Category Conference, News
KNOW Identity Innovators

Chatting with our programming team about what it takes to make it from submission to stage.

The KNOW Identity 2020 Call for Speakers is open now! For the small group of identity nerds that make up the KNOW Programming team, it’s the most exciting time of year. We’ve spent the last few months since KNOW 2019 asking for feedback, planning programming tracks, and building a framework for the most diverse, intriguing, actionable slate of KNOW content yet.

Last year we received over 500 applications from speakers across industries, and we invited 225 speakers to join us on the KNOW 2019 stage. That means we were able to accept less than half of the proposals we received. Our team reviews every application, and that means we have to turn down some really interesting content ideas. But there are a few key components that make a speaker proposal stand out. We want the most dynamic, most innovative speakers from across the identity community at KNOW 2020, and we want that to be you. To that end, we’ve compiled these 7 tips for applications that really get our wonky hearts fluttering, so that your proposal has the best possible chance of getting accepted:


1. Be original

New, innovative content is the bedrock of KNOW events. The space is moving far too fast for you to reuse the proposal from last year or what you submitted to Money 20/20 two years ago! Talk to us about the challenges you’re seeing and what the KNOW community should be doing in response. As a side note, it’s also a bummer when we get a submission that gets the name of our conference wrong - it’s a dead giveaway that this isn’t original content. Gartner IAM and Identiverse are great shows, they’re just not us! 

2. Be specific

We read a lot of applications, so it’s important for us to get a clear picture of the session you have in mind and the value you’ll bring. If you send us a description that simply says “digital identity trends” or “I’m an expert in cybersecurity,” that doesn’t give us much to go on. You have 300 words to layout your proposal - use them! We love reading this stuff, and we hate being bored.

3. Be relevant

We’ve spent the last four years cultivating a broad identity community, so we want to be sure our content specifically addresses their needs. There are several resources we’ve put together to steer you in the right direction: our content tracks, our key programming topics, and the target industries represented in the KNOW audience. Your content proposal should make sense in that context and contribute to those conversations. What would you want to hear as an attendee?

4. Have clear objectives

This year, our Call for Speakers submission form asks specifically for a summary of the top three objectives that proposed sessions aim to achieve. Actionable insight is a priority for us. How will your session help the KNOW audience make their next business decision? What conversations will this start? What myths will you debunk? Start with concrete objectives, and craft your proposal around them.

5. Engage the community

KNOW is about breaking down verticals and facilitating new connections. Your proposal will stand out if you reflect those goals as well. Do you have a client organization that would make a brilliant co-presenter? Can you assemble a panel of smart folks with divergent perspectives on a hot topic? Show us! The more concrete the better.

6. Talk to us like real people

When you send us things, we actually read them. When you email us a question, you’ll actually be getting a response from one of us. We’re pretty hands-on when it comes to the speaker selection process: it’s important to us that we get the smartest people, and we treat them really, really well. That means we prioritize submissions that talk to us, and our audience, like real humans. Don’t buzzword us to death. We can tell when you’re just sprinkling “blockchain” or “deep learning” into a proposal to distract us with shiny objects. Follow the conference programming golden rule (we just made it up): Give us the proposal that you would want to receive.

7. Follow the rules

We don’t have many rules for submissions, but the ones we do have are important to us and help the show run smoothly. Here’s a quick rundown of the big ones:

  • No pay-to-play: Sponsorships don’t buy speaker slots. Period. Interested in sponsoring? Great - it's an essential part of our event programming! We do, however, request that you submit a speaker proposal if you want to be considered for a spot on stage.
  • No product pitches: We have a separate demo stage for a reason. Our content sessions are meant to show off your expertise, not your product.
  • Read the Call for Speakers Guide: We put together a guide that should answer all your big questions about submissions. We’re happy to answer any additional questions you have.
  • Don’t miss the deadline: The Call for Speakers closes on September 30th. After that, we get to work putting together a balanced slate of programming. Please submit your proposals by then!
  • Don’t email us separate things: There are no bonus points for submitting your materials via email, really. The best way to get our team’s attention is to use the Call for Speakers form.


Finally, a big and genuine thank you for your interest in KNOW 2020 programming. Speakers really do make the show, so we’re looking forward to reading your smartest, deepest, most controversial, most forward-looking ideas. Happy proposal writing!