named speakers will pay no conference fees. Additional speakers must purchase a special low cost ticket.
If you would like more detail or have any specific requests, please contact us
In appreciation of your time, we offer a one time expense of £100 (GBP) per session (not per speaker). Please indicate on the submission form, if you would like to take this expense.
Unfortunately, we cannot accept requests for additional financial support after you have agreed that amount and we cannot pay expenses that we haven’t agreed to pay in advance of the event.
We want to support all our speakers, so please let us know if you require more information.
After the deadline closes, our selection panel will review all submissions anonymously. The review process usually takes between 2 - 4 weeks depending on the volume of submissions. We’ll contact both successful and unsuccessful candidates within the review period.
We need to hold information you provide on computer databases for administrative purposes. Summary information, which could include contact data, will be published for all session leaders.
Information about participants will be made available to organisations involved in administering, organising or supporting the event and this may include organisations outside the EC.
The organisers are not responsible for the views or opinions expressed by speakers, sponsors or other participants.
Inclusion of a session in the programme will be at the sole discretion of the conference organisers. By agreeing to have your session included in the programme you agree to participate in the conference and in all pre-conference quality control activities as deemed necessary by the conference organisers. You also agree to promote your session and involvement in the build up to the event. We will provide a range of assets to support any promotional efforts.
The organisers reserve the right to remove a session from the programme at any time. Speakers will no longer be eligible for free entry to the conference and so will have to pay the current non-speaker rate if they wish to participate in the conference.
The organisers will not be responsible for payment of any kind on behalf of the speaker in this event.
Inclusivity & diversity
We aim to be inclusive and diverse, both in terms of the speakers in our programme and participants at the event.
Our review process is anonymous to ensure selection based on merit and not how well a speaker is known. This is an opportunity for both experienced and first-time speakers to share experiences. If you are still in the early stages of your speaking career and would like some help then contact us, as soon as possible, to discuss options for how we can support you
We provide - a safe and fun place to share ideas, try something new, get feedback and engage with a knowledgeable, open minded audience. We have a Code of Conduct that describes expected behaviour.
Tips for submitting a proposal
After the CfS closing date our programme panel anonymously review and comment on submissions - we then take these reviews to our programme meeting with the aim of creating a full programme.
We usually have more quality submissions than spaces, and some tough choices need to be made. During the programme meeting panel reviews are considered, along with the conference themes, and logistics. Selection is about more than just the topic - we like to help develop speakers, and provide a platform for a range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. After considerable iteration, the programme emerges.
The first step to speaking is submitting a proposal - this is essentially a pitch promoting the content and speaker.
As our review process is anonymous - without knowing your name or reputation, our reviewers need to get a clear picture of what your session offers to the audience, and why you are confident you can deliver that offer.
The key areas for the submission are as follows:
A good title is important, those crucial first impressions form in seconds. Generally engaging and expressive titles work well. The expressive element makes it clear what the talk is about, its focus or subject area. The engaging element draws attention.
- Expressive: "A workshop with exercises to explain the differences between mentoring and coaching."
- Engaging (perhaps!): "You are invited to an Interactive Holistic Detective Workshop."
- A blend: "Introducing The Holistic Detective Game - exploring the relationship between mentoring and coaching."
- There are of course many other ways to achieve this balance, keep it authentic and find your own style.
We generally use your abstract as your session description on our website, it also appears just before people choose to join a session live.
A good description is engaging and informative. It is both an attractor and a filter, telling people what to expect so they can make a decision. The programme is packed with good stuff, there are difficult choices, so an honest description is the best kind. It's not about packing a (virtual) room with false promises. It may be better to have a room of 20 people who are all content with their decision, than a room of 50+ where most feel the talk is not what they expected.
Session description - in full
This is an opportunity to provide more detail to the panel. The information is not usually shared with participants - however, please note, we may edit some of your fuller description into your summary (especially if it is very short) to help participants - for example, we often use "Participant Takeaways' in your session description online.
Provide all details you feel are relevant. These will be used during the selection process. Descriptions with more detail are generally rated higher by the review panel.
We strongly recommend you include 3-5 takeaways for participants. If the session is pitched to a specific level e.g Beginner or Advanced, you should also make that clear.
Workshop descriptions often deserve more attention - as most are longer than a talk. The panel need to be sure of what will be delivered, and confident it will be delivered well. It often helps to provide a more detailed agenda and breakdown of learning outcomes.
It's also worth mentioning: Has the talk been given before? Is it an iteration on one you presented at the conference previously? Is there flexibility on duration? Is it interactive? - especially if it is listed as a talk/case study - some participants prefer not to join interactive sessions and choose talks as they do not expect to have to be actively participating.
Tip: Ensure you have provided all the relevant details in a clear and concise way - it is not uncommon for potentially great sessions to be declined because reviewers just do not have enough information to review and be confident.
How not to get accepted
While we don't necessarily know what we're looking for, and love to be surprised, we can be more sure of a few things we don't want:
Links - including links in your summary and/or description that our reviewers need to follow and/or watch, instead of writing a description - this removes your anonymity and our reviewers will not click on them.
A hard sell - The focus should be firmly on value to the audience. It's fine to mention great things about your organisation, your skills, service or product. That context is valuable but don't overdo it.
Too brief - We need enough information to make a decision, and determine if the session will be of value to the audience. Participants will also need that information to decide if the session is for them.
I'm a rockstar - You may have an awesome reputation, but we need to know what you are offering the audience this time.
Been there done that - We like to include introductory material, there will definitely be people just starting out and a few who would appreciate a reminder. Experienced practitioners are in the majority though, so detailed descriptions of easily accessible, well-covered information are unlikely to make it.
Rants - Please, don't just bring a rant. If you are analysing methods tell us what happened, what you learned, a reflective style works well here: What? So what? Now what?
Be rude or be a Zebra (Zero Evidence But Really Arrogant) - We welcome alternative views and ideas, but in doing so be respectful, and be well informed. There is a world of difference between 'The holistic detective method is rubbish' and 'We tried the method, it had these impacts, these were our conclusions'.
Type of Session
From the audience perspective, talk types are categorised by interaction style and degree of knowledge transfer. At one end of the spectrum, case studies invite an audience to listen and knowledge is offered almost exclusively from the speaker. At the other end, during an interactive discussion, participants are listening, talking and knowledge flows between participants and the facilitator.
When making a submission the key thing is to be clear about your style.
UCD Gathering aims to be a safe place to learn and grow your skills, a goal it's delivered against for the past two years. The majority of our speakers are chosen through the CfS and we hope this post has provided a better idea of what we're aiming for and how the process works. We are interested in your feedback, if you have questions, suggestions, rants or raves, don't hesitate to get in touch.
We want to hear your story, the first step to telling it is here.