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Are you interested in presenting at the next Annual OCD Conference? The 25th Annual OCD Conference will take place this July in Washington D.C., and we will soon begin accepting submissions for workshops, presentations, support groups, and more!

The OCD Conference proposal system opens on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, at 5pm ET.

Given how competitive it has become to speak at the Conference, we have compiled a list of things you can do (and not do!) to increase your chances of your talk being accepted. These suggestions come directly from feedback we receive from Conference attendees and the Conference planning committee members each year.

DO consider our topics of special interest.

As you consider the content of your presentation, think about topics that may be of special interest to the OCD community. Every year, we receive many proposals for some popular areas, but not enough for others. Below are topics that have been frequently requested by attendees but may have been underrepresented in previous years:

  • Multicultural and diversity issues
  • Co-occurring issues with OCD (substance use disorder, intellectual disabilities, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders, other mental health conditions, etc.)
  • OCD and intimacy (dating, marriage, sex)
  • OCD and aging
  • Being an OCD advocate at the local, state, and/or national level
  • Navigating insurance, disability, and legal rights for those with OCD
  • Employment/workplace issues
  • Translational talks about turning research findings into clinical practice
  • Topics related to “life after OCD”

DO NOT feel limited to the traditional lecture-style talk.

The workshops that often receive the highest ratings from attendees are those that are interactive and/or experiential. This can take many forms — from performing a live demonstration of a technique to having the attendees break out into groups for an activity. When preparing your proposal, think outside of the box about creative ways to actively engage your audience. Will you take them through a group exercise? Will you demonstrate a technique with an audience member? Will you break out into small groups for role plays or discussion? Will you show a related video clip? Think about what makes you more interested and attentive in a presentation, and then apply it back into your own proposal.

DO team up with others to create a diverse panel.

Panels are great opportunities to present multiple points of view in a single talk.

  • Are you an individual with OCD or a related disorder? Team up with a fellow individual, family member, and/or professional to provide a well-rounded talk about your different experiences and perspectives.
  • Are you a clinician? See if one or more of your patients or colleagues would like to join you on a panel to discuss an issue from several sides.
  • Are you a researcher? Work with other researchers to discuss your various studies and findings around a single theme.

Note that the ideal panel size is between 3-4 presenters — any more than that, and you may have trouble fitting everything in! We are also much less likely to accept proposals with 5 or more presenters. For proposals with 5+ presenters, be sure to make a strong case for why each person has a unique and specific contribution to make to the presentation.

DO NOT over- or underestimate the difficulty of your talk.

Every presentation at the Conference is classified according to difficulty level (introductory, intermediate, or advanced) and these difficulty levels are chosen by you when submitting your proposal. A surefire way to get negative attendee feedback is by having the content of your talk not match the difficulty level you chose. Advanced-level sessions should not cover the basics, and introductory-level sessions should not get too complicated. We aim for the full spectrum of difficulty levels when setting the Conference program, so please help us out by being thoughtful about the difficulty level your proposal.

DO mix it up from previous years.

While we do get new attendees every year, we also see an increasing number of Conference-goers coming back time and time again. Thus, it is our goal to provide fresh offerings each year that will appeal to both newcomers and Conference veterans. This means we are unlikely to accept the same presentation year after year, even if ratings and attendance were high. Simply changing your title is not enough — use this as an opportunity to mix it up and explore fresh content.

DO NOT forget about evening activities and support groups.

While most of you will likely be submitting proposals for talks taking place during the day, we urge you to also consider submitting an evening activity or support group. These events are just as vital to the Conference and OCD and related disorder community as the educational workshops, and provide the opportunity for attendees to have fun, socialize, network, and bond after a great day of learning. Support groups can be led by professionals and peers alike, and we welcome submissions for groups of all ages, types, and compositions. Evening activities have ranged from group exposures to artistic expression activities, from film screenings to story hours. A great example of a popular evening activity at the 2017 Conference was a live concert by singer/songwriter, Sam Foster, who performed some of his original songs inspired by his experience living with OCD. Use your imagination and let your creativity run wild.

DO submit to our revamped Youth Programming!

Beginning in 2017, we switched up the way we provide programming for youth at the Conference. Instead of a “Kids & Teens Track” and separate art therapy rooms, we combined them both to create integrated programming for three distinct age groups: elementary-aged kids, middle schoolers, and high school-aged teens. Each program spans all three days of the Conference and youth are treated daily to a wide variety of activities in a camp-like structure. This year, we challenge you to come up with engaging activities for kids, middle schoolers, and/or teens. Will you do an art project? Teach them a new skill? Host a dance party? Put yourself in the shoes of a child with OCD or the young relative of a person with OCD, and think of what might be a fun and helpful activity to do.

If you have a question that is not answered by this article, the Conference website (ocd2018.org), or the instructions in the proposal system, please feel free to reach out to us by e-mail at conference@iocdf.org or by phone at (617) 973-5801.

Ready to Submit Your Proposal?

For more information about submitting your proposal, click here.

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