AIR Forum Denver, CO May 28-31, 2024

Proposal Writing Tips

Writing a proposal to present at AIR Forum? Need a few pointers? Don’t worry, we've got you covered! Check out these proposal writing tips discussing titles, narratives, abstracts, keywords, and more.

Did you know you can also attach resources to support your submission? These may include papers, presentation slides, or other evidence important for strengthening your proposal. 

Questions? Email

Learn more about the AIR Forum call for proposals.

Proposal Title 

Titles are used in the review process and in the materials attendees will use to choose sessions to attend. A good title should be compelling and have a hook that grabs attention and draws the audience in.   

Tips for creating a session title: 

  • Should be under 75 characters (including spaces) 
  • States the main subject, technique, or research to be presented 
  • Builds a case for the session content 
  • Introduces the main concept of the session and attracts the reader 

Proposal Narrative 

The narrative is the primary proposal element used by reviewers to rate a proposal. Therefore, it is important to have a strong narrative that covers all the elements described below. The narrative states the purpose and central theme of the session, the importance to the field, and the details of how the information will be presented. If the program is reporting research, a description of methods, findings, and recommendations may be appropriate. The narrative is strictly for the review process. Attendees will not see the narrative. Maximum of 4,000 characters.   

Tips for creating a good proposal narrative. The narrative: 

  • Identifies the central theme of the presentation 
  • Explains the research, topic, or technique to be presented 
  • Explains why the topic is valuable to the field 
  • Explains how the presentation will be structured including a timeline (Note: speaker sessions and discussion groups are 45 minutes. Panels and poster sessions are 60 minutes. Your proposed timeline should include a few minutes at the end for Q&A.) 
  • Should be succinct, yet thoroughly explain the details of the presentation 

Learning Outcomes 

The learning outcomes are clearly defined goals and outcomes for your presentation. Well-defined learning outcomes will help manage audience expectations and keep them engaged. Effective learning outcomes are measurable goals which specify what you will deliver and what the audience will receive from the presentation (i.e. what they will know, understand, master, or be able to do as an outcome of attending the session).   

Tips for creating effective learning outcomes: 

  • Define the goals of your presentation 
  • Refer to Bloom's Taxonomy (use action words) 
  • Clearly explain the specific skills and/or knowledge the participants will gain 
  • Identify how the participants will attain the goal, noting that learning outcomes are not the same as the activities the participants will perform, rather, they are the desired result of the experience. 

Presenter Experience 

Describe how each presenter’s experience/knowledge contributes to the presentation.   

Tips for describing presenter experience: 

  • Define what makes each presenter uniquely qualified to present on the topic 
  • Be specific about expertise (i.e., do not simply list years of experience or degrees) 
  • List examples of other presentations (e.g., papers, panels) the presenter has completed on the topic 

Proposal Abstract 

The abstract is the description that will be used to describe your session in the conference app and any session listings. Attendees utilize the abstract to determine which sessions are of interest and in selecting sessions to attend.

Effective abstracts define the purpose and intent of the session; are concise, organized, and specific. Additionally, effective abstracts begin with the most important information or thought. Defining unfamiliar abbreviations and acronyms is helpful. Abstracts are limited to 1000 characters including spaces.   

Tips for creating a strong abstract: 

  • Capture the attention of the reader; state why the session is important 
  • Summarize the content of the session 
  • List instruments or other research or technology tools utilized or explained in the session 
  • State the takeaways the audience can expect 
  • Clearly state the contribution of the topic to the field 

Target Audience 

It’s important to specify your target audience to help reviewers evaluate the proposal. This includes experience level and setting (e.g. community college, system office, private college). This information is only used in the review process to pair reviewers with appropriate proposals. 


At the end of the proposal process, presenters are asked to identify three to five key words or phrases participants might use when searching for sessions on the topic, skills, or issues addressed. Key words can also include intended audience, experience level, or specific software or nomenclature related to the topic.   

Examples of strong key words: 

  • Community College, stop-outs, retention 
  • Business Intelligence, (BI), IT collaboration, data warehouse 
  • Common Data Set, (CDS), external reporting 

Additional Elements 

Posters, panels, and discussion groups have additional elements that must be addressed in the proposal process. These include discussion questions, explanation of how the research will be conveyed in a visual display, and how a panel represents differing points of view, etc. Please see the specific instructions in the proposal overview for more detailed information on these elements.

You may also attach resources to support your submission such as papers, presentation slides, or other supporting evidence important for understanding your proposal.